ASP "Hast Du Mich Vermisst?" / (p)00 Richterskala/Trisol
The Trisol label seemingly wants to overload the whole world with young German gothic bands - to tell the truth, I’m beginning to be irritated by such huge amounts of CDs from them. Who on earth consumes it? Can’t think of an answer. Ok, whatever - here is one more young gothic German project called ASP, parallels with Yendri drawn immediately. Simply because the impressions are very fresh: both of the bands consist of one male person, the styles are also very alike, darkwave. But this is all that makes them alike, here’s what makes them different. If Yendri’s album was fairly smooth and serene from the stylistic point of view, ASP’s case is a bit different. The general style, as I have mentioned before, is darkwave, but the stylistic diversity of the material is very large: from half-metal songs, kinda darkwave variant of HIM (“Teach Me War”), to almost AND ONE’ish synth-pop (“Imbecile Anthem”) and electronic drive tracks. Between these three points (metal, synth-pop and electro) dances the style of the album, and I must say it dances very effectively. Everything seems very original to listen, although, certainly, from time to time some associations do appear, like the ones I’ve mentioned already, but generally it sounds very solidly, thanks to the central darkwave core which penetrates the whole album. The vocals are also good - some sort of a hybrid of Joachim Witt and Mozart (UMBRA ET IMAGO). What can I say, summing up all I have written? A very original and hit album (with the “hitness” on the highest level, that is on the level of each particular song), not without borrowings, but elegant enough.
AUTUMNBLAZE "Bleak" / (p)00 Prophecy
The press release ensured us that this as the second CD of a German trio AUTUMNBLAZE, but totally unlike their first album, “Daemmer Elben Tragoedie”. To be honest, I cannot say whether or not it is true, as I never happened to listen to their debut, but the material presented on the second CD, on a manner of speaking, has sunk into my heart.
Loneliness and despair: for many centuries these two feelings have inspired creators (in the most wide meaning of this word) to make undying works, and musicians were the first and foremost among the artists, suffering from depression and melancholy more often than the rest. Lately, the feeling of loneliness and melancholy is transmitted to us via serene electronic loops, all sorts of effects and melancholic guitars, combined with depressive, suffering male vocals singing profound lyrics about the pangs of loneliness and the sufferings of the spirit. All this is not new, but, done high-grade, it penetrates your soul each time you listen it as if anew. AUTUMNBLAZE have done everything very good, so depression and melancholy for especially impressionable persons is guaranteed. To make my speech more vivid, I can compare with work to the two latest CDs of KATATONIA - the same hopelessness in the lyrics, the same electronic components and effects, almost the same guitars; to cut the long story short, it’s very alike, but not plagiarism, simply the souls of AUTUMNBLAZE musicians seem to have worked on the same frequency as KATATONIA during their sleepless sessions in the night studio. Whatever: the final outcome is very, very decent.
Well, after all that I have said the summary is quite evident: to hopeless melancholic people and those who love to be depressed under the ruthless moon, the CD is strongly recommended, and the fans of two latest albums of KATATONIA are to buy it at any cost! Onward to the shops!
BOSHETUNMAY "Useless Life" / (p)00 Boshetunmay
Not so long ago we got anoher promo pack from Germany and I was rather surprised when I saw inside a letter in Russian with a CD included. The letter said that the CD was recorded and released by the musicians themselves and they proposed to write a review on it. Having put the disc into my CD player, I was not dissapointed, that's why I am writing this review now. "Boshentumay" is the name of one of the most famous songs of cult post-punk/goth russian band of 80ies - KINO, from "Blood Group" album (1997). The exact meaning of this word is unknown - even well-known "kinologists" go on arguing about it. One of the versions says it's the name of a drug in Afganistan, another - that it means "don't sell yourself" in Chinese, the third - that Tsoy had found the name somewhere without much thought about its meaning. Long ago in 1993 two brothers (Grigory and Vitaly Dercho) from the glorious city of Omsk decided to live their life in a more economically prosperous land and moved to Germany, where they reside now. Having some kind of musical talents, they decided to put it into practice and in 1995 brothers created their own band with a name BOSHENTUMAY, quite unusual for a Russian ear. In 2000 they release their debut album entitled "Useless Life", recorded (with rather good quality) in a home studio and self-released it. What does the music of this band sound like? The musicians themselves say it's "Electro Rock with Gothic, Wave, dance and Metal touch" - in my opinion, quite a vague definition. Actually, it's rather "hitty" and energetic music, based upon guitar parts (not so heavy, by the way), with drummachine, keys and electronic effects added. The vocal is naturally male. The music of the band is not very original, but it's not a minus - it's not so easy to strike someone with originality nowadays. Though the band definetely has a bright future, cause such music may be called for in any moment, just some efforts in promoting it are needed. I just wish the musicians good luck and a nice contract with one of the labels in order to make an "official" release. In the mean time you can order the CD directly from their website.
