Music Reviews

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Artist: Suicide Commando (@)
Title: Unterwelt
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Mailorder
Rated: *****
This is the perfect audible kick in your ass, if you actually had hopes that Harsh-Electro grandfather Johan van Roy would change too much his successfully course of music. His last studio album 'When Evil Speaks' has shown promising tendencies, that Johan searches for a comfortable way to unite his still strong fan-base of the early days with the newer supporters of the Hellectro-youth. The result was quite satisfying with tracks like 'Monster', 'Repent Or Perish', or the re-recording of his classic tune 'Time (Rewind)'. 'Unterwelt' features German lyrics and this one counts definitely to the more harsh arranged tracks and fits better with the newer fans. This Remix-EP offers 9 tracks and it looks like your typical remix contender released rather to share some business relations instead to offer a more valuable art expression of the artist. The content for fans on the hunt for unreleased tracks is limited: 'Body Machine Body (Demo Version)' has been placed on here as a first sign of things to come, but does this poor and unspectacular sounding track allow any euphoric reaction? Johan himself has revamped 'Unterwelt' with a far produced 'Single Edit' plus an 'Apocalypse' version, in which he rather integrates a rather hammering, Downtempo-like rhythm section. It would be a pure lie, if I rate this song as being a highlight of Johan's works, sorry. We then find remix contributions which are entitled to safe more or less dancefloor-movement: Reaper, Binary Park, Nitronoise, and Wynardtage providing the expected stuff. Two remixes need to be specially mentioned here, because they actually fill in some remarkable content: Germany's Acylum once again receives a big thumb-up to have always a quite different view on the given original composition. Their remix on 'Unterwelt' slows down the tempo, adds multiple, ominous sounding voice samples and offers the oppressive, dark mood so often discovered in Acylum's work. Fragilechild are in the position to have received the above mentioned 'Monster' for their remix contribution. The result drifts not too far away from the original, but to integrate flute- or oboe-like sounds into the remix is remarkable. As usual with those remix-contender releases: the result is a 2-sided-sword. The fans will inhale in this stuff and won't find a hair in the soup. To me this release is too obviously business-oriented, rather a fast shot instead to offer a bit more new, or musically more demanding stuff.

Artist: Alien Produkt
Title: Honour Vs Falsehood - The first step EP
Format: CD EP
Label: Advoxya Records (@)
Someone argues that remix album are starving the music market out of its better crops, maybe as their quality is sometimes arguable, but listening to releases like the first (of 2) step by a crowded troop of djs and musicians remixing some of the most exquisite tracks by the Argentinean band Alien Produkt, which gained a considerable notoriety by proposing a powerful mix of harsch electronics combined with hyper-propelled corrosive rhythms reminding the style by Hocico and Suicide Commando by just two release on the American renowned label BLC, is going to refute this thesis by music market analysts, even if the one related to this genre is spreading its tentacles in such a fast way it’s not so easy to follow its development. Some of the remixes included in this collection are really well-forged, having successfully reached what seems to be the main aim of the so-called "remix art" (i.e. manipulating the original track giving its own personal imprint) by highlighting the creepy atmospheres saturated by noisy thunders and foggy sounds these wary chicos explored mainly on their album entitled Ignorance: even if some of them are not so impressive – if you already know some of the lads involved in this 14-tracks EP (more than 70 minutes long...), Mechanical Moth’s banal maquillage of Slander, Retractor’s treatment of electronic oscillating trumpets and hackneyed EBm sound processing on New Concentration Camps’ remix, Y-Luk-O’s drooling vocals on Dark Visions (it seems they hired the main character of Cronenberg’s The Fly to record it) and even the hitting horrified-industrial re-assembly of Slander by Obszön Geschöpf (one of the most famous name amidst this army of remixers) could disappoint your expectations, but Asptie’s beat-fury on Into The Abyss (that kind of stuff you’ll easily enjoy in a party crowded by face-powdered and toxic blood-like cosmetics people propelled by blood corrected by tomato juice and red Campari), Drained Scorn’s nice remix of Involution as well as some make-up arts on Oscilacion Parasita (in particular those by G-Pro and Sintetik – really a good work on vocals surgical dissection! –ones) and other noticeable head-banging bounces together with the title-track, Honour Vs Falsehood (classic but well-balanced lines adding nothing but a good-manner sample to EBM encyclopedia... ) act as counterweights for their quality. A Second Step – a promising rehabilitation center hiring some renowned sound-therapists such as Dolls Of Pain and Wynardtage- has already been announced and it’s going to be issued by the Hungarian label Advoxya Records – "thanksgive" them for this nice return by Alien Produkt... -. Embellish your headphones for this forthcoming step!
Artist: Wynardtage (@)
Title: The Grey Line
Format: CD
Label: COP International (@)
Distributor: COP International
Rated: *****
Wynardtage is a dark electro band from Saxony, Germany led by Kai Arnold, assisted by Gunnar Bock and Mario Fritzsche, with guest vocals on a couple tracks by a gal named Mel. Kai has released a bunch of albums previously under the Wynardtage moniker and also has been on compilations, etc., so even though I’ve never heard of Wynardtage until I received this CD, they are obviously well-established, certainly in Germany where it counts plenty. In doing a little research I discovered Wynardtage had a 2007 album called "Praise the Fallen". Hmmm... hmmm... sounds familiar... where have I heard that title before? Duh... Why would ANYBODY want to title an album after one that has been done by VNV??? That should have been the first clue, but in their defense, they don’t really sound like VNV. They’re a lot closer to bands like Suicide Commando, Grendel and Wumpscut, although the vocals are strictly English

