Music Reviews

Artist: Army of the Universe (@)
Title: Mother Ignorance
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Records
Rated: *****
Army of the Universe hails from Milan, Italy, and 'Mother Ignorance' is their debut album, but you'd never know either of those things by listening to this well produced CD. With mixing and production assistance by Chris Vrenna (Grammy-award winning drummer for Nine Inch Nails, keyboardist for Marilyn Manson, and multi-gold record producer/engineer for Rasmus, Megadeth, Slipknot and Metallica), it's no surprise that it sounds good. These guys- Lord Kalidon (Vocals), Davide Tavecchia (guitars) and Trebla (keyboards) sound much more American than Italian. It's no wonder they transplanted themselves to L.A.

What we have here though is a bit of a 'sheep in wolf's clothing'- an alternative pop rock band masquerading and an Electro-Industrial Metal Rock act. Yet this is (mostly) well-done catchy stuff with quality vocals, and reason enough to move it to the top of the heap on the pile of umpteen CDs still to review. The album opens strong with the title track, 'Mother Ignorance,' with its Zombie-Manson-esque overtones; muscular industrial guitar powerchords and puissant rhythm and synth, and it's damn catchy too, a real stomper. I almost believe Lord K when he wails 'No one here gets out alive'¦I will catch you (butterfly)' Almost.

The wool begins to show beneath the lupine pelt though on next track- 'Lovedead'. I immediately recognized the Nine Inch Nails influence in the music here, with rhythm and synths right off the NIN assembly line. Lord K's vocals are much less menacing here than the opener; much more melodic poppy and commercial, although the necrophiliatic theme keeps it on the edge of darkness. 'La la la Lovedead.' There's a sure-fier swooner for platform-booted gothic dollies. 'Goodnite' with its ultra-commercial could have been done by any alternative rock band that uses power guitar, melodic vocals and a tinge of darkness. Could be a crossover hit, if it could be considered 'crossing over'. I really like the chugging flow of 'Resin,' and vocally and lyrically it's pretty cool, but ultimately fails to deliver a payoff. Short train to nowhere. This song got me thinking though, if Danny Elfman revived Oingo Boingo as an electro-industrial pop rock band, it might sound something like this.

Covering Bjork's 'Army of Me' the way Army of the Universe does is perhaps the single biggest misstep on the album. Musically, there is a heavier chorus than the original, but the vocals are understated. Bjork's vocals on that song are chilling; here they are just limp, which is shame because Lord K definitely has enough prowess of the pipes to belt it out. If 'Goodnite' had alternative rock charting potential, 'Cold in Heaven' may even have more. But still, this isn't any kind of electro-industrial metal. It's about as heavy as The Birthday Massacre. With every track the songwriting seems to head more into the mainstream, regardless of all those Vrenna touches. But in spite of the quest for pop, Army of the Universe still manage to come up with some neat dark ditties like 'Hollywood Drama' and Lord K distinct melodic vocal style shows a fair amount of versatility too. '8 Flowers' may be silly, but it sounds just like good fun to me. (''¦When I get you flowers is just cause I fucked up, fucked up, fucked up'¦')

Most songs have plenty of hook and punch and aren't long at well under the 5 minute mark, so you don't even mind a throwaway instrumental track like 'Quantisize'. 'Broken Porcelain' is a bit of a mess and tries too hard to be commercial and experimental at the same time. 'Retarded' may not be very PC, but it will probably win the band some fans with a warped sense of humor.