CLAIRE VOYANT "Claire Voyant" / (p)95,(c)00 Accession
The fate of CLAIRE VOYANT debut album released back in 1995 was rather complicated. Now I would like to present its third rerelease at Accession. Originally it came out in 1995 and was practically left unnoticed. The second release was done in 1997 by German label Hyperium in 1997 and this very time the band got the deserved acknowledgement. Their COCTEAU TWINS-like guitar ethereal contrasted successfully most other Hyperium neoclassic bands. In the beginning of 2000 Accession released the new album entitled "Time Again". The release turned to be successful, creating a new wave of demand for the debut work. That was the reason for rerealising of this album by Accession - it seems, Hyperium has gone to glory. The rerelease features a new design (by the way, Hyperium design differed from the original one as well), but there are no surprises like bonus-tracks - the tracklist is the same. Comparing to the genre classics, you can make draw certain parallels with COCTEAU TWINS, and comparing to the contemporaries - it's kind of crossbreed between LOVE SPIRALS DOWNWARDS and AUTUMN. Gentle female vocal, soft launge guitar, atmospheric keys - the music represents slow melancholic atmospheric etherial - a characteristic example of specific "american etherial". It is an excellent album.
CLAIRE VOYANT "Time and the Maiden" / (p)98, (c)00 Accession
Another rerelease of CLAIRE VOYANT album - originally it appeared in 1998. The first edition of this CD has been sold out long time ago, - the same as with the debut album. Therefore, the band's desire to rerelease the album does not provoke any surprises. Again, Accession has provided a new design, and the musical material itself got enriched with three bonus tracks (two mixes and one new song). One cannot say this album differs dramatically from the debut one - its just further development of its musical ideas. The general sound is warmer , softer, deeper - more of a dream-pop kind, and the role of electronics increased, diminishing the guitar parts, so the parallels with LOVE SPIRALS DOWNWARDS are more evident.
DIANA OBSCURA "Diana Obscura" / (p)00 Diana Obscura
I bet the name "DIANA OBSCURA" doesn't say anything to you. When I took the disc out of the envelope, I was sure it was an album of some newcomer, though everything turned to be more interersting. First of all, DIANA OBSCURA is not just a name of the band, but the name of the girl (known also as Diana McCrary), known as the member of THE LIVING JARBOE BAND (a band of SWANS ex-member Jarboe) and neo-classic/medieval trio APHELION. Even the mentioning of these names is enough to provoke interest of a true music lover. Secondly, Diana Obscura was assisted by two not the least known persons in the world of gothic music - Joseph Budenholzer (BACKWORLD) and Chandler Rentz (THE CHANGELINGS). Diana herself participated in the recording of the latest studio albums of BACKWORLD, THE CHANGELINGS and JARBOE. The represented self-released disc just 20 minutes long consists of 7 short tracks, though they fully demonstrate the striking potential of DIANA OBSCURA. The wholesome aesthetics is not so easy to describe - it's not apocalyptic folk, not neo-classics and not etherial, but somehow quite an original merging of all the above mentioned styles. Diana herself does the vocals (rather strong and unusual voice, I might say) and plays cello (my fave instrument!), and the well-known members of BACKWORLD and THE CHANGELINGS help with the guitar parts, percussion and flutes/pipes. It's an emotional and quite an interesting album; unfortunately, it's rather short, so I'll be waiting for a full-time release.
THE DAYS OF THE TRUMPET CALL "Purification" / (p)00 Black Rain
As I heard the first chords of the album "Purification", recorded by the German one-man band THE DAYS OF THE TRUMPET CALL represented by Raymond P., it immediately occurred to me that, that's how in fact the new album of another lonesome genius of darkwave/neoclassic scene PENITENT should have sounded, if Karsten hadn't shifted to baroque/classic and metal direction. Indeed, there is everything, that the latter lacks, after the release of the legendary "The Beauty of Pain". By means of "Purification" Raymond managed to create the symphony of deep sorrow and mourning, conveying the atmosphere of the end of time. Declamations from Gottfried Benn, Thomas Eliot, opera samples from Verdi's Requiem, acoustic and lightly distorted guitar parts and also violin samples taken from Irish folk song, all that is successfully laid upon the sounds of dominating piano, somber strings and also measured and muffled timpani beats, reminding the steps of Apocalyptic Riders. One is also to give due to Black Rain label for not missing this pearl in the sea of music and releasing this wonderful debut, which has become one of the best albums of the past year and gone millenium for me. So, in short - get ready, The Days of the Trumpet Call are yet to come!
DAVA-N-TAGE "Broken Influences" / (p)00 Black Rain
Don't trust the one who says "EBM is practically dead nowadays" - you better remember lots of marvellous EBM-albums that were released, say, this year. The times are changing, the sond evolves as well. Of course, modern electro bands don't sound like those of the mid-80's - beginning of 90's. Though nowadays there are attempts to create something in the wave of that "retro" or "classical" sound - it seems, this recording is one of those. Most of DAVA-N-TAGE tracks are in orthodox EBM-vein, slightly decorated with fashionable modern electro rhythms. It somehow reminds me of ABSCESS's "In Your Mind" or even "Punishment and Crippled Reality" - they were fond of flirting with EBM. Although, there is certain development of the theme - the album begins with orthodox body-rhythms and sounds, gradually moving towards more hard and complicated sound. It's rather amusing, that "Decadence", remixed by their brutal label-mates - FEINDFLUG, is also quite orthodox. As a whole, it's quite a nice album you start to taste after listening to it for a number of times, aimed at those who admire even ABSCESS-like rhythms, not very original, but of decent quality.
