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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wolfpack Unleashed

Anthems Of Resistance
Napalm Records

Thrash metal from the Fatherland!! Wolfpack Unleashed lay down some of the tastiest thrash metal riffs that brings me back to the days of Megadeth, Metallica, Testament, Exodus etc.... when Thrash was king!!! The vocals even have a nice James Hetfield vibe to them, but still has the tinge of that German accent that rolls across the tongue of lead singer/bassist Gunther Wirth. He's got a gruff edge, and does the occasional growl now and then, but he's no screamer. It's even got a great twin guitar team consisting of band founder Wops Koch and Karl Preininger and these guys mean buisness. Galloping riffs and smoldering lead work simply set the songs on fire!! Oh and lets not forget about the drum and bass. Man what a massive bottom end! The double bass drums simply destroy! As I mentioned before, vocalist Gunther Wirth handles the bass duties as well and he is fine form keeping up with both guitarists with some nimble 4 string fretwork. He can really play the bass, not simply do the bare minimum. That said, this is an album for metal fans of all areas. It's got enough kick ass musicianship and great songs that should put it right up there along side the metal giants that these guys so revere.

- Craig Harvey


Tetra Karcist
Napalm Records

The history of this band can be a little confusing. It seems there has been a ton of line-up changes since the first incarnation back in 1993. I did a little research and there have been 11 former members prior to the group as it exists today. Even the founding member Cernunnos committed suicide by hanging himself (geez what is it with these black metal bands?) I don't think any of the current foursome other than vocalist/guitarist Nornagest have been with the band more than a few years. Nornagest played guitar with the band since 95' but had to assume vocal duties when their singer Lord Sabathan (who had been with the group since 94') left the band. Anyway enough with the revolving circus of band members. On with the music. Well, it's black metal for sure. It's got all the right elements; blast beats, evil growling/screaming vocals, satanic lyrics, haunting gregorian chants and eerie keyboards for good measure. And lo and behold some good production! A lot of early black metal had this annoying habit of shitty production with no bottom end and thin guitars. Some "purists" tend to slam any band of this genre for actually sounding good! What morons. Who wants to sound like crap because they think it's cool? One interesting thing I noticed was the guitar solo's were very melodic and not chaotic at all. They had these... almost "beautiful" dark melodies that contrasted so well over the blackened riffs, that it made it that much more evil. Granted these guys have not re-invented the wheel here, but they have done it better than a lot of their peers. This is supreme metal blasphemy at it's finest!

- Craig Harvey


Transhuman 2.0
Bitriot Records

This two disc set of hard industrial tunes is actually performed by an actual band, not one guy with a computer, midi keyboard and a few other effects toys. Nothing wrong with that of course, but on stage, this foursome actually have more to do than stand behind one synth and scream into a microphone. The live feel of bass, guitars, vocals and of course keyboards are much better eye candy if you ask me. The music is definitely on the harsh side (no synth pop here) and the lyrics are about the inevitable melding of man and technology as part of our natural evolutionary process. The second disc also adds some remixes into the song line-up as well. With 28 tracks to choose from this is a splendid deal from a darn good American industrial act.

- Craig Harvey

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


The Alternative

IAMX is one of the many musical aliases of Chris Corner - better known as the man behind the electro shapeshifters the Sneaker Pimps. For "The Alternative," the second IAMX full-length, Corner assumes a visual and sonic persona not unlike that of David Bowie's dissolute, European and sinister Thin White Duke, revelling in a performance dripping with old-world decadence and a fetish-club update of Keith Richards'"elegantly wasted" ethos. Corner's voice goes from deep and commanding to a crystalline falsetto at the drop of a (peaked, leather) cap, full of seductive yearning, while a mix of coked-out disco, stadium-ready electronics a-la Depeche Mode and glammed-out EBM swirls woozily all around him.

Lest ye think it's all Caligula-with-a-synthesizer and the record is gonna leave fluids and used needles on your record player, don't worry sweetness, the ratio of Saturday night to Sunday morning songs is way more even than you'd expect. Tear-soaked torch numbers like "S.H.E" and "This Will Make You Love Again" display an earnest vulnerability, like there's a Frank Sinatra circa "In The Wee Small Hours" buried under all the PVC, leather and smeared makeup, struggling to escape an endless cycle of bathroom stalls and one-night stands. Epic. For the most part though, the album is darker and more rhythmic, with songs like "Nightlife" attempting to approximate the Stooges headlining a rave (while copping the riff of U2's "Discotheque"), glammy stompers like "The Alternative" and "Spit It Out" going into full-on dancefloor dramatics and grand diva gestures. Additionally, the whole album has just enough cabaret influences and music hall flourishes to lend it a fin de siècle feel, where every cruelty and kindess becomes cinematic in scope. Did I mention that fucking falsetto? I did? As with love affairs, there are a couple of clunkers like the She Wants Revenge pastiche "Negative Sex" and the clattery cod-industrial of "Bring Me Back A Dog." He's better than all that. Throwing darts in lovers' eyes...

-Matthew Moyer

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Prinzhorn Dance School

"Prinzhorn Dance School"

Start from nothing - void, silence - and build. Children's rhymes had it right the first time. That's the twin maxims - from where I sit/stand - behind the stark, difficult beauty of Prinzhorn Dance School. Their sound is that of basic building blocks, the unbearable space between notes, silence as the third member of this wide-eyed duo, shouty, off-kilter lyrics that recall playground taunts and nursery rhymes as much as they do sociopolitical texts (the anti-corporatism and big-box store hate of "Do You Know Your Butcher" with its muttered fatalisms "Do you know your paper/Comes from the big store/Next to the big store" or "Worker's" accusatory, wake-up shouts of "You are the worker!").

Instruments are basic, insistent basslines (like when you first started playing the bass and you just wanted it to sound fucking cool) are supported by spare, mostly absent, drumming and wiry guitar interjections. The vocals are delivered stridently, matter-of-fact, more like slogans or prayers or threats by the bug-eyed unsmiling male vocalist, with underlines and counterpoints and punctuations provided by the girl vocalist's Huggy Bear/riot grrrly yelps and shouts, and occasional heartmelting duets. It don't swing, and you're probably not going to dance to it- too bad boo hoo- but it has this static nervous beauty to it that I just can't get over. Anxiety is freedom.

Sonic antecedents influences include Huggy Bear, Gang of Four, the Fall, Wire, Au Pairs. But Prinzhorn Dance School is even more stripped down and stark, so it (thankfully) becomes so much more difficult to play the rote game of "spot the influences." Intense eyes staring you down. Songs pulled out of thin air, you realize they were always there.

-Matthew Moyer

Wet Nurse and Jason Irvin Presents...

Wet Nurse
"Electrocute Your Cunt"
Self Released (

Wet Nurse aka Danielle Mathieux is the vocal (and xylophone) half of the one of the best young bands I've heard in 2007 -  A Woman's Weapon - and luckily for me they happen to live in Jacksonville where I can check out truly thrilling, heart-rending, eccentric music on a somewhat regular basis, without having to deal with a lot of buzz and static. Jason Irvin is the other half (on chord organ and everything else) and WHILE I much prefer them together - their solo records are very illuminating peeks into how the solo obsessions of each member feed into the wonder that is A Woman's Weapon. A fucking great band, it has to be said.

Now, why I love Wet Nurse too - it's basically down to her voice. It's a gorgeous voice, clear and true, tinged with melancholic yearning, but also very dramatic, strong and not afraid to venture into more stagey affectations. It's an interesting paradox of "Electrocute Your Cunt" that Danielle has such a beautiful voice but she spends most of the album disguising and defacing it behind effects or tape-speed fuckery, or burying it in toy orchestra white noise. She's like a particularly committed character actor, remember all of those pull-outs from horror magazines of Lon Cheney's Thousand Faces? Okay, maybe it's not exactly like that. But close.

The musical set pieces are fascinating as well - simultaneously ornate and spare while also clearly homemade and roughly collaged with the glee of early Surrealists and Dadaists - "Electrocute Your Cunt" feels like the antithesis of the Pro Tools laziness you find among so many electronic musicians. There's a sense of, if not necessarily mad scientists, than sleeves rolled up, scissors, piles of magnetic tape and loops constructed by hand. In the final analysis, "Electrocute Your Cunt" is a sonic mix of early Sparklehorse's solitary sadness, Jarboe's vocal exorcisms and the crude but heartfelt pop experiments of Jad Fair and Blectum From Blechdom.

Two covers pop up amongst the originals - Butthole Surfers and Daisy Chainsaw offshoots Queen Adreena. Under all the dried blood and splintered machines...

