Hard-Wired Industrial Reviews
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Artist
Pyrroline
Title
Ruins Outlast
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Electro Aggression Records
Style
Industrial
Date of review
1st July 2015
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.0/10
Carrying on Electro Aggression Records excellent run of form comes this, the third release from the German duo of Arnte & Schmoun who, rather than simply rehash what others have already done, develop the old school staples, in this case a Second Disease-like dark melodic style, & expand the possibilities greatly to create the next logical step for such styles. In some ways they seem to be exploring a similar field as their labelmates tEaR!doWn although perhaps lacking the sheer scope of that act. The post-apocalyptic theme allows the duo to unleash a more impressionistic style of industrial music typically built around solid rhythmic bases over which are layered complex soundscapes that mix abstract & melodic elements to good effect with the opening Disobedience acting as a microcosm for all these elements along with barely audible vocals that come across more like a part of the sonic tapestry rather than providing any focal point. As a rule, the album is at its best when the music fulfils its full expressive potential which comes more to the fore as the album progresses with The Round showing its teeth with a full-on, accessible sound that is one of the albums highlights (the vocals are so inaudible here that it almost qualifies as an instrumental!!) while Worlds Sorrow really plays to their strengths with a full-blooded sound that builds into an impressive climax that makes this one of the highlights of the album. In comparison, Ruins Outlast-Cultures Fall lightens the mood a great deal & the fact that it isnt always dark & evil is a definite plus as the more varied moods that crop up throughout make for a more rounded listen with the instrumental Godmode again showing their more accessible side while the decidedly emotive feel that is the hallmark of the slower duo of Incomplete with its light rhythms & soaring strings & Again similarly help towards making this a more varied feel that really does their melodic skills justice. In this they are aided by Schmouns vocals, which, even if they arent quite as strong as the best female vocalists, add another facet to the sound, not least the appropriate focal point they bring to the electronica-lite feel that characterises Only Living. That they are able to embrace a wider range of influences in this manner, plus the fact that it isnt all dark & gloomy but more emotive & human at times, might well increase their potential audience & hopefully future releases will see them refining this still further.


 

Artist
Dunkelwerk
Title
Operation Duesterland
Format/Cat
CD AM2189CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Industrial
Date of review
24th April 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
On his third album, LostTrooper has taken a slightly different approach to the musical description of war than is the usual case. Rather than focussing on big gung-ho tales of glory & honour, this is a darker, often melancholic sound that describes the concept of 'total defeat' & is a far more accurate evocation of the horrors of war, all the more so for being inspired by the reality of the second world war. The melancholic yet at times epic soundscapes that typically feature an effective mix of piano & strings offer a compelling listen that constantly draws ones attention, be it the utter sadness that suffuses 'Die Ungluckeckschaften', which is further embellished by the spoken voice that adds a startlingly personal feel to the desolate mood while the sound of children singing, for all its innocence, takes on a chilling aspect when married to the dark melodies of 'Kommt!'. In some ways, the widespread use of vintage military samples, in particular the contrasting samples of Hitler & Churchill that add a compelling edge to the offbeat choirs that form the backbone of 'Das Wort Der Front', bring to mind Jerome Reuter's work as ROME although the music itself follows a very different path, resembling Wumpscut on more than one occasion, such as the chaotic 'Schnuffi!', the shifting, ever-changing feel of which is akin to an almost schizophrenic journey through a nightmare which only ends with a melodic burst of machine-gun fire while 'Katjuscha' even mentions 'Blondi' (who was Hitler's dog & also the inspiration for a track by Rudy R.) although this latter is a more up-tempo offering, as is 'Bissige Krote' which, with its English lyrics, is among the more immediate offerings here & so might manage a modicum of club attention (it's unlikely that any of the others will!). The closing 'Flucht' again emphasises the music's melodic qualities with a soaring lead line on the chorus that contrasts the raw vocals to good effect & it brings to an end an excellent album that shows the artist making headway towards a style that brings together disparate influences & inspirations to stand out from the crowd somewhat.