DIE FORM "Extremum" / (p)00 Matrix Cube/Trisol
Philippe Fichot keeps surprising me: the DIE FORM has a history of over two decades, and he manages, remaining within a certain style, to make absolutely different albums. When you come to comparing them, both CDs seem to be the same typical DIE FORM‘ish fetish darkwave, but in fact, they are quite different. And it is the same with the new CD - its forerunner “Duality” was released three years ago, and when comparing the two, the difference in sound is very profound, as well as the difference in conception. Having listened to the opening single “Deep Inside”, I thought the new material would be more aggressive and dynamic, and Philippe would do half of the vocals. It turned out to be true; the album is very close in style to the early creations of the band. It might seem strange, but the first associations are "Tears of Eros" and "Suspiria de Profundus”. Of course, everything sounds quite up-to-date, but at the same time more dynamically and distinctly than on “Duality”. Also there is not a single trace of the backing string acoustics of the forerunner. This is about the music, and as for the vocals, I made a mistake - the majority of the vocals are male! It seems to me that there was hardly ever any other album where Eliane P’s vocals would be put on such a secondary place, and in some songs they sing as a duet, I can’t remember them doing this before. I should also point out that the lyrics have become more meaningful and capacious. Before the lyrics of most songs was very laconic and usually consisted of a few sentences, and now we have quite full-blooded lyrics. And as usual the indivisible part of the concept is the fetish-bio-mechanical photos by Philippe Fichot, producing a fairly spooky impression.
A very innovatory album for DIE FORM demonstrating that the band is in a state of constant search, which cannot but make us glad. I think that none of the fans would be disappointed by it. Highly recommended!
ETHODIUS "Ethodius" / (p) 97 Ethodius
Ethodius - is the name of two Scottish kings, who lived and ruled in the II-III centuries AD. Besides this fact - ETHODIUS is the name of dark-ambient formation from the transatlantic capital of motor-car industry, a glorious city of Detroit and it's also a title of their debut full-length album, released in 1997, but sent to us only now. The album is released and distributed by the musicians themselves, so that's why it has no serious distribution and it's available either in Detroit or via band's site. So what is this creation like? This is a well-done dark ambient album, the majority of its tracks present combinations of various sounds of "natural origin" with simple keyboard passages and synthetic sound effects. At times all that is interfered by film dialogues taken from "Guinevere", "Excalibur" and also mini-series "Brides Of Christ". Well, as one might easily guess, seeing the film titles these guys are mad about King Arthur, legendary Excalibur tales and middle ages. According to band's concept the listener is to get through the atmosphere of medieval romance and mysticism, but in fact it doesn't happen and the listener is enveloped in dark sounds of melancholy... The album is good indeed and the fact the musicians haven't managed to fully embody the planned atmosphere doesn't diminish its objective merits - the disc is not dragged on (though its playing time is an hour) and is listened lightly and easily, creating pleasant dark melancholic atmosphere. May be somebody will feel the medieval spirit in all that, but I personally have failed to notice it. But again I must repeat - the disc is good enough and can be recommended to wide audience of lovers of diverse and not boring dark ambient.
GOR "Bellum Gnosticorum" / (p)00 Prikosnovenie
Many of you are familiar with the CD stalls put up during festivals. The listeners, excited by the live performance of the band, joyfully brush off the CDs from the counter ... I first met this disc at such a counter. Frankly speaking, I was rather curious about it, but not because of its design or its name, but because of the fact it was sold at ATARAXIA stall! The sharp salesman noticed my interest and started to praise the new mediaeval side-project of the band in every way. I was already going to purchase it, when an ATARAXIA-fan standing next to me made me change my mind. He said that, as a matter of fact, the album is not bad, but it doesn't sound like ATARAXIA at all, so it's better to listen to it before buying. Though, it's impossible to escape one's fate - this release found me in a roundabout way. GOR is a solo project of Francesco Banchini, ATARAXIA percussionist, not a very noticeable, though, judging by this release, a very interesting person. It's amusing that some of my comrades bought it because they decided it's a solo project of ATARAXIA singer whose name is Francesca). The album starts with gloomy dark ambient - in the very beginning I remembered the unknown fan, who talked me out of purchasing it, although it turned out to be just an intro. The stuff that followed really belongs to the realm of neo-folk and mediaeval, though with strong oriental influences, and it's not strange for the percussion-based music. By the way, as for the percussion, Francesco used a bunch of instruments during the recording session, just the list of them occupies four lines of text. No wonder that half of their names is unfamiliar to me. Of course, other instruments like acoustic guitar, flute, clarinet are present, all together they create a unique etno-mediaeval sound, difficult to compare to anything. The album is mostly instrumental, there is some vocal (and it's rather nice), but it's role is comparatively small . It's quite an interesting release, though not an easy-listening one.
