Music Reviews



Leichenwetter: Zeitmaschine

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 03 2011
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Artist: Leichenwetter (@)
Title: Zeitmaschine
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Less than six months ago, we introduced and appreciated Leichenwetter's Legende and I personally decided to relisten some of their past releases so that it was almost immediate to notice the significant improvement of their sound. The following step of a careful listener is quite logical and could consist of a sort of imaginary bookbinding of their past releases according to their renowned style and - abracadabra (or whichever hocus pocus you prefer!) - here it is playing in my headphones! Someone could malign saying it's too easy to do it if someone already wrote lyrics centuries ago...but that could be an unjust and hasty sentence they definitively don't deserve! The powerful and vibrant voice by Numen (there're many moments when his voice make listener's skin crawl such as when he roars Allerseelen by Georg Trakl, Schwanenlied by Gottfried August Burger or Im Nebel by Hermann Hesse) has been propelled by the female one by Nina twice (for the above-mentioned Schwanenelied, my favorite track, and Die Zeit Geht Nich, a great poem by Ottfried Keller...I've not premised they just sing German poems - mainly belonging to Expressionism, Sturm und Drang and Weimar Classicism - as I presumed you already know this feature of this German band...beware: they just use German - a detail I appreciated a lot -!), while their sound features more electronics side by side the massive epic guitar walls. Leichenwetter properly called such a maquillage Zeitmaschinee (Time-machine), even if it's quite controversial if they travel towards past glorious ages or if they just evoked past poets to let them live again in our ones...or just both! Intellectual (but not necessarily snobbish) musical surgery (or time travelling!), you'll easily enjoy!

Vendemmian: One In A Million

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 03 2011
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Artist: Vendemmian
Title: One In A Million
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
It seems Vendemmian managed to seize the white rabbit with the clock by ears after a long-lasting chase, grabbed neaby the musical coordinates of 80ies wave rock and roasted with delicious sweet potatoes and carrots as side dish on the red-hot pan of the genuine goth-metal spread by glorious bands such as Paradise Lost. After six albums between 1993 and 1997, they disappeared from radars for almost 12 years, then after their comeback album One More Time in 2008, they're trying to refresh a little bit their sound, a mission which is not easy to accomplish if such a sharpening has been made on blades wielded by many leading character of known past splendours of that scene. Many listeners could consider them old-fogeys, but the somewhat desperate declarations of love, who are going to be easily nibbled and digested by fans of notorious bands such as Sisters Of Mercy, Joy Division, Cure, The Mission or The Cassandra Complex, could be object of a sort of translitteration addressed to them. The chances of stimulating love amidst them could be one in a million (sorry for easy paraphrase!), but it's a chance the front-leader and singer Mark Douglas and Vendemmian Dave are going to take and these chances become higher especially when they let more danceable tunes off the leash, particularly in "lighter" tracks such as I'm Falling, Shine On (whereas lyrics such as "I never forget how I met you/drawn together in a moment/and everything's always right when you're with me/and I never felt this way before" act as spices in such a stylistical tensely past-tense soup!), the above-mentioned One In A Million or Innocent, the moving Innocent (looking like the ultimate pray to a deaf lover: "why will no-one listen to a word I have to say/I'm trying to tell you the truth please listen to me I pray/I write it down I spell it out but you turn your back away"). The way they bring this release to an end, the sad and whining Sea Of Colours, being a sort of honest act of awareness about some ineluctability in love affairs (a dark-gothic leitmotiv), sounds like a ray of light in a so pervasive nostalgic darkness...Even if this release doesn't include fireworks or surprising moments, it will be appreciated by many listener suffering from nostalgia....and arguably obsession as well!

Verdiana Raw: Demo

 Posted by Borys Catelani   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 01 2011
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Artist: Verdiana Raw (@)
Title: Demo
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
This is a new project from Firenze, Italy, started by the young and talented artist Verdiana Raw, joined by Antonio Bacchi on guitar with the later addition of Fabio Chiari on percussions. All the compositions are based on Verdiana's vocals and piano. Songs are deeply evocative, not merely melancholic, the emotive spectrum is wider though the atmosphere is always pretty much ethereal. Some extremely rarefied guitar parts wisely overlapped strengthen the effect. Vocals are the outstanding point, ranging from sweet tones to some crazier pitches, capable of harmonic and timbric "jumps" like madame Diamanda Galas taught. And yes, I guess that Diamanda Galas is a strong influence, I dare say early Dead Can Dance are also a big influence. Maybe also because of the alleged esoteric topics, the reminded me a lot of Ordo Equitum Solis in their minimal version, I find a lot of similarities between Verdiana and Leithana's singing. This project deserves your attention, I'm sure that a bright future stands in front of them simply because they deserve it, talent won't be wasted, no crap!

