Music Reviews



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Artist: Doomsday Virus (@)
Title: Mutually Abusive
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Unless you're a follower of the Upstate New York Goth-Industrial scene you may never have heard or heard of Doomsday Virus, but that's about to change. The project was first conceived in the basement of a rat-infested Buffalo, New York apartment building during the spring of 1998 by leader N. Dru Virus, but it wasn't until he relocated to Albany in the winter of 2001 that the incubation period really began. The earliest releases go back to 2005 - 'Cries of All Things Left Unsaid" and 'Catastrophic Error,' with a followup, 'Drink the Kool-Aid' in 2008. Now they're back eight years later with 'Mutually Abusive' with the lineup of N. Dru Virus - vocals, synth & drum programming and shitty guitars (his adjective, not mine); RaHb Eleven - synth & drum programming, legit guitars; and Matt Vellocet - live synths, recording engineer and whip cracking. Doomsday Virus is an industrial metal band in the vein of Ministry and KMFDM, with a touch of aggrotech, ala Combichrist.

The band has grown considerably since their previous releases, and 'Mutually Abusive' is an album on steroids compared what went before. From the thunderous opening of "Cracks in the Facade" all kinds of hell is unleashed on the unsuspecting listener. It's a tumultuous rage-fueled juggernaut that lets you know in no uncertain terms where these guys stand. It gets no less malovlent on "Die Alone" as the band hits its stride. You can dance to this, you can headbang to this, and it has a decent hook too! R.E.'s industrial guitar holds up with the best of them. I thought maybe that Doomsday Virus didn't have much of a sense of humor until I heard "Save Our Souls," the likely hit of the album. Synths are a little more prominent on this one, and the vocals quite intelligible. N. Dru rhymes more "shun" words in this song than Bill Leeb ever did - combination, tribulation, frustration, temptation, etc., etc. His vocals are remarkably similar to Andy LaPlegua's in many places, but this is no Combichrist clone. "Cold, Colder" could only have been written by someone who survived last winter here in Upstate NY. DV bring plenty of nastiness to the table on "Fool Me," a caustic warning of sorts. Imagine if Marilyn Manson fronted Front Line Assembly for a day...the result might just be "Flatline". All the stops get pulled out on "Life Deleted," a track that proves Doomsday Virus can go toe-to-toe with the heavyweights on the industrial music scene. Technically the album ends with "I Hope You Expected to Be Let Down," and for me, there was just a little too much chaos on this one. But wait...there's more, but only if you buy the CD as opposed to the download. "Waiting" is the tenth track, not named on the CD. It's much slower than anything else on the album, but perhaps more virulent. They go out with one big, heavy bang and no whimper.

'Mutually Abusive' should get these guys further than any of their previous efforts, and for fans of the genre, will likely provoke a positive response. When it comes to this kind of music, touring is essential, and if they can convey it live, Doomsday Virus should spread like a plague.
Jan 31 2016
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Artist: .- (@)
Title: eaux saines
Format: Tape
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
From Bordeaux, France comes this cryptic project, ".-" in Morse code, or 'eaux saines' in French, which means "safe waters". I'm not sure these waters are so safe after listening to this debut album, but I'm jumping in anyway without a life preserver. Colin, the man behind this solo project has a background playing in noise/punk/hardcore bands, but this is something different. eaux saines is much more in the industrial/electro/darkwave/coldwave vein relying primarily on synthesizers and programmed drums and percusssion, and some (quite distorted) guitar as well as vocals. First track, "les eaux saines" is quite industrial and reminds me of John Bergin's C17H19NO3 industrial project. Lots of distortion, submerged ghostly vocals, basic heavy industrial beat, and a guitar wail. A simple melody line follows the progression, all pretty cool actually. Nice introduction, and the noise is a key component. Second track, "almost" is nearly in the vein of Signal Aout 42, an old school Belgian Electro/EBM band often compared to Depeche Mode. Here the somewhat monotone vocals (sung in English) are more intelligable and the synth sounds are dirty and gritty giving a fresh perspective to dark synthpop. There is a shoegazer quality to "drunk in your bed," channeling some of the noisier aspects of My Bloody Valentine in an electronica setting. The squinky electronics in the brief break and elsewhere lift this song well beyond the norm. "des mots," sung in French, is some fine Coldwave, and by this time I'm realizing that this melding of noise-electronica and synthpop is really paying off. When Brian Eno broke new ground on his first couple of studio albums utilizing some of these techniques it was considered revolutionary. This project goes even further into the noise aspect, but still retains a dark pop sensibility.

"one day, ten years" is an introspective yet harrowing piece that envelops you with the gloom of futility. The doom metalish "le chant des sirens" crushes all hope with walls of distoted guitar over submerged vocals. Yet again though things readically change on "lost sailplanes" moving squarely into synthpop territory. Gary Numan-esque synths and a great melody/hook make this an amazing standout track. The vocals (in English) are the clearest and cleanest on the album. The synthwork is stellar, the sound is modern, yet recalls some of the best things I've ever heard in the genre. Back to underground electronica on "unfalling", like Depeche Mode falling off the deep end into the dark abyss. It all ends with "this smile," an apocalyptic synth-heavy number that really crushes it. WOW!