INTRA-VENUS "Persecution" CD-single / (p)00 Nightbreed
A new single of British electro goths INTRA-VENUS is their second release since the debut mini-album entitled "Pray Silence!", that hit the shelves last year. A close-up look revealed that INTRA-VENUS aren't newbies at all - Mark Tansley, the leader of the band, participated in SUSPIRIA - not very well known in this country, but rather famous in the British Isles. After SUSPIRIA split-up, that used to be a duet as well, Mark was joined by a new singer Apollos. They went on with the creative process under new name, using the same creative formula - traditional English goth-sound plus modern dancefloor influences. The wholesome sound of INTRA-VENUS is slightly more electro- or even synth- oriented, and the artistic manners and wonderful vocal of Apollos (critics compare his voice to that of NEKROMANTIK, COVENANT and even DEPECHE MODE, and I find it even more interesting)made him the new face of the band. The single features "Persecution" - the new "dancefloor shaker" in its original version, a radio edit of the same, plus a brutal remix of "Deathwish" - a track from the debut album, made by some heavy guitar fans - SQUID.
Nowadays INTRA-VENUS have lots of high-quality stuff in stock - last year at WGT in Leipzig the band participated in Nightbreed festival and within an hour one hit followed another (I was a lucky witness of it). The single betokens the forecoming release of a full-length album entitled "Irreverence", and it shows, without any doubt, - if you love British electro-goth, get ready for the royal gift from INTRA-VENUS!
LAHKA MUZA "Cesty Svetla Plynu Temnotou" / (p)00 Black Flames
Fire and Ice, Light and Darkness, forever struggling, but indivisible forces of the Universe; with their existence they express the principle of universal equilibrium and harmony. You would ask why I started all this? Because, in my opinion, this Slovakian band has incarnated the energetics, produced in the process of the interaction of the opposites and managed to bring it to the listeners. New LAHKA MUZA album is a ritual anthem to the universal harmony, it's a look beyond the veil of primal nature, a vision of chaos and eternal light.
Cold and depressive ritual folk darkwave with burning cold, but at the same time deep and sensual female vocal, breathing with shamanic power (by the way, all the songs are written and sung in the native language of the band) - that is the style of LAHKA MUSA.
Tracing the history of the band since 1992 till now, it's pleasant to note that LAHKA MUZA has been confidently progressing from album to album. Despite all the hardships that swept over Eastern Europe, the band kept to its ideals and went on with its creative work. The new album "Cesty Svetla Plynu Temnotou" carries on the musical thread of its predecessor, making magical voice of Gudrun and its unique guitar sound the main accents. Though, it was neccessary to get used to the sound of drums, cause they sound rather unusually, especially in the very first track. In conclusion, I would say that this disc is probably the most emotionally saturated of all the albums I've heard recently. I recommend it to everybody interested in non-standard darkwave and just good music, that goes straight from the heart.
LAST LAMENT "Demos" / (p)00 Last Lament
LAST LAMENT is a trio from good old Berlin, comprising Torsten Krause, who's responsible for all musical and instrumental part of the project, Andre Weber - lyrics, vocals and Anne Pasold - vocals. Though the band was formed in 1998, they managed to record the normal quality demo not long ago, having not forgotten to send it to us for review. So, this four-song demo presents us professional quality recording and rather worthy musical material, which, I'm sure, will soon become an object of interest of some record publishers. The band's music is a kind of mixture of romantic ethereal and harder rock rhythmic, accordingly with two vocals - male, rather suitable for the kind of music and wonderful female ones. Melodic basis is built upon keyboards and programming, guitars are on the background but they make notable contribution to the overall band's sound. The songs - at any rate those four presented on this demo - are diverse enough and not at all boring, maybe lyrics are a bit naive, but that's scarcely a minus. I would also like to express a little of dissatisfaction in male vocals for it's seen that male voice is not well placed. The latter point gets on the nerves a bit, but it doesn't spoil the whole picture. Winding up, one can say that it's a worthy and powerful work, with which it won't be a shame to look for a record label and I'm sure that LAST LAMENT will get their contract in no time. As the band hasn't got a full-length album yet, you may get acquainted with their creative activity on the band's site.
MEGADUMP "Feed me, Fuck me, Kill me!" / (p)00 Accession
Guess who is string on us from the cover - a pair of self-assured and a little bit impudent buttocks (we can only hope they belong to a female). What is left to do? A slightly sexual appeal is the best way of attracting attention to a new band. The name of the album, as far as I understand, was chosen on the same basis. Although “Feed Me Fuck Me Kill Me” is not the first release of the band. MEGADUMP is a project by O. Muller, also known as the leader of an electro band called CYBER AXIS, after the decline of which he twiddled his thumbs for some time and then released the first album of MEGADUMP called “Speartackle” at the Maschinenwelt label. The new album (it consists of five songs plus three bonus mixes) was already released at Accession. In fact, MEGADUMP music can hardly be called original: such electro-synth is quite traditional and even trivial, and there is even no need to name the first associations, so traditional it is. But MEGADUMP is strong in another thing. Their strength is not in the originality, but in the hitness - nearly all of the songs are 100% club hits, already having very good positions in the German gothic/electro clubs and charts. The most strong and hitting of the songs are “Zolibat" and "Shockwave, they simply tear you apart with their wild drive. A synth song “Borderline” is also funny - it sounds a bit queer among brutal electro thrillers, but it is very well done and fans of synth pop will certainly like it. The mixes are also nice - a “big b mix” of “Zolibat” is probably from the techno realm, the “Borderline” mix done by “Sin City Music” is decorated with heavy guitars, stylistically reminding BLIND PASSENGERS. “Plastic” guys have turned “Zolibat” into something Ant-Zen’ish from the rhythm’n’noise sphere. You should not be searching for something original in this CD, but here we have the rare case when a CD contains drive hits that would suit any techno, or gothic, or electro, or fetish, or rhythm’n’noise party.
MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION "Dark Hours of the Southern Cross" / (p)00 Nightbreed
For three long years I together with the army of fans of the great and terrible MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION, have been restless waiting for their new album. During this time their previous release “Funeral Nation” has become the underground classics of the genre, and the initiated by them electro-goth revolution has become a fact! The anew invented wave got to its feet, and at present Great Britain can be proud of of a whole bunch of wonderful electro-goth bands: ARCISSUS POOL, INTRA-VENUS, KILLING MIRANDA, SNEAKY BAT MACHINE/GOTEKI, NEKROMANTIK (r.i.p.), ZONEI... headed, of course, by the pioneers and starters of the genre, MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION. (For the leader of MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION Trevor Bamford had time for not only releasing new albums, but also act on his label Nightbreed, discovering, selecting and bringing to us only the best electro-gothic bands.)
I cannot say that I was getting ready for some surprises on the new CD - I was partially already aware of how they would sound like. Their concert performance at the German WGT consisted mainly of new songs and their absolutely killing effect on the audience was tried, among the rest, on me. (Greatly dumbfounded, sir Coroner shamefully retired somewhere in the middle of their intimidating show.) it was also then when I learned that Lisa Ross, the vocalist of the band, whose heavenly voice so successfully combined with the roars and howls of the vegetarian vampire performed by Trevor on the first albums is, alas, no longer in the band. As a goodbye, Lisa sang the arias of her swan songs in three tracks on the new CD. These three songs become a bridge for the listeners, leading from the old MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION to the new. Having stayed all alone without any female domination, the trio of cyber-punks and electro-goths, of course, decided to have some serious brutal fun. They managed to harden the sound to the utmost degree of their imagination, Nick Hopkinson, the guitarist, decided to make louder riffs than those of Rammshein, Trevor slightly improved his famous growling, and now his demonic screams tear your soul apart, the phantasmagoria of the backing keyboard master Ricardo nicely tickles your nerves. The situation of the ultimate nightmare is improved by the samples from black-and-white horror films (as you know, they are much scarier than the color films samples). The action of the album goes, no, flies at a breath, reminding of a train going at lightning speed directly from hell!
But you should not think that the music of the band is simply the insane drive and cyber-gothic dances and jumps in clubs’ dance floors - MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION have always been very multidimensional and as before, they remain where they belong by the messiah’s prediction. The deep, philosophical lyrics of the songs drown the listener in the dark depths of true human emotions and feelings, they ask most hard metaphysical questions, making his brain quiver and his soul run for such evident but illusive answers. Is it not the fate of the Real Art?
THE NIGHT ETERNAL "Textures of Twilight" / (p)00 The Night Eternal
Despite their orthodox gothic image, the American trio THE NIGHT ETERNAL does not make gothic rock, but belong to the ethereal-neoclassic divide of gothic music. I do not mean to say that there were little of such bands, quite the opposite; there are lots of bands playing neoclassic with female vocals, but THE NIGHT ETERNAL has very good chances not to get lost in the crowd. The first thing that attracts attention is that all the three members of the band sing. By the way, it’s time to say that the trio is made up by two brothers Sean Rose (in charge for all the music of the band) and David Rose, and a vocalist Laura Lewis. As I have already said, all the three of them sing, and they make it quite well: the contrast to Laura’s angel voice is the deep voice of David, and Sean’s vocals get the balance. Of course, the most striking moments are these when the trio performs their polyphony in the full beauty. As for the music, everything is also very nice: symphonic synthesizer passages done with very much taste, the sound is thick and overwhelming, and one can honestly call this music neoclassic, without having to lie, as it happens with many works by self-studied beginners, who have just sat down their synthesizer and try to present their awkward “masterpieces” in this sphere. THE NIGHT ETERNAL really has a big future in store, and the only sad thing is that due to some reason or other the CD isn’t properly distributed: I found neither reviews of it nor mail-orders where it could be purchased.
