Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We Wish You a Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year

Armoury Records

What could be a better gift for the metalhead in your life than a cover of X-mas songs done by their favorite metal artists? Nothing. So, the folks at Armoury records got together some of metal's cream of the crop and had them put their spin the holiday classics we know and love. Some of the renditions are outstanding, some are downright hilarious, and some are just eh... ok. However, most are pretty darn cool. The best ones are "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" with Ronnie James Dio on vocals and Tonni Iommi on guitar; making this the darkest, heaviest version of this song ever done. Dug Pinnick lends his outstanding voice to "The Little Drummer Boy" with a little help from George Lynch, Billy Sheehan and Simon Phillips. Joe Lynn Turner turns on the charm on "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" backed by four delightful lads; Bruce Kulick, brother Bob Kulick, Rudy Sarzo, and Simon Wright. For the more humorous side of things, we have Testament frontman Chuck Billy doing his scary, evil vocals from hell on the thrash anthem "Silent Night." He had help of course from Scott Ian, Jon Donais, Chris Wyse, and John Tempesta. Alice Cooper gives us a new nightmare, in the form of "Santa Claws Is Coming To Town." Scary guitarist John 5, mad bassist Billy Sheehan, and drummer extraordinaire Vinny Appice were also held responsible for aiding and abetting Alice in this song. There are several other's that are not bad, but don't rate as well as these, except one: I saved the best for last, "Run Rudolph Run" performed by none other than Lemmy Kilmister on the mike, the Reverend Billy Gibbons on the six string, and Dave Grohl bashing the skins. Folks, it just doesn't get any better than this. Hell, the album's worth it for this one track alone! This is one X-Mas album you won't mind listening to during the holiday season or anytime during the year. Ho! Ho! Ho!

- Craig Harvey

Sunday, November 30, 2008



On their last release "The Crusade" I was hailing these guys as the next thrash metal kings. Moving from the more metalcore style of their previous album "Ascendancy" I was floored by the monstrous riffing and great vocals on "The Crusade". Even vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy's voice had evolved into a near carbon copy of Metallica's James Hetfield. It was truly an amazing release. So now, on their forth album "Shogun" the band has taken yet another leap in their sonic journey to combine all the elements of their past sounds and bring us a heavier and even more powerful album. Employing seven string guitars and bringing back Heafy's screaming vocals into the fray, "Shogun" is a powerful tour de force. Heafy's vocal prowess has become quite impressive. He can easily move his voice from screams, to his "Hetfield" yells, to what has become a much improved singing style. The musicianship is of course, outstanding. Unlike Dragonforce, Trivium know how to write great riffs, play insane shredding solo's and manage to have the restraint not to overplay and leave space and texture in the songs when it is needed. The songs themselves delve into Japanese and Greek mythology and are four to over six minutes in length with the exception being the almost twelve minute closer "Shogun." To be honest, I could have done with less metalcore screaming and more of his (Heafy's) other vocal styles, but regardless, Shogun is definitely on the best metal albums of 2008.

- Craig Harvey

Cradle Of Filth

Godspeed On The Devil's Thunder

The most well recognized and popular gothic/black metal band returns with their most vile, horrific and blackest album yet. "Godspeed On The Devil's Thunder is a return to their older works in terms of speed and tempo, but still retains the clarity and more riff oriented elements of their previous release "Thornography." Never one to shy away from controversy, Dani Filth and his cohorts in foulness have outdone themselves this time. While a previous album (Cruelty And The Beast) enlightened us to the horrific crimes of the blood countess Elizabeth Bathory, we now are told the tale of one of the earliest serial killers history had all but buried in it's deepest dungeons; Gilles de Rais.
This 15th century nobleman fought along side Joan Of Arc, (and was rumored to have loved her) but after her death, he became dark, evil and immoral beyond words. After his vast fortune was exhausted, he delved into the occult, searching for ways to accumulate his wealth once again. This path took him into the black realm's of Satanism, child sacrifice and terrible sexual deviancy. His abominable deeds became the stuff of nightmares. After he was caught he did express remorse for his crimes and was pardoned by the church, but then hanged (and possibly burned). Cradle of Filth's take on this story is of course embellished to give it a sense of drama and tragedy, but none the less, one of their most thought provoking albums yet.
As I said before, the intensity is amped up and brings to mind earlier albums, but has a much better production quality I think. Paul Allender's guitar work is a raging inferno of wicked riffs, speedy single note lines, and fleet fingered solo's. Dani Filth's voice is just as blasphemous as ever, with ear piercing demonic screams, and raspy growls he has never sounded more in his element than now. Dave Pybus bass work along side Martin Skaroupka's drums are a thunderous force that conjures up the bowels of hell itself to hold everything together. Old friend and partner in darkness Doug Bradley ("Pinhead") once again provides narration between songs, as he plays the role of Gilles de Rais himself. He of course, is as the Brits say "spot on" with the part. Female background vocals are again done by Sara Jezebel Deva who has been part of the Cradle family for some time now. So I can say without a doubt, this is one best Cradle of Filth albums to come about in a while and assuredly their most disturbing.

- Craig Harvey


Ultra Beatdown

I first heard Dragonforce on their last album "Inhuman Rampage" late one Saturday night when Headbanger's Ball played their new single "Between The Fire And The Flames". I was impressed. It was kinda like Dream Theater on speed. The song flew by a breakneck speed, the vocals clear and soaring, the guitars, keyboards and drums played at imhumanly fast tempos, and oh yes, there was plenty of amazingly fast shredding guitar solo's. So of course I bought the album. That's when the disappointment set in. After six tracks I couldn't take it anymore. It was all the same. It sounded like a swarm of angry bees had flown into a video game arcade. The talent was there but these guys had no sense of writing a catchy riff. One or two tracks like this would be ok, but the entire album? I love extreme metal, power metal, black metal, metal period. But this was on the verge of being ridiculous.
So, why do you ask would I think their latest album would be any different? I have no idea. Especially when it's entitled "Ultra Beatdown". Maybe I wanted to give these guys a second chance and see if they could slow down and give me something to bang my head to and not dislocate my neck from my shoulders. To my dismay it's exactly what I feared (it's probably even worse), with the exception of one (count that, one) slow ballad. I bet guitarist Herman Li and co-guitarist Sam Totman were having speed withdrawals just waiting to get done with this song. I know that this is their gimmick, and what their fans want to hear, but I just can't get into it. It's a shame really, because as far as I am concerned, it's great musical talent gone to waste.

- Craig Harvey

Chemical Brothers


While it may be true, that the electronic dance phenomenon that swept through the nineties has gone underground and out of the limelight, the artists that help spawn those magnificent days gone by are still around and still very valid. One such artist is The Chemical Brothers. Their contributions to the particular music scene could easily be described as nothing short of brilliant, rivaled by only a handful of their respected peers. So, in honor of the historic musical achievement that these lads have graced our ears with, Astralwerks has put out a beautiful 2 disc box set of their greatest singles and a limited disc of re-mixes that are quite rare, entitled "Electronic Battle Weapons 1-10".
There are fifteen wonderful tracks that will surely bring back memories for those who have followed this duo from the beginning. Even if you were not all that familiar with them, you surely heard a few of these songs somewhere in your travels. Not all of the songs are from older works however, as this set chronicles all the way to some of the most recent singles as well. The Chemical Brother's defy categorization as they seamlessly blend house, techno, psychedelia, and every other aspect of electronica you can imagine into their own wicked brew that has (and continues to rock clubs today). I can't recommend this enough for fans of great dance music.

- Craig Harvey


Lord Don't Slow Me Down

On the surface, what seems like a yob's eye view of "Eat the Document" or even Radiohead's "Meeting People Is Easy" tour documentary quickly becomes so much more. The plot is a simple and familiar one within rock n' roll: band tours the world, deals with all the attendant highs and lows that come with the surrealities of "pop stardom." "Lord Don't Slow me Down," much like the aforementioned "Eat The Document" or even Nick Cave's "The Road To God Knows Where," is less concerned with what happens onstage - songs are only presented as snippets, bookends - and instead concentrates on what happens in between the concerts. The endless promotional grind of clueless interviews (Noel, why don't you like Liam? Liam, why don't you like Noel?), planes, buses, trains, sitting and waiting for the show, sitting and waiting for all of the hangers-on to leave the backstage area, a procession of bars and late nights followed by punishingly early mornings. What elevates this particular film from a "tortures of fame" pity party is that Oasis are so fucking grumpy and bemused and funny about the whole affair. Noel Gallagher and Liam Gallagher clearly enjoy being rock starts, but as they start to get a little older, it's just as clear that they realize just how ridiculous all the rituals are; even though it doesn't kill their crucial/original love of music. An unselfconscious encore of The Who's "My Generation" proves that.

Didn't I say funny? The movie begins with a backstage party where Noel is unable to open a comically large bottle of champagne, leading every band member to have a go, with members of their entourage joining in too. It's only after several minutes and ever-more ridiculous scheming that the bottle finally yields, to relieved cheers. A few minutes later, Noel is incredulously asking an interviewer, "You do know I'm not Liam, right?" Then there is a shot of Noel at a radio interview in New York, giving a "What the fuck" look at the camera, as the hosts prattle on about nonsense from ten years ago. Even later, when a reporter asks Liam how he prepares for a gig, he doesn't even hesitate before deadpanning, "Wank."