Jason Irvin Presents...
"The Dirty South"
Self Released (

In stark contrast to the rough-hewn, beautifully minimalist orchestrations he creates for A Woman's Weapon - Weimar music hall filtered through a lens of cracked Americana - Jason Irvin's "Dirty South" solo outing is an unhinged foray into electro-whimsy and great, squiggling swathes of white noise clearing everything in their distorted wake. Equally mining veins of puckish glitchcore and punishing power noise, Resident's poisoned-apple whimsy, with a good dose of early industrial's sense of architectural shaping of noise - "The Dirty South" is a complex recording that takes numerous listens to fully digest. Distortion drips from every note, tracks are seemingly left out in the sun to bend and warp, there is a mad-scientist homemade feel to the whole affair. Some "songs" are like audio mirages, the drone becomes so all-encompassing that your traitorous ears invent changes and dynamics that aren't even there - like those crazy 3-d paintings from years back. I definitely prefer him in service to the song (oh! the song!) with AWW but there is no denying that Irvin is a precocious and voracious musical mind that can take on any genre he wishes to.

-Matthew Moyer

Friday, November 2, 2007


Young Modern

The Australian trio have outdone themselves by continuing in their tradition of shape-shifting their musical presence with each release. Maybe it actually has something to do the lengthy 5 year gap since their last album "Diorama" (an epically orchestrated masterpiece), which shocked listeners and critics alike. Somehow the Chair have managed to start looking at the bright side of life and are now having a little more fun with their craft. In "Young Modern," it is hard to tell what exactly is trying to be accomplished, but much like a confusing film, this is what makes each listen worthwhile. This Long awaited release is vibrant, intelligent, sexy, spastic, and it will leave your eyes wide and teary from the vivid mushroom like trip that you will think you just experienced. Frontman and song writer, Daniel Johns has managed to create tracks that sound like past Chair sounds meets Jellyfish. It is as though the two groups are joining in holy matrimony inside of a traveling circus complete with a ball-balancing seal doing the honors of being the flower girl. It is hard to believe that these are the same three young gents who put out "Frogstomp" as their debut release back in 1995. Being an incredibly large fan and follower of the band, I have noticed that upon mention of the band's name, most of the music loving population will first speak of this 12 year-old release and seem to have completely disregarded anything post-Frogstomp. This is very sad. Ladies and Gentlemen, they are not a teenage grunge band anymore! In fact, each and every record they have placed on the shelves of our music stores has appeared to be a completely different animal than those preceding. To praise this new compact disc for a moment, I say that the songwriting is immaculate, the choruses are breathtaking, and the sore-ass syndrome you'll experience from each listen comes from Daniel John's vocal godliness. To sum it up, if "Young Modern" was a tasty beverage at your local coffee shop, you would need to order an experimental blend rock album brand of bean, brewed through an indie-dance-retro-funk filter, and topped it with a colorful, simplistic artful layout to bring forward it's truly aural bliss.

- Brandon Blane Highfill

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bonde Do Ro

"With Lasers"

Don't get me wrong bub, Bonde Do Role's "With Lasers" is pretty good. It's dumb, messy, sweaty fun. And the album sounds like it would totally take flight live and inspire all sorts of frenzy (which makes me even more disappointed that they pulled out of their early October TSI shows, citing that showbiz standby "exhaustion") and audience/performer overlap. So, cool, yeah. But "With Lasers" taken alone, without the live performance immediacy? Hmmm.... It's like a bratty collage of Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right To Party," (the sadly departed) Shampoo, MIA and Miami booty bass with exotique Brazilian flavor. Besides CSS, they're the main ambassadors for the baile funk movement and apparently a bunch of metal samples didn't make the final cut - for legal reasons. I had my money on the opening track using Angus Young's riff from AC/DC's "Thunderstruck."

Sometimes "With Lasers" is a little too "wacky" (or new or fun or dancy) for my tastes but on tunes like metallized scorcher "Bondallica," the frenzied shouty chorus of "James Bonde," "Marino Da Bairro" full of snotty Kraftwerk groove and breathless boy/girl vocals, "Gasolina" with its toy synths and chants of "Afrika Bambaata," everything works out just fine. Songs are punk-rock length, so don't worry if there's one you don't like, thee's another one on the way. It's weird though, in the end this record will make people dance and have fun, and that makes my blood run cold. Hey no, enjoy it though.

-Matthew Moyer

Godless Rising

"Battle Lords"
Moribund Cult Records

As the immortal Voivod once said, "RRROOOAAARRR!!!!!" The nucleus of Rhode Island's (also home to Lightning Bolt, mind you) Godless Rising is Jeff Gruslin and Paul Flynn, both formerly of Vital Remains, presumably having ditched that outfit to create something even more antisocial and sacreligious. Good news! They've succeeded! Godless Rising are an inexorable charge of amphetamined death-metal overkill. Visions of Angelcorpse, Deicide, Bolt Thrower and Suffocation dance in my head whilst I'm being pummeled by "Battle Lords'" enthusiastic lack of finesse and spike-gloved bodyblows. What you gets is a taut whirlwind of Satanic speedkicks and complex riff breakdowns collaged together for maximum discomfort, dual lead guitar acrobatics with gurgling high/low (Benton-esque) vocals that relish each slurred blasphemy and "what the hell? Is this real?" typewriter quick drums. The vibe is meant to summon forth classic death metal witchery, but the sound is surprisingly modern. Music like this is meant to divide. Fuck. Yes.

In an age of religious extremism, are dath metal musicians the new humanists? Or the last line of age of enlightenment, secular defense? Discuss.

-Matthew Moyer

The Vision Bleak

The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey
Napalm Records

I first heard The Vision Bleak on their debut cd "The Deathship Has A New Captain" and I must say I really dug it. The duo of Olf Theodor Schwdorf and Allen B. Konstanz lay down a terrifying metal dirge of doom guitar riffs, thundering bass and drums while adding dark atmospheric synths and low eerie vocals. Yeah I know , there are a million gothic/metal bands doing the exactly the same formula. So what sets them apart from the fold? Beats me. These guys just... make it work better than a lot of their peers. Even Schwdorf's vocals slightly remind me of Type O Negative crossed with The Sisters Of Mercy to some extent, but so what? The lyrical influences range from H.P. Lovecraft, to Egyptian mythology, vampires, Poe, etc... They move all over the horror genre with frightening ease and on their new Cd "The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey" it really pays off. So, if you like your gothic metal with a little more "bite", then I highly recommend The Vision Bleak. Just in time for Halloween kiddies.

- Craig Harvey

Monday, October 29, 2007

Satans Host

Burning the Born Again... A New Philosophy
Moribund Cult

Okay, this is fucking awesome. The atmospheric, synthy Goblin-esque intro gives me a quick moment to tell you that Colorado's Satan's Host have been going for about two decades now, honing their underground thrash sound to a sharper and more serrated point. SO here we are in the year 2007 and purveyors of all things black, Moribund Cult Records, have snatched them up from the underground and given them a new purpose and new audience. Satan's Host are, like Napalm Death, a legacy band, founder Patrick Evil (YES!) having assembled a (mostly) new blood lineup, roughing up the edges of his sleek thrashy riffs, giving them a blackened discoloration. It's fucking cool though, the sound of "Burning the Born Again" is classic thrash, without the museum piece stigma or self-conscious retrofitting that often accompanies this type of musique. What we're left with is a smoldering slab of good ol' Satanic death-heaviness executed with aplbom and acumen! "Burning" is reminiscent of the sound of classic Swedish death metal, especially Entombed circa "Left Hand Path," evil thrash like Dark Angel, some tense Iron Maiden-y bits and a lot of the early deathcore like Carcass. It's dirty and grungy as fuck. Downtuned, buzzing migraine guitars and catchy, vile riffery gives way to technical sections that never forget the essential brutality of their tunes (but evoking that awesome unpredciable bird on a wire tension of metal), a tight, speedy rhythm section, great discordant leads landing between Motorhead and Morbid Angel, and sicko vocals like LG Petrov and Jeff Walker, just way more unhinged. That sense of wild abandon and dedication to their blunt-force craft, nudges them way above their younger peers.

Check the call-and-rssponse chorus of "H.E.L.L." - in between blistering speed runs! Or the brittle, doomy riffing in "A Darkmoon Gathering!" The Dead Can Dance interlude of "A New Philosophy!" The swaggering riffery on "The Unholy Sabbath!" There's like a million fucking songs on this album. No way that you won't get your money's worth. Here's hoping all those nu-thrash dorkos give the proper respect to these dissolute godfathers. Too good to be a cult obscurity.

