Music Reviews

Artist: AENIMA (@)
Title: Never Fragile
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Equilibrium Music (@)

I never listened to Aenima's debut album, "Revolutions", so I've got to write my impressions basing them only on the six tracks of this release. In the past the band have been compared to bands such as Cocteau Twins, The Gathering, The Third and the Mortal, Faith and the Muse or Dead Can Dance and somehow you can find traces of these sounds in these tracks. I read that their debut album was based on etherial atmospheres. NEVER FRAGILE instead is more rock based with some technological inserts (treated drums and synths) on the opening and the last tracks "Intro To End All Intros" and "Rapture". The tracks I prefer are the first two along with "Light" because along with the interesting sounds of the intro, on "Forlon" the femal voice is more intimistic (it reminds me Frazer's voice) and I prefer it that way because when it goes etherial I think female voices seems pretty all the same. Musically the tracks are a little similar and maybe it's due to the musical changement the band had. I don't love too much these kind of sounds and I'd wish Aenima will explore more their dark side instead of basing their sound on "baroque rock" compositions and on Carmen's voice. As always I remind you that if you love these kind of sounds read between the lines and you'll make up your own verdict. ;)
Artist: Seven 13 / Coven 13 (@)
Title: Unleashed
Format: CD
Label: What Matters Records

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Seven 13, previously known as Coven 13, were initially known for their gothic-pagan structure. In broadening their spectrum and becoming more open to alternative spiritual perspectives they have changed their name to Seven 13 to represent the balance and unity evident in their music. While always about the love and magic of life their music has a rock-ballad tone to it. Passionate and dark they open this release with the song "Drink" which is purposely vague about it's focus. The complimentary video which the band is sending with purchases for this CD leaves me with one main thought and two words, 'Acid Flashback'. The video is very cleanly produced and is filmed with that same liquid look and evidence of tracers that LSD can give you. Combined with the red and blue stage lighting the effect is only hightened while Kenneth Michael sings, "take a look and you'll see nothing is quite as it seems, reality, reality." All I know is this combined with the strong vampiric overtones and personal passion make this a powerful live video. Drugs, Vampires, Spirituality? The band leaves you to guess on this one. Fans of the band will recognize "Haunted" from their previous album Book of Shadows however the performance here is a bit stronger and harder than the original. Seven 13 is obviously after a theatrical response here. This was one of my favorites from the previous album and it is not repetitive here in the least but redone with more impact. This is a song which brings to mind the imagery of one driven mad by the light of the moon. With this and the newer track "Outcasts" as well as others the band deftly portrays how smoothly they combine piano melodies with rock rhythms and guitar while other tracks combine acoustics with electronic guitar such as "Whenever You Close Your Eyes". This seems to be a song about not letting go of hatred and jealousy and the lonliness that it brings. Such is the case with many songs by Seven 13, a bittersweet lesson in life. "Venus" seems to be the prime love song on the album. "If You Want Me" is a 70's rock grind with a small twist. Seven 13 as you'll note combines many elements of 70's rock ballads as most every track is fuzed with rock heavy guitar, tinkling piano keys, and melodramatic vocals whose lyrics could only be compared to a theatrical Steve Perry with pagan and gothic overtones. However Kenneth's vocals are a bit more gutteral and strained at times as he belts out the band's unusually etheric rock anthems. "Diane" is a love/hate relationship. Something I really found enjoyable was the inclusion of Cello on "You Could Be Mine" by Jacob Shaprio. "Falling" ends the album with it's lustfull desire that leads to loss of self. Seven 13 / Coven 13 is the type of band you either really like what they are doing and you understand it or you simply aren't interested and find it as nothing more than nearly childish theatrics. The band has acquired a bit of polish since the last release and I think they are on to something unique and personally I'm one of those who likes them. Musically it's not my favorite style of music but there is some obvious talent here which is continually growing with time. For those who don't like them, well keep watching them, they are sure to do some interesting and amazing things in the future. The band is full of great ideas which are not always easy to pull off, the most difficult is will the audience get it, some do and some don't. The only disappointment I may have with them is they seem to have lost some of their spiritual focus and are more focused on the elements of sexuality. Also, while understanding why they changed the name I don't see it necessary and only further confusing for fans and will make them look a bit 'watered down' to many older pagans. However, with all that in mind the main single "Drink" and accompanying video are a sure sign that the band has much to express and we can expect them to continue expansively in the future. Lastly, love that Jack shirt Justin! ;-)
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: The Resurrection
Format: CD
Label: WTII Records (@)