The use of black-and-white film stock lends "Lord, Don't Slow Me Down" a hazy, timeless feel. Even more interesting, given that the subject matter is gonzo anthem factory Oasis, is that the camera work of director BaillieWalsh is subtle, non-linear and strangely beautiful. But then again,wasn't smilin' Paul McCartney the Beatle who introduced the rest of the group to tape loops and avant-garde music? It ain't all appearances, pally. The editing jumps from scene to scene, the camera blurs out the principals to focus on one small seemingly inconsequential detail in the frame, there are beautiful landscape shots from every country they visited, nighttime becomes magical, airports look like alien realms, backstage green rooms look like small fishbowls, their fans drunkenly stumble about, and the closing scene is a voiceover of Noel expressing doubts about their future of a touring band juxtaposed against an endless sea of audience. But when the members of Oasis do the long walk onstage, they look every bit as iconic as that famous walking shot in "Reservoir Dogs."

Oasis is a very lucky band, while it's clear they'll never recapture their initial rush of creative energy and commercial fame, they're in no way tethered to a particular song or album. Oasis are still a productive band, and despite their apparent stodginess and obstinance, they're able to change and adapt to the times every so subtly. And beyond that the Gallahaghers give great interview. Approximately 70% of the fun of this film is listening to Liam and Noel banter and belittle each other, anyone within a twenty foot radius, and every rock band ever. Their delivery is so unforced and deliciously deadpan, it's like "Zelig" by way of Roger Daltry and Stephen Fry.

The package is an essential one for the Oasis fan. Included is the documentary film, a commentary track featureing the entire band (priceless), and a full live set from their home city of Manchester, filmed in sharp, cinematic color. Even if you're not an Oasis fan, you'll get a kick out of all the surreal indignities of the entertainment-industrial complex writ large upon a group of mouthy Brits, without actually having to put up with any but the best bits of their music.

- Matthew Moyer

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Devils In My Details

Nivek Ogre reunites with long time partner Mark Walk to bring us Devils In My Details. Ripe with gripping orchestral moments, sharp samples and a darkness as creeping and menacing as classic Skinny Puppy albums Too Dark Park or Last Rights but all the while these many devils remain signature OhGr tracks. Originally conceived as one massive musical piece then dissected into the individual details, Devils departs from the previous two offerings from the demonic duo leaving the more expected dance tracks to the wayside for more surprising esoteric device. Stepping into unlikely territory on offerings like "Feeling Chicken" which lends whimsy but remains no less sinister then the rest of the album which starts off running and continues to build track after track to a brooding triple climax with the first single "Timebomb," followed by "Smogharp" and finally the soaring "Witness." Devils is another stunning opus in the ever expending history of one of music's most prolific performers.

RELEASE DATE: 11/18/08

- Max Michaels

Friday, November 7, 2008

Empire Auriga

Auriga Dying
Moribund Cult

Michigan duo Empire Auriga (Boethius on vocals and 90000065B on machines) continue the American mutation of black metal with their intensely individualized take on the core materials of the genre. To wit, "Auriga Dying" is just as reminiscent of early Swans, Death in June and Non's "Total War," as metal oddballs like Burzum and Xasthur. And a sprinkle of Godflesh and early Swamp Terrorists' masochism. Face it chum, "Auriga Dying" is going to be VERY tough going for the corpsepainted doppleganger wearing an Immortal shirt. Hell, they're probably going to hate Empire Auriga. Fucking good, I say. Isn't one of the hallmarks of extreme metal supposed to be that it's not for everyone, that it purposely bucks movements? No blast beats, no headbanging, shit, nothing even resembling a rock beat, no solos, no goblin vocals. The sound of Empire Auriga is a malignant brew of post-industrial sonics and machinery, lashed to rusted radios, the occasional hint of gothic grandeur and the ground-down hopelessness of a Grief or a Khanate. Mournful guitar, martial, fascistic beats, and decaying electronics all presided over by vocals that sound like Ian Curtis's personality encoded into a Commodore 64 computer. Wave after wave of ghost-in-the-machine funeral doom and elegiac 8-bit paranoia come pulsing at you. Hotly tipped, I should hope.

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The Last Alliance
Napalm Records

I seem to remember not being overly impressed with the last Battlelore release, so as you can imagine my hopes were not high for this one. Well, it's nice to be wrong occasionally. "The Last Alliance" seems more grandiose than last time, a more epic feel to it all perhaps.... well, you get the point. The guitars are massive and the female vocals seem more prominent. Maybe they were before, but I can't really recall. Still I liked the overall feel of this album, and it still revolves lyrically around J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. Not the most original idea to be sure ( and not the first band to mold their songs from his works) , but Battlelore seem to have a knack for it, and while I tend to rant about bands lacking originality, I couldn't help but really enjoy the powerful and majestic tales they wove into "The Last Alliance".

- Craig Harvey

Iced Earth

The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Part 2)
SPV Records

Now here was a sight for sore eyes (and hears) a Florida based band who has been paying their dues for many years on the metal scene. Iced Earth are one of the best American metal bands that originated in Tampa Florida back in the early nineties under the original band name Purgatory. Jon Schaffer being the founder, songwriter and rhythm guitarist has kept the band going through thick and thin. Members have come and gone (and come back again) but through it all the band has still kept it's core sound, which drew inspiration from thrash, progressive and power metal along side the new wave of British heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Lyrically the songs revolve around fantasy, science fiction, horror and true history as well. All finely crafted and intelligently written by Schaffer himself. Vocalist Matt Barlow is back again (taking the lead after Tim "Ripper" Owens departed) to add his powerful pipes to Schaffer's larger than life songs. However, the most exciting aspect is Jacksonville's very own Brent Smedley who is once more behind the drums to give Iced Earth his massive double bass skin pounding attack. I used to hang out with Brent a few years ago when he and his brother Kent were in a local band here called Prodigy. He was a fantastic drummer then and he is nothing short of phenomenal now. He has been back with Iced Earth since the last album, "Framing Armageddon" but it's still cool to have someone I know in such a great metal band. This is metal they way I like it, great guitar riffs and songs that have the imagination and power to make you feel invincible as the metal maelstorm rolls over you and takes you up in it's fury.

- Craig Harvey


The Healing
Napalm Records

When I read one of the song titles was called "Gangsta's Paradise" and Artas music was labeled as "modern metal" red flags went up everywhere. The red flags were justified, because this is one bloody, awful, goddamn mess. These Austrians should go back to the drawing board and get some new influences. Typical metalcore, down-tuned, un-original garbage. Yeah, sure they can play their instruments, but until they can come up with a shred of originality, please put them down, get day jobs and spare us all the horror of listening to this.

- Craig Harvey


Napalm Records

The eerie opening track "Vantro" starts off with semi-distorted guitars and a mid tempo beat that sets the stage for "Inferno" where the guitars are cranked up a notch (well everything is ) and moves into a raging, venomous onslaught. However, what set's Kampfar apart from the large black metal community, is their thrashy melodic riffs, a more high end sound on the guitars, and lack of blast beats. It somewhat harkens back to earlier times, when this style of music was very primitive, (but you can actually hear the bass on this! ) Another thing is the pagan influence which makes the songs almost "catchy", except there are no traditional folk instruments playing those parts, just guitar, bass and drums. The vocals are pure bile and darkness, but not that different from many other bands in this genre. Still, this was a breath of foul air, that proves there is life left crawling up from the black metal realms.

- Craig Harvey

Omnium Gatherum

The Redshift
Candlelight Records

I was sure after the first couple of tracks, that this was a Swedish band. I was close; Finland. Anyway, I had them pegged for Swedes as they had that Gothenburg metal vibe similar to bands such as "Soilwork, In Flames, Scar Symmetry, etc..." Great power grooves and thrash elements unfold as these guys move seemlessly through each track. The twin guitar riffs, leads and harmony parts are flawless, the singing is, well.... typical I suppose for this style. Growling alternating to a "semi-clean" vocal pattern, but the singer doesn't have quite the pipes to qualify as a great "singing" vocalist. Growling, well, he does that spot on. To categorize these guys as death metal is off base I think, but they have enough aggression, power and talent to carry them far in the metal world.

- Craig Harvey

Nocturnal Fear

Code of Violence
Moribund Records

I recently opined that death metal - in order to compete with the black metal that is increasingly stealing its thunder - needs to sound like an explosion of blood right out of the gate. Gratifyingly Detroit shock troops Nocturnal Fear have gotten it right. Nocturnal Fear realize that death metal, at its best and vilest, needs to sound completely fucking weird and spazzy and violently messy. So to fashion the off-kilter noise bursts that populate "Code of Violence" der Fear look to the likes of Morbid Angel's "Altars of Madness," along with Sodom and Destruction's early work, for the language they use. But it's not like all that naff retro-thrash, just by dint of the conviction and abandon with which they throw themselves into their material.

And this material is a dizzy, vertigo-laden brew of sloppy thrash with pristine chugging riffs, grindcore "fuck it" charges, early death metal's (think "Scream Bloody Gore") extremity and the crazed time changes that the likes of Morbid Angel used to employ. Not only that, but Nocturnal Fear turn their back on the occult with lyrics and themes that explore a far more horrifying day to day reality of war, murder, serial killers and man's everyday violence. Though it's more than a little tough to tell whether Nocturnal Fear are embedded reporters or if they've gone native a la Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now." Check out all of the hardware/ammo displayed proudly on the back cover. In the end, maybe the album does overstay its ideal running time a bit; it's an exhausting experience after track, say, six, but I love how it's just crazy, messed up, evil racket from 0:01.