 

Artist
Krystal System
Title
Rage
Format/Cat
CD AM2199CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Industrial
Date of review
24th April 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
The grunge-influenced style that the French duo of Bonni & No.7 have adopted for this, their third album, is both a blessing & curse; a blessing in that it emphasises the authentic side of their punk/rock/electro/dance hybrid style but a curse in that it does restrict their creativity to some extent. This is mainly noticeable in the similar layouts of many tracks, among them the opening title track, which, after opening in a maelstrom of effected guitar sets the scene nicely before featuring a quiet guitar riff that sets the scene for a big finis. It's a trick they use widely here, repeating it during 'The Next Light' & the slightly more punk-influenced 'Hurricane'. So widely used is it that they come perilously close to overdoing it although the fact that they are still all good tracks that are delivered with feeling & conviction does offset this potential problem somewhat. Additionally, Bonni's attitude-filled, snotty vocals sound as cool as ever, casting their spell on every track, particularly when the music reaches such epic heights as it does during 'La Lame Dans Tu Main' while her accented English vocals on 'I Wanna Be' is just as cool as it gets. On a purely musical level, the goth-inspired riffs that grace 'A Quick Pray' & offbeat mix of cocktail bar piano & rhythms that accurately convey the title of 'Tyler's Waltz' see the album at least reaching into some areas they've not covered before & helps bring a welcome unpredictability to proceedings. In this regard, covering Bowie's 'Heroes' might seem like either an appropriate homage or a predictable filler although it's all academic in the end as the track which bears that title is an original & probably the most experimental one on the whole album! No.7's style is less in-yer-face for the most part although he does reach industrial-strength during the typically grungy 'Parasites' which is one of the few times his voice takes centre stage, backed by Bonni's whispered voice. Elsewhere '26 Days' keeps up the authentic side of the duo's sound although the fade-out seems a tad arbitrary & it could probably have done with being longer while the guitar noodling & electro effects that form the basis of 'Fantome' contribute towards the almost manic feel although any such comments are quickly put into perspective once the closing 'Bye (Rage)' reaches its full Rammstein-like glory. Matching the German behemoths in terms of drama & intensity, it ends the album on a totally full-blooded note that you won't soon forget.


 

Artist
One-Car Suicide
Title
Dancing After Dark
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Engraved Ritual
Style
Industrial
Date of review
24th April 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
This one-man show from Texan soloist Jay, could be one of Engraved Ritual's most intriguing discoveries yet as, rather than trying to outdo his labelmates in the harder-than-thou stakes, he has come up with a kind of punk-like trashy electropop, similar to what might result if Combichrist & Pzychobitch were to combine their talents, all mixed in with a certain old-school sensibility that is evident on a number of tracks, most notably both versions of 'The New Surrealists', the 'Andalusion Remix' of which will take any gothic lovers back a good couple of decades while fans of Calva Y Nada et al will find a lot to love in the original as it boasts a similarly intense dark melodic mood, as does 'Until Daylight' & the solidly enjoyable 'Losing You', the dynamic opening of which sets the scene for a nicely infectious number, albeit one where the dark mood is maintained throughout . In this regard, the cover of Soft Cell's 'Sex Dwarf', sounding, if anything, more basic even than the original (although lacking the character, obviously!) fits the album like a glove but, if this provides an ear-catching version of a well-loved track then the rest of the album still has plenty going for it in its own right. 'I'll Make You Beg', for example, does big up his EBM credentials for all it's worth & makes a credible bid for fetish/industrial club attention into the bargain although it is easily outshone in that respect by the ultra-infectious 'Sex On The Dancefloor' where the relatively light, dancey music is spiced up several times over by some explicit computer lyrics, the phasing of which bring to mind a more extreme version of This Shit Will Fuck You Up (yes, it can be done!!) with a refrain of 'now shut up & lick my pussy' that is just bound to catch on! The similarities & influences of various artists & genres abound throughout but it's to Jay's credit than none of them ever dominate proceedings & the album treads an intriguing furrow that is all the more effective for being slightly unpredictable.


 

