Hard-Wired EBM Reviews
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Artist
Ayria
Title
Plastic Makes Perfect
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
EBM
Date of review
1st July 2015
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
After the success of Hearts For Bullets it must have been a daunting task for Jennifer Parkin to produce a follow-up that equalled it but, aided by her usual band of like-minded souls, thats exactly what shes done. This very much continues the good work of its predecessor but her desire to push herself ever onward means this has greater scope than its predecessor, both musically & with the lyrics which explore the gamut of human emotions, from the hurt that sets a downbeat but emotionally compelling mood to Three Months while the whiplash rhythms that, in unison with some typically slick melodic work, provide the backbone to Games evoke the kinky subject matter to create a song that will raise temperatures without fail! It helps that Jennifers voice has never sounded stronger or more confident than they do here, making their mark throughout with excellent performances adding to the lustre that graces the no-nonsense opener Hunger as well as the instantly infectious duo of Missed The Mark & Plastic Makes Perfect. Likewise, the closing A Letter From An Angel ends the album in fine style with a muscular backing being combined with deeply effective melodic work & husky voice while The New Style Of Riot shows her versatility with a harsh, industrial-strength delivery complimenting the sonic maelstrom that, with its exotic synth leads & action-packed backing, rolls along like a musical juggernaut! Another good example of the extremes this album goes to is Friends And Enemies which takes its cue from My Revenge Upon The World & combines a seriously hard-hitting electro style with spoken lyrics that again verge on rap & see Jennifer kicking some serious arse in the process! The music itself follows suit in this respect, especially in the case of the mighty All That Glitters which scales new heights of grandeur & magnificence while the rock-flavoured chorus of The Box Under My Bed makes this track yet another highlight on an album that is full of them. This is perhaps less of a progression from HFB than that album was from its predecessors, instead offering more of everything that the Ayria sound is, being by turns emotive, sassy, hard-hitting & downright superb from start to finish!


 

Artist
Poupee Fabrik
Title
Dirt
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
EBM
Date of review
1st July 2015
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.0/10
By giving the opening track (& preceding single) of this new album the title Bring Back The Ways Of Old Poupee Fabrikk make no bones about the fact that they are sticking to what they know & unleashing another old-school EBM assault upon us. That many of these tracks were actually born during the period of 1988 & 1990 before being left to rot for a number of years mean that this is hardly surprising although the newer tracks such as Stahlwerk & Death is Natural do little to expand their trademark sound in any way, aside from some effectively mournful choirs on the latter track. This is, in many ways, a total microcosm of what old-school EBM is about with a typically minimalistic feel that borders on the brutal at times topped by harsh, rugged vocals & fans of the band will no doubt clasp this to their bosom & love it with all their hearts as it does exactly what one would expect with the slightly chaotic feel of H8 & the seemingly freeform soundscapes of radio transmissions & robust melodic touches that characterise the closing Radio Disturbance being about as adventurous as the album gets. So, there you have it, a short, sharp old-school electroshock that will, indeed, take you back to the days of old.


 

Artist
Cynical Existence
Title
Come Out And Play
Format/Cat
CD AM2187CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
EBM
Date of review
24th April 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
5/10
With the various projects he's been involved with in the past few years (Menschdefekt & Project Rotten being the best known) plus many recent guest appearances on various albums, Fredrik Croona seems to be everywhere at the moment & now he's released this debut album from his solo project Cynical Existence, having already made his mark with the preceding EP A Familiar Kind Of Pain. And if you enjoyed the EP then the album will be right up your street as well as he carries on very much in the same vein, laying down a very clean, at times spartan style of EBM with vocals that vary between the melodic & a harsher, slightly strangulated style which has a similar fingers-down-the-blackboard feel to Aesthetic Perfection's Daniel Graves which does at least stand out from the typically processed EBM styles. The same can't be said about the music, however, as, while 'A Scar On My Mind' kicks proceedings off in a decent enough manner with the harsher vocals actually expressing the lyrics really well, the fact that the following 'Deception' sounds so much like it (albeit with the addition of some old-school computer effects), sets the scene for the rather samey & predictable album that this turns into hereafter with the closing pair of 'Insecure' & 'Seeping Through' repeating the trick by again sounding very similar to each other. With this in mind, picking out the slightly punchier rhythms that form the basis of 'Pick Your Poison' & the fact that 'GDI' is a decent instrumental might seem like picking at straws but there is at least some enjoyment to be had from the fuller sound that makes 'Reign Supreme' a more satisfying listen while the high-paced rhythms that should see 'Paradox' enjoying a modicum of dancefloor success do provide some redemption. Overall, though, the album is just too samey & too short on ideas to be considered a success & the fact that it does at least boast a recognisable sound isn't enough to change that.


 

Artist
Kant Kino
Title
Father Worked In Industry
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
EBM
Date of review
1st March 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
'We Are Still Kant Kino' proclaims the opening track on this Norwegian duo's second album, mixed by Claus Larsen, no less & this self-celebratory stance seems somehow apt considering their musical style, which mixes the stompiness of old-school EBM with a kind of wry humour that brings And One to mind. It's an intriguing premise, even though, like And One, it can make for tracks that vary wildly in terms of quality. One big problem is that on the opening tracks they don't sound as if they're taking it seriously &, as a result, sound as if they're parodying the old-school; it might be that this is intentional, at least in part &, if so, then they do it well but it's hardly a promising proposition for a whole album. Add to this the fact that, a little later, there's the dubious delights of a track called 'Ich Liebe Katrina Witt' & it's not looking too promising at this point. However, the fact that this track is actually a surprisingly downbeat electronic waltz with some decent pitch-bend effects is actually indicative of the improvement that the album undergoes hereafter as they build on & develop these influences, adding a greater melodic element to 'Bleed' while the slower & generally harsher 'Message' works up to a quite superb climax in a manner that demonstrates that they really can hit the mark when they put their minds to it. In this context, the liberties that they take with 'Warm Leatherette' make a modicum of sense as they hand the vocal duties to Claus Larsen himself & add numerous new elements to this well-loved classic, thereby robbing it of its minimalist feel which might be enough for some to consider it little short of heresy! Hanne Hausgard's vocals are, aside from a slightly flat performance on 'Just For The Comfort Of Sleep', another important element in raising the standard here, adding a touch of class to both 'My Game' & 'My Sweetest Crime' & forming an effective partnership with main vocalist Lars Madsen on the title track which resurrects another old-school staple in its title, although the approximation of industrial/factory sounds which form the basis of the track proves they're not aiming for a massively high level of authenticity! At least 'Underground', which is another infectious offering, does shake things up a bit, possessing a title that has a number of meanings & the tale of an on-the-line suicide at least sees them playing with the clich閟 a tad, as does the closing 'Ubermensch', all of which is fine & dandy as long as nobody gets the wrong idea & thinks they're proposing some form of eugenics or something; hopefully, though, the generally lighter style of this track will ensure this doesn't happen.