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Celestial Bloodshed

Curse, Scarred, and Forever Possessed
Moribund Records

For a music genre, black metal, that in its purest sense has such a narrow sense of parameters, obviously there is going to be the need for occasional purges. Hence, somewhat absurdly, Celestial Bloodshed claim that Norwegian black metal is dead... um, long live Norwegian Black Metal. Looking back to the likes of Burzum and Gorgoroth for inspiration, and to this reviewer's ears, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the likes of Corpus Christii and Glorior Belli, Celestial Bloodshed concoct a fervently devotional homage to the spirit of OG black metal. No thrash influences, no death influences, no melancholy passages, just cold unyielding surges of ill-feeling; that curious mix of depression and imperious rage that makes for compelling listening. On it's face, yes, that's what "Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed" is. Then why isn't it paper thin pastiche like so many bands who claim to evoke the one true spirit of black metal? The production on "Cursed" is compelling and ghostly: the rhythm section is amped-up and pit-deep, bludgeoning echo instead of clacking typewriters, the vocals are a clean and low unrestrained roar - often panning back and forth between the two speakers, the guitars are an inexorable wall of barbed wire with whirling solos that sound like a bag of broken glass, and I swear to god you can hear chains clanking at several points during songs. It's a tomblike, ambient, airy production where you can't trust your sense of depth perception. "Cursed" is THIS close to being a headphones record.

The album length hearkens back to classic thrash and grindcore days - thirty minutes and we are so fucking out of here - and that's another reason why I'm perhaps more positively inclined towards "Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed." It doesn't overstay it's welcome. This is a an album of hollow-eyed, raw, black metal that comes in just fucking blazing and then is gone lick a flash like a black cat brushing by your leg. Just much, much louder.

- Matthew Moyer

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Muspellz Synir
Moribund Cult

This Swedish black metal duo marks the tenth year of their restless journey with the release of new album "Muspellz Synir." Nastrond - Norse for "corpse shore," that factoid was far too juicy to lay fallow - have cast aside the electronics and atmospherics of their last album for a harsher, more manic sound. "Muspellz Synir" is like a hybrid of the unrelenting assaults of Gorgoroth and Watain combined with the padded-cell atmospheres and lo-fi outsider weirdness of Xasthur. Heavy as hell, with spry riff-heavy sections that almost recall classic Sunlight death metal seamlessly melding to fierce howling winds of dissonance and depressive trudges.

"Muspellz Synir" feels physically weighty and dublike, their sound originates in the stomach deep in your guts and then burbles its way up; a black bile you can taste in the back of your mouth.

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Shalt Become

Moribund Cult

Emerging after ten years of shadowy silence and other projects, Ilinois''s I Shalt Become, aka S. Hoffman, has returned to take his rightful place amongst the increasingly creative and idiosyncratic US Black Metal elite - specifically the "holy trinity" of Leviathan, Xasthur, and Judas Iscariot. I Shalt Become's Burzum-inflected debut was an influential but overlooked milestone in "solo" US black metal - standing out by dint of its overwhelming sorrow but now the times have caught up with this sort of insular, personal, chilly, blackened ambient exerimentation. "Requiem" is a follow-up very much in tune with the vibe of outer-reaches black metal. This album completely (belays) the frantic surges and manic blastbeat speedscapes of most black metal - indeed abandoning all rockist and thrash textures - for extended meditative waves of pure phase sound. "Requiem" is like a soundtrack to suicide by overdose of valium and sleeping pills. I Shalt Become conjures up grey and dark purple clouds of symphonic, multilayered drone. Beguiling, calm and beauitful with a deep, unsettled darkness underlying every note every synth chord.

With no discernible metal influences except for perhaps Burzum - just in terms of Count Grisnacht subjugating metal's aehstetics to his own will - I shalt Become denies an audience easy headbanging and moshing thrills to instead use the tools of black metal to express a dark but melancholy personal visions. This is dedication to creating art over any slavish and unthinking homage to heaviness. I Shalt Become is more easily connected to the Cure circa "Seventeen Seconds" and "Pornography," Lycia's "Cold" (?), early Cocteau Twins and Joy Division's Atmosphere. Each "song" is a deliberate and meditative elegy; lush, choral waves of synths ebb and flow over corruscating waves of fuzz(ed) guitar (atmospherics) and delicately discordant lead guitar lines and fourishes pierce through the placid meres of synth orchestration like sharp crystal knives. Percussion is unfeeling and mechanical, minimal clicktracks like a flickering pulse, Hoffman's vocal lacerations, self-loathing roars and murmurs, feral and goblin, dart in and out of the more delicate corners of the music - just out of earshot. Each song is a gorgeougly composed hymn, all long protracted swoons and tears with an equal mix of foreboding and regret. Lullaby as much as warning. Shoegazing, mirrorgazing, furtive whispers, secret promises broken, fingernails scratching on your windows. As black metal oft evokes a sense of place, "Requiem" calls to mind deserted, rain drizzled streets, lakes at the end of autumn right before the water freezes and vast snowswept forests where every sound is absobed, leaving you with a ringing, taunting silence.

- Matthew Moyer

Friday, October 10, 2008

Abigail Williams

In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns
Candlelight Records

Is there a book out there entitled "How To Play Symphonic Black Metal For Dummies"? If there is, it should be burned and banned from publication. Because, after the first five minutes of this cd, I could have sworn I had just reviewed it a few weeks ago. Oh wait, that was another band that sounded just like this one, that sounded like another very prominent black metal band etc.... What is it with bands these days? Again, I completely understand that it's very difficult to achieve something that truly says "we are unique, nobody comes close to what we are doing". I get it. I really do. Still, you could try a little harder couldn't you? Ok, now that I have vented that out of my bowels, is there anything good I have to say about Abigail Williams? Absolutely. These guys play with a driven skill and conviction that takes extreme metal to another level. Fucking great musicians, everyone of them. If it weren't for my previous issues I would give this album a "ten" for just about everything. The only ten about this, that really is great, is track ten. The best song on the album, hands down. Why? They actually did do something a tad different with that one. To bad they waited till the last song to say "look we can step out of our pre-conceived formulaic style" and take a risk.

- Craig Harvey

Midnight Syndicate

The Dead Matter - Cemetery Gates
Entity Productions

Just in time for Halloween, the boys from Midnight Syndicate (Gavin Goszka and Edward Douglas respectfully) have dug up (Get it? Dug Up? I crack myself up sometimes!) some new material to frighten the daylights out of us. Before we sink our fangs into this new delicious dish of sonic scare-fest, I just want to throw a bone out (ok I'll stop, seriously) for all of you who don't know about these two talented lads. This is their tenth release of gothic/horror soundtracks that can be heard all over the country in Haunted Houses, Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, computer games, mainstream television shows etc... Their music could best be described as soundtracks for the imagination; to films and stories that you dream up even if the album has a theme to it. Many of my RPG (role playing game) buddies love to use Gavin and Edward's music for horror-themed games.

On "The Dead Matter - Cemetery Gates" this is original music inspired by the themes from (now stay with me on this) the upcoming movie "The Dead Matter" which they are also scoring as well. To make it more interesting, the film is an updated version of the same name, which Edward directed and did the score for several years ago. Some of the music from the original film went on albums such "Born of The Night and Realm Of Shadows". Throughly confused? Don't be. "Cemetery Gates" is the new album and not the soundtrack to "The Dead Matter" (however, there are three songs from the soundtrack included on this disc.) Anyway, now that we have that all laid out on the table and everyone's completely straight with this, (Right folks?) we can move on to what this review is really about, the music.

As you can imagine, Ed and Gavin have mastered the art of creating fear, suspense, and chilling atmospheres in their music after all this time, and "Cemetery Gates" is no exception. It's a delightful terrorfest of what awaits in the dark. One of the things I would like to point out, is how several of the tracks have a similarity to John Carpenter's early film scores. The minimalistic piano lines with the underlying keyboard passages payed homage to his work so well. Maybe it's just the first time I could really describe a part of their work which has always been there, but could never put my finger on what it reminded me of. It shows how much you can do with very little. Then there are the more dynamic, bombastic parts to counteract the quiet moments coming at you when you least expect it. As with most of their albums, each piece is a part of a bigger picture, and best listened to on dark nights, in the quiet gloom when the full effect of the music can take you to places that you dare not venture normally. I can see why so many Halloween attractions use Ed and Gavin's music, it's just that good. So, if you don't have any of their music, you can find it at Hot Topic, and several on-line stores as well. The dead have arisen, they are walking, shambling, full of hunger, coming through the cemetery gates, coming for YOU!

- Craig Harvey

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


My Soul For His Glory
Moribund Records

If the Moribund label isn't enough to clue you in on what to expect, then news of a European tour with Archgoat and a split LP with fellow Finns Horna (!!) might just clue you in to the fact that every member of Behexen has surely taken the oath of the black blood, etc. etc. Not a new band at all, Behexen have been plying their careening, out of control black metal - exulting in the same speedfreak thrill-kill loss of control that the likes of Bahamiron, Horna, Corpus Christii, Watain, are in thrall to - since 2000. Behexen are a good deal more sonically focused, but that discipline only makes their music more viciously unpredictable and effective.

"My Soul For His Glory" has a deep gutteral undertow similar to early gorecore but with the will-to-power of Morbid Angel's first album. The guitar tone is thicker and fuzzier than usual for this strain of cult black metal, instead of rapier thin treble; it's a smothering downtuned wall a la Carcass or Today Is The Day's electro-power violence. The bass, jesus, you can actually hear it, for one, and it sounds like a rain of hammers. The vocals are just complete unleashed madness, with tormented screams and venomous retches building and echoing back and forth like a marauding goblin horde. There are some early thrash influences (Sodom, Destruction), variations in tone and texture and speed a la Burzum, and more than a passing similarity to the superpowered warstomp of Marduk and Immortal. They have just enough clever riffs and enough blood-throated conviction to make their own stamp on a genre that thrives on ever more vile gestures. A fine balance of the cult and the killer.