Artist
tEaR!doWn
Title
Clouds Cover The Sun
Format/Cat
2CD EAR005
Label
Electro-Agression Records
Style
Industrial
Date of review
24th April 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
If Terminal State have a strong FLA influence then this German duo clearly have a lot of love for Mentallo And The Fixer. The Dassing brothers' influence looms large throughout this 14-track album which features the voice of Sleepwalk's Oliver Spring, whose vocals provide the finishing touch to tracks that are, at times, awesomely powerful with towering, rich melodies sitting atop more abstract soundscapes & solid rhythms that are given added spice by some howitzer-like percussive barrages as & when the music requires. It's an enthralling listen throughout as the duo prove their expertise right from the off as the abstract maelstrom that is 'A Tear Falls Down Pt.1' sets the scene for 'Sign From Above' to kick proceedings off in earnest with its urgent, surging delivery & richly textured backing while the opening of 'Lost', which sees them in full-on cosmic mode, is later embellished by some lighter rhythmic colouring & resonant piano notes that are so melodically potent that the harsh vocals fit in like an extra sonic layer rather than the jarring aberration they could have been. A similar level of craftsmanship is evident during the action-packed duo of 'Silent Noise' & 'Insight' or the slightly more offbeat mood that permeates 'Not From This World' as well as 'This Cold Room' where the melodies again soar above the rhythmic batteries. Similarly, the impressionistic mood that characterises 'Burnt By The Sun' sees them at the top of their game; the dark melodics evoke the mood of an unsettling fairy tale & it speaks volumes for their talent that this mood is never truly lost which is quite a feat considering the manner in which the track later builds up a head of steam. Another surprising about-turn comes later during 'Play Dead' where the angelic female & harsher male voice seem to be describing two sides of a break-up. That they are able to inject so much feeling into what is pretty hard music is further testament to their abilities. In places, they rope in certain artists for collaborative purposes, teaming up with Nine Seconds on 'Disploded Visions', the lighter, more straightforwardly rhythmic feel of which gives the piece an almost synthpop-like edge in comparison to most of its brethren while Venetian Blind join in the fun during 'Nerve Conflikt' which builds from a most assertive opening into another slow-moving piece that allows the strong melodies to take centre stage once again. Perhaps most memorable of all is No Comment's participation on 'Would You Follow Me', not least for Franziska Kalb's recognisable voice which works well in combination with the buzzsaw-like synths which form part of the typically full sound that contributes towards another fine track. This is another prime example of a band taking their old-school influences into new musical realms &, as such, can hardly be praised too highly and, just in case that little lot wasn't enough for you, there's an extra disc of remixes, compiled by Nader Moumneh AKA Mr. EAR himself so you know that will be as old-school as it's possible to get!


 

Artist
Terminal State
Title
Illegal Space Activity
Format/Cat
2CD EAR003
Label
Electro-Agression Records
Style
Industrial
Date of review
24th April 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9/10
I remember Terminal State being hailed years ago as 'Slovakia's answer to Front Line Assembly' & it seems that not a great deal has changed in the meantime as the influence of Leeb & Fulber's output back in the 90s is evident throughout this latest release from Chris XX & Minor. This is, in fact, their first release in thirteen years &, happily, it seems not a lot has needed to change as this is an excellent album that, while revelling in its old-school sensibilities, is taken into new realms, making the most of the sci-fi concept as the duo expand their musical envelope, combining complex soundscapes, hard rhythms & atmospheric elements all combined to perfection. Given the amount of new music available here they seem to have made good use of the intervening period with 13 tracks on the main album and five originals on the second 'Trespassed Area 53' disc, which, as well as the usual remixes from various label mates & other like-minded artists, also include the stand-out pieces of the whole set in the shape of the superb 'Infra-Mental' where the expansive chords contrast the typically punchy rhythms to fine effect & the closing 'We're From Earth' which builds from its cosmic opening into a sprawling yet somehow precise rhythmic track in an expert fashion. It's a constantly engrossing album that is unlikely to gain much club attention, due to its decidedly uncommercial nature. It is, in fact, far more complex than that, requiring repeated listens in order to appreciate all its facets & this should ensure its longevity. It's also the sort of album that is best appreciated when listened to in its entirety, all the better to immerse oneself into the inspiring sonic universe the duo create, right from the opening 'Perished' (which could easily have been expanded into a full-length song) through the outer limits of 'Early Warning' & 'Fatalist', both of which owe FLA big & out on to the furthest reaches of the strong synth sweeps that herald the opening of the superb instrumental 'Devastating Toxicity' which sees them pushing their sonic expertise to the limit as jagged synths, strong bass lines & guitar-like riffs all contribute to the sonic tapestry. Similarly, some dark soaring melodies provide an effective contrast to the generally harsh mood of 'Last Prophecy' while the robust & raw feel of 'Ultraviolet Coma' shows that they really know what old-school EBM is about. Where this release scores so highly is that, while they pay their old-school dues they never allow this to become a straitjacket that inhibits their creativity & expand the boundaries in a way very few bands do these days.