 

Artist
Say Just Words
Title
Screams In The Darkness
Format/Cat
CD ER013
Label
Engraved Ritual
Style
EBM
Date of review
1st March 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
This debut album from the Chilean trio of Jose Brantes, Eduardo Espinoza & David Urriola was recorded between 2006-2012 & offers a pretty decent slice of melodic EBM that, as was proven by the preceding EP The Perfect Killer, is very much their trademark. As such, it could well appeal to those who find the current 'hellektro' styles too much to take apart from the vocals which are, for the most part, of the typical 'harsh whispered' style but the music is lively & dynamic with a less abrasive feel than many EBM acts &, when they hit their stride, they're capable of mixing it with the best of them, as they do on the pacey & dramatic 'Bastard', the nicely full-sounding 'Time Of Pain' & the instrumental 'Noise Of Broken Souls'. Much the same could have been said of 'Infection' but for the 'cut-up' effects that obliterate what could have been an excellent & expansive instrumental section towards the end. This is perhaps more a sign of inexperience than anything else, a thought that is given further credence by the fact that the assistance of Stahlnebel & Black Selket & Reaxxion Guerilla seems to add that little extra something to 'Screams In The Darkness' & 'Agreement Of Death' respectively & it could be that the experience that these acts bring might inspire the band into raising their game accordingly & taking their sound onto the next level in future. Even Fredrik Croona's typically abrasive vocals that give a more distinct edge to 'Terror Horror' don't grate too much although that's more down to the fact that his voice is best taken in small doses although, in fairness, it is another enjoyable track anyway! So, while this is not a perfect album it's certainly worth investigating & it's to be hoped that their future releases will see them refining their skills still further & fulfilling the promise they undoubtedly have.


 

Artist
Hocico
Title
El Ultimo Minuto
Format/Cat
2CD OUT 584/582
Label
Out Of Line
Style
EBM
Date of review
30th January 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
If Tiempos De Furia saw Hocico getting back to basics then this latest release, which is again available with an additional disc presented like a single with two unreleased tracks & a few remixes, seems to illustrate Erk & Racso tying up the various strands of their sound with the pacey, brutal tracks that hark back to their earliest releases & which make up the lion's share of the album being embellished more widely by the nightmarish atmospheres that later became their trademark. As such, the duo resurrect their punk heritage on such tracks as 'Over The Limit' & 'Toxic', both of which burn with a harsh, savage intensity as does, to a lesser extent 'The Watched' with its attention-grabbing chorus although the darkly atmospheric side of their sound is never far away, making its mark throughout but really coming to the fore during 'Intruder', the pacey 'Polarity' & the opening 'T.O.S Of Reality' which is propelled by an almost rockabilly-like rhythmic base & which draws you into its sonic maelstrom in a manner that only Hocico can do. Many have tried to imitate them over the years but none have really had the expertise to really get to the heart of what makes the Mexicans' sound so special, something that is further proven by 'Dead Trust' which, with its more considered tempo & challenging bass line, resembles their later works & is one of the album's highlights while '321', which ups the tempo once again & proves its worth with a battery of rapid-fire rhythms & some attention-grabbing sequencing that make for another sure fire favourite, even if it is hard not to think of Ted Rogers with such a title! And on a similar level, the opening to the preceding single 'Vile Whispers' is a dead ringer for the Doctor Who theme &, even though it does later move away from that it's odds-on that a good few fans, particularly in the UK, will be going 'whoo-ooo' when they play it live (I know I will be!). There are also a couple of instrumentals, too, of course, in the shape of 'Mundo Imposible', the spooky mood of which is later embellished by some rhythmic colouring & the closing title track which boasts a kind of elegiac beauty in its gothic mood & even if the detours it later takes do seem a bit more random it again proves that the Mexicans are again approaching the top of their game & there's even a chance it could win them a few new fans in the shape of any punks looking for music that resurrects the spirit of their genre but in a new setting & it almost goes without saying that diehard Hocicones are certain to find a lot to love here, too.


 