- Matthew Moyer


Southern Nihilizm
Moribund Records

Jesus fuck Texas, what kind of reprobates are you letting run loose? I'd just gotten done absorbing the gooey vileness of Brown Jenkins' newest album - and then I get hit with this! It's a fucking shambles, a wreck that goes from thrilling to absurd at the drop of a a very evil hat.

Every stringed instrument is distorted and downtuned to the point of a serrated edge, the vocals are a tangle of subhuman agony - high shrieks, low roars, gasps - the guitar solos are rusted and accidental, the drums are just schizo arhythms. "Southern Nihilism" is an album that takes the manic inexorable charges of AngelCorpse but beats the shit out of the precision with baseball bats and broken bottles - ending up with a bruised atonal thrash-and-writhe - akin to labelmates Hacavitz, Avsky, a messier Carpathian Forest, and old Nuclear Death. There're some very American noise and sickpunk influences rearing their head too (check out the Crimson Ghost tattoo one member sports).

That said, listening to "Southern Nihilism," I'm amazed that somehow Bahimiron have managed to get a reverb switch to go up to 80,000 and that the drummer sounds like he's in time with the rest of the band maybe twice a song. In fact, more often than not it sounds like each band member is trying to draw-and-quarter the song away from his/her colleagues. But this is the sort of foot-on-the-gas, ribcage-impaled-by the gear shift madness that separates out good black metal from just mere pseudo-orc posturing. To wit, the album sounds like a warped tape of an exorcism playing in a metal drum full of rocks and scorpions, rolling down a very steep hill. No pause for reflection or perfection. Pure adrenaline and what-the fwooshing by so quickly that you can't comprehend the awesomeness/awfulness of their hyperspeed gutcheck, a million directions at once, roar of pillaging antisocial metallics. Almost avant-garde by accident.

- Matthew Moyer

Android Lust

Devour, Rise And Take Flight
Projekt Records

The latest offering from Android Lust is a powerful foray into dark, emotional territory, fueled by the one-woman industrial mastermind known as Shikhee. This is her second album on the Projekt label, which for the most part, has been known mainly for releasing darkwave/ethereal styles of music. Well, Shikhee may have elements of that in her songs, but it's not her main focus. She channels the essence of Reznor (Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails) quite a bit in many of the songs on Devour, but make no mistake, this is Shikhee's playground, Trent's just a spirit guide. She loses herself in the music, almost like she is on the edge of falling apart, crumbling into chaos, but holding it together with a surge of emotional strength building from inside her. Pain and beauty, light and dark, it's all here in these musical outpourings. Her electronic compositions are a blend of dark synths, crossed with thick heavily processed guitars and vocals, screeching, distorted bass and drum lines and noises galore. Then there are the softer elements, when her natural (and quite lovely) singing voice takes center stage. She lulls you into a calm, lush, environment giving you a haven of tranquility, if just for a few moments, until it all comes crashing back into a maelstrom of electronic brutality. If her live shows are anything like her albums, it will leave you breathless, drained and begging for more.

- Craig Harvey

Friday, October 3, 2008


The Modern Tribe

Baltimore's Celebration create a sound that is heavy on dramatic flourishes, bold colors and swollen hearts for new album "The Modern Tribe." Every song on this Dave Sitek-produced (TV On The Radio) album is an overload of primary-color holy psychedelic soul. Glorious explosions of technicolor church organ (thrillingly the guitar is pushed to the rear pews), polyrhythmic, surging waves of forward-marching drumming, and Katrina Ford's iron-lunged vocals- more in the PJ Harvey school of darkblues power- form the building blocks of this album.

"Pressure" echoes some of the vibe on TVOTR's "Return to Cookie Mountain" with its chugging groove, off-kilter vocals and an able assist from TVOTR vocalist Kyp Malone (other members of that ensemble make appearances elsewhere, as do other worthies like Nick Zinner), but other than that any thoughts of Sitek's hand being too heavy are way off base - this trio have their own confident, joyous sound. Check out how "Heartbreak" reaches to gospel-esque heights of transcendence, assisted by JB-esque horns and funky tightness, call-and-response vocals and buzzing "Whiter Shade of Pale" organs. "Pony" brings in elements of disco and Quintron's twisted revival show for a white-hot, cabaret gasp and moan.

"Hands off My Gold" is gonzo, hilarious lounge insanity with all sorts of Esquivel-meets-Spike Jonesisms - dig that crazy tin can percussion, hear those horns chase around the vagabonds who've made off with the vocalist's gold - like some speedfreak tiki lounge bartender is mixing drinks and grinding his teeth in a fast-forward blur. "In This Land" has a loping hazy groove like the Stone Roses and John Barry's orchestra collaborating on an all-night rave. All the extra flourishes and players really flesh out their sound sumptuously. the glockenspiel traces the melody line, the horns sound like an old soul sample, the drums are perfect for dancing, the Stax-ish organs, the freakout geeeeetar solo - this is the big showstopping number no doubt. "Our Hearts Don't Change" is an intense freakout prayer with the organs and drums just burning burning burning and an incantation of "I'll be right there/ I'll stand by you."

Heavy, raw, and ecstatic. "The Modern Tribe" is one of those strange, rare things which can exude light and hope and and exultation without fear of being called foolish or naive. More brighter now!

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Mute Records

With "Saturdays=Youth" M83's Anthony Gonzalez has attempted a painstakingly alchemical tribute to youth- all hedonism and hope and fearlessness and false beauty and impulse and love and sex. Saturday nights with no Sunday morning even in sight, to wit. With that mission statement, M83 is occasionally successful.

"Saturdays=Youth" is an album in thrall to the most epic of new wave, the most soaring of shoegazing and the most majestic of classic alternative music. Of fucking course it's pastiche - it sounds ten miles high with a size zero waist and the longest eyelashes you've ever seen. Gonzelez knows his pop history well, cribbing from the best; so sometimes the keyboards sound like ten Depeche Mode, the hooks are sweeter than six "Don't You Forget About Me's" or "Lips Like Sugar," the guitars shimmer like an army of Robin Guthries or Johnny Marrs and the vocals are sweet whispery nods to Liz Frasier or Tim Booth.

"Saturdays=Youth" is all melancholy, bittersweet swoons or punching the air fuck-yeah-we're-alive communal dancing. And what's wrong with that? Well the schtick wears thin after awhile. The period piece roleplaying starts to become a little too exhausting to keep up and the album starts feeling more like a Branford Marsalis-esque exercise in musical archivism. It's just a little too perfect. A little too (lips like) sugary sweet. Too big-budget movie It's like, I challenge you to stay awake through "Too Late" - too big. Or "Dark Moves of Love" where nothing really happens at all except for one big buzzing riff and insulin shock female vocals. Even (obvious touchstone) Depeche Mode inserted some dirt and grime and sweat and desperation into their songs. I don't feel/hear that in this album. You just want to leave the club, go home, listen to some Swans or rap - change it up. Everyone knows that the best part about going out is getting dressed and dolled up, anyway. The rest? Cotton candy letdowns.

- Matthew Moyer

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Tomorrow Show: John, Paul, Tom and Ringo

Shout! Factory

Yet another of Shout! Factory's excellent compilations of Tom Snyder's late-night dalliances with some of rock's most iconic characters - this volume doesn't quite deliver the we-wuz-there Beatlesy goodness the title and “Yellow Submarine” aping graphics promise These interviews all take place long after the band's demise, and there is no conversation with George Harrison, which could have been a treat given his deadpan humor. What we do get is an interview from Ringo Starr from 1981, a satellite interview with Paul and Linda McCartney right before a gig in 1979, and a John Lennon tribute show run a few nights after Lennon's death in 1980 that features a clearly rattled Synder screening an interview with Lennon from 1975.

Three Beatles is better than no Beatles at all, especially when interrogated and egged on by the delightfully goofy and brash Snyder, a cross between anchorman-straightness and AM-radio offhandedness and sarcasm. Now given, he's a little more restrained than on previous Shout! comps but that's likely down to the fact that he's overawed to be in the same room as A BEATLE - but then wouldn't we all? What is still in evidence is Snyder's terrible insurance-salesman suits, immaculate steel combover and how he makes lighting up one of his approximately one million cigarettes during the course of these interviews look so fucking seductive. Christ, the tobacco companies should have just put a picture of him sparking up on billboards and there'd be no need for Joe Camel, Marlboro Man, the lot. Smoking and drinking and making inside jokes to the crew, face it, the man made late night seem like LATE NIGHT.

The John Lennon interview comes as part of a John Lennon tribute special that the Tomorrow Show ran a few nights after his death in 1980. Guests Lisa Robinson and “Double Fantasy” producer Jack Douglas try to contain their grief while giving moderately interesting pieces of news and trivia. The true retrospective value of their contributions is just to show how lost everyone was after Lennon's murder, even Snyder seems knocked down a peg. In stark contrast is the rollicking interview Lennon and Snyder conducted back in 1975 for the Tomorrow show. Lennon, post-Lost Weekend and back with Yoko was relaxed and in a jovial mood - you can tell he's actually happy to be on with NY institution Snyder. A starstruck Snyder peppers him with questions about the good ol' days and his new life in America, which Lennon answers with varying degrees of candor and/or friendly sarcasm. The tan suit clad Lennon's casual comportment was even more surprising given that he was dealing with his imminent deportation. To discuss that actionable subject, Lennon - in a move that had to tickle his surrealist funny bone – brought his lawyer on to sit with him on set as a guest and vet what could be discussed. Tom is clearly delighted with the weirdness too; in all this was one of Snyder's strongest pieces that I've seen. Love the leisure wear, as always, Tom.