-Matthew Moyer

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Horrors

The Horrors (EP)
Stolen Transmission

So what we, uh, don't have enough of these days is bands looking like they sound. Trust me, with the exceptions of the Cramps, Siouxsie and every black metal band ever, most bands aren't willing to make that extra jump into total identity immersion and reality creation. Not So! with the Horrors. They're the NME saviors it's okay to like! They have unfeasibly big hair! Unfeasibly tight undertaker outfits! They're going to be in an episode of the Mighty Boosh! They're not afraid to be goth! They have an organ player! I could go on. The visual imagery of the Horrors is way fucking cogent in discussing their overall aesthetics - that of cobblestoned streets in the dead of night, dank crypts, darkened velvet drawing rooms, consumptive radicals, cape-wearing dandies, Dickensian urchins, Baudelaire and Rimbaud knife fighting down dark streets, Ghoulardi broadcasting B-grade horror films from someone's basement, the Count Five wearing Dracula capes...

Okay, the Horrors are too young to be so good in that dirty, filthy garage-crypt-robbin' way. But they pull it fucking off! Half of this lightning quick 5-song EP (no song over 3:30 minutes, buddy!) sounds like the Cramps' foster children, the other half sounds like they could have been the opening band for either Bobby "Boris" Picket and the Crypt Kicker Five or maybe Screamin' Jay Hawkins in his prime. It's a blur of messy, evil cavestomp genius - Billy Childish and Jesus and Mary Chain and old 78s, dig those backing vocals and that screeching organ, dad.

"Death At The Chapel," besides having one of the coolest song titles ever, doesn't overstay its welcome in a careening two minutes worth of horror movie organs (from Spyder Webb), fuzzed out guitar vomit and Faris's screams ushering in a guitar solo and an organ solo respectively! With a crash effect at the end! "Crawdaddy Simone," ostensibly about a creepy loner, might instead be about any member of the band, down to the stylish dress and not having any friends - my favorite part about this song is the high, beat group backing vocals. Not to mention lead howler Faris Rotter's bizarrely mature vocal roar, reminiscent of Nick Cave circa Birthday Party with a lil' bit of Mark Arm. "Sheena Is A Parasite" reimagines the classic Ramones number as a spazzed-out, teethgrinding goth raveup. If Bauhaus was a Nuggets band! Release the bats! Following that is a cover of Screaming Lord Sutch's Halloween classic "Jack the Ripper," and they do the old boy proud. It's all taut, darkling mod frenzy - with wiry, one-note guitar, four on the floor rhythms, atonal organ vamps, little boy lost call-and-response vocals to Rotter's deep gurgles. A glorious mess. "Excellent Choice" somewhat breaks with the previous black planet/batcave vibe with a number that reminds me of "Jesus Built My Hotrod" or "Louie Louie." Now THIS is what a young band/Britain should sound like.

Any justice in the world and they'll ignite a youth cult like Roxy Music before them. Fashion is art is music is pose is death... I mean life.

-Matthew Moyer


The Open Door
Wind Up Records

Evanescence took the hard rock/metal world by storm back in 2003 with their debut cd "Fallen". Amy Lee's soaring, angelic vocals merged with Ben Moody's massive guitar riffs sent them straight up the charts. Granted their musical formula was not entirely new, as European metal acts such as The Gathering, Nightwish, and Lacuna Coil have always had strong female vocalists. However, Evanescence was the first American band to put this style in the limelight. World tours followed along with the hit singles "Bring Me To Life", "My Immortal", "Going Under"and "Everybody's Fool". Even with the huge success of the band, tensions arose and co-founding member Moody, left because of creative differences. From there, this began a downward slide for the rest of the band, which caused the remaining members to depart due to various reasons. However replacements were found and the band continued forward. In 2004 the Cd/DVD "Anywhere But Home was released with a live concert from Paris on the DVD, and several unreleased and live songs on the Cd.

Finally in late 2006 "The Open Door" was released with fevered anticipation by fans worldwide. The album was another major hit for the band and spawned four more singles "Call Me When Your Sober", "Lithium", "Sweet Sacrifice" and "Good Enough". Even with the total line-up change minus Amy Lee, Evanescence sounded just as heavy and tight as ever. The songwriting had not suffered either, despite Ben Moody's departure (considering he and Lee were a team for so many years.) Replacement guitarist Terry Balsamo (formerly of Cold) helped co-write the lyrics to many of the songs this time around as well. However, the main focus here is Amy Lee's stunning voice. Her range is simply amazing. The emotion she exudes is breathtaking, putting every ounce of her soul on the line for the listener. You are swept up in her pain, her love, her sadness and her joy in each and every track. This is Evanescence's real strength. Not to say the rest of the band aren't important, far from it. However, I think any good set of musicians could stand behind Amy and come out shining. Her presence leads the rest of the members like a beacon, giving them direction and guiding them strong and true through her emotional, musical tapestry. I was hard pressed to find a song on this album that I thought was mediocre. And you know what? I couldn't. "The Open Door" is a solid, beautiful album that is a perfect combination of power, elegance and beauty. A winner in my book from beginning to end.

- Craig Harvey

Friday, October 19, 2007

Small Sins


My, how they’ve improved! Small Sins’ debut didn’t really strike me as anything but a wannabe Postal Service. This time, main man Thomas D’Arcy is joined by several co-conspirators for a far more satisfying experience. From the opening “I Need A Friend” to the closing “Bullet”, this is purely enjoyable electrorock, with very little filler. Highly recommended, and a much better starting point than the debut.

-Adam Naworal

BM Linx

FB Records

Excellent new wave/electro rock. The standout cover of Sonic Youth’s “100%” is the kicker for me, but highlights abound on this delightful disc. Certainly nothing new is being done here, but electroclash and new wave fans would do well to invest in BM Linx.

-Adam Naworal

Happy Mondays

MVD, 2007

Oof, Watching someone destroy their image in public is never pretty. Farrah Fawcett for instance. Shaun Ryder doesn’t fare much better in this ill-advised DVD. Now, before I go any further, let it be said I will NEVER knock Happy Mondays during their heyday. Who doesn’t have fond memories of “Step On”, “Bob’s Yer Uncle”, “Kinky Afro”…….? On the same token, who wants those memories stamped to death? Ryder’s Mr. Magooish appearance in DEMON DAYS LIVE pales in comparison to this display of a once-amazing voice that is far too ravaged from years of every imaginable substance abuse. The formerly sensual “Bob’s Yer Uncle” is remade as a lecherous drunk’s pickup line. Certain tracks fare better (ironically, “Reverend Black Grape” possibly elicits the best performance from Ryder), and the band’s playing is spot on, but Ryder ruins everything. Well, not EVERYTHING. Bez does what Bez does best with aplomb throughout.

-Adam Naworal

Shocking Pinks

DFA, 2007

DFA has done it again. Will they ever cease providing us with amazing bands that recall the cream of 80s post-punk in all its guises? New Zealand’s Shocking Pinks is the product of Nick Harte. Nick has obviously done his homework in absorbing Kiwi acts (ESPECIALLY the Flying Nun roster), British shoegazer, and US noise-pop. SHOCKING PINKS (comprised of two previously import-only EPs) glides effortlessly from soft washes of treated guitars, to pastoral dreamscapes that remind one of Slowdive, all the way to a conga-heavy dance-punk number that recalls prime Liquid Liquid. With a few exceptions, this is a mostly downbeat and somewhat fuzzy affair, bound to appeal to the same folks who love My Bloody Valentine and Ride more than labelmates such as LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip (but perhaps appealing to the same set as Prinzhorn Dance School, another of DFA’s less dance-oriented acts). That having been said, Shocking Pinks are an extremely talented group that deserve a special place in any shoegazer/post-punk collection.

-Adam Naworal

Extra Golden

Thrill Jockey, 2007

While the pairing of two indie rockers (one a member of Weird War and the other in post-rockers Golden) with Kenyan benga musicians may smack of novelty, Extra Golden surpass all expectations on this absolutely delightful sophomore album. Whereas their debut OK-OYOT SYSTEM sounded slightly forced and never quite gelled (despite some stunning moments of genius), HERA MA NONO comes together as a perfect meeting of the minds. While perhaps not revolutionary, Extra Golden are extremely accomplished at grafting indie-style rock and Afro-pop textures for a release that is equally good on the dance floor or the surround sound system. Worth investigating and keeping an eye on.

-Adam Naworal

Acumen Nation

Crack Nation, 2007

Right down to the similar cover designs, Acumen Nation delivers every bit as dark and aggressive an album as its sister album by DJ? Acucrack. Their sound has updated a bit to incorporate perhaps a smidge more Acucrackish programming (there’s definitely a wee bit more d’n’b-type drum patterns than before). Thankfully, the more overtly metal parts that have been making their way in (as opposed to the more rock sound of earlier Acumen releases) have been perfectly integrated for a classic Acumen feel. Overall, the updated ragga jungle/industrial rock fusion manages to rekindle my old fondness for these mainstays. Old fans will be delighted and new fans will see what the fuss is about. Highly recommended; buy this and Acucrack at the same time!