Artist
Nachtmahr
Title
Veni Vidi Vici
Format/Cat
2CD TRI 464 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
EBM
Date of review
30th January 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
Never ones to do things by halves anyway, Trisol have really pushed the boat out with the presentation of Nachtmahr's latest album. Presented as a coffee table-style book with 72 pages full of some, ahem, attention-grabbing images that contributes towards making this his most confrontational album to date, Thomas Rainer delivers a two-fingered salute to his many critics & rises above the controversy that surrounds the band. The lyrics to 'Ich Bin' similarly shows his intention that he won't ever compromise on what he wants to do & may perhaps also be intended to inspire any listeners to similarly make no compromises in their chosen paths. On a purely aesthetical front, this is certainly a most desirable object, the sort that deserves some pretty epic music to go with it but while the music herein doesn't quite hit the spot in that respect, the straightforward EBM style that is Nachtmahr's hallmark & which holds sway for the most part here, provides enough no-thrills enjoyment so, while 'March Of The Imperial Guards' kicks off proceedings in the kind of portentious manner that such a title would lead you to expect with dramatic themes & regimented percussion, things soon pick up as 'Tradition' gets underway in the minimalistic style that has quickly become the Nachtmahr hallmark & indicates that this is very much business as usual. The less than full sound can mean the impact is lessened to some degree when the album is listened to all the way through although ,when taken in isolation, each track's respective merits are more discernible, be it the no-frills instrumentals 'Dem Tod' & the closing 'Hoffnung' or the surprisingly downbeat chorus that adds a touch more depth to 'Vorwarts, Klangsoldaten!' while fetish enthusiasts should find much to love in the lyrics of 'Submission'. However, it's on the slower tracks that the true highlights are to be found, in the shape of 'Die Letzten Damme' which reaches some impressively dramatic & emotive heights while the even more muscular 'Mutterchen Russland' likewise combines a powerful rhythmic base & an additional melodic element courtesy of Tamara Flerinskaia's vocals which contrast Rainer's harsh tones. That they maintain the essential Nachtmahr spirit whilst adding some much-needed variety is certainly a point in the album's favour & more of the same on future releases would certainly be welcome! But, just in case all this isn't enough for you, there's a few additional morsels on 'The Imperial Archives' which features a few extra tracks, including the aggrotech-flavoured 'Alptraum' & collaborations with the likes of Skyla Vertex on 'Radikal' (although so close does it stay to the Nachtmahr sound it's difficult to work out just what their contribution was!) & Xe-None, who provides more female vocals on 'Matywka Poccnr' (it's in Russian!) while the 'apocalyptic' version of 'Tradition' rounds things off in a neo-folk fashion that might well prove as divisive among fans of the band as Nachtmahr's music has been among the EBM crowd. Not that this is likely to worry Rainer any, in fact, that is probably just the way he likes it!!


 

Artist
Sin DNA
Title
Revelate
Format/Cat
CD DWA214
Label
Death Watch Asia
Style
EBM
Date of review
30th January 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
'Everything is bigger in Texas', so the old saying goes. Whether this was on the minds of Mario Carrasco & Sergio Ramirez, who are based in that State, is open to question but they've certainly delivered a muscular slice of EBM on this, their debut full-length album. In many ways it's like a microcosm of what EBM is all about, hard kicking rhythms underpinning dark melodic colouring & harsh vocals & that, for the most part, is pretty much what you get here, particularly during the opening salvoes that are 'Dying World', 'Reverence In Punishment' & 'Hate Is The Law', which have a somewhat minimalistic sound & while they do provide some satisfying listening it's clear that, if the album is to be a success, something more than that is needed. Fortunately, as the album progresses, it takes on a noticeably 'fuller' sound with 'Thorns For Misery' building up a potent head of steam as it rolls along, as does 'Son Of Perdition, which exhibits a slight Hocico influence while a slightly offbeat feel gives 'Doomsday Requiem' a more individual feel. And that's an important point, it doesn't take anything radically outlandish to give a track that something extra, in the case of the old school-flavoured 'Up Evil', all it takes is some computer voice, as well used a staple as that is although the manner in which the duo's melodic skills are really allowed to shine on the penultimate track, the slower 'Time Passed', which builds from the impressive swells of sound that herald its opening into another impressively effective offering is another important element in the way the album goes from strength to strength as it reaches its climax where 'Machine Devil' ends proceedings on a typically muscular albeit strongly melodic style which is the hallmark of the second half of this album & which sees their strengths at last beginning to emerge more forcefully. To make the essential album they're undoubtedly capable of they would benefit from combining these various good points more successfully but there's no reason why future releases won't see them achieving that aim. For now, though, this is a worthwhile debut release that any EBM lovers should check out.


 

Artist
Cease2xist
Title
You Are Expendable
Format/Cat
CD SDR003
Label
Static Distortion Records
Style
EBM
Date of review
21st Decmber 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5
Shrewsbury-based Dayve Yates is the brains behind Cease2Xist & his debut full-length release mixes a strong electro/industrial base with a spirit that recalls the days of punk & which gives the music a decidedly 'earthy' feel. This is a common thread between many of the new wave of British electro bands & it manifests itself here most notably in Yates' vocals, which, in the case of the 'Tonight' 'Ravenous', the latter of which rolls along with an almost juggernaut-like force, reach almost lung-busting proportions in a style not dissimilar to Concrete Lung or Combichrist. When so many bands stick solely to the over-used 'harsh whispered' style, this undoubtedly gives the music more character & a more raw-sounding edge & even when effects are employed, as during 'Teenage America', which is another outstanding track, they're never allowed to leach all the personality out of his voice. On the other hand, when they're left in their unaltered form & then mixed with the jagged, acidic synth lines of 'Occupy Everything' then the results are pretty spectacular &, although 'A Faint Glimmer Of Hope' closes the album on a superbly melodic, albeit still pretty aggressive, note, this, along with the more melodic vocals of label mates MixE1 that accompany Yates' typically aggressive delivery on 'Still Not Dead', is the only thing that could ever be called a compromise as, throughout, this is an unrelentingly harsh experience that takes no prisoners. Right from the short bombastic intro of 'Not All Is Wrong?' through 'My Burning Rage' (which does resemble Hocico somewhat!) & the title track which again keeps the balance between electro & industrial, the album feels like a sonic barrage that comes at you from every direction in a manner which makes it clear that here is another talented UK electro artist that has the potential to go a long way.


 