You know, this could’ve been a great album instead of just a good one. It is doomful, dark and despairingly moody, just what the genre calls for. There are plenty of 4-on-the-floor beats making some of the tracks conducive to club play, and good change-ups where the music is allowed to breathe create some drama. The two main problems are: too many effects (most notably reverb and echo) on nearly everything save the kick drum (although I wouldn’t doubt there is effects processing on it too) and WAY too many movie dialogue samples. I realize dialogue samples have become a staple of dark electro bands over the years, but when you repeatedly use long passages of dialogue in your songs, they tend to take them over, and that’s not a good thing.

Kai’s vocals are processed rasp, a hallmark of the dark electro genre and on the opening track "Mask," they are very raspy and very processed. The main drawback is that even though it sets a tone, you can’t understand what the singer is singing. But, in Wynardtage’s defense, it does get toned on parts of the album. And unlike some who use that technique, I get the impression that this guy can actually sing, which is a major plus in my book. On a slower paced track like "Leaving" where the vocals are just above whisper, the moodiness of the music really grabs you. Think of some of Lycia’s better moments.

It is also a good thing that the beat-driven tracks aren’t nonstop pounding rhythm. There are breaks that allow the synths to build and heighten the tension. More dark electro outfits should make use of this. Save the nonstop pounding for the club mix. The big surprise came mid-album on the title track, "The Grey Line". Mel takes over lead vocals here and her coolly melodic emotionally-distanced vocals are sultry Euro-Goth , not unlike ex-Project Pitchfork vocalist Patricia Nigiani. If she ever puts out her own album, let me know; I’d love to hear it. The music on the song is really well done too.

The relentless use of dialogue samples is really becoming annoying. Mel makes a welcome return on the final track ("Now We Are Alive") before the three remixes ("The Grey Line," "If There is No Tomorrow," "The Frozen Point"). The remixes sound pretty good, actually better than the original tracks. I find that rather unusual as most remixes tend to be boring club fillers or bizarre interpretations of tracks that that have little resemblance to the original.

