Wednesday, August 20, 2008

AZRA (Dual Review)

Dante's Bride
Movement Frequencies

It is often difficult and fraught with peril when an artist leaves the music scene and attempts to make a return. The danger is in reconnecting with lost fans and supporters as well as winning the attention of the new and often estranged fans still supporting the current scene. Azra Medea is no stranger to the Dark Rock music scene spending years with Alucarda providing solid melodic dark rock with her compelling operatic vocals. Joining now with members of S.R.I. and Navaja, Azra Medea makes a return to the dark rock scene with a new unique play list to tantalize your predacious desire for dark licks.

With the new album Dante's Bride; The CD opens with a very ghostly keyboard riff and thunderous backbeats creating an eerie intro, sculpting a soundscape entry to what promises to be a dank and creepy album. Dark Creation has a solid horror romance rift with Azra and Robert's vocals dreamily leading you through their strange poetic lyrical enchantment. Romantic and evocative, Azra's lyrics conjure up fantastic ritual images to delight you into the journey. Bell the Cat trips up the album from its creepier mood and evocations. A poppy number of revenge it halts the forward motion of earlier tracks. Queen of the Danse is a beautiful blend of Romany influenced folk acoustics with bleeding electric guitar rifts. Haunted is an alluring number with Robert's crepuscular vocals complimenting Azra's own sultry licks. Rant is an angry ripping diddy that punches and kicks at everyday issues that decimate the listener. Lucky One is a dulcet romantic melody sweetly tickling your ears. The title track Dante's Bride blends gritty guitar licks with Azra's very operatic style creating a truly amazing Goth Club dance track. Closing with the Alice Reprisal, Azra leaves you with a bittersweet and chilling riff.

The album Dante's Bride en total is an eclectic dark rock mix of gritty guitar work, lilting operatic vocals, industrial sampling and unorthodox lyrics. Azra Medea's style of writing and lyrical vocals hearken back to a forgotten era of dark rock reminiscent of Jarbo and Eva-O where quality writing sold an album better than easily manufactured fluff. My critique is that it has a very raw feel from opening to closing. The guitars will gritty and bleeding from every rift, sound under cut when featured prominently next to Azra's and Robert's vocals. Its style while compelling for those who appreciate all aspects of the dark rock scene has drawbacks. While romantic in every gesture, the album has a solid Deathrock feel that will make it a hard sell to today's pop fluff Neo Goth or (sic) Emo brainwashed community.

Still Dante's Bride is a stolid work, passionate and bombastic with tracks like Rant and What you Deserve while retaining a sinister romanticism in Haunted and Queen of the Danse. As an album and a return to the Dark Rock scene, Azra's unusual writings and dark vocal style add a welcome addition to any dark rock play list.

Dr. Raven
MOVEMENT corespondent - Springfield OR


Dante's Bride
Movement Frequencies

The Jacksonville gothic assault begins here? Oh, if it were only so simple. Local artist/muician/muse/scenester Azra Medea has been a creative force in our fair city for several years now, most notably as part of Alucarda, amongst varied other multimedia endeavors, but it appears she has now focused herself down to this one project, even stamping her name on the damn thing, so let’s just say that “Dante’s Bride” is her signature work right now. For a debut it’s a little less than alright. Azra’s no shoegazing mewler, but a pretty fucking strong belter along the lines of an early Siouxsie or Monica Richards from Faith and the Muse, yoking her pipes to dark atmospherics and oddly harder-edged metallic tones. Is there any club fodder here? No? Thank god. In fact, “Dante’s Bride” reminds this reviewer of a more metallic and rudimentary take on the Projekt sound or way early Switchblade Symphony. There are some problems, though. The production is a little thin, so the overall sound and instrumentation doesn’t quite match up to the force of the vocals. Could be fuller and probably louder. It suffers from a lack of bottom-end, everything's all trebly and mid-range, further flattening out the album. Taken in isolation, each song isn't that bad - it's when you're faced with thirteen songs that you become a little overwhelmed. The songs on "Dante’s Bride" are somewhat flat in terms of variation in mood and dynamics, and though Azra has a powerful set of lungs, she’s not a dynamic or compelling enough vocalist to elevate such material to the level of transcendence. And the less said about the Marilyn Mansonesque male backing vocals, the better.

At a time when gothic music and other dark alternative fare is simultaneously looking back to early pioneers like Alien Sex Fiend, Suicide and Killing Joke for inspiration and assimilating bleeding-edge elements of avant-garde, death folk and no-wave music, “Dante’s Bride” comes off as a little too staid and conservative.

Would I rather listen to this than the Cruxshadows? Fuck yes.

Matthew Moyer
MOVEMENT staff writer - Jacksonville, FL

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