Artist
Trakktor
Title
Halo Of Lies
Format/Cat
2CD KATACD02
Label
Self-released
Style
EBM
Date of review
21st December 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9
After the excellent Force Majeure, this latest release from the Swedish trio of Jens, Pierre & Tobias was eagerly awaited here at Hard Wired & the good news is that it more than lives up to expectations as not only is it a double, boasting an additional disc of enjoyable electro remixes which should ensure some club attention (the main album might well struggle in this regard), it sees them scaling new heights in terms of power & drama as they retain everything that was so good about the preceding album &, by bringing their black metal influences even more to the fore they give their electro sound a decidedly epic feel . Combined with some pretty dynamic beats it's an unbeatable combination that, at times, resembles SITD in spirit & Siva Six in ambition but Trakktor go further than either of these two with the album benefitting greatly from a highly anthemic quality throughout. This is true right from the off as 'Welcome To Sin City' opens the album sounding like the theme to some big blockbuster movie while the later 'Orbital Strike' similarly sees them setting their stall out for possible soundtrack work (with an almost medieval feel initially) but it makes its presence felt throughout, even during the more straightforwardly danceable 'End Of Days' which kicks off proceedings in earnest & is well-placed in that it continues on from their last album & acts almost as a springboard for where the album goes thereafter as the slower 'Blitzkrieg Galaxy' leaps from the speakers with a massive-sounding sonic tapestry that oozes with malevolent intensity & is underpinned by some fine sequencing. As it progresses, the album goes from strength to strength as 'Halo Of Lies' proves to be a massive track in every sense with its hard rhythmic base forming the backbone for the symphonic cavalcades that enhance the abrupt change of moods between the verses & chorus, a trick that emphasises the music's dramatic appeal & one which they use to good equally good effect on 'Spitting On Your Grave' which is heralded by a fearsome roar & then alternates between the bombastic industrial maelstrom of the verses & the soaring melodic chorus while the penultimate 'Drag Me To Hell' similarly works with differing tempi that changes the outlook of the track greatly but it never sounds jarring &, again, enhances the music a treat. The band's old-school influences once again rear their head during 'Trakktor' although as usual they take these influences into totally new realms with an action-packed feel being complimented by gritty guitar work & pacey rhythms that make for another stunning number while the gruff but melodic vocals that provide a touch more character are very much the icing on the cake. All of which leaves the closing 'The Dawn Of War' to finish the album on a decidedly mournful note, starting off in a similar fashion to Frankie's Two Tribes with piano, air raid sirens & all it then develops into slow-moving & emotive piece that reaches new heights of grandeur as it reaches its climax &, as such, is a fitting end to this quite superb album that sees the band expanding their musical boundaries & forging a sound that stands out from the crowd. If this doesn't make them massive then there truly is no justice in the world!


 

Artist
Shadow System
Title
Dark By Design
Format/Cat
2CD
Label
Dark Noize
Style
EBM
Date of review
11th November 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
Having accrued many years of experience as an industrial DJ in his adopted home town of Belfast, you'd expect Australian-born Adam Gamble to know what makes a good dancefloor filler & this 11-track debut album as Shadow System, proves that he does as he unleashes a salvo of hard electro projectiles in a similar manner to Modulate, SAM & Noisuf-X, the latter two of whom lend their patronage as remixers, along with such acts as Amduscia, Shiv-R & Ginger Snap5, on the second disc that forms the limited edition double version. And for all that it's a debut it pretty much holds its own with the established leaders in the field in terms of consistency, infectiousness, spirit & good old-fashioned attitude with 'Twisted Sex Malfunction'& Feel Me Fuck Me' both having all the balls & a good dose of funk in combination with a relentless energy & vocal riffs that ensures these are a couple of mean, dancefloor-filling mothers as is the highlight that is 'Coded Shame' which makes its mark by means of vocoder-style vocals & the kind of powerful riff that future classics are made of. The album is given a slightly more human feel by the punk-like spirit that infuses the vocals of 'Drug Fuelled & Better Than You' which, as the title suggests, isn't short of the snotty attitude that seems to be the hallmark of new British EBM bands. Similarly, the rhythmic maelstrom that forms the basis of 'Cold And Double-Bladed' & the effective piano work of 'L'Art De Moi Destruction' both see Gamble expanding his remit to some extent while the slower 'The Nihilist Machine' proves his melodic skills are up to scratch as well & if he can develop this side of his music further on future releases whilst still retaining the energy & spirit that infuses this debut then Shadow System could yet become a big name on the UK scene &perhaps even further afield. For now, though, this will do nicely, thanks.


 

Artist
Angels Of Suicide
Title
Same
Format/Cat
CD ER002
Label
Engraved Ritual
Style
EBM
Date of review
4th October 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6.5/10
With a name that is as uncompromising as their music, the Texan duo of Vile 1 & T-Virus make their mark with this nine-track offering that serves up a harsh, sometimes chaotic style of electro-industrial that is cold & inhumane & which knows nothing of emotion or empathy. This is enhanced by the raw, almost lo-fi attitude in evidence here which is no doubt due, at least in part, to this being a retrospective of the duo's work & which evokes a similar feeling to how first hearing a punk band's demo cassette used to used to feel & while this is infinitely more suited to that medium than electronic music it does give the pacey duo of 'Running Astray' & 'Question' as well as the closing 'Anti Socialist' a straightforward no-nonsense feel that works in their favour while the short sharp opener 'Anaesthetic Coma' feels almost demented with its mutated voices thrown into the infernal mixing pot, although the manner in which the initially mysterious-sounding 'A Serial Killer Is Born' seems almost to collapse in on itself might take a little more getting used to. For all that, the do offer a more long-lasting listen by incorporating a fuller sound on 'Distorted Life' which motors along with gusto to spare & the more complex motifs aided by hammering rhythms that grace the almost epic pile-driver that is 'Cock Slut', which stands out by a country mile & shows what the duo are really capable of, diving into & then emerging from the other side of a rhythmic maelstrom into a stunning climax that, despite begging to be developed further to make the most of its qualities, is bound to send dancefloors into a whirling abandonment, despite the rather uncharming title & repeated refrain of 'stupid bitch' that's unlikely to endear it to anyone of the female gender! Likewise 'Ass Fault Planet' overcomes its, in this case, frankly nonsensical title to deliver a nicely infectious number with more complex arrangements although the album's trademark nightmarish qualities are still much in evidence with Vile 1's vocals rendered almost inhuman, which is really what AOS' music is about, totally without feeling, cold & inhuman & offering no succour, check it out if you dare.