To sum up, The Grey Line’ could have been a great album if it wasn’t for too much effects and too many dialogue samples. Maybe some people like their dark electro that way, but for me, less is better. Wynardtage is on the Rupal label in Europe, but here in America you can find them on COP International. CDs available at Amazon (and probably other outlets), downloads on iTunes.
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Artist: Acylum (@)
Title: The Enemy
Format: CD
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Rated: *****
The with a loud din fulfilled split with his long-year comrade and friend Kai Arnold of WYNARDTAGE has been the drama of the past year, especially if several hints and dissonances out of their private life have been buried out of own carelessness. To offer a too detailed look into a private life via the usage of blogs of a hugs community like MySpace does seldom good, although I tend to put this approach completely into Kai’s own responsibility. Instead to argue too much regarding that awful situation, Pedro Engel has taken his own consequences and has left Rupal Records to join a new contract with Belgian Label giant Alfa Matrix.
"The Enemy" now is the first fruit out of this new collaboration and it offers some surprises and some additional facets of the brutal sound of ACYLUM. At first there’s to mention the addition of the female band member, Nadine "Cooraz" Hagenbeck, who offers her voice for several tracks. As usual for ACYLUM, also the tracks on "The Enemy" convince with their raw and pummeling attitude and of course with the fat wall of cinematic instrumentals – a merciless x-times-kick-in-the-butt action is guaranteed! What’s new is Pedro’s braggart-like kind of self-presentation widely presented in the lyrically content of the title track, to name an example. I cannot remember, that I discovered any form of this from him before, and I’m not that sure, if that course of action is well-thought. But with a straight demanding "Raise Your Fist" he may proves that he’s ready for flogging, right? Well, I guess he overestimates himself a bit too much, but that’s a personal impression.
But what rather more polarizes is the merciless usage of "forbidden" themes – sexual child abuse is such a hot topic and the ruthless usage of dramatic voice sample in "Es" will shock the fainthearted audience and there are coming up doubts, if artists out of this special music genre have the right to abuse the cruelty behind this theme for self-presentation. Also Kai Arnold finally seems to get what he deserves out of the sight of ACYLUM, the track "Wynard" is more than obviously a personal deduction with the past things and the lyrical content presented by Nadine spits out the drama, which I mentioned initially.
What kind of result can end this review, if the hard content brings a neutral reviewer to think differently and feels offended on one or another theme presented here obviously without a sense to know boundaries of a good taste? Provocation as being the only one target to reach, is that still art which needed to get expressed? And has a label not the responsibility to hold its saving hands over an artist through a form of censorship or does that label follow a similar cheap motif by hiding under the "we don’t censor art" sentence?
Oct 25 2009
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Help Can\'t Wait
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Black Rain Rec.
Distributor: D: Nova MD GmbH A: Rebeat Music Vertrieb S: Non Stop Music Records
These are usually George Clooney, Oprah, Brad and Angelina, and other stars of the entertainment business that are known for their charity projects aiming to help the starving and the deprived. The Gothic scene has not yet become known for such activities if I’m allowed not to mention a small number of exceptions. The main reason for that is probably that nobody makes any real money here unlike in Hollywood unless your band plays Wembley. Therefore it is especially good to hear that the guys from Elektrofront Erzgebirge, Black Rain and Promofabrik started a charity project with a purpose to help children in Bihar, the poorest province of India. All the money gained with the sells of this 2CD compilation goes to Humedica, the project of the PENIEL SOCIAL INSTITUTE. With that income two school, an orphanage and a hospital will be supported.
The "Help Can’t Wait" compilation unites over thirty artists of the contemporary dark electro scene all of whom contributed their works with altruistic and non-profit intentions.
Now, except for your wish to help the children in Bihar, why should you purchase the 2CD? Let me mention just a handful of artists that are featured on it: Leaether Strip, Die Krupps, Vigilante, Jäger 90, Soman, Elite, Die Perlen, A Spell Inside, Wynardtage, Cephalgy, Project Pitchfork, Wintry, Black Wedding etc. Many of the titles are released as remixes.
The opener by Leaether Strip bears the title of the whole album and sets the motto for the album; dark, intensive and urgent. TET offer a track for fans of military themes. Der Gleichstrom throw into the listener "Antagonist" that will not make anybody fall asleep. The German Industrial Rock dinosaurs Die Krupps contributed a live version of "Für einen Augenblick" which is no worse than the original in any aspect.
Phase III enliven the atmosphere a bit with their "Es wird dunkel". The song is about our fun and funny scene and the lyrics include names like: Tilo Wolf, Aderlass, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, Schelmisch, Rammstein, Letzte Instanz etc. put together in peculiar combinations that always make me grin when I listen to it. Black Wedding close with Schnitter Tod" (Reaper of death) according to their traditional electronic but slower manner and remind everybody that one day we all will leave the theater on earth, each in his way. Wake up, people and do something good out of your lives. You only have got one. And making this world better is a part of that. More than worrying about your puny existence only. If only just a couple of you will by this limited to 1000 copies compilation, I’ll consider my good deed for today done. Thank you for your help.
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