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Founded by Harry in 2006, one year after the shop with the same name, German SkullLine label is releasing since then collectible handmade limited CDs of neofolk, industrial, dark ambient and 80’s electro music. Most of the time Harry prefers to release unknown projects and even if sometimes sound production isn’t the top notch, it doesn’t matter, because freedom of expression burns vividly into young hearts. The label’s motto is “Wo die sprache aufhoert, faengt die musik an!” (“Where the language stops, begins the music!) and also:
Here are some of their latest releases reviewed…

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ZR19.84 “Frei” Into only three years of activity Riccardo Z. released about ten CDs and FREI is his second for SkullLine. Proposing neo folk ballads, industrial ambient suites (helped by Sala Delle Colonne), post industrial isolationism and martial rhythms (see VIII where he’s helped out by Heiliges Licht) ZR19.84 offers a nice mix that span through the aforementioned genres. To notice the fresh arrangements of Death In June’s “Runes and men” cover.

ELDAR “Ama Terasu” AMA TERASU is the first 2008 album that Marc Merinee released on SkullLine. On this CDr album limited to 50 copies he offers ten tracks where industrial/martial rhythms, dark ambient atmospheres, thin melodic lines (organs and synth) and distant filtered vocals create a floating nightmarish world that sometimes sounds a little static.

ELDAR “Solve et coagula” SOLVE ET COAGULA is the second part of “Ama terasu” and it sounds pretty similar. Maybe on this one we have more militaristic/industrial sounds/atmospheres. The characteristic of this project seems to focus the sound on the overall atmosphere rather than on melodies which sometimes sound undefined.

MANMACHINE “Krieg Durch Oel” Limited to 100 CDrs KRIED DURCH OEL is the second album by Manmachine, which is a project by Bleiburg’s member A.Schwarz. Mixing obsessive industrial rhythms and electronic rhythm/atmospheres with few electro wave influences (check “Das mathyrium”) the album have interesting moments but also some production flaws (some tracks sound like demos found in the basement) which make sound the album like a collection of ideas to work on.

VON LIEBENFELS “Herren Der Schwarzen Sonne” Named after Adolf Lanz, the founder of the Ostara confraternity and man who inspired the founders of the Socialist Party (Anton Drexler, Adolf Hiedler, Hermann Göring and Rudolf Hess decided to take the swastika as symbol because of Lanz von Liebenfels, as he wanted to be called). Von Lebenfels’ second album HERREN DER SCHWARZEN SONNE (Masters of the black sun) with its track list seems to describe step by step the life of Adolf Lanz with titles like “Ostara”, “Eye of black stone”, “A future for the past”, “Brüder des Lichts”, “Ich hatt einen Kameraden”, “Masses Engulfed” or “Night of the long knives (Alternate)”. The New Zealander project plays a lot with the old “let me guess if he’s a Nazi sympathizer or not” game. Musically the album mix neo-classical tunes, martial rhythms and filtered vocals. The sounds used make me recall the fake orchestral sounds of old synthesizers and the melodies composed recall the German national hymn. The closing track “Moti Ragnarokum” is a Burzum’s cover and melodically is the best of the lot…

ARGENTUM “Eternity” Coming from Argentina, Argentum are an unknown combo (there’s no further info on their myspace) and ETERNITY is their fourth release. Their sound is based on neo-classical tunes (piano, strings and few choirs), distorted rhythmical parts and few samples. Dramatic atmospheres cut the air while tambourines beats for a call of a better age. Their best tracks are “II” and “XII”.

KENJI SIRATORI “Dorian Gray” Limited to 50 copies only DORIAN GRAY is an album divided into six movements where Kenji built a thick dark industrial structure of noises and filtered layers of vocals. There aren’t many variations to the main theme he tends to play with sound intensity around an idea.

SUMMER IN PRYPJAT “…Et Pereat Mundus” Summer In Prypjat is the project of Marcus Ziemer aka Mr. Isegrim. The nine tracks of the album offers martial drums with background industrial ambient soundscapes where melody sounds confused with the apparent aim of creating dizziness into the listener who sometimes could find himself floating into this atmosphere. There are also some rarefied moments like on “Gerechtichkeit” that will give you the sensation of daydreaming.