NOVA "An Invite" / (p)00 Nova
The aim of this small 15-minute demo is to present some of the compositions from the band's forthcoming debut album "Utopia Musa", but the exact label is stated neither in press release nor on band's site. But bearing in mind that wide gothic community had a chance to get acquainted with NOVA due to the latest "Intimations of Immortality" compilation (vol. 5) of Italian Energeia label, and that'll be no wonder if Energeia releases the album. According to the presented five compositions the debut album is going to be interesting. NOVA is an etherealish neo-folk with female vocals in Italian. The basis of the music is electronic except live percussion and acoustic guitar but one shouldn't be afraid of electronics - everything is elegant and beautiful. The musicians themselves say they are under strong New Wave influence and it seems to explain the electronic basis, but to my mind the parallel with CAMERATA MEDIOLANENSE is more evident. In any case the material is rather original and interesting and I'll try not to miss the debut CD.
PARA BELLUM "Para Bellum" (p)00 Fuzz
I first happened to come across the creative work of PARA BELLUM a few years ago. When in Leningrad, I met the leader of the band, Leonid Fomin, who invited me to their rehearsal. Though they already described themselves as “gothic”, I had vague doubts about their belonging in this genre, for their sound was grunge-alternative, and even their cover of Bauhaus didn’t impress me much. After a few years the band released its debut album. I can compare it only to the one rehearsal I have head, and the album definitely wins. The general sound became more heavy and aggressive, which did it only good. Lyrics in Russian is a bit straightforward and highbrow, but quite good. The most difficult point for me in writing this review is assessing their “gothness”, which is necessary, for they describe their style as “gothic rock/metal”. Here I encounter a few problems. Speaking about the music, there are really many elements of contemporary, non-orthodox gothic rock, but it’s hard to say that the entire album is gothic rock in style - unfortunately, there are many breaks both to heavy metal and to Russian rock: strange guitar solos not in the gothic rock style, and heavy guitar drive. Well, despite such stylistic breaks, this could be referred to as gothic rock, if it wasn’t for the lyrics. As I’ve already said, the lyrics are very good, but I still come to the conclusion that Russian lyrics and gothic rock aren’t combinable. We have already come across people trying to play Russian gothic rock and all of them sound inconvincible, resembling the traditional Russian rock. Here the situation is the same. It seems to me that if PARA BELLUM used English lyrics, they would make marvelous gothic rock a-la MALAISE, THE 69 EYES or even HIM (be the way, the cover of the CD is funny, looks like HIM). So the prospects of this album and PARA BELLUM in general with the gothic audience seem insecure to me, but the album has a very big potential and I won’t be surprised if it becomes popular with Russian fans of gothic rock.
PURPLE FOG SIDE "Neototemism" / (p)00 Purple Fog Side
Original collectives, playing interesting music and not trying to insert themselves in particular stylistic frames for "potential listeners" appear on the vast areas of our motherland rather seldom. The latest album of Samara's project PURPLE FOG SIDE (known to Moscow audience after the organized by Russian Gothic Project Halloween 1999 performance at "Krai") is related to rare exceptions. Not admitting any compromises, following the voice of the heart, Jazztiz (the band's music creator and producer) managed to create a breath-taking act, consisting of 8 compositions, having total playing time over 40 minutes. To be absolutely honest - the album (from cover to cover) is capable of evoking only positive emotions of people with diverse musical passions. For in "Neototemism" ambient, neoclassic, folk, hard electro, industrial cannonades and even Japanese noise are triumphantly tangled in one palette. In spite of such radical eclectics the album is perceived taking your breath away. The disc is opened by a short beautiful ambient track "Zachem znat". One has a desire to listen to this track couple of times in a row. The beautiful voice of female vocalist Diana (this characteristic goes to all tracks with her appearance) and the melody full of deep melancholy... The second track "Pokolenie dlya gospodina P." would be highly estimated by body music lovers. Hard electro with distorted vocals of Jazztiz singing Maxim Gorky's verses. The third composition "Ishod" (the best one to my mind) starts with boisterous noise, through which the voice of "universal love singer and subway transport's great fan" Soko Osahara, reading mantra. Noise gradually flows into wonderfully beautiful melody, where Diana sings of the death of God. "Beszvetnaya ten", having the same structure, is a sad story of heroine addict's life. This time, dark rhythm'n'noise intro is changed by a beautiful electro-ethereal ballad full of melancholy. The fifth theme "Tsena jizni" is an excellent somber noise ambient theme, atmospherically close to the opuses of bands from Cold Meat Industry. "Metastazy" - a composition based on Russian folk tune ("Vniz po matushke po Volge"). Very successful and original arrangement. The seventh song called "Son" (along with "Ishod" is the one I like most) is performed in the ambient-ethereal key. And again - beautiful melody, powerful atmosphere. The disc is ended with almost an instrumental track "Epilog.Jerlo" stylistically close to IDM. On the whole "Neototemism" is a successful album from all sides and by that reason I hope that our electro/goth fans won't miss this work.
RAIN FELL WITHIN "Believe" / (p)00 Dark Symphonies
Dark Symphonies, an American label known for having released a few CDs of Autumn Tears, has sent us a debut album of a metal band Rain Fell Within in their regular promo-pack. And although this CD does not belong in the stream of our site, I can’t but review it, since they have sent it to us.
