Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Cursing Your Will To LIve
Moribund Records

Raining coal-black shards of broken glass!

No, no, what "Cursing Your Will To Live" feels like is the after-effects of a lifetime spent listening to Judas Priest, Burzum and the Germs and drinking and taking every drug within reach, all while hating everything about where you live and the people with their stupid lives and stupid beliefs all around you until that hatred becomes a tangible acid in your stomach and lungs and you just have to scream and vomit it out. Dodsferd (aka Wrath from Greece, and no one else) ramps up the aggression and intensity of black metal with sneering doses of classic punk and good, catchy heavy metal deviltry (where you're like, my god listen to that Motorhead riff, fuck's sake!). In that respect, Dodsferd is nearer to the primitive rocka-rolla misanthropy of a Carpathian Forest, than the majestic, slate-grey horizons of Xasthur. But, y'know, viva la difference! I still play 'em back to back.

Some of the songs on "Cursing Your Will To Live" are seriously fucking catchy, like storming classic metal wrapped in black leather and doused in blood. And Wrath's vocals? Seriously lunatic. Vocal screams often taperoff into ragged shudders and moans - sounding completely in the midst of some sort of mental breakdown half the time. Ain't no devil horn posturing here. Dodsferd is on a more misanthropic kick, like when Wrath sreeches in frustration, that still those "hypocrite shitfuckers" won't die. songs are pretty long, which fucking rules because they just keep rocking and rocking as Wrath contemptuously layers killer, top of killer riff, only to mar and scarify it with sentiments and pronouncements, before veering off into some rampage or total white noise. There are also some experrimental moments akin to an exorcism or a Baker Act gone fatlly wrong. And it's got one of the best song titles ever, "You Called It Resurrection, I Called It Fairytalke For Human Parasites, Your Kind!" No one loses here!

Voted most likely to soundtrack a multiple murder.

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Order

A Collection and A New Order Story

Let's start with Joy Division.... no wait, let's not. Too painful. Let's instead start with the main feature, "New Order Story," a film about the history of New Order (Steven Morris, Peter Hook, Gillian Gilbert and Bernard Sumner) that was prodcued in the mid 90s by Kevin Hewitt and journalist/raconteur Paul Morley.

What I like:

It's a history of New Order, what the hell is there not to like? Seriously, it filled in a lot of holes for me about the musical genesis of the band and illustrated those points with generous clippage from live performances and videos. I was particularly enthralled by this clip of them on some meaningless chat show in Englad playing "Blue Monday" with both Gillian Gilbert (looking awesomely secretarial/mod) and Steven Morris playing synths! If only they had the infamous clip (now on Youtube) of New Order playing "Temptation" with Bernard Sumner wearing the shortest, tightest tennis shorts on the planet. Give it a million stars! The clips from Montreaux Jazz Festival were pretty keen too. Judiciously chosen interview subjects: It's heartening to see Peter Saville, Rob Gretton and the dark prince Tony Wilson given equal face time as the band, as Wilson always has something inflammatory to say, while it's just fun to watch Gretton mumble nervously. For surprise interviews, check out Neil Tennant, who talked about how gutted he was when "Blue Monday" came out because the Pet Shop Boys were working on a song that had the same bassline, and Quincy Jones, who wears a sweater decorated with piano keys and pulls it off. Full interview access granted by all four band members is a good thing too. Peter Hook - besides having the most stunning visual transformation - from middle-manager looking type in fussy slacks and tie, to long-haired, leather-pants wearing, crotch thrusting ROKKER by the end of the film - steals the show by filming his bits in a tranvestite bar, wearing one of Don Johnson's old suits. Plus they don't shy away from the Joy Division, with some great, crisp live footage.

And it's just an important document, man. A very important document.

What I don't like:

The framing devices. Good god, they're painful to watch and hear. The female narrator, spouting all sorts of artful nonsense about the band and their non-strategies for pop stardom, purrs and coos her way through her lines, seeming for all the world like a housewife trying to seduce a window cleaner - fair game, a job's a job, but it's funny to hear her spin their more sluggish later years (how can you possibly claim that it was a masterstroke for New Order to be on Baywatch? Fuuuuuck!) as on a par with their early, unforgiving, sleek modernism. The other framing device is this Keith Allen bunch of balder-fucking-dash where it's like a mock gameshow set-up and they (drunkenly) answer trivia questions about their history. Too chummy. Too crap. The only good bit is where they go into the audience and ask Rob Gretton a question. He unsteadily adjusts his glasses and whispers, "Can't. Too pissed." Also, they don't treat "World In Motion" like the true, crushing, Superbowl Shuffle-esque abortion that it is (more on that later). Finally, and this is very tough for me to admit - because after all, last Christmas, I gave most of my friends copies of New Order 316 because the '81 show is so fucking awesome and iconic -  in interviews, most of New Order (except for Peter Hook, I've always had a soft spot for his schtick) come off as kind of cold and dismissive and especially Bernard Sumner, really disagreeable. Now I'm sure that 9/10s of that is due to the fact that they've been questioned endlessly about the towering emotions that Joy Division conjures up for the better part of three decades - and you can't help but turn into a human callous after being in the pop biz for that long.... but still. I mean, they had a perfect forum to discuss their falling out with Factory and why they abandoned the label and signed with a major but intead they just fucking sulked and said little snipey shitty things about Tony Wilson. Lame. God. It's jarring, how can these be the same four fresh-faced naifs who banged out the Perfect Kiss? COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. And why the fuck did they have to interview Bono? Goddamn, give all of his camera time to Tony Wilson and be done with it.