 

Artist
Various Artists
Title
Absolute Grrl's Manifesto-Chapter One
Format/Cat
4CD Am1190FCD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Industrial
Date of review
24th April 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
10/10
With women being more prevalent than ever in alternative music this four-disc box set from Alfa Matrix which celebrates female musical talent comes at an opportune moment. This isn't the first such collection but it's certainly the largest & most all-encompassing, containing 71 tracks that cover a wide range of musical styles, although there is a great deal of melodic metal with contributions with Lovelorn Dolls & the gothic-flaoured September Mourning rubbing shoulders with such luminaries as Liv Kristine, Mantus, Tristania & The Birthday Massacre among others. The electro/industrial styles are also well-represented, though with Javelynn's 'Wannabe' & Ayria's excellent 'Plastic Makes Perfect' getting the whole collection off to a fine start with the latter promising that Jennifer Parkin's forthcoming album will be every bit as good as her last! It's no surprise that Alfa Matrix artists feature heavily here & they can hardly be blamed for taking advantage of such a promotional opportunity with Hellayn Flowers & newcomers Junksista with their atmospheric electronica/punk hybrid making their mark as well as a surprisingly beat-lite piece from Neikka RPM & a typically sassy slice of electro from the excellent Diffuzion all stating their cases in fine style. Synthpoppers aren't forgotten, either, with the inclusion of Celluloide & Xberg Baboons' 'Hey Yoko Ono' which is given a typical Kraftwerk-style remix by Metro Land while the overhaul that Angels & Agony give to Zeitgeist Zero's 'United In Black' makes them sound like a typical British electro-goth act (with an intro that resembles DM's Master And Servant to boot!) Of course, no compilation like this would be complete without the participation of L'Ame immortelle whose expertise is evident during the masterful 'Wie Traenen Im Regen' while label mate Tying Tiffany likewise makes her mark with her expansive goth style&, just to make sure all genres get a look in, old-school EBM lovers are catered for by the husband & wife team of Ad_Key & Aesthetische, the latter of whom get on purely through having a guest female vocalist. A few bands resort to this trick & while it doesn't exactly break the rules it does seem to go against the whole spirit of them project somewhat even if Grendel's 'Deep Waters' is always worth hearing. Likewise Essence Of Mind with their excellent 'Ald Ri', the slick, uplifting feel of which is embellished further by Benedikt's sweet tones while Hanne Hausgand adds a touch of elegance to Kanto Kino's quirky old-school style on 'My Sweetest Crime'. Elsewhere the dreamy mood of Glis' 'Blue Sky Night' is enhanced still further by Lauren Krothe's rich & sultry voice although it's telling that, in order to be included, Patenbrigade Wolff had to resort to using a track that, while being very good, is nearly three years old! That definitely seems to be pushing it a bit &, in this respect, the inclusion of such acts as Regenerator & the welcome return of The Azoic, where the female aspect is an integral part of the act or wholly female acts as Marsheaux & particularly Unter Null & Stray seem more in keeping with the spirit of the release; after all it would be a pretty poor showing if vocals were their only contribution. With so much music on offer any review can hardly do this release full justice but, suffice to say that it might well inspire any budding female musicians perhaps lacking the confidence to take that all-important step while the general high quality of the music means it can be enjoyed solely on its own merits, as well.


 