On disc tow, Tom hooks up with Paul and Linda via satellite right before a massive London gig around the Christmas holidays. It’s a perfectly decent interview, but the McCartney's seem way too smug and bratty in their responses, whereas usually their wordplay seems somewhat witty, this time it just seems too sarcastic and overcooked. Sure it's nice to hear about what the McCartney's are doing for Christmas, but by the end you’re wondering if anything of note was actually said. The Ringo interview finds Snyder broadcasting from Burbank (he always seems so uncomfortable on the West Coat), where he gets duded up in everyman wear (jeans, izod shirt, unfeasibly large belt buckle) to talk to Ringo at his mansion. Of all three interviews, this one is the weakest. It's 1981, Ringo's peddling some crap new album- maybe, even he seems uncertain at times- he's married to Barbara Bach, and looks like Liberace meets Doc Holiday. He just seems tired, so tired. Except fro the monster-themed music video they screen, it’s tough not to just skip this one.

With the exception of the Lennon interview- which takes up all of disc one- nothing else on this collection feels essential. There are no revelations or bombshells or essential conversations to be found in the McCartney and Starr bits. Starr seems too lost-in-LA and McCartney too self-satisfied to offer anything except for the standard celebutainment runaround. Which is a shame, because the Lennon interview is pretty epochal. And shows everyone else up. Once again.

- Matthew Moyer

Jamie T

Panic Prevention
Caroline Records

The big thing that makes "Panic Prevention" stand out from other albums by upstart singer-songwriters (besides the ADD genre hopping from song to song, hell, verse to verse) is that this album is built around Jamie's instrument of choice, the bass guitar. So he looks up to the likes of Paul Simenon and Jah Wobble instead of Billy Bragg or Paul McCartney, and well, shit, the album's already looking up. Perhaps we should force more solo artists to base their albums around rhythm instruments instead of the ubiquitous guitar - like drums or cello. "Panic Prevention" is very much the sound of an angry young man in the 21st century - trying to make his way in London, busy London with a head full of punk, pub singalongs, hip hop and the adrenaline rush of youth.

Unfortunately, the album itself is simply okay. The problem is that it's so rooted in its time and place that "Panic Prevention" seems hopelessly out of context (much like the Streets, Dizzee Rascal and many a seemingly worldbeating Brit songsmith) to anyone outside of England. It doesn't translate as well here. The range of instruments and playful savvy used in craftnig these song - winking rather than wanking ya dig - calls to mind a younger Beck who prefers lager and spliffs to mushrooms, but Jamie's voice is hard going, almost too bratty and mischievous and brash for it's own good.

There's so much ambition here, like Jamie T. is trying to compress the Clash's "Sandinista" into one song. At its best, you have songs like "Salvador," ramshackle, junk-shop noir. Or standout "Dry Off Your Cheeks" with Suicide-tastic beats and vocal exhortations that sound distant and strident like a sample of a young Joe Strummer, wire-tight ska guitars and a broken-down keyboard; transmissions from a fucking awesome mix tape on a ratty old boom box. At its worst, frustration reigns. Carnival music meets reggae? Brit rap and janglepop? Like everyone who thinks that this is their one big chance to get it all out there, sometimes his reach exceeds his grasp and the album becomes a little too messy and unfocused, trying to incorporate too many disparate elements at the same time, and coming off like half-measures and slipshod pastiche instead of the sonic picaresque that he intends. Too much, too soon.

- Matthew Moyer

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jennie Tebler's Out Of Oblivion

Till Death Tear Us Apart
Black Mark

This is another female fronted, gothic/doom metal band which offer's some beautiful vocals, low-end grinding guitar and bass riffs, and a solid drum section holding it togther. Even with all this going for it, I wasn't jumping through hoops to start it over again once the cd was finished. Ok, that may have sounded a bit harsh, but what I am trying to say is, these guys sound like so many other bands of this style that it's nothing that mind blowing. The talent is there no doubt, just not the originality. This is not entirely their fault, as we all well know it's damn hard to stand out amongst the competition with the music world flooded with new bands everyday. There are a few negatives to the production as I thought her voice could have come up a bit in the mix. The guitars sounded a bit muddy in places (due to tuning down so low) and again, every other metal band does this as of late. Still, It's definitely not a bad album at all. If your new to this style of music it's as good a place to start as any.

- Craig Harvey

London After Midnight

Violent Acts of Beauty

One gets the sense, listening to "Violent Acts of Beauty," that the moment has passed for gothic godfathers London After Midnight. Lingering feelings of opportunities missed and chances almost run out. A door closing. Even with a record, on its face, as thematically in the moment as "Violent Acts of Beauty" - the booklet is strewn with images of protest, tabloid exploitation and defaced American iconography - the music itself seems more tired and dated than it should.

Aping moves from Nine Inch Nails circa "Broken," Pig, Chemlab's later work, the long-lost Sister Machine Gun and, most cruelly of all, the robo-glam swagger of that great pretender Marilyn Manson (whose act, let's fucking face it, is chapter and verse ripped from Nivek Ogre, Rozz Williams and Sean Brennan), ends up sounding less than each (except for Manson, LAM still run fucking circles around him) and somewhat dated to boot. It's almost fucking unseemly. London After Midnight should be leading the pack, not waiting around for other people's scraps.

There are attempts to scrap the blueprint, or at least dog-ear a corner of the blueprint, with horns, pianos and other diverse instrumentation occasionally brought into play, arena-ready poses aplenty are struck, and the band is tightly synched, poised and ready for that HIM opening slot, but it's just not enough. Some of the lyrics come off as a little too direct and clumsy, like a refrain of "can't you see/you'll never be free" - I want arrogant disdain, not something that would sound just as good coming out of the mouth of Jerry Garcia. Right now, LAM is stuck in an aesthetic cul-de-sac.

There's still time to get it all back. The tribal stomp-electro revolt of "Complex Messiah" paints a much more appealing possible future for them.

Full marks for the politics and package, considerably less so for the music. To see this merger done correctly, check out the new Christian Death record. Yowza!

- Matthew Moyer


Artifacts II 1990-1994

This is a collection of early industrial from the Cracknation label that mainly revolves around the music of Acumen Nation and Dj Accucrack (which consist of the same members.) The main difference is, that this is a much more stripped down, completely electronic version of their music. Devoid of the heavy guitar riffs and the jungle/drum and bass beats which both acts employ so heavily today, this is their start; the bare bones industrial from the early nineties. It's just the essentials; beats, synths, vocals, samples etc... and it sounds dated, no getting around it. But hey, it is dated. From a fan's perspective, I found it somewhat lackluster after hearing what their music has evolved into today. It's not bad, just not overly exciting. However for collector's, it's a nice piece of musical history to have, giving us a brief glimpse into these artist's first creative outpourings.

- Craig Harvey

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Brown Jenkins

Angel Eyes
Moribund Cult

Fucking Austin Texas, man... they definitely have their own way of doing things over there. Within just a handful of releases, Umesh and his Brown Jenkins project, have, to this reviewer at least, an eye on the upper echelons of Austin aesthetic weirdo darkness up there with early Butthole Surfers at their most atonal and the 13th Floor Elevators at their most kerr-azy.

Like Loren MazzaCane Connors with a head full of Burzum and Celtic Frost or Junior Kimbrough and Sonic Boom jamming after burning down a bunch of churches and drinking blood, the music Brown Jenkins crafts for "AngelEyes" forcibly welds blues-based musical forms (along with a welcome dose of psychedelia) to the frigidly white black metal template. Thus, songs like the strutting "Black Procession" are music for the hips as much as the head - overloaded guitar riffs just thrusting and shaking in dirty one-chord lascivious simplicity.

As with previous album "Dagonite," "Angel Eyes" upsets the usual sonic arrangements of black metal, placing the drums far to the back (if not omitting them altogether) and using vocals as flourishes or punctuations (athough there's some real ferocity in "Angel Eyes") rather than narrative or confession, that leaves the guitar at front and center. Tarpit dark, corruscating sheets of thick sonic fuzz and broken glass - the tempos are codeine slow and steady, not like doom, mind you, there's definitely more of a groove here. That is, as much as it's possible for drug-crazed cannibals to boogie. Okay? The song titles are to die for. "Ash Eaters," "Pale Conqueror," "Seven - Joy in Darkness," and each spiralling tower of noise and fuck more than lives up to these sort of graven epithets.

Brown Jekins is the bastard hybrid of, say, Mudhoney's one-chord junksick garage raveups and Earth's labcoated tonal distortion explorations. Trust me, next year some dude from Rolling Stone or the New York Times is going to pick one of these platters up at South By Southwest and it's not gonna be our little secret anymore. So get moving.

- Matthew Moyer

Drawn And Quartered

Merciless Hammer of Lucifer
Moribund Cult

A simply okay slice of retro-grotesque death metal courtesy of Seattle's Drawn and Quartered, "Merciless Hammer of Lucifer" is very obviously in debt to Suffocation and the classic New York DM scene (NY lifers Incantation and Mortician spring to mind immediately too). I'm also thinking of early Carcass and Pig Destroyer, though they don't do the awesome blood-and-guts-mongering of primo gorecore, they're more on a Deicide tip, thematically speaking. The material on this record is executed well enough, but with neither innovations enough nor, conversely, over-the-top warlust enough to make Drawn and Quartered seem more than the sum of their influences. And that's fine to a point, there's never enough death metal in the world; but when there's nothing to distinguish it from, say, Incantation/Suffocation, you'd probably rather just listen to Incantation/Suffocation. This album lacks the feral ultraviolence to really stand out and redefine the form. I want this fucker to be like an explosion of blood, like that fucking scene in "Scanners," right out of the gate!