 

Artist
Bestias De Asalto
Title
Homenaje a La Violencia
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Engraved Ritual
Style
EBM
Date of review
4th October 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9/10
Some bands release albums that have one or two overwhelmingly powerful tracks on them but not this lot, they do it all the time! Another Mexican duo to add to that country's increasing electronic roster, Bestias De Asalto have unleashed a raw & unrelenting electro-assault that almost has to be heard to be believed. The maelstrom-like mood that is a hallmark of this album seems almost to be a unificication of electro-industrial & the spirit of punk (which seems to be a trademark of many of the South/Central American bands breaking through) with an earthy, pounding feel that feels like a short sharp shock, aided by so many tracks' sudden endings which adds an immediacy that contrasts & yet complements the massive soundscapes. The opening tracks do seem to be trying almost to fit too much in with complex arrangements that are impressive enough but perhaps a tad disjointed; the fact that they often seem so short is perhaps a contributing factor in making the opening salvos less of the overwhelming triumph that the album later turns into courtesy of 'Come Mierda Y Merde' & the intense experience that is 'Arsenal'. It's here that it really hits the mark, purposeful & to-the-point & with power to spare. Additionally it's rare a band combines such intensity with so much clarity as the title track incorporating all their various facets into one sonic blitz, underpinned by pummelling rhythms with the equally superb 'Que Reine El Terror' & 'M-60', a track which packs a punch equal to the firearm that inspired it, being broken up by the martial-inspired instrumental 'Hacia La Guerra' which promotes the atmospheric side of their sound to the forefront & proves that they're not some one- trick pony. It might have trouble getting much club appeal, true enough, but, in that case there are the remixes which should take care of that with the Angels Of Suicide remix of 'Matados A Todos' coming closest to evoking the duo's trademark intensity while X-Fusion add some marquee value by reinterpreting 'M-60' in a decently powerful & straightforward manner & if these tracks provide the gateway to clubgoers discovering what this superb new act are all about, this album sets new standards in terms of intensity & epic soundscapes in a way that's not going to be easy for many bands to equal.


 

Artist
Nolongerhuman
Title
Depersonalization
Format/Cat
CD
Label
COP International
Style
EBM
Date of review
4th October 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
Nolongerhuman is the musical vision of American Clint Robertson & this, his second album, following on from 2009's 'Antipathy' is a potent EBM experience. These ten tracks are solid, dependable, dark & infectious with an almost clinical approach that owes more to the European than American styles with typically solid rhythms & sequences being overlayed by effective dark melodics in a manner that starts off well enough with 'Thank You' & 'Insect Politics' but shows a distinct improvement as the album progresses, hitting serious pay dirt with 'Hell And Back', where the more expansive feel adds an extra element to the established power & the undoubted highlight that is 'Don't Pray' which is the sort of track every band should aim to write with its quite unforgettable delivery making an indelible mark in your head while 'Orthodox' similarly keeps the standard high, being propelled by a battery of pounding rhythms & soaring melodics in a manner not unlike both Suicide Commando & Hocico &, with 'Use Your Abuse' closing the album in a similarly solid manner, there's plenty for the EBM lover to get their teeth into here. That's not to say it's all about power, though, as the slower tracks, in the form of 'My Eyes Are Open' which builds from its dark & spooky initial premise via some solid lead lines & muscular percussive colouring & the martial-flavoured instrumental 'Abandonment' both build up impressively rich tapestries of sound &, for a bonus, don't resort to any of those horrible glitch effects! If Robertson follows the path of many of his countrymen his next album might well be a very different proposition but, for now, this is a solidly enjoyable offering that any EBM lovers will enjoy; true, it doesn't break any startling new ground but what it does it does well.


 

Artist
Aesthetische
Title
Powerswitch
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Old School EBM
Date of review
19th September 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6/10
This album sees the return of ex-Aghast View & Biopsy members Fabricio Viscardi & Guilherme Pires & their sound stays very loyal to the old school EBM spirit. In many ways it's as if the intervening eight years never happened as here we have ten tracks of muscular, no-frills EBM with a nod towards such bands as Digital Factor as well as the music they themselves produced back in the day. There is a certain sassy swagger to such tracks as the opening 'Brennbar!' where a car ignition sets the track & album off on its journey but over all, this isn't an album that draws attention to itself for the sake of it & neither is it overtly macho; no songs about how brilliant big muscles are here, this is more mature than that with more intelligent &, in the case of 'Everything Is OK' which is among the more defiantly stronger tracks on offer here, a more upbeat message than is often the case. Similarly the sound is workmanlike & a lot less bombastic than might have been expected, having a decidedly functional feel throughout with a somewhat restrained sound that is only broken by 'Stupid People Fuck Off' & 'Punch!' although even those never reach the heights their respective titles might imply. That the vocals are, for the most part, mixed quite far back is a factor in this regard when a more assertive style would have been an asset & although the more affected styles that add an extra melodic layer to such tracks as 'Korrupticide'& 'Tripoli', the latter of which also brings FGFC820's war agenda to mind, the difference that Diffuzion's Xev makes with her confident performance on 'Touch The Glass' is palpable; that this lively number suited her to a tee is no doubt a factor here, helping to make this among the more memorable numbers so if you're looking for something to bop around to you'll need to look elsewhere (although the limited edition double version will no doubt take care of that side of things!) but this album has a strength that is implied rather than stated, quite subtly at times.


 

Artist
Trakktor
Title
Force Majeure
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Self-released
Style
EBM
Date of review
19th September 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9/10
It's been a while in the making but the debut album from the Swedish trio of Pierre, Tobias & Jens was well worth the wait. Their sound is a combination of hard EBM & with a strongly melodic edge that gives the album depth as well as a strong infectious quality. It's a pretty straightforward combination but it's one that works throughout as the opening 'Pandora's Box' (do you see what they did there?) sets the scene in a nicely dramatic fashion before 'Soothsayer' kicks off proceedings in earnest with typically hard rhythms & harsh vocals that resemble Chris L. of Agonoize as well as what sound like samples from the movie Poltergeist. It's a surprisingly slow track to lead the way with when a faster, more instantly infectious track is usually the order of the day & although 'Final Fusion' soon rectifies this the album hits critical mass soon after with the superb 'Veil Of Thorns' which, with its pacey rhythms , ultra-infectious riffs & big, exciting climax is a surefire smash if ever there was one. This is followed by 'Reaper' which, with its more muscular style, darker mood & some excellent analogue-style soloing towards the end, is every bit as good as is 'The Surge' which again sees them playing to their strengths to produce another winner that borders on old school, a border they later cross more definitely on 'Extinction'. Another nice touch is that, rather than a Luftwaffe aircraft, 'Spitfire' pays homage to the great British aircraft with some actual samples of the titular plane (initially at least, some of the later ones sound suspiciously like Stukas!), fast pounding rhythms & infectious riffs to make for another dancefloor killer while 'Dancing With The Devil' later brings up the rear with a mixture of harsh & more melodic vocals which is something they utilise throughout &, whilst they're hardly the only ones to do this, it does help in varying the moods somewhat. And just to prove they're not some one-trick pony the instrumental 'Thirteenth Order' sees them setting a good atmosphere with some pitch-bending leads setting an almost offbeat feel to this slow piece. At almost 8 minutes it's a long track but their inventiveness means it never outstays its welcome &, were it not for Anamadim's dynamic remix of 'Dancing With The Devil' which emphasises the album's dancefloor qualities, would have wound the album down on a nicely melodic note. As it is, though, this debut album heralds the arrival of a class EBM act with a superb album that's packed with killer tunes & which marks them out as potential newcomers of the year so even if you can't read & you can't write you can jive to Trakktor!!