Overall, not a bad debut album and there's hit potential here. Whether this kind of Nyquil will be the drug of choice for diehard Goth-Industrial fans remains to be seen. Remember Stabbing Westward's attempts to do this kind of thing though'¦and where are they now?
Title: Newsflashes
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Trumpett (@)
Rated: *****
After the Enfant Terrible reissues, Doxa Sinistra are back with a new reissue this time on Trumpett. The label decided to produce their own reissues and now their are about to release NEWSFLASHES, the third 1988 Doxa Sinistra's tape as a double vinyl album. On my previous reviews I didn't mention that Doxa Sinistra were Brian Dommisse (Freakowitz) and Hanjo Erkamp (Dr. C. Stein), who were also active with Ende Shneafliet. Sounding more experimental and noisy respect their other band, the duo on this release packed twelve tracks (from the original tape here you won't find "Station Call") where we start with the chaotic tension produced by distorted vocals/drum machine, broke by minimal synth lines suspensions. This track is preparing the audience to a great synth wave experimental tune titled "Media Bomb". On this one we have an obsessive synth arpeggio and cool filtered vocals. "Remote Birth Control" reminds me of the first Human League experiments when they called themselves The Future. Doxa Sinistra mix synth rhythmic noises with samples and sparse distorted guitar solos. "Foreign Correspondent" is a nice tune with middle-oriental melodies while with "Swindle" growls and neurotic vocals are coupled to synth/drum machine fast hypnotic lines. On NEWSFLASHES each track is a surprise as we pass from the melancholic atmospheres of "Televisor" to the industrial noises of "Call Now!" passing from minimal synth weird tunes of "Cocoon World" and the long analog nightmarish "Il Spirito Di Sergio Leone". This is an album that is worth your money if you like synth sounds and early industrial.
Oct 15 2011
Artist: Downrocks (@)
Title: Intron
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Beathazard Records
Rated: *****
Respect to those who struggle to keep the funk alive! And Barcelona-based producer Camilo Sampayo (aka Kapi, the man behind the Downrocks moniker) is definitely one of them.
What we have here is Downrocks' debut album, a long player that follows last year's critically acclaimed EP "Mecanismos". More a compilation of previously released (and now updated), remixed and unreleased material, than an album built from scratch, "Intron" represents perfectly the current retro/modern spanish electro-funk scene: strong syncopated beats, funky basslines, video game melodies, vocoded rhymes (rapped either in spanish or in english), even some def scratching by the man himself, all these classic oldschool ingredients a true electro fan expects are here in heavy doses and, guess what, the stuff is really fffresh! Present also is the nu school with its dark techy instrumentation on tracks like "Mech City" or "A Split Hazard Extended (Top Bass mix)", but it's the funk that's really the driving force of this record and i can tell you people that fly jams like "Venus (The Island mix)" or "Pop And Locking (Freestyle mix-Video version), a true p-funk gem, are increasingly difficult to hear them recorded anymore.
Kapi's not alone in his effort to preserve the values of the intergalactic funkiness; a posse of extremely talented producers is down with the man: Renko, Split DJ, my man Ivan Arnau (aka Dark Vektor), Invisible Rockers Crew and the mighty Dynamic Bass System are featured on "Intron", the latter 2 as remixers (Ivan remixes A Split Hazard Extended and he also contributes in "Entropia").
Released on his own Beathazard Records, this super fresh debut album by Downrocks is also available in cd format at a very affordable price (buy directly here: Don't miss it!
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Artist: (@)
Title: Degenerate
Format: CD
Label: Control Freak Records (@)
Rated: *****
Well, it may has a lot to do with my own degeneration, that I nearly 'forgot' to put an ear on this release, which, to my surprise, arrived me several months before from a totally different part of the world, New Zealand. I somehow have them always counted to be US-based, especially when I think back on the both releases 'Radiation' and 'Manipulate', both out on the Albuquerque-based cult label DSBP. But maybe I am totally confusing some facts.
However,, C2 and all related projects behind the Control Freak label are celebrating their comeback with new and upcoming releases after a longer break. After listening this new multiple times, you may like to read, that this EBM/Electropop-music project hasn't generally changed its kind and sound outfit. 'Degenerate' is still inspired by crafty Electropop music out of the mid-90s, which allows classic EBM-like structures to take a free slot in the global concept. This album quite often varies in its style and ranges from smoother, more Synthpop-driven tracks to more classic EBM-related efforts. They seemingly put special attention on their bass-line programming skills, the title-track 'Degenerate', or 'Thought Control' let the head seesawing to the beat and vibration.
In between, and to me at quite unlucky chosen song-positions, they have included some instrumental, voice-sample-driven tunes ('Pending Hope', 'Greed Surplus'), which cannot defend the impression to have discovered filler stuff ' a bit more spectacular next time, please. The floating of this album gets completely interrupted, but luckily gets back on track with 'Degenerate' and/or 'Analogue Killer'. Finally a label-internal remix of the Powernoise-inspired side-project C2 end this album after 13 tracks. albums offer always a remarkable amount of quality behind sound design and production. 'Degenerate' isn't an example, although it pauses at some moments.

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Artist: Orphx (@)
Title: Radiotherapy
Format: CD
Label: Hands Productions (@)
Rated: *****
A new Orphx release is always, and has always been a feast for Hands and the fans out in the wilderness of the IDM/Electronica scene. 'Radiotherapy' isn't an exception and offers all the good ingredients, which made Christina Sealey and Richard Oddie that famous. Now active producing music for longer than nearly two decades, they provide us another opulent album their hypnotic Electronica sound design unites elements out of Techno, Dub, Industrial, Noise in a special manner. 'An Orphx track is always unmistakably Orphx', I agree completely, although I quote quite seldom the content out of label info sheets. 'Radiotherapy' continues the musically course of Oddie and Sealey and offers us another 9 outstanding tunes, which let the listener astonished and full of amazement sitting in front of his/her home entertainment. Their unique hypnotic sound explores on this album repetitive Electro-like percussion elements ('Tensile'), or it focuses to spin a balance between dark, synthesized atmospheres with the rhythmically efforts of such cult projects like The Klinik/Dive (outstanding tunes: 'Future Past', 'Dead Zone'). At short moments, you'll get the impression, to be able to foresee the next part in an Orphx-track, but at the very next moment, Oddie/Sealey have meanwhile installed a completely different sound or fx-element and nothing sounds like before. 'Radiotherapy' is your ideal therapy, to fire all pseudo-aggressive EBM or Powernoise impressions out of your mind, and I would recommend listening to this marvelous release under a good pair of headphones. Although they are already veterans in the scene, they are proving once again technical superiority to many, often overestimated colleagues.

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