Atomic Neon: Change

 Posted by Borys Catelani   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 31 2011
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Artist: Atomic Neon
Title: Change
Format: CD
Label: Black Rain (@)
Rated: *****
I use to remember an italian band that was so fond of Ramones that was called Bernardones. The musical result was indeed not as hilarious as the monicker, and of course not as good as Ramones. That's the problem, when the role model is so clearly shown it's impossible to avoid comparisons with the original, and the result is always the same: you can't compete with the Gods. That's why I hate cover bands. That's why Atomic Neon job is very dangerous. After a first superficial listen you can already frame them in coldwave style, and most of all vocals are a complete Robert Smith rip-off'¦ but not as good. The only way to avoid comparisons with the Gods is trying to make the whole thing as much personal as possible, alternatively doing it in a "godly" way. Luckily music is not just an exercise of Cure-like playing, but it's 100% coldwave the way you would expect it. So fans of the genre will be very pleased from this album, music is sad, harmonization between bass, guitar and keyboards is melancholic, very well done, perfectly 80's if it wasn't for the sound. That's the only thing Atmoc Neon didn't stick to the 80's with, the sound is very modern, and maybe coldwave fans with ears that care might find it a bit overproduced and not raw and spontaneous enough. There's also a hidden ebm mix after the last and 13th track

The Murder Act: Traum

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 30 2011
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Artist: The Murder Act (@)
Title: Traum
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Distributor: bandcamp
Rated: *****
As they put it, The Murder Act is a London, U.K. based five piece guitar-oriented band fusing elements of krautrock, shoegaze, industrial, punk and no-wave electronica with violently passionate and darkly humorous lyrics that had their inception in 2009. Well, that's the way they put it, not the way I'd put it, but more on that shortly. 'Traum' is their debut six-track EP, available on 12' vinyl (limited to 200) and digital download only. (My copy was a promo CD, but no real bearing on the music.)

Some review quoted on their one-sheet described the band as 'A vicious noise-drenched attack that smothers the dirty soul of Nick Cave around the Velvet's sodden corpse.' A highly imaginative description, but far-fetched to the point of incredulity from what I heard on this EP. Any resemblance to either of those two artists is purely coincidental in their 'noise factor'. I could just as easily compare The Murder Act to early Swans, Joy Division, or Sonic Youth, but there is no Nick Cave, Michael Gira or Thurston Moore in this band.

Leaving musical influences and the mode of the music aside for the moment, the biggest problem with 'Traum' is the sound quality. It sounds like the EP was recorded live in a warehouse on a cassette recorder. In this day and age there is simply no excuse for that. I've heard mediocre bootlegs from the 80s that sounded better than this murky mess. My advice- guys, get a good producer, or at very least a decent sound engineer and spend the bucks to do it right in the studio if you're serious about a career in music, even fringe music like this. There is just too much competition out there to sound so shabby. If the lyrics are supposed to be 'violently passionate and darkly humorous,' I can't tell; I can't much decipher them.

All is not hopelessly lost though. Beneath the muck and mire of the recording quality, I do detect a glimmer of talent. There is a Robert Smith / John Lydon quality about the lead singer's vocals, mixed with a little Ian Curtis/ Michael Gira intonation. 'Sew My Eyes,' a droning mid-tempo rock noise piece with vocals is somewhat memorable. (I could at least understand the 'Sew My Eyes' portion of the vocals.) So was the mostly instrumental title track, 'Traum,' with its forecful 'wall 'o processed guitar sonics and sequenced filter-sweep electronics. The vocals which come in later aren't bad either. Unfortunately, the subtleties were sabotaged due to the poor production. It's too bad that the majority of the material on 'Traum' is sub-par, wallowing in the clichéd emotional netherworld of goth-angst. Still, I detect the possibility of transcending all this with better production and more attention to songwriting. That the lead singer (and rest of the band, I presume) is English is a big plus for them, as the accent is a strong selling point. What this band needs is a new underground music scene to hone their craft in, and for all I know, there may be one taking shape in Britannia; although these days I fear it has a lot more to do with DJs and hip-hop.

In spite of my low rating for this debut effort, The Murder Act may be a band to watch (if they can hold together and stick it out), and if you're lucky enough (or unlucky enough, for various reasons) to live in or around London, you might want to catch this act in the clubs. (They'd probably sound better than they do on this EP.) It would be interesting to check their progress in six month to a year. You ought to judge for yourself though, and visit the band's website to listen to a few tracks. Won't cost you anything. For the adventurous, you can purchase the EP on bandcamp. (Link provided under distributor.)


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