In fact, you must not think that I don’t feel like reviewing this CD, just the opposite, but there is not a single drop of gothic in it, despite the words of Dark Symphonies, that have also submitted a press-release claiming Rain Fell Within to be ‘gothic doom’ and ‘widening its borders’. In reality it is a very good example of orthodox metal with quasi opera vocals that have become quite fashionable lately thanks to the grand success of such bands as Nightwish, for instance, on the world stage. I will be honest: Rain Fell Within is kinda “American answer” to Nightwish, not more, but also not less. Only female vocals, very beautiful and fairly strong; moderate or quick music with a lot of guitars and keyboards; “romantic themes” in the lyrics. The music is a bit more heavy that Nightwish, and less diverse, but the rest is the same.
There are five tracks on the CD, with the total running time of 37 minutes, and nearly all of the songs (except the final ballad) are very long - over 7 minutes each. Although in a few places I noticed some kind of “artificial prolongation” of the tracks, that is, they could have been shorter without losing anything of vital importance. Well, this can be explained by the debut and the little experience of the musicians, although the band originated in 1996. As for the name of the band, Rain Fell Within is a metaphor denoting feelings born by the sound of the falling raindrops, an emotional answer to the rhythm of nature.
Summing up, I can say that America, running out of ideas, begins to copy the best European ideas and in this case it’s a fairly good copy. Thus, if you are a fan of ‘Atmospheric metal with operatic vocals’, quoting the press release, or you like Nightwish, this work will not leave you unsatisfied.
DREAMS "Cloud of Dreams" / (p)00 RWCDAX
I didn't hide, that DREAMS from Saratov with their composition "Cloud of Dreams" presented on the "Edge of the Night: Russian Gothic Compilation" were my favorites. But as far as I remember this track didn't gain much popularity. Being a synth-pop/synth-got lover I was amazed by this track and no wonder I waited for the full-length album of DREAMS with impatience. The release which fell into my hands appeared to be the second album. The first album was released a year ago under the title "Dreams", but it wasn't available to the wide audience. The new disc is a completely re-mixed variant of the debut plus couple of bonus tracks. In the situation of complete absence of synth-pop scene in our country (weak attempts of the project DVIJENIE, reminding the activity of RUKI VVERH, but by no means real synth-pop - is not worth mentioning), not even speaking of synth-goth, which is absent at all - DREAMS appear as an oasis in the desert - their music is actual and fresh indeed, without making any allowances for "locality" - it's the music of European level. As the synth-pop style requires mainly male vocals, the majority of melodic female-vocal bands are classified as synth-goth, we will call the music of DREAMS the same way. If to parallel it with foreign bands, it's closer to DUST OF BASEMENT and LA FLOA MALDITA, though the sound of DREAMS is at times too pop-like, there are some composition that can hardly be called 'synth'. But the majority of tracks can stand in line together with the hits of above mentioned foreign bands. The disc contains 8 tracks (except intro), including absolutely re-mixed (more hit-like) version of "Cloud of Dreams" and BEBORN BETON cover "The Colour of Love" with lyrics translated in Russian. In addition to the above mentioned tracks the disc contains three bonuses two of which are "Cloud" re-mixes - one is an electro-pop mix and another - noise industrial one from Dmitry Tolmatsky (DMT/RWCDAX). Excellent release recommended to all synth-pop lovers and particularly to DUST OF BASEMENT and LA FLOA MALDITA fans. PS: The only minus is Russian language, unfortunately, the part of the material is perceived as an ordinary pop (calling up the nostalgia for Russian pop band MIRAGE), besides the music which has real synth-pop sound and if all tracks had been in English some of them would have nicely fitted some regular "Strange Love" compilation.
V/A - "Black Rain Compilation II" / (p)00 Black Rain
Unfortunately, I haven't heard the first sampler, compiled by a promising young German industrial-gothic label Black Rain, but judging by the originality of the second one it should be very interesting. On the given compilation the label's bands (DAVA-N-TAGE, FEINDFLUG, THE DAYS OF THE TRUMPET CALL, WARSAW PACT), small company of "celebrities" (ACCESSORY, ECODALIA, FLESH FIELD) and some unfamiliar bands as well (BLACK DESIGN, STAUB, FOR A SPACE) are presented. The compilation is opened by DAVA-N-TAGE with a smash EBM-hit "Decadence". Further the torch is taken up by brutal militarists FEINDFLUG and here a small surprise waits for us - the presented track is not peculiar for their militaristic creative activity, though it's rather good. It seems that laurels of DEINE LAKAIEN and WOLFSHEIM give no peace to the collective called BLACK DESIGN, though I can't say their track is terrible (though the vocalist is far from being Veljanov), but it's a bit second-rate. ACCESSORY with the depressive track "Revolution" demonstrated themselves in all their beauty - excellent cruel electro. But the track by some INFINITE GLOOM didn't make special impression on me - just a monotonous mid-tempo darkwave. Next track, to my mind is a pearl of the given compilation, though deviating from the overall conception a little - THE DAYS OF THE TRUMPET CALL presented an emotional and sensual neo-classical darkwave composition - magnificent! Darkwave theme is continued by some STAUB, but it seems to me, their track is nothing special. Argentinian duo ECODALIA surprised by uncharacteristic melodiousness and pop ethereality. The hope of American electro - FLESH FIELD are presented by one of their brutal super hits "Heretic". Some CYBORG ATTACK distinguished themselves by monotonous EBM-track. One of the Black Rain's good company members WARSAW PACT presented harsh-noise track with vocals - a severe one. Brutal electro tradition is continued by DEFCON5 - a powerful club hit. The band under the name FOR A SPACE presented a melodic pop-electro-ambient track, hardly the best hit of the compilation. The disc also contains two bonus tracks by the above mentioned BLACK DESIGN ('not bonus' track is much better to my mind) and some goth band SHADOWLAND - a terrible ballad sounding almost like SCORPIONS. On the whole, the compilation is rather presentable one, demonstrating a strong potential of the Black Rain label. Of course one couldn't evade shortcomings, but the majority of tracks are excellent club hits and what is pleasant the tracks are from the bands not often featured on various "hit" compilations.