-Adam Naworal

DJ? Acucrack

Crack Nation, 2007

Possibly the darkest Acucrack release yet, this newest collection (released at the same time as its sister Acumen Nation album) tears through drum and bass maelstroms and eerie atmospherics with aplomb. Given the tile, an emphasis on horror is expected, and these electronic stalwarts deliver! HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP is also perhaps the closest DJ? Acucrack has ever come to sounding like Acumen Nation while still maintaining a distinct identity as far more than a side project. A solid listen from start to finish, and absolutely recommended to all Acucrack/Acumen fans.

-Adam Naworal

Monday, October 8, 2007

Two Gallants

"The Scenery of Farewell"
Saddlecreek Records

When I kept reading that the sound of the Two Gallants, though rollicking and rough, was rooted in the blues, I got cold chills down my spine. The thought of two earnest young dudes playing the blues immediately brings to mind hawaiian shirts, porkpie hats and shades indoors, not to mention making those crazy faces during guitar solos. I needn't have worried. In fact, this'n is a taster, a breather before the new album and much more reminiscent of Austin's rebel country scene and the Minneapolis sound circa the 80s. Amongst others.....

For the uninitiated, this might not be the most characteristic introduction to the backwoods, insular sonics of Two Gallants, usually an altogether more raucous affair. HOWEVER, "Scenery of Farewell" seems to be a chance for our intrepid dueo a chance to try out some of that "quiet is the new loud" jive and relax, experiment and sing joyously from some mountaintop backporch (with some harmonica and violin/fiddle along for the ride) in a more restrained and mostly acoustic setting. So we've got this here ep.

It's pretty good fucking stuff. What jumped out at me first, and I'm surprised no other critics have picked up on this, is the sonic/vocal similarities between this and Chris Bell's doomed, lovely solo set "I Am The Cosmos." The same deep loneliness and yearning to communicate and connect with someone else out there, punctuated by bursts of all-too temporary ecstasy, found as the vocals and instruments link together and try to rise higher to transcendence, just to prove all the fucking doubters and demons wrong, knowing full well it'll all end in (dirty) tears.

The overall mood is one of weariness and heartbreak - at times to the detriment of the ep as a whole. It feels like they're holding back, or too road-weary to rouse themselves from a torpor of endless roads and nameless stages. The production is surprisingly clean and clear too. I expected more low fi-tronics. Their next full-length should be good, albeit louder, stuff. Let's have it.

- Matthew Moyer

Patrick Wolf

"The Magic Position"
Low Altitude

Though he may cut a dashing, albeit moppet-esque, figure in his Boy Scout-goes-glam outfits and color-coordinated tangle of hair, it's clear that former Leigh Bowery associate (and former boy genius) Patrick Wolf is doing something FAR beyond being a mere pop eccentric or a sort of sartorial Quentin Crisp for the 21st Century. Indeed no, it's his towering musical ambition that makes The Magical Position difficult for me to fucking listen to the first few times around. It's almost TOO big, the pop TOO soaring and dizzying and perfect. I need grit, grime, missed notes and the ambient hiss of a room. But Wolf has no time for that, he's too busy nipping at the heels of (to my ears at least) Bjork, U2, Jarvis Cocker, REM and Arcade Fire with his oddball symphonies, laptop Dexys fever dreams and perfectpop choruses. I'm just stunned; who am I to stand in the way of this worldbeating songcraft?

But of course, the more I listen, the more it insuates itself into my subconscious until I'm swerving the car off the road miming along to the copious hooks of Magic Position. Damn you, Wolf! What was it that sealed the deal for me? Two things: 1. The point in heartbroken waltz Augustine where he whispers "Why does love leave me/So damn cold/Now I'm getting old/Is this what it should be" Followed by a seemingly etneral pause, the music drops out, and he dramatically intones, "Well, is it?" Now THOSE are lyrics. 2. And the realization that as Wolf's vocals mature, he's starting to become a dead fucking ringer for the ever-sublime and wonderful rich baritone of Human Drama's Johnny Indovina! Fifty feet deep. Fuck yeah.

"Get Lost" is one of those rousing escape anthems, beloved of, like Bruce Springsteen and Morrissey, it's totally toy orchestra anthemic and techno baroque. "Accident and Emergency" is a song Depeche Mode would absolutely kill for. He channels his inner Scott Walker with the torch song/agorophobia sketch of "The Bluebell" sequing effortlessly into the fist pumping Scary Monsters/Talk Talk theatrics of "Bluebells." Marianne Faithful pops up to play Nico in "Magpie."

Perfect for the young and the starcrossed.

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Relentless Recurrence (Cd)
Seediq Bale (Cd)
A Decade On The Throne (DVD + CD)
SPV Music

Black Metal has spawned a host of bands from many countries (mainly Europe) but the last place I expected to find it crawling from the mire was Taiwan. Chthonic (pronounced "Thonic") however are deathly serious about their music and on these cd/dvd's it really shows. The band's name is derived from from the Greek legends pertaining to spirits or gods of the underworld. The lyrics revolve around the ancient history and myths of Taiwan and the band also incorporates traditional musical elements such as the "erhu" (a oriental two string violin) along side the guitars, bass, drums, keyboards etc... The "corpsepaint" that is usually worn by so many black metal bands is used by Chthonic as well, but their makeup is based off part of their culture. The "Eight Generals" deities who wear the paint to become one with Taoist spirits who in turn give the power to judge good and evil. Interesting indeed.
"Relentless Recurrence" (initially released in 2002) is the story of a benevolent spirit who seeks revenge, while their newest album "Seediq Bale" is based more in fact. It tells the sad tale of a Taiwanese tribe who sought rebellion against the colonial opression and was defeated by the Japanese army. Both albums have a massive black metal attack, with evil screaming male vocals and softer female vocals which is fairly standard these days, but it works. The use of the aforementioned "erhu" gives the music a more unique sound along side the other instruments as well. Metal fans will obviously hear similarities between Chthonic and other well known bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth, Darkthrone, etc.... I personally hear a very big Cradle Of Filth influence(especially the vocals) which is fine, everyone has to start somewhere. However, the band is really making the music their own by branching out and pushing boundries lyrically and musically.
The DVD "A Decade On The Throne" has them playing to a huge crowd in their homeland. The venue appears to be a warehouse of some type, and the audience is packed to the hilt. So, how does the band sound live? Well, all the instruments come through without overpowering each other and even the "erhu" is very prominent throughout all the songs. Lead vocalist Freddy Lim shrieks like a banshee throughout much of the show and on occasion does sing, which is nice. To be honest his vocals are very hard to understand, but hey, whats black metal without some screaming right? There are the obligatory guitar and drum solo's to fill in space and give everyone else a break as well. Overall the show is well put together, complete with projection screens and some sort of open giant hand sculputre at the edge of the stage. So yeah, I enjoyed it. Also, there are two Cd's included with DVD of the same show. The entire package is displayed in this beautiful hardback book with photos and a lot of information in Tiawanese, so I can't give you the specifics. Not only is the DVD set exquisite, but so are the cd's Seediq Bale and Relentless Recurrence. They are both digipacks with dark gorgeous artwork inside and out. Chthonic spared no expense on the quality of these releases.
After all this, the band is perfoming at the Wacken open air festival in Germany, touring with Ozzfest (on selected dates) on their "UNlimited tour, and supporting (surprise, surprise) Cradle Of Filth as well . If your a metal fan you should be hearing about this band very soon if you haven't already. I think that after all this positive exsposure, Chthonic will have no trouble finding a fanbase outside it's homeland, and will taking the metal world by storm very shortly. Definitely a band to watch out for.

- Craig Harvey

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The Last Sucker
Thirteenth Planet

Here’s to another great big 'fuck you' to the Bush Administration. Ministry may be going out, but they aren’t going out without getting the final word in.

After more than 2 decades of writing music, changing the face of industrial and metal, changing band members, changing styles (anyone remember the 'With Sympathy' days?) and being the craziest muthafucka in music, Al (Alien) Jourgensen is retiring the Ministry outfit. But at least he is going out with a bang. The last and final (and he does mean final) collective album under the name Ministry is a monster to say the least.  Personally I think the man is trying to get himself shot.  “The Last Sucker” is an all out verbal attack on the current Commander in Chief and his entire entourage.

The line up for the final go around is without a doubt the most versatile to date. On bass we have Dave Ellefson (former Bassist of Megadeth), kicking out the beats is Jimmy DeGrasso (also from Megadeth, drummer), backing up the 6 strings we find Tommy Victor (front man and lead guitarist of Prong) and lending his dry lung vox to the mix is Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory, Lead Vocals). Top that off with the man himself (Alien) and you have a veritable league of extraordinary assholes.