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


De Oppresso Liber
Candlelight Records

Ok, folks just to be crystal clear on this release; Sothis = Dimmu Borgir clone. A great clone no doubt, but a clone nonetheless. Also, you would never guess in a million years these guys are from Los Angeles! They sound (and look) like they stepped right off the boat from Norway or Sweden. I hate to be negative right from the start, but it's just sooooo obvious who they idolize. I understand bands have to have influences, but from the very first track I would have sworn I was listening to Dimmu. Now, on the positive side, the musician ship is fantastic. Blastbeats reign, guitars swarm like angry hornets screaming death from above, the bass thundering behind, and the vocals sound like...well, you know who I am talking about. As I said before, bands have to draw their inspiration from somewhere, but I think Sothis should focus on acheiving their own sound rather than copying their idols so blatantly. However, if you have never heard Dimmu Borgir before, check it out!

- Craig Harvey


Candlelight Records

Wow, some great German thrash metal from a veteran band who has been in the trenches since the eighties! Destruction, along with bands such as Kreator and Sodom epitomized the tuetonic thrash metal scene. My main exposure to thrash back in the day were bands such as Testament, Exodus, Megadeth, Metallica and Anthrax. These were the titans of the bay area and east coast thrash metal scene. I didn't sink my teeth into any of the European groups until many years later. That said, Destruction have a great brutal sound that heralds the early days but still manage to keep it from sounding dated. Not to mention, this trio sounds heavier than some bands with twice the members. The only non-original member is the drummer, which also shows stability for a band who has been going for over twenty years!
The title track "Devolution" starts with a somber acoustic part, then moves into a overdriven frenzy that had me sold right away. Marcel Shirmer (bass and vocals) has a gritty but truly powerful set of pipes. A nice departure from the new school of screamo/death/yelling etc...type of vocals that saturates so much of today's metal scene. Guitarist Mike Sifringer lays down a thick barrage of riffs and some great shredding lead work as well. The newest addition Marc Reign, is one bad-ass drummer! He assaults his kit with a double bass attack and solid skin pounding with machine-like precision. "Elevator to Hell" continues with some ominusly sick riffing and monstrous grooves, while "Offenders of the Throne" had a sludgy, crawling, doom-laden feel to it. "The Violation Of Morality" and "The Last Desperate Scream" were two more of my personal favorites, but there is not a bad track on this album. To add to all this glorious mayhem, guitarist Gary Hold (of Exodus), Jeff Waters (Annihilator) and Vinnie Moore (currently with UFO) lay down some fretwork brilliance to take this album even one step further. This album made my blood boil, got my head banging and made remember why I got into metal to begin with!

- Craig Harvey


Hundre A Gammal
Candlelight Records

This Norwegian black metal band has a completely different sound than many of their peers. It harkens back to a more primitive style, but not with shitty, tin-can sounding production. No it's heavy, dark, and it "grooves" for lack of a better word. (I tend use that word a lot because sometimes there is no other accurate way of describing how a song flows.) No blastbeats are to be found on this release (which I am sure will displease many black metal purists) it has more of a stoner/doom metal vibe, but as soon as the keyboards kick in, it gives it that symphonic backdrop which adds a nice texture. On the down side there are zero guitar solos which was very disappointing. Also, the vocals while effective, with their raspy, grating, evilness did not change very much, which made all the songs tend to sound very similar after about four tracks. Not to mention it's all in native Norwegian (which is fine) but unless your fluent in that language, it's all guesswork on the subject matter (although I am sure it's dark and gloomy). I give these guys kudos for trying to avoid sounding like every other black metal band out there (and having great production), but they need to add more depth (especially with the vocals) to the songs and a guitar solo now and then wouldn't hurt either.

- Craig Harvey

Brother Von Doom

Deathcote Records

Right from the start we have some of the most inhuman drumming I have heard in a while. The (typical) down-tuned guitars and bass are just as tight, but then come the vocals (heavy sigh). What could have been a really great album, turned mediocre as soon as their frontman started singing (well yelling/screaming) would be a more accurate description. It sounds like the tired metalcore style of vocals that every other band has these days (picture the guy screaming his lungs out, his eyes about to burst from the sockets, veins popping out of his neck etc...) you get the picture. There are absolutely no dynamics at all, just full on all the time. I like death vocals, screaming and all that is metal, but I hate one dimensional singers. Amazing drum-work and cool cover art, but that won't save this album from being extremely mediocre.

- Craig Harvey


Unplugged in New York

This is a weird one to review. It's been rerun so many times, especially in those eventful weeks of 1994, that I could replay most of it in my mind, without the aid of this DVD release. Th cumulative effect of this constant repitition of the original work is not unlike xeroxing a picture over and over again, until the source has lost all emotional closeness and you're just staring at a distorted, impersonal facsimile of what was a cherished memory. Y'know how they repeatedly screen "A Christmas Story" for like 24 hours on Christmas Day? That bad. And the seed of what actually made Nirvana distinct and vital becomes ever more distant. I will admit though, it's nice to see it without commercial interruptions and with the excised Meat Puppets cover "Oh Me" restored.

A bit of context. By this point, Nirvana as a band were surely on their last legs. Cobain, wracked by drugs, marital problems and plain ol' rock star pressure, was already making noises about breaking up Nirvana and forming a new one with Mudhoney's Mark Arm and solitary man Mark Lanegan. Management and MTV brass no doubt had to basically blackmail Nirvana into taking part in this, but having already experimented with a quieter mini-set in the midst of their usual apocalyptic noise on a recent tour, Nirvana were as ready as they would ever be. So it was that the band clomped onto an MTV soundstage festooned with flowers and candles (like for a wake), augmented by cellist Lori Goldstein, guitarist Pat Smear, and played their hearts out in front of a invitation-only audience with an inspired set of covers and deep album tracks. It was a night that would be full of surprises.

Almost fifteen years later, some moments of this performance still pack a prickly, visceral thrill. Like what? The last verse of Leadbelly's already haunted "In The Pines" is fucking well beyond spooky - it's like a pained, frantic seance. Listen to that voice soar and crack. Tracks like "All Apologies" and "Something in the Way" became baroque dirges. The Vaseliees' "Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam" was like a transcendent hymn, with lead lines taken by Krist on an accordion! David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," was an out of fucking nowhere selection, and let me tell you as a Bowie fanatic that the song never sounded better. Best of all to this reviewer was a clearly jazzed (and finally stirring from his hazy grumpiness) Cobain inviting the bemused Kirkwood brothers, the twin engines behind pioneering country punkers the Meat Puppets, onstage to pitch in on coves of three of their classic songs. It was on these country thrash nuggets, recast as ramshackle bluesy sadness that Nirvana really fucking sizzled. This was another magnanimous gesture from a band that always SEEMED to try its best to help out the bands that "brung them to the dance," so to speak (see also Melvins, Breeders, Mudhoney, Shonen Knife, Half Japanese).

The extras remind you that, yes, even at the best of the time Kurt could be a dick to even the best of friends. The rehearsal recordings are by turns intriguing and terribly uncomfortable. Check out the icy contempt he projects like flying daggers towards Krist and Dave, though the beatific Pat Smear, punk legend and Germs mainstay, floats above it all, perched on a stool, barefoot, with a quiet smile on his face. Intriguing, because, as you can tell by the uncertain and tentative rehearsals, the whole shebang really did come together only in the final performance. That, and whoever the director was did a pretty good job in choosing iconic angles.

Other extras include the original MTV version (sure, why not), some interviews with various MTV types ("I can't believe it came together like this!") and some more largely unimportant documentary type stuff. Nowhere near essential but kinda nice that it's there. The packaging is a dead ringer for the "MTV Unplugged" cd release of a few years ago - the inner booklet has a bevy of great still shots. Should you buy this now or wait for the inevitable double disc anniversary set with 32 seconds of unseen footage? I don't want this performance to become as impersonal and unnecessarily imposing as Woodstock or somesuch. But the Market marches on. And YOU thought you hated yourself and wanted to die...

- Matthew Moyer

Sapphire Solace

Self Titled EP

I do so enjoy hearing collaboration projects between established artists. It's always new and interesting when solid acts in the Dark Rock scene begin to share talent and ability in creating new and beautiful projects. In 2007, established Gothic Rock legends Velvet Shadow (of Dream Cypher) and Rick Joyce (from The Last Dance) began a project they titled Sapphire Solace. A romantic blend of Velvet Shadows haunting vocals combined with Joyce's signature dreamy ripping electric guitar sound. The project began when the two met to collaborate on Velvet Shadows five song EP project and from this direct collaboration spawned a new and beautiful project. Already having been featured in multiple Goth magazine compilations, the duo continues to attract attention the world over.

The self-titled EP opens with the gripping dance track "Take a Look Inside". The track opens with a pulse pounding synth beat followed by Joyce's signature evocative guitar rifts. Velvet Shadow's voice flows smooth as mercury, painting a luxurious soundscape for this racing track. "Completely" is an indelibly dysphoric ballad that moves slowly and purposefully. A deeply written and very emotionally blue track, it conjures up memories of unrequited love and loss while plucking your heartstrings with barbed emotional guitar rifts. "Too Late" is a signature traditionally romantic Goth track traipsing in to a more macabre feel. Velvet Shadow's eerie vocals permeates the track with a saccharine sound that bleeds confidence and assurance. "Believe" is an operatic gem combined with inspirational lyrics. A hopeful and encouraging track combined with moving stripped down drum beats and compelling dreamy rifts. "Ugly Form" is much more 'industrial' in its approach. Pounding drum backbeats combined with tenebrous synth rifts creates an angsty and bitter track. "Finally" is a slower trippy new wave ballad with a bleeding edge. Velvet Shadow's moving vocals bleed confidence and closure in this pointed track. Joyce's signature illusory eerie guitar sound gives the track a frightening nightmare edge.