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THE PRIDE OF WOLVES “Dawn Of The Wolves” Formed by Naja af Wolffen and Black Wolf, The Pride Of Wolves are an English/German duo based in Manchester and Düsseldorf. DAWN OF THE WOLVES is their first album and it contains twelve tracks that mix post punk (really nice the song “Wolfsbane” that has upfront synth and bass guitar), neo-classical atmospheres and some martial rhythms. Offering some ballads (also a jazzy one titled “Three way street”), some strong post punk moments as well as some electronic wave tune (like “CodeRed”) DAWN OF THE WOLVES sounds varied and nice.

ZHARK “Frühwerke 1983-1988” Released five years after the debut MCD “Binär Robotik”, FRUHWERKE 1983-1988 is a compilation of demo tracks and remixes of an obscure German solo project. Most of the tracks are dancey electronic instrumental tunes which seem to have been composed with a tracker sequencer using retro synth sounds (the ones available during those years). If some recalls the soundtracks of Commore 64 games, remix versions like “Dada (Entartete Kunst-Mix)” or “Les Monts Dansants (Mon boucherc est un artiste-Mix)” sound better produced with sounds similar to early e.b.m. (thing that it’s also true for later tracks “Indoxikat E” and “Attack!”).

KRISTUS KUT “Music For Sex Rituals” Coming from Netherlands Kristus Kut have released more than ten releases during 2008. The project is inspired by pagan religion and porn and on the thirty three copies of MUSIC FOR SEX RITUALS offers three 20 minutes long tracks where porn samples are mixed with industrial and power industrial noises.

L’EFFET C’EST MOI “Les Voix De L’apocalypse” Released one year after the War Office release I reviewed, LE VOIX DE L’APOCALYPSE is the newest L’effet C’est Moi album. Limited to 100 copies, the CD contains fourteen tracks inspired by the battles that took place in the medieval era. Musically the tracks have a strong martial drums section and the epic battles are evoked by orchestral strings sounds, organ and, on some tracks, by female chants (check “Errants”). Some melodies are inspired by Renaissance music and generally the album sounds much better than “Tomber en heros” because Emanuele succeeded into fixing the few things that made sound the old album a little naive. I also appreciated the dissonant melodies of the piano/strings parts on “Nuages venteux” and ” …pidémie et misère”. Good one!

FRONT SONORE “Für Die Neuordnung Europas” Most of the eight tracks of the 50 copies run of the FUR DIE NEUORDNUNG EUROPAS album by the French project Front Sonore is the result of noise/samples collages with the add of few synth pads and drums here and there. WWII’s period songs, industrial noises and martial rhythms are mixed to create an ambience that fits the title “For the reorganization of Europe”… The whole result sounds as a comment to WWII facts as seen by common people (the popular songs coupled to war noises made me think so…).

BARBAROSSA UMTRUNK “Regnum Sanctum” Ambient industrial, martial rhythms, orchestral inserts, samples and recitative vocals are the elements of the ten tracks of Barbarossa Umtrunk’s debut album REGNUM SANCTUM. The French duo is able to balance all the elements in a convincing way (and with great sounds also) and I think that this title will be reissued again as a proper CD, because it deserves it.

BARBAROSSA UMTRUNK “Glazial Kosmogonie” Founded on July 1, 1935 by Heinrich Himmler, Herman Wirth, and Richard Walther Darré, Ahnenerbe’s goal was to research the anthropological and cultural history of the Aryan race, and later to experiment and launch voyages with the intent of proving that prehistoric and mythological Nordic populations had once ruled the world. GLAZIAL KOSMOGONIE’s tracks are inspired by the studies of Ahnenerbe theories and as usual it isn’t clear if the band embraces those ideas or they built the track list like a sort of concept album where the tracks are the different chapters of a story. Musically, they succeed into making an interesting album with great ambientations using samples, orchestrations, electronics and also some industrial/experimental moments.

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[article by Maurizio Pustianaz]


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