The Last Sucker is a deadly crossover of speed metal and hardcore industrial, a genre blender that few have successfully managed to combine. Politically charged with a very anti Bush agenda, The Last Sucker tends to come of as comical with songs like “The Dick Song” (calling Cheney Satan’s emissary), “Death & Destruction” (poking fun at our Presidents public speaking ability) and the comical (but somehow appropriate) cover of the Doors "Roadhouse Blues." But the Last Sucker also leans on the dark side, you’ll find quite a bit of anti war anthems and your general god given angst themes as well. Al is not pulling any punches this time. He has a message to send and he is going to have his point made.

As far as the music goes. It sounds like what you would expect from Ministry. He's not exactly reinventing the wheel here. With fast paced muddy guitars, thumping combinations of drum machines and live kits, distorted vocals, and a general feeling of doom and gloom. It's like a punk rock-speed metal-industrial ménage à trois with really angry vocals. So if you like that classic "Ministry" sound this album will not disappoint.

Personally I think the band has run its' course. They say it is better to burn out then fade away, but in this case I think he is doing neither. Everything eventually must come to and end. Can you really picture Ministry pulling a Rolling Stones on us? Al is doing the right thing by ending it at the right time. Al Jourgensen's Ministry will always be remembered. It's not burning out, it's not fading away, it is just ending.

- Alex Pagan

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Bodog Music

Anyone remember Overkill? I sure do. They, along with bands like Testament, Exodus, Anthrax and Megadeth help define the thrash metal scene that started in the early eighties. And while many of these bands have enjoyed marginal success and managed not to fade into obscurity, Overkill kind of disappeared off of my radar for many years. After doing a bit of research, I was surprised to find that the band had released (with this new album counting) a whopping 25 albums!!!! There also has been several line-up changes with only frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth still at the helm. He has been with the band since it's early incarnations so you gotta give the guy props for stability. As far as the music is concerned these guys still pound out great thrash metal with Bobby's signature, snarling, gritty vocals spewing venom at every turn. Hopefully these guys can land a slot on a tour with some of the bigger guns from today and get noticed again. So, throw your horns in the air, bang your head and give it all for Overkill!

- Craig Harvey

Metalocalypse: Dethklok

Adult Swim

It's about time that Dethklok released their debut album! After all, they are the biggest metal band in the world and the twelfth largest economy on the planet. Adult Swim's "Metalocalypse" centers around the five members of Dethklok whose insane exploits, destructive and deadly concerts have made them biggest and wealthiest band in the world (which is evident in the fact that they all live in a giant mansion called Mordhaus and make several billion dollars a year). In all seriousness, the five virtual headbangers owe their album's sucess to Bredon Small (vocals/guitar/bass) and Gene Holgan (drums). Among the 15 tracks we are treated to such hits as "Bloodrocuted", "Briefcase Full Of Guts", "Go Forth And Die" and "Hatredcopter" Seriously folks, it just doesn't get any more metal than this. The "Dethalbum" has got to be one of the heaviest death metal releases of all time and is sure to destroy all the competition once it hit's the shelves. So metal fans you owe it to yourself (and to Dethklok) to get this Cd!

- Craig Harvey

Eyvind Kang

Ipecac Recordings

Violinist/composer Eyvind Kang (who has worked with such artist's as John Zorn, Beck, Bill Frisell and Boris of Sunn O))) teams up with an ensamble of musicians to bring us the beautiful and haunting album "Athlantis". Based on renaissance era-texts, Kang creates dark, chilling choral arrangements that feature vocalists Jessika Kenney and Mike Patton (Faith No More/Mr. Bungle). Merged with Patton and Kenney's vocals are acoustic and electric guitars, horn sections, sitar and a host of backup voices as well. This blend of the elegant and the atonal, the gloom and light, would be right at home in the cathedral as well as the catacombs.

- Craig Harvey

The Amino Acids

Humanity Will Fall Like Pins
Bowl O Phonic Records

This is an album I have been anticipating for a long time. After their last cd "Destroy The Warming Sun", I was absolutely hooked on their unique sound which is an ultra hip blend of Dick Dale, Black Sabbath, Devo, Black Flag and a little Ed Wood. It was heavy, fast, all instrumental and full of really cool samples of old sci-fi and horror flicks. It's been coined "Sc-Fi Surf Punk" which is about the best description I can think of. The new release "Humanity Will Fall Like Pins" is much like it's predecessor in sound and style and that's fine with me. I don't want these guys to change too much. Like certain bands, the Amino Acids have found their niche' and they should stick with it. I don't mean they should never evolve, but don't stray to far from the sound they've created. Their songs are generally no longer than 1:40 with most clocking in at right around 1:00. Short, quick and to the point. (Although I wish some of their songs were a little longer, as sometimes they have a great riff going and it's over to soon). None the less, songs such as "Explosive Heads", "Krel" and "Operation Moon Thing" will simply ripp your skull apart like an alien atomizer ray as will the rest of this fantastic album!!!!!

- Craig Harvey


Bone Palace Ballet
Equal Vision Records

If Robert Smith of the Cure were to front an alt/metal band the outcome might sound a lot like Chiodos. That's the first impression I got when I listened to the band's latest release "Bone Palace Ballet". Vocalist Craigery Owens really does remind you of the Cure's legendary front man with his high pitched shrieks and soft moaning whispers. But Owens has a good voice regardless of the similarities and infuses this with a harder edge, which includes some real hardcore screaming (which thankfully is kept to a minimum, as it's far to common in this style of music today). The songs have quirky twists and turns that are not at all predictable, which I found quite refreshing as well. On the metal side of things the guitars come in blazing with some great riffs and some great lead work! These guys have some serious shred capability and they are not afraid to show it. The song titles are quite strange with titles such as "Is It Progression If A Cannibal Uses A Fork?", "I Didn't Say I Was Powerful, I Said I Was A Wizard". and "If I Cut My Hair Hawaii Will Sink". This is a wonderful departure from the current crop of bands who fall into this genre (that are beginning to all sound alike if you ask me) that show some great musical ideas and display a wealth of talent that should only get better.

- Craig Harvey


Oblivion with Bells
Side One Recordings

The disc was in hand as my fingers trembled with anticipation. It had been five years since I have had this feeling. As I put the disc in I was not sure what to expect. In my opinion these guys have a lot to live up to. The last album, A Hundred Days Off was good. It was no Beaucoup Fish, but it was good to say the least. The there was that online series they ran over the last year, but to be honest that was really hit or miss. I think everyone can agree on that. Now this, this is a full-length album. So I put it in. Here is what I discovered.

Oblivion with Bells is a journey and needs to be experienced as a whole. Member Karl Hyde (the vocalist madman) and Rick Smith (the man behind the board) have really put together an album that unveils a wide range of emotion and music. The album opener “Crocodile” begins with light little arpeggios and softly textured synthesizer. Slowly this builds and builds until an immense array of orchestral and atmospheric sound hit you in the face. It was just beautiful. Crocodile is not your typical lengthy opener in true underworld fashion. While this song is on the short side, it is a definite throw back to the yester years of the Beaucoup Fish era. Synthesized vocals, solid kick drums and a seriously bottom heavy bass line, now this is how Underworld is supposed to sound. “Crocodile” presented itself as a fresh start for Oblivion with Bells by reminding me of what Underworld is known for. Quality. Needless to say I was captivated. From there I ventured to “Beautiful Burnout”, the second entry on this opus. Same as before, a soft entrance followed by a traditional build, followed by an ever so slightly alternating synth line. At the first bridge this songs grabs you when Karl drops a cryptic, bass accented and wonderfully vocoded lyre that is simply soul shattering. This reminded me very much of the passion I found in Underworld’s epic song “Juanita” during the “Second toughest in the Infants” era. Like “Juanita” this was the song that brought it all home for me. This is what I wanted to hear. This is the Underworld I knew. This is the Underworld I loved.

Many a fan of Underworld will know that their song writing styles can very from very aggressive to very passive. Such is not the case on this album. Oblivion with Bells is simply passive. Even the songs that feel like they might turn into another “Born Slipppy” or something of the like, don’t. They just remain as they started. Chill.  Ever since that first listen I have found that this record was best enjoyed during those relaxed down time moments. Those times when you are driving at night with no traffic, a lack red lights and plenty of time to yourself. During those times this album was just perfect.

Without revealing too much information and spoiling the album I would like too touch on a few more key points. There is a little something for everyone with Oblivion with bells. Underworld has never really been a straightforward “techno” band, but more on that “eclectic electro” tip. That is to say they transcend genres. If you like dark soothing ambient electro, you will find that on this album. Or if you like your electro on the trip hop side of life, well you will find that hear too.  Like I said, the album is relaxing and emotionally charged. There are some points that tend to drag, but for the most part the entire entity is top notch. Oblivion with Bells takes you to a familiar place. A place that fans know and love.