Sapphire Solace's sound is an empiral blend of both respective talents. The duo's beautiful combined writing and musical talents blend and mix seamlessly with each other. Velvet Shadow's lovely vocals are gripping and compelling. Combined with the Joyce's signature guitar and instrumentals, the act creates a glamour dripping Gothic work of art. Currently, the Sapphire Solace EP is only available via the acts official website or distributed via Amazon.com, Napster, Itunes, et al. Their official press release in 2008 has already generated an enormous buzz early on and continues to build steam. Keep posted on this act as it develops because if this is just the beginning opener for the duo, the further recordings given the longstanding experience the duo has in the music industry can only become even more fascinating.


- Dr. Raven

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

AZRA (Dual Review)

Dante's Bride
Movement Frequencies

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

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

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

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

Dr. Raven
MOVEMENT corespondent - Springfield OR


Dante's Bride
Movement Frequencies

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

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

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

Matthew Moyer
MOVEMENT staff writer - Jacksonville, FL


End Titles…Stories For Film.
Surrender All

The new Unkle is really not the new Unkle album. Confused? Don't be. This is music that they have worked on between the last release and now for film, television and video games that have not been used and instead of letting it just sit around, they decided to release it. End Titles… is nothing like what you would expect (that is, if your expecting music similar to their first two albums.) I never heard their last album "War Stories" so I can't comment on that, but this release is another cool set of musical explorations that will still manage to please long time fans. I found it to be almost a cross between Radiohead and William Orbit (if that makes any sense). Lots of lush electronics, violins, cellos, somber vocals, and guitar make for some nice medium tempo and slightly mellow tracks. There are a slew of special guests as well including Gavin Clark, Josh Homme (from Queens of the Stone Age), the Canadian indie rock band Black Mountain and many more. The orchestration between the rock stylings and the orchestral instrumentation really works. It makes the album sound very dramatic and emotional in places. Unkle are defying genre's these days as their music flows through various sonic territories while keeping some of their old sounds still in the mix.

- Craig Harvey

Friday, August 8, 2008


Self Released

THE FAINT, departed from their label Saddle Creek, return (finally) with Fasciinatiion another chapter in their meticulously planned catalog of music. Why does it take so many years for them to release 10 songs when other bands seem to release a new CD every other week? Because THE FAINT seem to really care about making good music and they take their time at doing it. And as always, its is well worth the wait. MOVEMENT called THE FAINT "the first must-hear band of the 21st Century" back in 2000 and we feel no differently with each consecutive release they have offered. THE FAINT are one of the smartest and creative bands I have heard in many years. Their tracks defy genres while simultaneously complimenting them all. They are lyrically clever and at times surreal over bass strums that would have Peter Hook asking for royalties and keyboard diddling that would make Mr. Moog proud. THE FAINT have made another solid album of music that will keep you feeling Fasciinaciion over and over again. Catch them on tour this summer.

- Max Michaels


13th Planet/Megaforce Records

Uncle Al is not resting one bit after retiring his genre defining band MINISTRY, no sir, he is right back at it manning the helm of the spectacle that is REVOLTING COCKS. Most of the world will have to wait until October 14th until the new REVCO is released but MOVEMENT received an advance copy this week and it is devilishly addictive. I haven't been able to get it out of my player since it came in! This shit is good! Granted I've loved REVCO since the early days when they made Harley David a Son of a Bitch and "Beers, Steer and Queers" a dance floor hit and I am admittedly an age old fan of all things Jourgensen since the days of With Sympathy, so I am perhaps a tad bias. But to be honest I have not been a fan of the more recent REVCO releases, they seemed to loose focus and failed to impress or inspire. Perhaps because Al was in the process of pulling MINISTRY out of a similar creative slump. So a month or so ago we received an early advance MP3 of the REVCO track "I'm Not Gay" and I was beyond pleased to hear an unexpectedly fresh sound from the COCKS. More upbeat and club friendly than usual yet still with the comfortably familiar pounding beats, crunching guitar and reverberating vocals REVCO I've come to expect. The entire album follows equally in step with that single. Every track on SEXO OLYMPICO is a Dance-Industrial Rock gem, from the opening track of "Hookerbot 3000" to the closing Disco a Go Go "Hookerbot 3000" mix. But particular favorites are the guaranteed club fav "Cousins" (my personal fav of the entire dic), the cheeky "I'm Not Gay," the groovy and atmospheric "Touch Screen," and the extra long (over 7 minute) "Wizard of Sextown" that I can only best describe as sounding like the Deftones covering Ministry covering Bauhaus. Its just brilliant. So until October you will have to wait, but the wait will be worth it. Thanks Uncle Al for spawning a new era for the COCKS! I can't wait to see hear it all LIVE!

- Max Michaels

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Birthday Massacre

Looking Glass EP
Metropolis Records

It is often difficult for an act to break new ground in an independent and underground music scene. Oftentimes many acts become wooden cut outs of prior big name innovators and pioneers. With too many bands emulating the hit makers of prior eras, everything begins to blend and sound rather static and homogenous. Too many bands begin to sound like a bad mix of Depeche Mode meets Sisters of Mercy meets Nine Inch Nails. Complete with Marilyn Manson knock off gimmicks. Not the case with new up and coming act The Birthday Massacre. Altogether beautiful, empirical, dreamy, and bitingly bitter, the band draws fans with a sound years ahead of many of their current competitors.

The Birthday Massacre took the world by storm in 2004 with their album Violet. Blending beautiful female vocals and sharply biting intelligent lyrics with saccharinely sweet electronic rifts and heavy ominous guitar sounds, the band raised the bar for Dark Rock artists both in Canada and Internationally. In 2007, the acts album "Walking with Strangers" cemented The Birthday Massacre as one of dark rocks more compelling acts. In May of 2008, the eagerly fan awaited release of the single "Looking Glass" was cut for fans worldwide.

The album opens with "Looking glass," the second hit single off of the earlier album "Walking with Strangers." The thunderous guitar and synth rifts open the album with high energy and pulse pounding excitement. Chibi's lovely vocals are razor keen and moving as the dance track beckons you to the floor. "Falling Down" slows the pace with deeply evocative lyrics and moving keyboards. Sweetly pulling the listener through a melancholy lost love song. Shiver steps up the dance beat tempo again. Heavy industrial guitar rifts and astir keyboards create a somnambulistic sounds cape that's truly inviting. "Looking Glass" features two remixes of "Red Stars"; Lukewarm Lover mix by Il Attire is biting and cynical with dreary and ripping synth. The Space Lab mix with Dean Garcia is much more sci-fi evocative and floats effortlessly. "Nowhere" is a featured instrumental with emotive keyboards and a lovely ambient piece that truly embraces the sense of wonder and sometimes innocent feeling that permeates the acts previous tracks. "Weekend" the NYC77 mix by producer Dave Ogilvie has an older feel of 80's new wave synth leading to the bands cover of "I think were alone now." Chibi's voice gives the cover track an illusory feel while the keyboard and heavy guitars turn the original track on its ear. Enclosed within the CD is a DVD video of the Looking Glass single. The doll images combined with Japanese schoolgirl uniforms creates a creepy image that's positively chilling.

Looking Glass introduces the key elements that have made The Birthday Massacre such a compelling act. While not an epic groundbreaking release like their prior works, it's a perfect introduction to the band in its current form and gives us a taste of dulcet things to come. The bands own self styled artwork on album labels and production is delightfully innocent and morbid. Chibi's style and voice along with Rainbows guitars and backing vocals make a solid and catchy formula. The bands videos continue to be as breathtaking in production quality and artwork as everything else they touch. From humble beginnings as art students in London Ontario to the worldwide stage, the act makes attention to detail and production their first priority. Rest assured, "Looking Glass" will delight your senses and continue to draw fans to a polished and delightful act.

- Dr. Raven

Satan's Host

Satanic Grimoire
Great American Scapegoat 666
Moribund Cult

For consistency's sake, it should be noted that Movement Magazine did enjoy Satan's Host's earlier release for Moribund Cult Records, the altogether decent "Burning the Born Again," but with two (!) more releases following on its hot little heels, this glut of Satan's Host material is starting to become too much of an only okay thing, with these albums blurring together into one homogenous, amorphous mass of black-cum-death metal. I'm starting to reassess my original take, and it ain't looking too
good for Satan's Host. Maybe they (or Moribund) could have compressed these albums into one kick-ass, concise collection? Dunno. They're starting to seem like the Ryan Adams or Sebadoh of Black Metal. They've shed most original members in their twenty-year tenure (most notably founding member Harry Conklin of Jag Panzer) and radically changed their sound (apparently they were originally evil power metal - awesome! - makes me think of Solitude Aeternus or an amped-up Dio for some reason) to a
more technically inclined occult noise.

"Satanic Grimoire" is lyrically gonzo almost to the point of parody, especially in the spoken intros. Imagine Manowar if they spent all their time reading demonic lore instead of bodybuilding mags and Conan
paperbacks, and the sound is somewhere between the like of Entombed/Sunlight Studios Swedish death and the more thrashy black metal of Darkthrone, but lacking some of the inherent convictions of both, along with the disastrous tendency to noodle. (They are genuinely proficient musicians, after all. I can't help but wonder if the genre strictures of black metal aren't causing some chafing.) Some genuinely good songs do raise their ugly, bloodied heads - try "Grimoire's" "My Will, My Law: Evil" and "Scapegoat's" "Black Order," but on the whole these two remarkably similar albums are overkill and one gets the sense that they are spreading themselves too thin aesthetically, sonically and conceptually.