V/A - "Carnival of Souls Compilation: Part 1" / (p)00 Nightbreed
In England, the motherland of gothic music, in the beginning of 90's gothic subculture was on the verge of dying and up to mid 90's showed weak signs of life. Only from mid 90's the true resurrection of goths began and the biggest gothic festivals also started appearing in that time. In 1994 it occurred to some group of enthusiasts, not willing to reconcile themselves with clinical death of gothic subculture, to mix gothic party and fetish party. The idea proved to be rather fruitful, gladdening goths and fetish people - the success was grandiose and "Carnival of Souls" party became annual, the date - a week or two before Halloween. In the year 2000 ULTRAVIOLENCE, MAN(I)KIN, SNEAKY BAT MACHINE, BURNING GATES and THE REALM played at the party plus gothic/industrial DJ sets and erotic gothic and fetish show. As one might expect, this year the occasion has also been extremely successful. To commemorate this, Nightbreed label, the main English gothic den, operatively released the compilation under the title "Carnival of Souls", featuring the bands that had performed at the latest and previous CoS parties. The majority of presented tracks is the characteristic English electro-goth, cultivated by Nightbreed label. The compilation is opened by the new hope of the world gothic rock, illegitimate children of SISTERS OF MERCY - Belgian band STAR INDUSTRY, energetic hit as always. INTRA-VENUS also keeps up with dynamism - one of the new perspective electro-goth collectives of Nightbreed, rather an original symbiosis of gothic male vocals and melodic electro. Cyber-gothic collective SNEAKY BAT MACHINE, practically unknown in our country but extremely popular in England (nearly leaders of this modern genre, by the way they have recently changed the name to GOTEKI), presented the mad "Disco 4 the Dead". The band of Trev, the owner and inspirator of the Nightbreed, called MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION presented an exclusive mix of the track "Demonize" from their new album "Dark Hours of the Southern Cross". One more hope of English electro INERTIA distinguished itself by a composition, remixed by FUNKER VOGT - the track is good, but a bit monotonous. Next electro-goth band of the compilation FAITHFUL DOWN, hardly gladdened - electro-goth tracks are better perceived when they are energetic but not mid-tempo ones. The track from the terrible CATASTROPHE BALLET album "Modern Primitives" sounds o.k. apart from the album. It's a kind of a mixture of half-metal gothic-rock with ALICE COOPER. Finns TWO WITCHES, who's released an excellent album on Nightbreed, are presented by a romantic gothic ballad with male vocals. The new and according to gossips perspective band SQUID turned out to be some gothic RAMMSTEIN, not so convincing. And the track by HOUSE OF USHER gladdened very much - an excellent modern melodious gothic rock with male vocals. I wish there were more such bands! The collective in the memory of Bill Gates (joking) called BURNING GATES plays some orthodox gothic rock in the vein of EVERY NEW DEAD GHOST, which would sound quite original years ago, but now... The first band on the compilation unknown to me called ZONEI appeared to be nearly the best! Excellent electro-goth with brutal growling vocals and crazy music, sounding first as soundtrack for the arcade game and then scaring the ear by guitar solos - fresh and extremely original. They are serious competitors to MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION - beware Trev! It couldn't do without the most popular English gothic rock band INKUBUS SUKKUBUS, though they are presented by rather an old track "Intercourse with the Vampire" from the album "Heartbeat of the Earth". It's my favorite one and this is one of the best tracks on the album - a smash gothic-pagan-rock hit. One more hope of English gothic the band ALL LIVING FEAR well known on the local scene, though the presented track didn't impress me at all - it's more like some new wave, not gothic rock. The stars of Nightbreed - MAN(i)KIN related to non-local category. It's not electro-goth, but more likely a pure electro and the track "Skin" is one of best on their album "Sem(i)nal". And the compilation is closed by the track of BROTHER ORCHID - the band formed by the husband of MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION's ex-female vocalist Lisa. The track is blur and indistinct, some electro-ballad. So what can be said to crown it all? The disc is pretty good, because it contains the whole flower of modern English electro-goth scene - the bands less famous outside England, but rather perspective. I am sure we will hear about them more than once.