 

Artist
C-Lekktor
Title
X-Tension In Progress
Format/Cat
CD COP CD 132
Label
COP International
Style
Hard EBM
Date of review
15th August 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
In the pecking order of Mexican EBM it seems C-Lekktor have always been the underdogs behind their more famous countrymen Hocico & latterly Amduscia but this second full-length offering (I'm not counting the Tendencias Suicidas EP here as most of its ten tracks were remixes) from Markko & Jorge could well change all that as their profile has been heightened considerably of late with a determined bid to win the hearts & minds of EBM lovers everywhere. And there's no reason why they shouldn't manage that as their music lacks nothing in terms of power, dynamics & harshness & that's just in the two minute opener 'Plug-In'! What follows is a major step forward in all these terms from their powerful albeit rather one-dimensional debut The Silence Procession as they finally fulfil the promise they've always had with 'Hellektro Convulsion Therapy' & 'Alteracion' sure to find their way into any hard electro lover's hearts & it's impossible to imagine that the excellent 'El Comienzo De La Muerte' won't find a similar level of love with its surging chorus while, as the album nears its climax, 'Trastorno' stands out as one of the album's highlights thanks to its mix of drama, passion & harshness. Olga Bestuzheva's melodic voice makes for something of a contrast to Markko's typically harsh voice during 'In Memoriam' & even more so during the excellent 'In The Other Life' where a 'radio dial' effect gives way to a potent combination of electronic piano & opera voice samples as the piece develops into a superb slice of slower-paced electronica & even if her voice isn't as strong as it could be here the way the powerful rhythms work with the contrasting melodic effects make for one of the finest pieces to date & a sign that they're heading in the right direction in terms of musical quality. That radio effect is one they use several times, usually meaning they're going all aggrotech on us, as an authentic-sounding snippet of Lili Marlene that opens 'Dark Reflection' gives little clue to the manic track that this soon reveals itself to be. With ultra-fast rhythms, air raid sirens & some pretty demented melodics I pity anyone who tries to dance to either this or the equally mad closer 'Hardbeat (Mu)-Sikk' (a phrase they seem to have coined to describe their music-handy that!). Similarly, the way the voice samples fit the music in the title track is a nice touch while the manner in which 'Welcome To My World' which is developed into a most infectious offering is little short of superb &, aside from the expansion of their remit that these tracks bring, the album as a whole shows them refining their skills to good effect & it's these improvements that make this album the noticeable step forward for the duo that it is.


 

Artist
Cynical Existence
Title
A Familiar Kind Of Pain
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Engraved Ritual
Style
EBM
Date of review
15th August 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6.5/10
Frederik Croona seems to be behind a good many electro acts today, the best known being Menschdefekt & Project Rotten & now he weighs in with Cynical Existence which seems to be his solo project & sees him following in the footsteps of the dark electro troops. The trouble, in todays over-crowded EBM market, is that you've really got to make something that stands out from the crowd &, all too often, the music on this 8-track release is just too straightforward & lacking that certain something to really make it stand out. It's not that it does anything particularly wrong & neither is it boring, it's just that it goes through the motions & doesn't seem to be really pushing the boundaries to any degree. It does have its moments with 'Dead Eyes (See No Future)' & 'Paradox' both proving infectious enough to ensure a fair amount of club attention while the guitar-like sounds that make 'Licking My Skin' a much grittier, stronger proposition are a sign of where he should be taking this project. They also take the attention away from the croaky vocals which are rather annoying for all that they're trying something different & provide some variety for the ubiquitous 'harsh whispered' styles that he relies on for the most part which is a definite plus. George from Pre-Emptive Strike 0.1 joins in the fun on 'I'm Broken' which does seem to give the track greater depth while Controlled Collapse's remix of 'Dead Eyes.' provides some variety & shows what can be done if you put your mind to it. So, if you really can't get enough hard electro then this should provide you with a decent little morsel to tide you over, it's just hard to shake the feeling that there are a great many albums that do the same thing & do it better.


 