WTII Records carries some of the newest top-notch electro, ebm, industrial, synth pop, gothic, and darkwave. This is the first compilation by this rising new label featuring some big names like In Strict Confidence who kick off the CD with "Kiss Your Shadow", Stromkern, Regenerator, Beborn Beton and Arcanta to name a few. There is lots of new and great talent on this compilation worth taking time out for. In Strict Confidence begin the CD with some great EBM that is a bit of an industrial/darkwave mix. This is followed by HMB a male/female duo whose unique combination of EBM, trance and techno put them in a class by themselves. It's said that they recently enlisted Dennis Ostermann (vocals and programming for In Strict Confidence) so who knows what will come of this project in the future. Melotron, a synthpop trio from Germany, is up next with their more EBM sounding "Tanz Mit Dem Teufel" (Dance with the Devil). You might a find a few mild similarities between Melotron and Beborn Beton. One of my favorites on the label is Stromkern. Their blend of electro/EBM is a sound that is rather fresh and new while still somehow familiar to fans of the original industrial scene memebers. They create highly energetic dance rhythms using modern technology and some interesting mechanical clicks and whirs they've created. Most recognizable is Ned Kirby's original singing style. Imagine an eclectic mixture of trip hop and techno combined with a little bit of noise and goth and you'll have Trigger10D. Sort of like the No Doubt of electro. The first to really catch my attention thanks to an earlier review I've done is Beborn Beton. I 'highly' suggest checking out that review for Tales From Another World. If you have not heard him yet and you are into electro, synthpop, industrial, and/or any type of dance music he is a must hear. This particular track, "Peach 2002", is actually one of his slower tunes but the smoothness of his style is very evident. If you like this wait to you hear his more upbeat stuff. Controlled Fusion could rightfully be considered an In Strict Confidence side-project with lead vocalist Dennis Ostermann collaborating with programmer Steffan Schuhrke. Controlled Fusion seems to signify a unity of fusing the sounds of the 80's with modern electro. Don't think this means it sounds like wave music because it doesn't. It's hard and busy. Regenerator are already becoming known for their blend of Dark Electro. This male/female duo is comprised of Patrice Synthea and Wrex Mock. Alfa-Matrix states, "Wrex's sombre melancholic growling vocals indeed always enter in perfect duality with Patrice's sensual breathy vocals. Her vocal performances confirm she has a greater vocal range than many of her contemporaries...Their music combines harsh electronics and dark themes with melodic vocals and synaptic soundscapes." What you get from them is a contrast of the lush and beautiful with harsh mechanics blended into syncronicity. State of the Union combines industrialism with the more accessible sound structure of EBM. State of the Union comes off as sort of EBM sounding Darkwave politicalism. Deceptio Mentis' "In Absence" is a highly vocoded transient dance rhythm with a riding hook. The band seems to combine elements of Trance and EBM in similar ways to DJ culture club tracks but with a more dark and industrialized feel to it. This unique style seems to set them up for airplay by trance dj's as well as industrial nightclubs. The compilation ends with Arcanta which sounds very much like something you would expect from Projekt Records. It has the tonality of Dead Can Dance and has been described as mysterious, majestic and intense. Founded by Thomas-Carlyle Ayres Arcanta combines wordless hymns and Sanskrit text with hand drumming as well as ambient electronic textures and middle-eastern instrumentation. "Combining elements of world, religious, and classical music, Arcanta has a style and sound that is truly unique."
Sep 30 2002
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Artist: Siderartica (@)
Title: Night Parade
Format: CD
Label: Shadowlab
Distributor: E.N.D.E., Audioglobe, Triton
What starts out like a female-fronted power-noise album inspired by Dive, instead quite suddenly turns into an electronica record of intense emotional contents inspired more by 80es bands like Ultravox, but definitely not out of touch with the present. The beautiful Elena Fossi, also one of the newest members of the historical electro/dark band Kirlian Camera, further reveals her talent as a songwriter and musician with Siderartica, a three-piece project she heads, aided by her brother Andrea and by Andrea Savelli. The entire album is made with MC-505s, treated guitars turned into frozen harmonies and of course heavy sound processing and vocals (treated, reverberated, whispered, sung, spoken and even operatic): in other words this is not your average pc/mac-chopped-up-samples record! Actually no samples were used at all here, except in the album's only remix by Gianluca Becuzzi (aka Lamachina) which uses Alva Noto samples. Considering the material and the referrals of these sounds I am surprised no theremin was used, but we are not too far off from that anyway. The eleven tracks of "Night Parade" (9 original compositions, one remix and one Joy Division cover of "Atmosphere" - another influence of the Siderartica sound, if you will) delivers joy and sadness, great electronic music and glacial industrial-ambient soundscapes, pounding beats and minimal rhythmical patterns. All this graciously enriched by female vocals singing English, Italian and German lyrics (all printed inside the beautiful, blue-ish, thick and glossy booklet of the standard version). Unfortunately Elena didn't send us the 102-copies limited metal-box edition so we can't tell you anything about how that looks.If you are after the Kirlian Camera/Stalingrad influence you will get some, sure, and even though the cold siberian apocalyptic vision is mostly present and the ethereal vocals remind of KC's female and romantic touch, this is not necessarily as martial, as claustrophobic, as grand and as complex as the sound of the masters. I am not trying to oversimplify here or to file it under easy-listening pop music, not at all, I am just letting you know that you are dealing with a great project, a great sound, but also with a differnt sound, an original creature, and basically with the softer, smoother and more melodic side of this italian singer; not just with a KC clone (as if that would be of any interest to anybody anyway). Elena Fossi's debut is a great proof of musicianship. Get it while you can!
Artist: The ID (@)
Title: Dreams of the Dreadnought
Format: CD
Label: Morphic (@)
Despite the very poor recording quality of their self-produced CD and a hard to describe eclectic mixture of influences, The Id play shows, conferences and festivals all around the world, staging and spreading their political beliefs and showing their support to associations such as Greenpeace. The UK duo hardly conforms to set standards or musical labels and instead absorb ideas from the past and the present, mixing dark, wave, electronics, rock, noise in what they like to refer to as «experimental eclecticism» or «new wave of the new wave of alternativism». Their style is characterized by heavily processed guitars and vocals, draining and stomping drum patterns and sounds, lots of wanted (and sometimes unwanted) distortion/saturation, sequenced and improvised electronics and male and female vocalists talking, shouting and singing. To be honest I am not crazy about this, but on the other hand music is a matter of taste and reviews are a subjective point of view so I suggest you check it out for yourself (which you should have anyway). I am truly sorry I am not impressed with this band's music as much as I am with their attitude. They have my deepest respect for their attitude and for being so politically active. We need more bands that understand the importance of having a political agenda alongside their music! Well done!
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