Music Reviews



Artist: Autumn's Grey Solace
Title: Over the Ocean
Format: CD
Label: Projekt
On "Over the Ocean" Autumn's Grey Solace delivers an alluring and encompassing piece of shoegazer darkwave. Chilling ambient melodies, ripe with seductive power, mingle with ghostly effect with the female vocals. The vox are svelte and create strange and addictive harmonies with the instrumental soundscape. The blend is seamless. Like two fireflies dancing slow-motion in a river of amber, the vocals and the music with which they waltz entwine with each other in a sad mating ritual whose progeny is this flow of tears, this call of a disembodied and lonely voice crying from over the horizon. A hardened heart indeed it would be that would find none of Autumn's grey solace in these songs, for their power of captivation is formidable and force the listener to transcend his personal genres in the face of sheer musical power. And it's a power that comes from quiet, for never does this group deviate from its practice of music that is restrained and, perhaps, meek, but never weak and always electric within its soul.
Artist: Black Tape for a Blue Girl
Title: Tarnished
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Projekt
"Tarnished" is the new single from the album "Halo Star" by Black Tape for a Blue Girl, a long-standing act in the underground goth scene. Here, the band finds itself returning to its roots somewhat while still marching ahead and honing its sound. Male vocals have returned to the scene after a long stretch without them, as well. Tribal beats undergird floating ambient melodies to create a drifting, flowing river of dark but hauntingly beautiful tones sure to capture the listener in its siren call. Classic gothic vocals that avoid the pretentions of many wannabe goth acts bring the melancholy message to your ears. Black Tape for a Blue Girl is not industrial goth or metal goth or whatever. It's just pure, shadowy emotional music for when your body is lethargic but your mind is out searching in the ether ... Also included on the three-song single are "Remnants of a Deeper Purity" and "Damn Swan!"
Artist: Urn
Title: Desecrated Ashes
Format: CD
You can detect several things going on in Urn's layered industrial goth rock as presented on the CD "Desecrated Ashes". Mid-tempo guitar grooves provide a pulse while keyboards add to the layering. The percussion joins the rhythm nicely and the vocals bring in even more dynamics with the male/female switchup. A nice gothy mood permeates the music, and it is enhanced by a strong sense of theatricality. In addition to the subdued goth metal tone, you can sense a certain folkiness (like unto what you might encounter in some power metal acts, though it's the mood, not the music, that is common to urn and aforementioned power players). Atmosphere seems to be the name of the game as the guitars provide the heaviness and the keyboards supply the ambience, with the drums even going a little ethno from time to time. The two vocalists compliment each other fairly well. Ultimately you get the sense of listening to a rock fantasy opera (which is likely the point). The main complaint I would offer is a certain flatness to the sound. One wishes for more lushness in a style like this. However, all told, if you like the Lacuna Coil approach to metal, Urn is a band to check out.
Artist: Mollyllama
Title: Albatross 2
Format: CD
Label: Stiffink (@)
Now here's a band that doesn't sound like everyone else. Mollyllama's "Albatross 2" is a CD that manages to resemble various things without actually sounding like any of them. At times subdued, drifting dark rock with vocals calling from a distant, at other times running with some churnier energy (but still subdued and moody), Mollyllama touches on a variety of offbeat influences, such as The Cure, David Bowie, shoegazer stuff and ... and ... and ... Jesus, who knows? Psychedelic, trippy and just a little gothy, but in a good, not pretentious, way, Mollyllama has crafted a floating river of emotional collision whose impact is subtle and relies on the listener being floated into the music for a ride along the underground.
Artist: phoenix/NEBULIN
Title: Distanza
Format: CD
I like industrial but it is sadly often a boring and watered down genre. Meet phoenix/NEBULIN, a band that does something to alleviate the problem a little. Blending the driving guitars of industrial metal with the teflon textures of the electronic side of the genre, p/N's "Distanza" finds a happy level of the two and fuses them together into a fairly sleek industrial construct. Juxtaposing rocky, heavy moments with softer, more electro stretches, and topping it all off with some rock-n-roll female vocals, p/N puts together some industrial metal that really can get you jamming and forgetting all those other generic acts that make me dispirited at the state of music. One thing that really helps is the infusion of melody. You find a lot of melody on the EBM side, naturally, but that's often little more than watered down vocal trance. You find some great energy on the metal/guitar side, but it's often sorely repetitive. "Distanza" presents a meeting ground of the two with melodies that are exactly what's needed to keep this cocky but sometimes moody dose of industrial going. Nice move from an underground band.
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