Music Reviews



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Artist: Symmetry of Asymmetry (@)
Title: Useless Breed
Format: CD
Label: Sturm (@)
Rated: *****
This is a quite surprising newcomer act hailing out of Latvia, since the musically direction of this 3-men-project turns into the Electro/Industrial-related genre instead of the expected vein of a Power Electronics outfit. 3 members as their MySpace accounts announces it, but responsible for all compositional efforts seems to be Roberts Skekets, mastermind and brainchild behind this band pseudonym. "Useless Breed" is filled with more than 79 minutes of a hard and angry driving EBM/Dark Electro-minded sound construct, which luckily leaves out any up-to-date Hellectro influences. That of course doesn’t mean, that SOA are a piece of cake and easily to consume. They are raging hefty by including a recognizable doze of Punk influences against humanity and its useless being on mother Earth. This theme of course doesn’t allow a smooth music outfit and SOA integrate different, but for the most part dark and scary layers and a nightmarish atmosphere to spit out their hatred messages. The vocals are provided in a rough and for the most part screaming kind, it may remembers a bit on Erk of HOCICO. But musically they can call acts like yelworC as being an idol for their music arrangements, several tracks offer a comparable mood. This album isn’t meant to offer another Saturday-night-dancefloor-compatibility, although some tunes like "Destiny = Doom", "What Is Your Way" or "Torture Chamber" may would allow this. You also shouldn’t be surprised to hear some guitar riffs woven into the background, this elements even strengthens the rough outfit of this act. Highlights can be named with those rather fearful moments like "Dead Trauma", the both parts of the title track (cool piano-driven intro in Part 1), and the harsh slapping and guitar-supported "Melting Chaos". SOA may lack a bit on better polished production, while I strongly recommend them, not to get trapped by following the newest trends – no one really needs an additional Virus- or Vanguard-copycat. This style and kind is well chosen and comes out more authentic than most of the so-called leading acts would be able to create. A great Sturmmandat, Keep it on!
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Artist: A Wake A Week
Title: Little Black Cloud
Format: CD
Label: Spectraliquid (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
This is a side-project of the DETRITUS-musician and mastermind David Dando-Moore and with this 10-track album the Greek label Spectraliquid leaves a bit the course to provide CD-EP's with a straight-oriented, rhythm-supported IDM outfits. A WAKE A WEEK differs a lot, since David installs a subtle form of Ambient-Electronica, often supported by symphonic and Neo-Classic-like string arrangements and further organic instruments. No pseudo-aggression, only pure layered drones and melodies – yes, this cinematic mixture comes out unexpected. It definitely requires some more spins than usual to find complete entrance to this kind of work, because without fully attention you won’t be able to grab only a glimpse of the featured content. On the other hand, some rhythmically drops well and subtle placed would help the listener (...and at least the reviewer...) to remember better one or another track. But okay, there can be named only a few artists, which produce music in a comparable way. It’s also hard to figure out a favorite, since this album has to be consumed as a whole and complete unit – to separate it into single tracks wouldn’t make sense. Not bad and an appreciated album to all of you, who like to drift away with the mood, but at least to me personally not thrilling enough to keep the concentration high on to all later based tracks.
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Artist: H.U.G.O.
Title: Equilibrium
Format: CD
Label: Fridge
Distributor: Goodfellas
Rated: *****
Equilibrium is sometimes like taking off your shoe in order to remove a pebble thrown unexpectedly inside of it and hurting feet while walking by a little spiteful brontosaurus. That could be just an interpretation of what this Italian band seems to suggest by the use of a nice shot for the green filtered cover artwork by Alessandro Della Savia (pay attention...there's a message under the leaves!) and inside and throughout the "rough" lines of an album which is only apparently just delightful and saturated with pleasurable grooves. Positive messages even if homemade and juicy tunes by the way! Let's state from now on that H.U.G.O. is just an acronym standing for Homemade (...and as many things with this distinctive quality, you could undoubtedly say it's greatly more genuine than any other musical prescription deriving from a widespread "serialism"! By the way... could you deny that fried noodles are healthier than Elvira Coot's delicious tidbits?!?) Unlimited Groove Opportunities and speaking generally you know there's nothing more concrete than opportunities (or could we speak about possibilities?!?). That's the reason why in my modest opinion, there's nothing particularly mystical or out-of-head in their music even if rich of references to some dreamy acts from Bristol music masters as well as ethereal "ambientalists" such as Boards Of Canada. But when the skilled voice by Daniela Zebra's uvula utterly flutterly sings, moans and (sometimes) whispers with total absence of fawning "life exists only in the absence of equilibrium", it seems that they enjoy being controversial and that's why they could not be defined a pop band! The lyrics are somewhat like memory pills as they even quote Herbert Marcuse's one-dimensional man, punks' believing, pagan principles based on the alternation of seasons and changes on human life, a bizarre female version of Stevenson's fictional character created to represent the splitting of personality (the famous '“ and not so '“ strange case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hide), with some provocative statements (for instance in Whacked you could listen to a sort of gentle invective full of praises against an imaginary starlet totally absorbed by a "fake" star system ideology... ), while the music seems to be a conglomerate assemblage of different influences well amalgamated by a groovy cheeky rhythmical pattern, often invading the fertile grounds of psychedelic electronic movements with that way of "ease-grabbing" distinguishing poppy tracks, chiming tones and well-crafted basslines. Even if in some episodes the compositional aspects lacks of homogeneity, you'll arguably appreciate their trembling and sibylline style and their refined alchemy.
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Artist: AETHERE
Title: In Coma
Format: CD
Label: Rage In Eden (@)
Rated: *****
Everything on the newest album by Aethere talks about death: its title is IN COMA, its graphics represent an EEG of what it seems to be the last beat of an human being, this is the last album by Aethere and it is dedicated to the memory of Marco Corbelli/Atrax Morgue (he committed suicide at age 37). The six tracks of the album are part of a concept album and represent an musical comment to the death of a man who wants to die. Since the first minutes of the album we're introduced to the sound of the EEG machine and a respirator. Then the melody of a synth loop sounding like filtered by a liquid and a blasting drums are added. From that point till the end of the 49 minutes of the CD, everything sounds obsessive. The dilated atmosphere is a constant of the whole album and here and there Emanuele's whispered vocals lead the "dance". The five parts of IN COMA plus the closing "I'm fucking dead (A tribute to Marco Corbelli)" induce a sense of dizziness where melody finds its way through industrial ambient intuitions. Despair has found a new home...
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Artist: Prometheus Burning (@)
Title: plague called HUMANity
Format: CD
Label: Crunch Pod (@)
Distributor: Crunch Pod
Rated: *****
Yikes! What the hell is this? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was listening to some alien band of bratty children that had just staged an invasion of our planet and are about to unleash their death ray of doom on anyone that gets in their way. Maybe it’s the pervasive use of processing on the vocals delivered with surly aplomb that had me thinking this electro-industrial outfit was making it known they were gonna lay the smack down hard. And this was before I even got a gander at these dudes, and... a dudess.

