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