Music Reviews



My Silent Wake: There Was Death

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 28 2018
cover
Artist: My Silent Wake (@)
Title: There Was Death
Format: CD
Label: Minotauro Records (@)
Rated: *****
'There Was Death' is the 10th studio album from Somerset, UK Gothic Death/Doom Metal band My Silent Wake. In the not too distant past I've reviewed a couple of their more experimental non-metal albums ('Eye of the Needle,' 'Invitation to Imperfection') and was really impressed by what I heard. Now I wouldn't count Gothic Death/Doom Metal among my favorite genres, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate it once in a while. The ringleader of this outfit - Ian Arkley (lead vocals & guitar) is not one to sit idle, and I probably should have expected a new MSW album by now anyway. On this album the rest of the band is comprised of the usual suspects - Addam Westlake (bass), Gareth Arlett (drums), Simon Bibby (keys & vocals), also with some guest growls and screams by Esoteric's Greg Chandler, who also recorded, produced, mixed and mastered the album. (Nice job Greg.) I briefly went back and listened to MSW's 2015 'Damnatio Memoriae' album to get a feel for the band in their GDDM mode, and also to see how they progressed in the genre. In some ways it's a step beyond, in some others not so much. 'There Was Death' is 9 tracks, a sort-of concept album (on death, obviously) which opens with 'A Dying Man's Wish.' This is a morose mass of sludge that crawls along like the dying man in the title. Arkley's typical guttural growly vocals seem more like they're narrating a story on this one than singing a song. Plenty of doom and gloom, but it sound very indulgent and fails to ignite the spirit. Oh boy, if the rest of the album is like this, it's gonna be a bumpy ride. Fortunately the next track "Damnation Memoraie" (btw, not on the album of the same) redeems the opener quite nicely. It give you nearly everything you might expect from a great Goth/Doom/Death Metal band- good catchy riffs, momentum, forceful vocals, nice changes, and excellent playing all the way around. "Killing Flaw" rips it up for 2 1/2 minutes before Arkley even gets a gruff word in. It also happens to have a spooky gothy organ break. "Ghosts of Parlour Lives" is my favorite track on the album. It begins like a darkwave number, with a lighter touch, but turns somewhat metal a little ways in. Kind of balladish, but not what I'd call a true ballad. Nice chorus of voices, and I'd swear there's an (uncredited) female in the mix. Although I've heard only a fraction of MSW's albums, this song may well be the best thing Arkley's done in this genre. There's a sensitivity too it that is often lacking in this kind of music. It also sports some very cool changes. "Mourning the Loss of the Living" is only a 36-second transitional piece of just Ian's voice and guitar in non-guttural, non-metal mode, and it sounds pretty good too. Title track "There Was Death" is a bit disappointing not having anything outstanding going for it other than speeding up toward the end. "Walls Within Walls" is a hard-charging number with more oomph, and it just might appeal to metalheads of any stripe. "No End to Sorrow" sounded like a completely different band at first with acoustic guitar and Arkley's non-growling vocals which turn growly on the second verse. And uh, yeah, this is a goth doom-death metal ballad. The album ends with "An End to Suffering," at first an atypical track for the GDDM My Silent Wake, sounding more like it belongs in their experimental camp with quieter acoustic string instruments and harmonium, until the anthemic metal buildup at the end. The vocals are (mostly) gruff but it's a nice mood piece anyway. I can see Gothic Death/Doom Metal fans going nut over this album in spite of what I believe are some shortcomings. Definitely worth a listen anyway even if you're not a big fan of the genre. It hits the market in February exclusively on the Italian Minotauro Records label (Music from the Labyrinth). BTW, the album cover is by the renowned Finnish artist Juha Vuorma.

Nonconnah: Winter EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 16 2018
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Artist: Nonconnah
Title: Winter EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber
Arriving very late in the year ‘17, Nonconnah’s 22-minute Winter EP is a particularly understated work, in presentation and publicity and also in sound. Dark soft rumblings, digitally processed atmospheres, heavy reverbs and abstract field recordings blend into a set of five deep, eerie and uncomfortable environments as cold as the title suggests.

Opening track “When You Sank Into The Leaf-Strewn Earth” has a supremely low steady kick to it that hints at the approach of something rockier that never arrives, before “When The Blackbirds Formed An Inverted Cross” reveals a strangely more accessible side with slow, backwards-like melody and glitching effects. This then unfolds further when “When Your Hands Trembled As You Watched The Barren Fields” which brings the spontaneous glimmers of melody further into the mid-range while continuing the edgier hints of white noise on top. Fourth track “When The Ceiling Hit The Floor As The Barn Collapsed Around You” strips things back into darker territory with central use of sharp-edged gating or timestretching and a sense of claustrophobic breathing that bizarrely jumps into a bit of abstract warbled-piano slapping at the end. This treated piano then becomes the centrepiece of final track “You Said The Snow Is Like Amnesia I’m Forgetting Everything” which is like a short twisted parody of a filmic theme for love or death.