For a debut, this is astounding. It is something you just have to hear. Unfortunately, the ones who need to hear it the most probably never will. Being released on cassette, and not until March 2016 (it's in pre-order now) may all but guarantee its anonimity. If there ever was something well worth seeking out, .-, or 'eaux saines' is it.
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Artist: How to Cure Our Soul (@)
Title: Luna
Format: Tape
Label: Low Point (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from this italian band is focused on night landscape so its title "Luna" i.e., moon, evokes the aural phenomenon where, at night, without the day noises there are unnoticed sounds that emerges. This soundscape which should have also a visual counterpart as this is an audio-visual project is based upon drones generated from electric guitars, sampling, effects pedals and tape manipulation so it's something as digital as analog which fill the aural spectrum but leaving space for other sound to interact with the music.
The initial drone of "From the village to the country under the moonlight" quietly starts this release and slowly evolves until it's substituted by another drone which is resolved into another drone. The hypnotic quality of the construction is marked out by the concern that there's no sense of the fact that the track is based on three drones until there's any analytical analysis of the track, at the first listening there's only the vague sense that something has changed. "Midnight: song of crickets on the green hill" is based on the progressive juxtaposition of drones until there a fulfillment of the aural space. "Night climb to the Mount Analogue" closes this release is based on a single slowly evolving drone that is doubled to another ones which creates certain resonances unveiling sonic details of prismatic beauty.
This is a release so coupled to a rigorous form that could be as boring at a distract listening as enchanting at a rigorous one. It's not a record for everyone but every fan of drone music will listen to this tape until it's disintegrated. Applause.
Jan 31 2016
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Artist: Pankow
Title: Throw Out Rite
Format: CD
Label: Artoffact Records (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Artoffact is the reissue of the first cassette by Pankow which was never reissued and it documents the first steps of this important band while stating how, with few means, they were pioneering a genre that will be fully developed only years later. The development of the first industrial style with the new wave influence generated the seed of what will be later known as EBM when the band would follow other territories in the '90s.
The drum machine of "Das Wodkalied" introduces the listener into a sound field which is as outdated as legendary as it prefigured some development that will become codified only years later. The structure is almost simple: drum machine, synth and the voice that don't sing a text but rather speak catch phrase. "Rendez-Vous Dans Un Bois" is instead a more experimental track focused on the vocal experiments of Alex Spalck and featuring a cameo of Blixa Bargeld speaking almost inaudible phrases. "Wait And Search" and "Zz Walhalla" are instead focused on the rhythmic impact while "Destiny" returns to a path where Spalck's voice is fundamental for the creation of the atmosphere. "I'm Food For You" closes the original cassette as a balance between the rhythmic urgency and the atmospheric research.
The bonus part is made out by four track: "Voce" a track where the voice follows the rhythmic path, "Satellite" featuring a sax that is symptomatic of the way out from the genre's cage which will be explored in the masterpieces of the band. "Spinnen" is an experiment into almost noise path while "Senza titolo" closes this release with an atmosphere constructed with a beat and a synth conscious of their cinematic properties.
As this is their first cassette, obviously it's far enough from the mature releases that has erected the myth of one of the most important bands of italian new wave, however it's a document of historical importance as it revealed how they searched a personal way into a genre well codified from the beginning. An essential reissue.
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Artist: Sirotek (@)
Title: Listening To The Mirror
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Wall Noise Action (@)
Rated: *****
This release from Sirotek, the post-industrial project of Vitaly Malygin, seems based based on psychological concept as it features also samples of the voice of Sigmund Freud. The mirror could be seen as how we perceive ourself in what we see and this could be the sense of the cover artwork where a man is seen through the disturbed signal of the television.
"Some Important New Facts About The Unconscious" opens this release juxtaposing noises and voices, perhaps from a television program, as the noises, perhaps from a malfunctioning television, underlines the worries generated by the lecture. "Rhizome Ways" reveals a sense of narration as it starts almost quality to superimposes noise generators to expose a gentle line of piano in the central part and closing the track with small noises in a pure silence. "Hypnagogia" is a long track starting as an almost dark ambient track to evolve with sharp noises in a central part of undeniable impact and closing with with tones of atmosphere. "Inside The Mirror" is a noise track of deep impact and "I'm Only Sleeping" is at the threshold between ambient and noise. "I'm Only Dying" is a meditative juxtaposition of noises while "Besy" superimpose noises until it reaches the white one. "The Gift Of Death" sequences sonic details from a sort of melody above a canvas of background noise.
This is more multifaceted release than the average of the genre which is focused on the body impact and reveals an artist which is anchored to an allegorical vision of noise that reminds to an almost spiritual vision. This not a release for everyone but noise fans will see a path for the future of the genre.
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