Okay, so I never heard of Prometheus Burning before (I can’t keep track of every band out there) and they’re really not that far away from me, being in Pittsburgh. The guys in the band – Greg VanEck and Nick Vasculator look pretty much what I’d expect of electro-industrial musicians- young short-haired guys in black tee shirts, but it’s vocalist Nikki Telladictorian, with her gothy makeup and shocking mass of white hair that looks like she got too close to a Van de Graaff generator that is the image of this band. But besides the grotesque graphics on the CD, the visual image isn’t what this review is about.

As one might expect in electo-industrial music, there’s a fair amount of sequenced programming. For what the band is doing, they have it down, although you won’t find anything particularly unique or unusual in either the synth programming or the rhythm tracks. Maybe it’s overuse of processed vocals combined with a lot of a lot of repetition but it gets old quick. There is also a linear quality to the tracks that makes them sound very old school’ and plodding. Even the sonic events that are interspersed every now and then to break up the monotony don’t quite make anything sound particularly unique. And the occasional synth riffs are pedestrian for the most part.

Vocally, I noticed a bit of a welcome difference on track 4, "Ouroboros Deathride", when harshly whispered male vocals took the lead with Nikki’s processed voice as backing. For me, this worked rather well, maybe because I could understand them. The track sounded a lot closer to band like Combichrist, Hocicio, Suicide Commando, Wumpscut, etc. Back to Nikki, whose voice really dominates the album, in her defense the vocal phrasing got better as the album went on. Even though the majority has little in the way of melodic content (lots of speak-singing) it’s effective enough to get the point across.

As critical as I am of "plague called HUMANity", I wouldn’t say that it’s bad, just sort of under-developed. Comparing Prometheus Burning to a similar (female fronted) project- Android Lust, Shikhee knows how to use vocal processing to her advantage rather than a crutch, employs melody (she can really sing) and knows how to create dramatic tension in her music. I think vocal effects have their place, they’re EFFECTS, and the novelty and effectiveness wears off quickly when you over-use them. Prometheus Burning is probably a great band live (I’d love to see em live- they really ought to consider putting Ithaca on their tour roster, it ain’t that far) from what I’ve seen of their videos, but their recorded material falls a bit short of being as scintillating as it could have been.

For some reason, I’m reminded of a Boston band called Batter Cage. When they began, their music had a similar techno electro-industrial style to Prometheus Burning. They eventually abandoned that in favor of a more melodic commercially-oriented sound. I think they went too far in that direction and lost their edge. I’m certainly not suggesting Prometheus Burning turn synthpop, but I think they could use a bit more melodic content and a bit more structure for diversity’s sake. Maybe the next one will be the charm, when they’ve gained a little perspective. The album is worth a listen, but I guarantee it’s going to wear on you quickly. (I’ll give em a couple of extra points for their cover of Ministry’s "You Know What You Are".) On the other hand, the best way to experience them is probably live.
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