Pagan’s Ratings

01. Crocodile ***
02. Beautiful Burnout *****
03. Holding The Moth ****
04. To Heal ****
05. Ring Road **
06. Glam Bucket ****
07. Boy, Boy, Boy ***
08. Cuddle Bunny vs The Celtic Villages ***
09. Faxed Invitation ****
10. Good Morning Cockerel ****
11. Best Mamgu Ever***

Average rating 4 stars

- Alex Pagan

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Moribund Records

And to think that I just picked up this record because I thought the back cover photo of the band made them look like they stepped right out the cover shoot for Darthrone's Transilvanian Hunger. High contrast occultisms aside, immediately into this record I'm being bludgeoned repeatedly by a Mexican blackdeath assault. Taking the most evil parts of death metal's most vile - Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Asphyx, Hellhammer, Sarcofago - during the first minutes of opener "Regnum Satani (In League With Satan We Ride)", Hacavitz try to fucking fool me into thinking they're mere primitive death metal cassette bashers, but oh no no. Hacavitz add a dark psychogeography to their sound, firmly rooted in their homeland and their roots. It could be the subtle accenting in the vocals, a chord change here and there, the frankly terrifying wind instrument that closes out "Regnum" (and pops up again in "Tinieblas-Tenochtitlan" - catch that Aztec reference) the loneliness is bone deep. And by "Ride Thee Nebulah" it's obvious that as much as Hacavitz love Satan (Marduk, Darkthrone, Dark Angel - check it, they cover "Hunger of the Undead!" Fuck yeah!) they also worship good, progressive songcraft (Nile and Incantation loom large).

Songs are way longer than traditional death metal but still chock full of those evil downtuned riffs that only primitve, early tape-tradin' death metal exectuted to fullest potential. The strings hum like devils' forked tongues. Elsewhere it's all blast beats, clattering percussion, screams, funeral doom passages, trebly guitars, speed metal goodness with quasi-mystical soloing, sure it's been done before, but Hacavitz execute it with a feral brio that gives Katun that extra oomph. And to think that Antimo Buonnano (guitarist/vocalist) and Oscar (Garcia) drummer had to fire the rest of their band to allow their blood-soaked aesthetic to take full flight.

Retro low-fi blackened filth meets labyrinthine riffs and verses. Absolutely effective. Surrender to the evil.

- Matthew Moyer

Tomorrow Show: Punk and New Wave

Shout! Factory

I was saddened by the news of Tom Snyder's recent death - strange considering he hasn't graced my television screen for years now, the last time being the Letterman-endorsed stint on The Late Late Show in the late 90s. Stranger considering that Charlie Rose, Terri Gross, Tavis Smiley and others have now taken his schtick wholesale, minus the balls and anarchy, and run with it nightly. Aside from his Soup 2 Nuts production company, which brought us the utterly peerless Home Movies cartoon, Snyder's absence has left a gaping void on the popular culture-scape. His most memorable late-night run, on the Tomorrow Show from 1973-1982 on NBC, was iconic and iconoclastic at the same time. Iconoclastic in that it dispensed with most of the niceties of late night chat - audience tittering away in the background, brief softball-like chats with celebs and no smoking - and iconic in the figure Snyder himself cut on the program, Shaggy, abruptly sideparted grey hair, an intense stare, totally dated college prof/hipster attire and a cigarette constantly burning between his fingers - Snyder seemed more like a no-bullshit late night dj than a nicey-nicey host - his interviews were longer and much more frank, conversation was heady and Snyder was prone to making little in-jokes to his staff and camera crew at the drop of a hat. In a word or two, fucking awesome. Can't believe this was on NBC. Please, please, scour Youtube for vintage Snyder-y goodness.

And since Tom Snyder wasn't afraid to ask the tough questions and try to crack the tough nuts, it seems obvious that Snyder and representatives of the then-nascent punk and new wave movements would meet. Or is that clash? See, though Snyder was probably the most competent American television host to give the punks a sympathetic airing, the interviews that comprise the majority of Shout! Factory's collection of the cream of Snyder's meetings with punk and new wave artists are tense and uncomfortable at best. Oh, hey wait, just like punk rock. Call it generational angst. Call it rebel meets rebel. (Am I the only one who thinks that when John Lydon and Tom Snyder are hissing back at one another, cigarettes held like knives, two sets of eyes flashing with contempt and not blinking at all, that it might just be an estranged father-son duo?) But it doesn't go down smoothly. And yet, they kept coming back. Which is pretty brilliant if you think about it, for both Snyder and the bands - both get street cred from their respective audiences AND there is always the possibility of an oldster picking up a Jam disc based on Paul Weller's impassioned performances of "Pretty Green" and "Funeral Pyre" or some spikey-haired naif deciding to maybe get home by midnight the next night to see who this grandpa has on his crazy show.

The "preview disc" I got for review had a roundtable on punk with a clearly bemused Bill Graham, some rock critic, an overacting and unbearable (as usual) yet completely entertaining Kim Fowley, who all sort of exchanged non sequitors for awhile as Snyder smoked impressively and tried to let someone else get a word in over Fowley. But the atmosphere became utterly electric when Paul Weller (pulling off the feat of chewing gum and smoking while seething in a canary yellow jacket) and Joan Jett join the discussion. Graham gives Weller credit for being an excellent songwriter, Weller seemingly wills the entire panels' heads to explode at once and the very young Jett is utterly charming and innocent, despite her Susie Quatro as a Hell's Angel image. Brilliant. The Jam return for the two incendiary performances I mentioned above, notably for prime footage of a young Weller at the height of his powers with the Jam - loud as hell, dressed to kill, somehow making white socks look cool. However, there's an audience in that episode - what the hell? Final episode is the famously disastrous show with Snyder interviewing a sullen John Lydon and (a smacked out) Keith Levene, just finding their way in the world as Pil. It's a masterstroke of mindgames, aggression and awkward pauses, I think Snyder was failed by his researchers here and Lydon undone by his distaste for Americans. Too many missed opportunities. And yet, it's awesome to see the old guard and new guard go at each other, not giving an inch, hatred simmering - making you realize, hey we're not that different after all.

Moral of the story: I want to start smoking now.

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

GG Allin and the Murder Junkies

MVDVisual, 2007

Do I REALLY need to get into this one? Very well: This is a reissue of the documentary on legendary scum rocker GG Allin. All those stories you heard about him shitting on the stage, and his public nudity, and his habit of slicing his own flesh to bloody shreds, and all manner of anti-social behavior? Yeah, it’s all caught on tape here. With that as a warning (this is GRAPHIC AS HELL), this does provide a fascinating glimpse into the world of Allin, right up to his death from an overdose (you even get some footage of his coffin being carried to his grave). I wouldn’t personally purchase this, since it’s a curiosity you will probably view only a few times and then get bored/jaded, but it is something I could see a lot of punk fans wanting to watch at least once. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if you have a sensitive stomach.

- Adam Naworal


Army Of Bad Luck/Stickfigure, 2007
Crazy lo-fi electronic punk/no-wave. VERY appealing to the experimentalist in me! Retconned is what would have happened if Throbbing Gristle and the Screamers decided to have an absinthe-fueled jam session. As you can imagine, the music is stunning in its stark coldness. Absolutely recommended.
~Adam Naworal


Mute, 2007
Being a Liars fan, this album was initially kind of a letdown. Repeated listens have proven it to be as good as anything else Liars have done, but it does lose points for not being anywhere near as experimental as past releases. Those expecting the frantic sound of outings like DRUM’S NOT DEAD and THEY WERE WRONG SO WE DROWNED may also be disappointed at first, but as an off-kilter post-punk outing this is still solid gold. Recommended, but neophytes should really check out any of the past albums first.
~Adam Naworal

Prinzhorn Dance School

Astralwerks/DFA, 2007
This CD completely baffled me at first. From the packaging alone you know this is going to be odd: A strange little photo (I think) in gray on pure black, the back being black with little information. Then the inside has a few more strange pictures and the lyrics printed in a simple little font. It looks like the package was made by some other form of life on some strange planet beyond the sun. The music, surprisingly, is no less alien. Stilted and stuttering martial drum beats that manage to be simple yet complex at once, a strangely recorded guitar that more often or not is hard to identify as electric or acoustic playing lines that would make any No Wave guitarist put down his guitar and walk away in shame, and bizarre somewhat shouted/somewhat declared/never truly sung male and female vocals……… These are the ingredients that sound so horrid on paper, but work absolute magic on the CD. After a while, once you get used to the sheer oddity of it, the album becomes addictive, and you find yourself tapping along and replaying it. At that point the only remaining strangeness is what in hell possessed Astralwerks and DFA (both highly electro-centric labels) to release this, but kudos to them! Perhaps the only thing this can be compared to is the Young Marble Giants, those mostly forgotten Scottish post-punk darlings. But Prinzhorn Dance School is no YMG ripoff; they are perhaps more wondrous and completely idiosyncratic. Absolutely 100% recommended to everyone.
~Adam Naworal