On to the videos!

New Order
A Collection

Okay, where do I even start. First off, this is a superior artifact, compiling every single one of New Order's promo clips through their long and checkered history, peppered with generous performance extras and remixes. It's essential for the fan and student of electronic music. Sometimes, watching this is like having your own feed to old episodes of MTV's 120 Minutes. That said, let's be frank, most of New Order's videos veered dangerously close to pretentious rubbish - how many times could you watch painted dudes slapping one another - and I wouldn't even recommend that you go past Regret, because after that the song quality itself takes a nosedive. Gah. Oh there're some terrible moments in here. But let's not dwell. It's unhealthy.

When they're good, no one else was better and the video for "Confusion" is goddamn good. It's like a verite love letter to the New York cityscape that rejuvenated their creativity, complete with copious shots of club life, the long-gone dirty streets of midtown and even a cameo by producer Arthur Baker. Watch and then watch again. The true blockbuster though (and I'm on my twentieth viewing) is Jonathan "Silence of the Lambs" Demme's masterwork on "The Perfect Kiss." It's a straightforward performance clip (finally) of the band in a spartan studio, composed of lingering closeups of their various faces and hands playing instruments. It's revelatory. They never looked better. Brows furrow in concentration. Lips try not to smile. Electric drums are battered. Sampled frog calls are triggered. Gillian Gilbert looks immaculate. Peter Hook looks like a metal dj. And let's not forget the epic metal pastiche "Touched by the Hand of God" with the band decked out like cock rock royalty, headbanging all over the place in slow motion. It sort of trails off after that for me. I mean, I still like the video for Regret - god I loved that song back in high school - the bad news is, the clip from them "playing" the song on an episode of Baywatch (Hasslehoff stops by near the end to nod along, solemnly) killed any love I have for that song. The vidoes just become impenetrably messy (like the one with the dog) and the band's formerly crisp appearnce fades into a blur of sensible shoes and baggy shorts - although, again, perversely Peter Hook turns into Lemmy. To close, I need to say a few words about soccer/football anthem World in Motion. Ahem. What the fuck did they put that on there for? God! I can't believe people haven't burned every single copy of that tape. If you thought the Super Bowl Shuffle was bad, get a load of this nonsense. New Order kills their reputation, Gillian Gilbert looks confused, Keith Allen acts like a fool, the rest of the band wear ill-fitting jerseys and a bunch of England's finest bootballers act, sing and rap more weoodenly than a mountain made of log cabins. Argh.  Terrible. How dare they? What a waste. The only thing that cleanses that from my palette is a moody clip of the band running through Temptation from their perfect 1981 performance on 316. All bands should look this good.

The Peter Saville packaging is cutting-edge as you'd except. It jlooks pretty even sitting there on the endtable, waiting to be played. And that's the whole point, isn't it?

- Matthew Moyer

Monday, December 10, 2007

Creature Feature

The Greatest Show Unearthed
Sumerian Records

Great band name, great cover art and a cool cd that looks like a vinyl record. With all that going for them does the music stack up? Well, since I have not heard much "gothic rock" in a long time, this was pretty cool. Kind of a dark carnival vibe with the guitar and keyboards combined with a wicked since of humor to the lyrics. Imagine early Marilyn Manson (but not as heavy) crossed with Voltaire's lyrical wit. After listening to track five "A Gory Demise" you just have to love these guys!

- Craig Harvey

Mindless Faith

Medication For The Misinformed
Metropolis Records

American electro-industrial masterminds Mindless Faith, hit home with another winner entitled "Medication For The Misinformed". Merging the gap between industrial and metal with a barrage of pulsating harsh beats, grinding distorted guitars, wicked synth-lines, and processed (but discernable) vocals, they brilliantly pay homage to such acts as Frontline Assembly, Skinny Puppy, and KMFDM with a style all their own. Besides Cyanotic, these guys get my vote for the second best industrial release of the year.