Maybe a name change, a new beginning, would liven things up? Unfortunately, you can very easily live without these records.

- Matthew Moyer

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Opus Magnum
Napalm Records

I am a sucker for cool cover art and Hollenthon's latest dark epic has a great one. Picture this evil looking demonic creature with outstretched arms, that turn into hundreds of arms that almost look like wings. Oh yeah, I am digging it. However as the old saying goes, you can't judge a book, er... a Cd by it's cover. Anyway, Hollenthon's music falls into the grandiose, symphonic, black metal category which in itself is fine. The guitar riffs are excitingly evil and wicked (nothing less would be expected). The synths and background choruses are huge, giving it a larger than life feel. The vocals, while being growled (in true black metal fashion) are very discernable and all this with bombastic bass and drums make for fine metal fare.
So, what's that nagging feeling your having that there's some issue I have with this album? Well there is, but thankfully it's minor. Hollenthon, as good as they are, sound a little too much like Dimmu Borgir to be honest. However, I can overcome this small quibble because this Austrian band does everything dead on, despite the comparisons to their black metal brethren. I guess I shouldn't bitch that much, because it's hard as hell to be totally original, if not impossible. So, yes Hollenthon should definitely grace your Cd/Ipod or whatever type of music collection you have. If you don't buy it, these guys might send that creepy, fucking demon thing on the cover to kill you and that would suck.

- Craig Harvey

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Napalm Records

"Land" is the sixth release from these Nordic metal warriors who proudly hail the old ways, defiling those who would deny them their heritage. The cover art depicts a Viking ship coming to rest in calm waters, while village fires burn along the coast (of which we do not know) and this visual representation gives a perfect idea to the listener of what awaits inside. (However, if you are already familiar with Tyr it's just icing on the cake). The vocals are a mix of the traditional Nordic and English with a very anthemic and uplifting style. Speaking of the vocals, no screaming or death styles here, just great singing and powerful harmonies. The songs are catchy, but not overly fast, having just the right tempo that grabs hold and instills you with the band's proud vision. The guitar riffs were outstanding and there was some impressive lead work as well. The traditional melodies are prominent but are void of any type of folk instrumentation. This is pure metal regardless of the lyrical and historical elements. Tyr truly takes us back to a more simple time when survival, adventure, and the will to conquer and endure were all that mattered.

- Craig Harvey


Ot Serdca K Nebu
Napalm Records

Straight from the heart of Russian Federation, Arkona deliver a massive album of Pagan Metal that shows they are at the top of their game. Front woman Masha produces devilish screams and growls (that are downright scary) and then graces us with a clean, bardish style to offset things. The guitars, bass and pounding drums rage along side more traditional folk instruments (many of which I have no idea what they are). Some tracks have battle cries chanting in the background (in which you can envision massive armies, swords and other weapons held high waiting for the upcoming battle) while others are devoid of any modern instrumentation or vocals and are wonderful, elegant pieces using the aforementioned folk instruments. Arkona skillfully connect the sounds of the lost, ancient past with the powerful metal styles of today that showcase an extremely multi-talented band. To be honest, they could drop the metal aspect of their music and focus entirely on the folk elements and still have a brilliant album. Perhaps they might explore that as a side project somewhere in the future.

- Craig Harvey


Folie A' Deux - The Elements & The Madness
Artoffact Records

Prospero's latest release could be described as a jack of all trades musical grab bag. It's rare to see so many types of electronic styles spread across one album, but Wade Anderson, the mastermind behind all this sonic diversity is a man of many talents. The album is divided into two parts. The first being "The Elements" which consists of four tracks (representing each of the four elements) of experimental noises, tribal rhythms, dark synth's and a plethora of zombie movie samples (all from Night Of The Living Dead from what I can gather).

The second half, "The Madness" moves into ebm/industrial territory blending more minimal electronic styles (some sans vocals) with harder edged tracks all tailor made for maximum dance-floor efficiency. Three guest artist's (Ayria, Battery Cage and Terrorfakt) also lend their considerable skills to Mr. Anderson's brilliance. I thought I recognized Tyler Newman's (Battery Cage) distinct vocals on "Let The Planet Burn" but Terrorfakt's noise grinding beats just put this track through the roof. One my favorite songs on the second half.

While the entire cd is extremely well done, I have to say that I favor the first half the most. Mainly because it just had so much going on musically and reminded me of some of my favorite experimental acts, especially "This Morn' Omina". Regardless, this is a superb release, one that has just about everything but the kitchen sink. Who know's; after a few listen's, that to may be in there lurking in the mix as well.

- Craig Harvey

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Silent Hill

Break Me To Pieces
Yo Yo Israel

Ok, first off; this album is not, I repeat, not related to the Silent Hill game or movie franchise in any way, shape or form. (However, by the cover art you would think otherwise). I have no idea how they managed to obtain the rights to name their band Silent Hill, but somehow this Israeli duo has done just that. So, what's in the box (musically that is)? Well, Silent Hill are a mix of electronic trance, guitars/bass and vocals. As far as the guitar and bass, well it's really hard to hear it in the mix. When you can make it out, it's really processed to sound more like keyboards anyway. To be honest, I didn't find anything overly special with this release. It's just trance. It's not bad trance, but I have heard other artist's in this genre do much more interesting things with this style of music. Kudo's go to the art and the packaging which were excellent, but the music rates pretty average.

- Craig Harvey

Lamb Of God

Walk With Me In Hell DVD

Lamb Of God have been a rising force as one of the new breed of metal bands from the US. Their latest album "Sacrament" did extremely well and the band toured all over the globe in support of it. "Walk With Me In Hell" is a two DVD set documenting all the triumphs, tribulations and wacky chaos of life on the road for a metal band. There are snippets of live concert footage on the first disc between all the commentary from the band, fan footage, etc.... The second disc has a making of "Sacrament" a live concert from the Download festival in Scotland (which has to be seen to be believed) and various other goodies. These guys have no shortage of finding things to do when boredom sets in. Witness the "Tiger Mask" punching session, learning to use a whip (painfully, I might add), using a machete for cleaning one's toenails (thus involving a trip to the ER) and oh yes, lots and lots of alcohol. Regardless of all this insane behavior, the band is unstoppable live, drawing massive crowds at every show (I wouldn't want to follow playing after them) and their fans are legion all over the world. This a must have for fans of Lamb Of God as it's truly dedicated to them, because they have helped make the band what it is today.

- Craig Harvey

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Meat Beat Manifesto/Badawi - Orlando, FL

In the darkness....We all live in the darkness according to Meat Beat Manifesto anyway. But I get ahead of myself one clear night, the doc took a drive down to Orlando because he heard that Meat Beat Manifesto was throwing down at The Social. Having seen there mind blowing show a few years ago in Jax I was excited to check out the new material and see what they added to there visual mayhem. What I didn't realize was that Badawi, the opening act was gonna reign sonic dub destruction down upon all that were there. I did a little reading up on this composer/dub freak, but you really had to be there to witness the bass rumbling in your gut. This wasn't your grandmothers dubstep either, Badawi was droppin' three am pounding dub beats just as hard as any techno dj. With a brief respite we went and checked out the t-shirt booth and the girl running it was dating Mark Pistel (the funky drummer on a lot of MBM tracks). I was tickled pink by the whole encounter but it didn't stop there. When Jack took the stage he out came punching, with the the latest tracks off his new album Autoimmune. This hip-hop dubtastic electronic jam had us all enthralled as we watched Jack Dangers and crew weave a tale of a society taken over by the television, ruled by fear of the president and controlled by the powers that be. For 10+ years MBM has been an experimentalist dub act, influenced by the hip hop sounds of San Francisco there is less anger and more of a stoned realization of what we are doing to the world or what the world is doing to us. Gone are the industrial strength pop tunes replaced the the smell of "marajuna smoke" as the images of self destruction and sampling mayhem ask us to question our reality. Of course he could not help but play a few vocal favorites stating the "consequences" of "past present and future are up to you" all realizing we watch way to much tv.

- Dr. Strangelove / JaxLore.com

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Orb

The Dream
Traffic Inc.

Anyone even remotely interested in electronic music should be familiar with The Orb. They helped shape and mold much of the ambient/chill-out music scene with their unique sound. Fusing samples from news clips, prank phone calls, sci-fi films and anything imaginable then blending it with dub beats, smooth ambient synth waves, and sweet chill atmospheres the Orb personify originality and superb creativity in their field. Their live shows are amazing showcases of strange and colorful imagery projected on screens behind them while they manipulate sound and samples. While the band has been through a few line-up changes, founder Alex Patterson has remained a constant throughout.

Their latest effort "The Dream" is, again another masterpiece that defies genre and continues to evolve their unique vision. The album is filled with samples galore and beautiful electronic tapestries all in synch with dub/hip-hop and reggae grooves. The band also enlisted the help of jazz/house singer Juliet Roberts and guitarist Steve Hillage to further round things out. This album has so much going on that it will require numerous listen's to digest it all. (Even then you will probably discover new things later on). I highly recommend using headphones, as it will help capture the true essence of all the beautiful sonic complexity as it unfolds layer by layer.

To describe this release track by track would be a staggering endeavor, as it truly must be experienced through our aural senses. This small description in no way does this album justice, but hopefully it will encourage electronic devotees, fans and non-fans alike to make "The Dream" a must have in their musical collection.

- Craig Harvey