VHS Or Beta

Astralwerks, 2007
I never really gave these guys the time of day. I regret that now. This is a thoroughly enjoyable disco-punk outing. The drums have that classic 70s disco swing to them, and the songs as a whole have the same feel. At the same time, the vocal delivery is nicely varied, and some tracks are more post-punk than disco, resulting in an interesting and varied listen. The lyrics of course probably don’t mean a thing, but with music this catchy, who cares? Very well worth your time!
~Adam Naworal

Mindless Self Indulgence

Metropolis/Uppity Cracker, 2007
The music of MSI really gains something when you see their manic live performance. Chock full of audience baiting, weird antics, and extremely amusing banter, OUR PAIN YOUR GAIN completely justifies MSI’s existence. Filmed over the course of three nights in New York, the band tears through thirty songs in just over an hour. The bonus features are actually quite nifty as well, consisting of both versions of the Jhonen Vasquez-produced “Shut Me Up” video, the “Straight to Video” vid, making-of featurettes for both, two fan videos, and some bonus silliness. MSI is usually a hit-or-miss proposition, but this package is all hit.
~Adam Naworal

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Metropolis Records

As with all things in life, the things you really like never quite stay the same. For better or worse that's the way it is. With KMFDM It was my opinion that after En Esch and Guenter Schulz left it was gonna be for the worse. The last few albums were "lacking" as I see it, and I was not of any high hopes that the band could really redeem themselves to their glory days. So does Tohuvabohu achieve this mighty feat? No, but it's a lot better than I had hoped. Let's be real folks, without En Esch and Guenter it will never be the KMFDM we all came to know and love, but Sascha and Co do a pretty good job with what's left. The riffs have more of a power groove than straight ahead metal, the electronic side of things is still pure KMFDM through and through and Sascha and Lucia give it their all in the vocal department. It may not be the original recipie but it's still got some of the old flavor left in it.

Craig Harvey


Embrace The Fall
Napalm Records

The back of this CD described this as thrash metal. Not really. It's more metalcore with thrash elements. However, it sounds like a clone of several other bands from this scene with not anything that really stands out to distinguish them from the fold. Gut-wrenching screaming vocals, heavy down-tuned riffs, etc... very formulistic. Still, it's heavy as hell, the band is solid and the production is well done which all counts for something I guess. Like every style of music there are a lot of bands that sound similar to each other, but a lot of the metalcore stuff was not my favorite anyway. However, it's not bad and if you like this style of metal then it's right up your alley.

Craig Harvey


Blood And Water
Napalm Records

I liked the Cd cover right off. Simple yet effective. The music sounded good on the first track with vocals that reminded me oddly enough of Styx accompanied by solid sounding metal riffs. Then I started really listening to the lyrics. That is when it hit me; this is christian metal !!!! It all went south after that. No matter how good the band was I couldn't get passed the lyrics. WIth tracks like "Wings Of A Dove, Grace, Multitude etc.." it was way to obvious. It reminded me of Stryper and their ilk. I just don't do christian metal, it's like oil and water they just don't mix. Sorry guys.

Craig Harvey

The Chemical Brothers

We Are The Night

The Chemical Brothers return with their sixth album "We Are The Night" and as you might have guessed, it's another fantastic release from this British duo. Like some of their electronic brethren, (Orbital, Underworld, Crystal Method) the Chemical Brothers have carved their own niche' in the electronic dance scene over the years with their own unique sound and "We Are The Night" continues in that tradition. These guys never play it safe while pushing musical boundries. The album is a plethora of odd quirky sounds and bizarre analogue synth's (that sound as if they are from another dimension) all wrapped up in pulsating beats and samples of voices from the unknown. There are guests galore such as Fat Lip and his contribution to the very humorous "Salmon Dance", Ali Love on the funky "Do It Again" and Midlake on the dreamy sounding "The Pills Won't Help You Now". The Chemical Brothers prove yet again, that electronic music can indeed challenge the ear while pleasing the body.

Craig Harvey

The Secret Meeting

Noiseplus Music

The Secret Meeting is the combined efforts of Karin and Statik of Collide with instrumental help from Dean Garcia formerly of Curve. After listening to this album, I concluded that a more perfect mixture of artist's could not have been more beautifuly matched.The music is very reminicent of both bands (showing the striking similarities they both share) but the music still has its own unique qualities. Karin's voice is seductive, soothing, and at times her voice sounds like Toni Halladay (former vocalist for Curve) almost to the point that I first thought it was Toni singing! The music itself is a union of trip-hop grooves, lush electronic atmospheres, and edgy bursts of distorted guitar. Both Garcia and Statik's compositional genius is a force to be reckoned with on this album. Having lent their talents to such acts as TOOL, Eurythmics, Skinny Puppy and many more, you can only imagine what they have achieved together on "Ultrashiver". This album could have stood as a Collide or Curve release individually in some respects, but the interplay between these very talented artist's has forged something just as beautiful, full of emotion and totally captivating that pay the utmost homage to both bands.

Craig Harvey


Napalm Records

What do get when you cross metal guitars, accordians, violins, flutes with songs about drinking and dancing? Humppa metal of course! These finish folk metal guru's are simply outrageous and full of more energy on one song than many bands are on an entire album! The very first song is entitled "Let's Drink" so it's all one big party after that. Korpiklanni crank it up full throttle on just about every track with fast and furious tempos that almost leave you breathless at the end of each song. The frantic vocals of lead singer Jonne sound as if he is just keeping pace with the breakneck speed of the songs but he never falls behind. The interplay of guitars, bass and drums with the more traditional folk instruments is probably the best I have ever heard from any band of this genre. I can picture their live shows with people chanting and singing along, it's got to be a great time. Granted none of the songs are in English but in this case it really doesn't matter because it's all so much fun. So with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Koripiklanni gets my vote for most original album of the year so far.

Craig Harvey


Blade Of Triumph
Napalm Records

This Danish power metal outfit brings us tales of magic, epic battles and all manor of fantasy based songs which is the kind of thing I normally enjoy. Ironfire have all the right qualities musically with stunning guitar work, powerful vocals and solid bass and drums. These guys know their stuff and prove it song after song. However the music is not the problem. Unfortunately (and I hate to say this) it's the lyrics. As I said earlier, fantasy themes are very common in metal and I have come to expect that. However, these were just so cliché and unoriginal that I just cringed. Even after a second listen it didn't get any better. I mean, you could write something more original than stories about Camelot and such. This is the bands only downfall. Everything else was fantastic. Still it's hard to overlook something as major as lyrics because they are such an important part of the songs. However, don't give up on these guys just yet. I think they just need some time and perhaps someone to help with the lyrics and they will really have it all together.

Craig Harvey

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Deliberately Fragile
Alfa Matrix

Hot on the heels of their "Manifesto Ep" Technoir returns with the full length follow-up album "Deliberately Fragile." This is their second full length CD which took a little over 5 years to be released, but the wait was definitely worth it. So much of the synth-pop community has become re-hashed and generic, but Technoir find a great balance between beautiful melodies and a harder edge that will also give listeners their dance-floor fix as well. Julia Beyer's vocals are simply gorgeous and they compliment Steffen's music very nicely. You can also hear some guitar work on a few songs as well. Overall, this is a prime example of how a good synth-pop album should sound and Technoir rise high above the rest of their peers on each and every song.

- Craig Harvey

Sero Overdose

Heading For Tomorrow
Alfa Matrix

Sero Overdose bring us another ebm/futurepop album filled with catchy melodies, clean vocals, and good dance floor anthems that are merged with slower songs as well. The question remains however, do they add anything new to this genre or are they just riding the wave that was spawned by groundbreaking acts such as VNV Nation, And One, Covenant and Apoptygma Berzerk? Not really. While I did enjoy this CD, I felt it was mediocre at best as far as originality goes. Sero Overdose do offer several positive qualities (as mentioned earlier) but they just don't have anything specific that makes them stand out above the countless bands from this scene and that is it's major downfall. It's very by the numbers, so if you are looking for another ebm band that doesn't stray outside of safe territory then "Heading For Tomorrow" is right up your alley.

- Craig Harvey


As Our Army Grows
Napalm Records

Intense brings back the classic power metal sound from the eighties with a fury I have not heard in some time. The vocals really remind of the singer from Iced Earth (another great power metal band) but this UK outfit are no copycat rip-off band. They have their own sound that pays tribute to the influences from which their music stems. The guitar riffs are thrashy, with a great groove and the twin harmony lead work is technical but fits the songs perfectly. The drumming and basswork on this album is equally superb. Powerful and tight, it provides a rock solid anchor for the rest of the band to move over. Frontman, Sean Hetherington has the perfect range for this style of music and his vocals simply soar. Intense is a band who definitely hold their own in the power metal genre and "As Our Army Grows" proves this hands down.