There’s more to this Winter EP than initially meets the eye and it’s a well crafted mini-album in effect, quite raw-edged in parts but easily exuding enough character to make it a tly interesting listen.

Hidden Reverse: Six Cases of Sleep Disorder

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 14 2018
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Artist: Hidden Reverse (@)
Title: Six Cases of Sleep Disorder
Format: CD
Label: Azoth
Rated: *****
Hidden Reverse, the name of this bicephalous project by Simon Balestrazzi (mostly known for his forerunning industrial project T.A.C., as most of our readers maybe know) and Massimo Olla - another appreciated artist of the experimental Italian scene -, could let you think of something related or referred to subliminal messages un-hidden by the reverse playing of some recordings. Well, it has nothing to do with this marketing gimmick by some bands, but it could somehow hit your subconscious. The source of inspiration, as you can easily guess, is the phenomenon of sleep disorders, but don't expect some therapy music or seemingly infinite bundles of narcoleptic ambient by these guys. Maybe fostered by the growingly notorious sleep concerts (Steve Stapleton's ones are a must), by a vast literature related to this interesting subject (eg.Jonathan Coe's "The House of Sleep") or by the narcolepsy or the sleeplessness (depending on individual reaction) often induced/inspired by sluggish cultural debates or by the the demeaning political and economic situation, the sleep, its deprivation or its disorders could be considered parts of a hot topic. More than narcolepsy or insomnia, Hidden Reverse creatures could inspire or induce nightmares, considering the matter Simon and Massimo focused on. A title like "Fatal Familial Insomnia" for the opening song, but above all its rising psychotic torsions, could let you think of some dreadful familiar dreadful crimes about parents, turned into killers by traumatic events reawakened by an infant's wailing or by stress. The slightly distorted barking and the siren-like crying are just some nightmarish entities resurfacing from the dumb drone-like movement of the following "Night Terrors", preceding the claustrophobic stealthy steps of "In That Liminal Space" and the scary "Obstructive Sleep Apnea", the track where Simon and Massimo get closer to that branch of industrial music, drawing inspiration from soundtracks of horror movies of the 70ies. The two raving minutes of "One More White Night" in between effete and hectic emotionality as well as the final "Entering The Empire of The Sleepless" let you guess they tried to follow a sort of plot in the sequence of tracks, that testify the amazing (and thrilling) chances of interaction between Simon's freaky entities and Massimo's creatures on his [d]Ronin tools.

Kraz: Lonely

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 11 2018
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Artist: Kraz
Title: Lonely
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk Records
Amsterdam-based band Kraz’s “Lonely EP” is a bold 4-track collection from the darker and more melancholic side of guitar-driven electro-synth-pop. Bright arpeggiating synth patterns and melodramatic drums underpin a pained, rocky male vocal.
The title track is the most radio-friendly, an expansive and quite filmic song conjoined to a slow post-dubsteppy groove with full-on production mixing, while the other three tracks dive a little deeper. “Here” is an interesting mish-mash of a surprisingly acid-house beat and squelchy bass with a quite Rob Dougan-esque pained and evocative top end- certainly the track with the greatest remix potential.
Longest track “Forced To Faith” has shades of Depeche Mode about it, with extra time to breathe both vocally and in the synth patterns that are allowed a little further exploration. “Make Him Disappear” has the most prominent guitars and a more raw and organic drum arrangement, and sounds like a rock band with a synth player rather than a synth band that happens to have a guitar, especially in the final third when things take a decided turn towards sounding like an electro-heavy version of The Doors.
The one thing missing from all four tracks is the infectious hook. Dark and brooding this may be, but ultimately it’s still pop music and it still feels like we’re heading towards choruses and crescendos that never quite arrive to fulfil the promise that the verses offer. Predictably it’s the title track that gets closest to a really memorable, singing-it-after-it’s-finished chorus. If that ingredient could have been sprinkled on top, what you’d have here is a very strong EP indeed.

Chvad SB: Structure

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 06 2018
cover
Artist: Chvad SB
Title: Structure
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber
Apparently this is Chvad SB’s 80th release in about 27 years, which with some artists might imply that they’re knocking them out without much thought. And on the surface, the bold simplicity of the layered drones, strung-out notes and heavily processed guitar noodling in the two 22-minute pieces that make up “Structure” could imply that it didn’t take long to formulate. But scratch a little deeper and you find that, like strong minimalist art, the exceptional balance and control of this release is what makes it really strong.

Supremely long synthetic tones, some imitating strings, others their own form of steady tubular or sine wave beds, loop and loop. Six minutes into opening track “Column” we begin to hear the first elements that could be described as notes, playing out glacially slowly like the melody of a slow ice melt, before with admirable patience we are finally introduced to the reverb-soaked electric guitar sounds, which strum away with a surprisingly happy tone.

“Pillar” is a more echoey affair, with a hall-like ambience and gentle waves of electrical hum and interference sounds being cut through by spontaneous percussive tube hits and single strained guitar notes. Hints of American twang just creep into the guitar work at the end.

It’s yet another really strong bit of guitar drone from the very prolific and consistent Silber label.


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