Artist
God Destruction
Title
Illuminatus
Format/Cat
CD ER008
Label
Engraved Ritual
Style
Satanic Dark EBM
Date of review
15th August 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
The pentagrams that feature prominently on the cover art & the tagline 'We Trust In Satan' that features on the inner sleeve of this debut album from the Mexican duo of Satan Imperor & Charles Black makes it clear that this is one most unholy album & the music follows this path by blasting forth with an unrelenting brutality & such dark moods that truly evoke the diabolical subjects they deal in. Moreover, the fact that this is such a superb album proves that Satan does, indeed, have all the best tunes, there's even a recording of a recorded voice played backwards on 'Son Of Satan' & we all know what that means, don't we? This isn't so much dark electro, it truly is black through & through with its cocktail of dark, sombre musical tapestries & pummelling rhythms taking the listener on a journey that is at once hellish yet compelling, like an electronic black metal in places, a feel that is emphasised by the stronger guitar presence of 'Become Death' & 'Armageddon' although for the most part it's the electronics that are in charge, bringing hell to earth in a manner that resembles earlier Psyclon Nine, both musically & vocally as Satan almost spits the words out with such venom that he eventually ends up sounding like some infernal manifestation on 'Imperor', so inhuman does he sound. It gets off to a pretty heavy start, too, with the opening double header of 'Lvzbel' & the excellent 'Non-Human' both hitting you square between the eyes with such power that, as the album progresses, the more danceable tracks 'Anitchristo' & 'Across The Night' come as something of a relief (as do the two remixes at the end) although, had they appeared on any other album they'd feel a lot harsher than they do here. 'In Nomine Die Nostri Satanas' does come closer to linking the darker moods that characterise the album as a whole with a more up-tempo style &, as such, is a pretty furious experience. Add to this such touches as the church organ that brings an additionally portentous feel to the instrumental 'Prometheus' while the fact that the tracks are all on the long side, with only one of them under six minutes, gives the duo more space to fully explore more fully the infinite possibilities that this musical approach presents & allows the listener to really immerse oneself into each track. Anyone who wants to hear the next step of hard electronic music should make this their next purchase, it's an album that takes dark electro into new realms & it's tempting to wonder if anyone would have the nerve to follow them.


 

Artist
Worsaw
Title
Songs For The Damned
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Self-released
Style
EBM
Date of review
15th August 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
Worsaw is the musical vision of Montreal-based Tim Delury & this 9-track album shows a talented musician at work who knows that EBM is supposed to be powerful but, while there's nothing wrong with showing your influences (the vocals have a very strong Suicide Commando similarity in several places) that doesn't mean you have to use all the same sounds. Indeed this album makes its mark by not going balls-to-the-wall all the time & benefits instead from a more intense mood that proves to be its defining characteristic (the one time this is absent, on 'Systematic Conrol' the result is a more forgettable, albeit not unlikable track) rather than just aiming for all-out power. That's not to say that Delury is changing the rules of EBM to any great extent but the flavours he adds to the music at least mean he's not blindly aping other artists. These qualities are further emphasised by the atmospheric melodics that make their mark on the album's twin highlights, the superb 'Antichrist', a track of such quality that any musician would be proud to put their name to it & 'Human Disgrace' where the more thoughtful rhythms again prove that Delury isn't just aiming for easy dancefloor recognition, the album does have more than that in its favour. Likewise, the more authentic-sounding percussion that backs 'The Fallen' sees the music attempting to escape the straitjacket EBM can sometimes seem to be in while on 'Police State' a similar rhythmic backing provides the perfect foil for the guitar riffs that add a nicely gutsy, human flavour while 'Fallout' seems to be resurrecting the spirit of punk into electro with its punchy, rapid-fire rhythms & buzzy synths that it's not hard to imagine being transcribed into effective guitar riffs, to the extent that that when those guitars do, once again, make their mark, it's like urban Britain circa 1978 once again but reborn into the modern age. Perhaps a more apposite metaphor for the modern age is the almost manic depressive feel that marks the closing 'Somedays' with its slightly offbeat vocals which seem detached for any real emotion, as if sung by someone on some kind of antidepressant & expressing an emotion that, in reality, they feel detached from; this is another example of the artist bringing a more personal feel to EBM & the effective leads, which evoke a kind of undefined yearning, make this the perfect piece to wrap up a most worthwhile release from this as yet little-known artist that's well deserving of your attention. .


 

Artist
Grendel
Title
Timewave Zero
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Infacted Recordings
Style
Melodic EBM
Date of review
15th July 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
After the out & out aggression that characterised Harsh Generation this latest Grendel album sees VLRK taking his foot off the gas somewhat & opts instead for a more melodic, less harsh sound. That he also uses his real name in the sleeve credits when he has always avoided doing this in the past might suggest that he sees this as something of a new start for his music but, whatever, if his previous album was a bit much for you this might well be more to your liking. That's not to say it's lacking in power or dynamics, quite the contrary, in fact, as even the first & last tracks 'Rise' & 'Fall', which act like a pair of symphonic bookends, have plenty of excitement packed into their relatively brief durations but the vast majority of this album is stuffed full of exciting, danceable tracks that remain recognisably Grendel while making use of the full arsenal of dance music staples such as the 'unmuffling' effect that first crops up towards the end of 'Conflict Instigation' which kicks the album off in earnest & makes for an instantly infectious start & is then followed by the superb title track certain to tear up the dancefloors something fierce over the summer while the later 'Out Of My Mind' again scores highly in terms of combining strong rhythms, fine melodics & a more 'human' vocal style that is still gritty enough but, by eschewing the usual harsh whispered' styles that are used so widely nowadays, gives the music more character with the '2012 Version' of 'Chemicals + Circuitry' proving another winner with its racey, no-nonsense mood & vocodered vocals that act almost like an additional musical layer, a move which, in many ways, again harkens back to his earlier works from around the End Of Ages era. Likewise, the slower-paced 'Deep Waters' draws the attention with its Arabian-flavoured main theme which sets the scene for Lis Van Den Akker's vocals (which remind me of ISC's Antje Schultz) to make this another stand-out track; such inventive touches used to characterise his work in the early days & it's as if he's taken a look back & remembered what made his music so great back then & applied that with the knowledge he's gained since. Elsewhere, the album's dancefloor credentials are given a further boost by the instrumentals 'Wheels In Motion' which is propelled by spikey synth lines & rhythms that are given an added punch as well as a few vocodered snippets here & there & if someone somewhere isn't hawking the 7-minute triumph that is 'Neon City Nights' to mainstream dance promoters/DJs with a review to remixing it to make the most of its infectious qualities then they're missing out on a potentially very lucrative trick; as it is it's hard to imagine any self-respecting club not going ape for this although its superb themes mean that it has much the same effect in any environment, something that can just as easily be said for the album as a whole.