- Craig Harvey

Visions Of Atlantis

Napalm Records

The story of Atlantis has been shrouded in mystery and legend for much of pre-recorded history. Was it real or just a myth? We may never know the true answer but that does not stop us being inspired by it's enigma. Austria's very own Visions Of Atlantis are one of the many who have taken their own fascination with this great tale and turned it into a symphonic metal powerhouse like no other. The dual vocals of Melissa Ferlaak and Mario Plank move together in a seamless flow over the downtuned guitar riffs and grandiose keyboards. I am not sure if Melissa has any formal opera training but if not, you could have fooled me. Her voice is simply amazing. One of the brightest and best female singers in metal today. You can really hear her shine on "Wing Shaped Heart" where for the first part, it's only her accompanied by piano and keys. Mario's voice has got an edge, but he cleans up nicely and stands alone as well for much of track four "The Poem." This album simply has it all; great production, well penned lyrics, excellent musicianship and great vocals. Not to mention the stunning cover art by Anthony Clarksson. The band has toured with some of their peers such as Nightwish, Edenbridge and Katatonia which surely has helped elevate their fanbase to even greater proportions. "Trinity" is set to dominate the metal world as it debuts this month in Europe and the US in June and with talent like this I have no doubt it will succeed.

- Craig Harvey


Solens Rotter
Napalm Records

On Vintersong's seventh release, they merge traditional instruments (harp/flute/violin/acoustic guitar) with darker black metal atmospheres and Nordic folk elements. It's a very unique combination, and the band manages to integrate all of these styles extremely well. However, none of the lyrics are in English, so unless your Norwegian is up to date, you won't have a clue as what they are talking about. Regardless, the music is so captivating that you really don't need to understand it. The vocals move from pure "clean" to the darker "growling" styles, but as cliché' as that has become, it works really well in this context. As much as I really like this album, I don't see it making a huge impact here in the states mainly because of the language barrier. However, it's still a great metal release from a very talented band.

- Craig Harvey


Worlds Untold & Dreams Unlived
Napalm Records

Serenity reminds me of classic Dream Theater back when they wrote great songs and not excuses for technical acrobatics. Think "Images & Words" or "Awake" and you will get the idea. Vocalist Georg Neuhauser is in fine form and shines on every track. It's nice to hear a great singer once in a while who has clarity, range and is not over the top with falsetto screams. Guitarist Thomas Buchberger and keyboardist Mario Hirzinger can hold their own in the prog-metal world as they display fiery leads and great riffs. On the bottom end, bassist Simon Holzknecht and drummer Andreas Schipflinger are definitely a tight unit as they keep it all together through each track. The nice thing is, these guys write great songs that you can really feel and sink your teeth into. It's not all 100 miles an hour, blastbeats, and guys showing off just because they can. Listen to "Dead Man Walking" or "From Where The Dark Is Born" and tell me I'm wrong! Sure, these guys have all the musical chops they could possibly need; but they know how to use them correctly. I feel that Serenity are the next prog-metal masters and I can't stress highly enough how good this album is.

- Craig Harvey



This is a "choose your own adventure" record. I kid you not. It’s still indie-pop by numbers, but the gimmick is cute. It doesn’t work overly well in practice, but in theory it’s great.

- Adam Naworal

Utah Carol

Stomping Ground

The cover is deceptive! This sounds like a heavenly cross between the Pixies and Slowdive! Slow and dreamy, with layers galore and weird effects , this is an impressive album. While it can get cloying at time, this should appeal to all indie popsters and noise popsters.

- Adam Naworal

I’m From Barcelona


Hmmm. Imagine a cross between the Killers, the Partridge Family, the Beach Boys, and Shel Silverstein. That is the sound of I’m From Barcelona. That should tell you enough, but this IS wonderfully catchy and as breezy as PET SOUNDS. Worth checking out if you dig indie pop.

- Adam Naworal



Enjoyable enough compilation of ATR covers by various industrial, gabber, and glitch bands. Some tracks are as good as the originals, others are truly horrid; nothing betters the originals.

- Adam Naworal



Hansel is a hybrid between trip-hop and glitchcore. While not groundbreaking, the programming is good enough and the music is catchy. However, the vocals are EXTREMELY weak, and his rapping style really doesn’t fit.

- Adam Naworal



Miles away from MOON SAFARI, Air continue their slightly retro pop crusade in earnest. With guest vocals from Jarvis Cocker and an appealing mix of acoustics and electronics, this album is like a poppier cousin to Bark Psychosis’ HEX and Talk Talk’s LAUGHING STOCK. Full of contradictions in mood and sound, and all the better for it, this is definitely required listening for any avant-pop fan.

- Adam Naworal

Je Suis France

Antenna Farm

Holy hell! Amazing neo-krautrock/psychedelia which recalls prime Mercury Rev jamming with Damo-era Can! Song titles like "Chemical Agents", "Digital Shrimp" and "Sufficiently Breakfast" give you a sterling idea of the joys you’re in for. A truly amazing album, and highly recommended to fans of Faust, Neu!, Sonic Youth….. you get the idea.

- Adam Naworal

Of God And Science


Indie-folkish EP which avoids the clichés of the genre. Featuring inspired writing and sometimes odd instrumentation, OGAS rise above the rest. The short running time DOES work in its advantage, but the potential shown encourages a full album’s worth of such whimsy. Worth checking out!

- Adam Naworal

Tracey Thorn


The voice of Everything But The Girl picks up pretty much where she left off. Alternating ambient techno trickery and odd Nico-esque instrumentation (harmoniums, bells, etc.), Tracey’s powerful voice still sounds as lovelorn and gorgeous as prime EBTG. A fine solo effort, not spectacular, but worthy of inspection.

- Adam Naworal



For fans of jazz-tinged female singer-songwriters, this live mini-album should do the trick. No new ground is covered, but the vocals are impressive enough and the music is well-written. Being a live album, this may not be representative of her work, so research into her full lengths is encouraged.

- Adam Naworal

Marilyn Manson

Eat Me, Drink Me
Interscope Records, 2007

I have one question. What the hell did I just listen too? As you can tell I am not impressed by the new Marilyn Manson album. There is no sense in highlighting any specific tracts since they all sound the same. The melodies remind me of early Cure songs. Leading me to remind Mr. Manson that he is not Robert Smith. There is no substance to any song lyrically. You are left with every song mostly repeat the chorus over and over at nauseum. Long gone is the rebellious cries of the anit-religious, riot inciting, Antichrist Super Star. We are now left with a man looking forty in the mirror who has created an album about his broken marriage and infidelities that led to it. I hope this only a lull in Manson's musical career. I pray that he will re-evaluate his work and produce a better product next time around.

- Kitten

Lou Reed and Zeitkratzer

Asphodel, 2007

Yes, you read that right. This is an orchestral version of METAL MACHINE MUSIC. The decision to perform only three parts may be viewed as merciful or unforgivable. The novelty of this particular piece being performed by essentially a CHAMBER ENSEMBLE makes up for it. Yes, this is the sound of MMM, the legendary first noise album, the litmus test by which all musical patience has been measured, performed live as a modern composition. It truly works! The inclusion of Reed himself playing a solo guitar, creating live waves of feedback and noise before having Zeitkratzer join in, is absolutely stunning and an inspired touch. A DVD of the complete performance is also included, and the DVD has a lengthy post-performance interview with Reed discussing the piece. So, is this necessary? Oh god no. Absolutely not. Do you still need to own it? YES. ABSOLUTELY. I would go so far as to say this should be the neophyte’s introduction to MMM; perhaps from there further tastes in noise and avant-garde music will develop.

- Adam Naworal

Monster In The Machine

Emotional Syphon

Hmmm. Well, this is interesting and catchy enough alt-rock. However, the Bowie copycat vocals leave a lot to be desired. Which is a shame, because the moody music is really quite accomplished.

- Adam Naworal



Hooray! More neo-noise rock from HighWheel! Airiel are more influenced by Ride and other noisy shoegaze than the American brand of noise rock, but they manage to find a very unique and powerful sound. The noise rock revival seems bright, and Airiel have a good chance at being the top of the line in neo-noise rock.

- Adam Naworal



This band definitely knows their stuff! Claiming to be influenced by Sonic Youth, Pere Ubu, and other indie/noise stalwarts, these guys can play angular noisy chops and oddly structured rhythms with the best of them. While a bit too much influence does show through, Arks are a good way to fill in the gap that bands like Bastro left in every noise rock fan’s heart. Highly recommended.

- Adam Naworal



Slightly disappointing if you buy the promo hype (this is NOT the sound of an electronic Spiritualized or My Bloody Valentine). Taken on its own, this IS a solid release with interesting effects and programming and dreamy vocals. If this is anything like an electronic shoegazer band, it would be most comparable to a livelier PYGMALION (Slowdive’s unjustly maligned swansong). Worth investigating, just don’t get your hopes up.

- Adam Naworal