- Craig Harvey

Black Tie

Goodbye, Farewell
Socyermom Records

Beautiful, somber music that drifts across down tempo beats, lightly distorted guitars, piano and cello. Mostly instrumental, with the occasional set of vocals, this reminds me of a cross between shoegazer bands such as Slowdive and the latter works of The Gathering, while having a beautiful ambient vibe as well. Highly recommended.

- Craig Harvey


Zoviet Records Sampler
Zoviet Records

This eight song sampler from Zoviet Records showcases their five bands, "The Razorblade Dolls, Ghoultown, The Holocaust Humanity, Bitrot, and Sonic Noise Terrorists". For the most part, the bands were pretty much solid electro/goth/noise industrial bands that were decent but nothing overly spectacular. However, what was really impressive was "Ghoultown". Their unique blend of gothabilly with a tinge of metal was right on the money. These Texans really know how to kick it hard! If for nothing else, get this cd for these guys alone!

- Craig Harvey

The Unholy Alliance Tour

Chapter II: Preaching To The Perverted DVD

This second leg of the Unholy Alliance Tour features headliners Slayer with supporting acts Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, Mastodon, and Thine Eyes Bleed. You pretty much get the entire show from Slayer, and only tidbits from the other bands. This was kind of disappointing since I was fan of all of them, except Thine Eyes Bleed (who I was unfamiliar with.) Mastodon got the most coverage (outside of Slayer) with three whole songs. Don't get me wrong all the bands were great, but it would have been nice to have a few more songs from each of them. The Slayer concert was, well.... Slayer. These guys do what they do and don't change to much, but they bash out some of the heaviest, evil, sick songs better than bands half their age. If your a Slayer fan pick this up. If not, it's really not worth the money because of the lack of footage for the other bands.

- Craig Harvey


Show Me The Way
Napalm Records

This five song Ep showcases yet another beautiful female singer Sandra Schleret. She replaced former vocalist Sabine Dunser after her sad passing in 2006 from a cerebral hemorrhage. However, three of these songs had already been completed prior to Sabine's death. So you are treated to her last set of recordings, while also hearing the new single "Show Me The Way" featuring Sandra. Tragedy aside, Sandra fits right into the band's heavy gothic/metal sound with her angelic voice soaring across the twin guitar barrage of Pete Streit and Chris Gruber. Bassist Tom Saxer also provides the occasional grunting backing vocals and helps hold the bottom end down along drummer with Max Naescher. Their sound is similar to labelmates "Leaves Eyes" but I still enjoyed this and look forward to their next full length album.

- Craig Harvey


Ravnenes Saga
Napalm Records

Another folk metal band comes our way from Denmark with the traditional song's about vikings and their folklore. This was about the third album of this genre I had received this year and I found it not as progressive as say, Vintersong and nowhere near as fun as Korpiklanni, but it wasn't bad. The vocals are in the band's native language and mostly sang in death metal grunts or piercing high in shrieks. To me, without the flute playing most of the lead melodies this would have sounded like any number of death metal bands. Granted it's a solid metal album and while interesting, it's not overly exciting either.

- Craig Harvey


Days Of Wrath
Napalm Records

Severely tuned down and brutal as hell, Syrach's punishing riffs and growling vocals are full of despair and desolation. I can hear a big influence from doom metal peers "My Dying Bride" but with a slightly more unprocessed and raw sound. The guitars sound like they could not go any lower without being unplayable (which is a major problem with tuning down too low, you lose definition and your sound tends to be muddy) but that's not the case here. Syrach has found that niche' that falls right on the line without losing clarity in their notes and keeping the massive sound they are going for. Fans of doom metal take note!!

- Craig Harvey


Seven Sins A Second
Napalm Records

Sinamore has a sound thats a bit between dark melodic and progressive metal. Vocalist/Guitarist Mikko Heikkila has a great set of pipes that has a somber, sad edge while having the range to reach upwards whenever needed. The riffs are catchy and infectious and it was a no brainer that this was going to be a great cd from the first track. No doubt Sinamore will be compared to their Finnish brethren HIM, but really, they are worlds apart other than being melodic. HIM can't begin to touch the dark edge that Sinamore has captured so brilliantly on this release.

- Craig Harvey


Distractive Killusions
Napalm Records

Is this new Dimmu Borgir? No wait, it's Vesania. Man they copied the play book from Dimmu Borgir note for note. Even the riffs sound similar. Holy crap! I can't really recommend this regardless of how good the music is, as it's nothing but a clone. It's an impressive clone I must admit. Perhaps these guys should form a Dimmu Borgir cover band unless they can evolve their sound into something more original.

- Craig Harvey