 

Artist
L'ame Immortelle
Title
Fragmente
Format/Cat
2CDEP TRI 453 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Electro-industrial/gothic
Date of review
15th July 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6/10
Released almost as a continuation of the Momente album, this double disc EP, one disc subtitled 'Elektronische' & the other 'Akustische' seems to confirm that the L'ame Immortelle sound was always the combination of Thomas Rainer's hard electro side (as if Nachtmahr didn't give enough clues in that respect!)& Sonia Kraushofer's more emotive side that held sway on the album & does the same on the second disc here although that wasn't hard given that those 5 tracks were all on the album, anyway. By separating these two very different sides it's hard not to feel that something has been lost, after all, it was that very combination that made them the band what they were & this whole release comes across as less than the sum of its part as a result. The tracks on the electronic disc, while they are all versions of tracks from the album, do at least have the virtue of sounding totally different from the originals & should at least gain the band some dancefloor attention & should appeal to Nachtmahr fans in particular but even these, for the most part, never really fulfil the potential that they should have had given what they are, sounding disappointingly one-dimensional although Kraushofer's superb vocals do make some amends, particularly during 'Demon Be Gone' where she sounds appropriately tortured & beseeching with Rainer acting as the title's protagonist while 'Empty' benefits from a somewhat warmer feel although the duo really do hit the mark on the slower closer 'Wie Traenen In Regen' as the mournful strings & harmonised vocals more than live up to the emotive title (I'm assuming some knowledge of basic German, here!) with Sonia's voice reaching new heights of magnificence, backed up by a more considered spoken performance from Rainer which is infinitely preferable to the harsher styles he usually favours while the more restrained air of 'Hold Me' lends the piece an aching sadness that is pretty much impossible not to be affected by. So, while it is excellently-packaged & the music on the second disc retains its magic, it's something of a mystery as to why this was released in this manner as the first disc isn't really worth the extra expense considering you can get all the tracks from the second disc on the album (a normal EP might have been a better option) &, if these tracks appeal, you might as well get the album & get a lot more music in the same style for not that much more money.


 

Artist
Stereomotion
Title
Stolz Und Demut
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Danse Macabre
Style
Electro
Date of review
15th July 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
I remember Stereomotion's first album Apocalypse Forever from a few years back being a pleasantly thumpy, if slightly one-dimensional EBM release so, not having heard any of their work since (there's been one album, I think), I was intrigued as to how Florian Jaeger & Christian Coburger's music has progressed in the meantime. Given the nature of this release, it was always going to be a varied affair but that doesn't account for the surprisingly melodic qualities of the one original track, the strong opener 'Anthem'. Never was a track more appropriately titled as, with its inspiring lyrics & strong, mid-paced rhythms underpinning fine melodics & some good guitar work, it indicates that they've come a long way in the intervening period with the 'club version' of 'Forgiven' & Sleepwalk's remix of 'Pride' both covering similar ground with a surprisingly non-harsh feel in the case of the latter track, the equally melodic feel of which also leaves a wide open goal for Pala-Din to deliver a lively synthpop version with some quaint effects that bring to mind The Beatles making for an intriguing start. Elsewhere it's a mixed bag of electro styles but most have something going in their favour, be it the initial old-school EBM leanings of 'French Kiss (Assimiliert Von Retrograd) that are later joined by soaring melodic synth lines & gritty guitars or the hard electro-industrial moods conjured up by Concrete/Rage on their interpretation of 'In God's Name' that Combichrist fans should feel very much at home with while, on a less extreme note, the closing 'Without You (Forever) delivers a more straightforward EBM experience. The messy, thumpy, crash bang wallop style of 'Lernen Durch Verlust (Gezugtet Durch Metastat) is the closest this release ever comes to more experimental styles & while it might seem a tad jarring initially it eventually makes some sort of sense & it never gets too heavy going anyway, while Bleeve Effect & Menschliche Energie satisfying the electronica lovers; the former is the less successful of the two, being pleasant enough if a tad overlong although the latter is one of the highlights with interlinking infectious melodic layers making for a zippy little number that's almost worth the price of admission alone. As it is, though, this is a good value, varied release that never tries to be too experimental or too clever for its own good & should, therefore, appeal to a wide range of electronic music lovers.


 

Artist
Andro-Dioxin
Title
Dioxin City
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Engraved Ritual
Style
Dark Electro
Date of review
7th June 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
It seems that South America is fast becoming the hotspot for hard, dark electro right now & with this 9-track EP (6 originals, 3 remixes), the Mexican Evergoth hereby sticks his head above the parapet & unleashes his music into the big, wide world. Lovers of dark electro should check this out as it's a promising start & he sets his stall out early on with the opening title track offering rapid sequences & simple but effective riffs that are underpinned by the usual hard rhythms & typically harsh vocals although it's the following 'Transition' that shows what he's really capable of, being a superb slice of dark electro with some soaring synth leads on the chorus proving to be the finishing touch to this fine track; it's almost certain to be the one that gets played in the clubs & appear on compilations, so superior to the rest of the EP is it. That's not to say that either 'Warfare' or 'Nightmare' don't have their moments, even if the latter does take a while to get going it's a good track once it does although 'Sodominzandote' starts identical to Decoded Feedback's Burn, Europe, Burn to the extent that Yoni & Marco could quite easily make a claim to be credited for it if they were so minded. It's nowhere near as inventive as that track, either which sort of indicates that Evergoth has got some way to go yet although the jaunty attitude it possesses isn't bad even if the orgasmic female groans are a somewhat over-used staple by now. It's possibly puzzling that some well-known names weren't tapped for remixing duties (just for marquee effect if nothing else), that honour going instead to acts Evergoth presumably knows in the shape of Proyecto Alienoxir, whose remix of 'Synthetic', the original of which presumably appears elsewhere, is well in keeping with the tracks that have preceded it as does Electrovot's mix of 'Cenzas while, credited as a bonus track Kresnik Cross of Antemortem does the honours on another newie, 'Electro Zombiegirl' which features sassy voice interjections from one Seetha Rao on this track which should do the business in the clubs & its full-blooded sound possibly hints at what Evergoth needs to do to his own music in order to take it to the next level, wish it didn't end quite so suddenly, though! All in all, this is not a bad EP at all, showing a tantalising glance of what the artist is capable of but I'm convinced that we've yet to hear the best from Andro-Dioxin so I will certainly be intrigued as to what he comes up with next.