Artist
Project Pitchfork
Title
Black
Format/Cat
CD TRI 468 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Industrial
Date of review
1st March 2013
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
In contrast to their previous release, Quantum Mechanics, which the cover images & liner notes might have led you to believe was a Peter Spilles solo album, this latest Pitchies release, emblazoned with an uncompromising title & equally no-nonsense sleeve art, emphasises that this is a group effort with Jurgen Jansen & Dirk Scheuber both featuring prominently in the sleeve photos. The latter even contributes lyrics to the robust & edgy 'Enchanted Dots Of Light' & it's good to see the other founding member of PP making such a tangible contribution once again. The album as a whole seems to have taken a pinch of the infectious qualities so prevalent on the work of Santa Hates You & mixed them with that Pitchfork hallmark, at least for the first half with the strong opener that is 'Pitch-Black' being embellished by just a hint of gleeful darkness that gives it added spice. As good as that is, however, the track which follows, 'Drums Of Death', is even better as a battery of rhythms carry along the instantly memorable melodies with a confident swagger that's impossible to resist. There's also a siren at the beginning which is always an added bonus & this is certain to be a future fan fave. The SHY resemblance is even more pronounced on 'The Circus' where another superb synth riff leads the way & which is followed by some typically perceptive lyrics. Hereafter the album takes on an increasingly richly-textured note, which helps to transform 'Contract' into a melodically graceful number although the massed chords & melodies would perhaps have been better served by a less harsh vocal delivery while 'Nil' ends the album on a decidedly uplifting note with soaring melodies being carried along by the rhythms like wings giving flight. Additionally, the duration of over seven minutes allows the track time to really cast its spell, ensuring the listener is able to really lose themselves in its sonic web. That's not to say the up-tempo tracks are completely forgotten, however, as some guitar-like sounds give 'Black Sanctuary' a grittier edge that is most welcome while 'Storm Flower' benefits from the use of some gutsy synth sounds that contribute towards a dramatic & expansive track with strong emotive overtones. Likewise, some towering lead lines carry the way during 'Acid Ocean' which again scores highly in the emotional stakes although pride of place in this regard should go to the beautifully melancholic 'Rain' which is an almost perfect number that plays on the heart big time, bearing a slight resemblance to Wolfsheim's classic The Sparrows And The Nightingales ( especially when viewed with the accompanying video!). For all that, it's a fine piece in its own right, being just one of the varied flavours that this album serves up which again proves just what a versatile band Project Pitchfork are & how important they continue to be.


 

Artist
In Strict Confidence
Title
Utopia
Format/Cat
2CD GCR20073D-2
Label
ZYX Music
Style
Industrial electro rock
Date of review
21st December 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8
The In Strict Confidence sound has always been a fluid, ever-changing entity, never has it remaining static or repetitious & this latest release from Dennis Ostermann & co is no exception. Compared to the gothic styles of the preceding La Parade Monstreuse this does have a more accessible, albeit never throwaway sound that, for the most part, seems to deal more with real world than the make-believe world of its predecessor. This is true of the cover art, the music & the lyrics, especially on such tracks as 'Archangel', which mixes a very personal subject with a mix of authentic percussion, solid guitars & piano lead which isn't a million miles away from the likes of ASP. It goes without saying, of course, that Ostermann's distinctive voice, embellished slightly by Antje Schulz's contribution (her only appearance on the album) leaves the listener in no doubt as to who they're listening to while 'Justice' takes on a similarly solid feel with the guitars sitting atop a chugging rhythmic backing. It does start on a slightly cabaret-noir note as 'Morpheus' sets the scene with a combination of orchestral sounds & regimented percussion while, as the track reaches its pinnacle, the choirs add depth & drama, as is their wont. It seems an odd choice for the preceding single, especially when compared to the brilliantly infectious 'Tiefer' which is easily one of the best tracks they've ever written &, as second single, deserves to be massive & will hopefully become a well-loved staple for years to come. The album seems to be a more obvious team effort than previous releases with a long list of guest musicians, including Mellotron's Andy Kruger who provides additional keys on a couple of tracks (as well as putting in a decent remix of 'Morpheus' on the second disc) along with a number of guest guitarists who assist Haydee Sparks & whose contribution impresses throughout, be it the gritty licks that form the basis of 'Irgendwo Im Nirgendwo', where they sound both authentic & yet artificial & suit the solid rhythms to a tee, or the superb solo that adds extra impetus as the penultimate 'Silver Bells' nears its climax. Likewise, Nina De Lianin's vocals prove an equally important asset , whether they're pulling the heart strings on the touchingly beautiful 'Forever And More', atop an acoustic-sounding musical background that evokes a group of medieval minstrels or adding to the gutsy rock sound of 'Being Born', her expertise is apparent throughout. Moreover, the manner in which she matches the expansive, dramatic sound that 'Silver Tongues' builds up demonstrates her talent still further while her versatility is proven by the way her wordless voice soars above the sultry Arabian-flavoured sonic soundscape of the instrumental 'Karasevdak'. And, taking into account long-term members Jorg Schelte & Stefan Vosper, it's apparent that ISC would be but a shadow of the band it is without these talented artists &, for all that it is a pretty accessible album it does end on a more abstract note as 'She Came With Knives' builds from its atmospheric opening into an offbeat slice of minimalist electronica where the analogue-style rhythms are embellished by echoed voices like fragments of a nightmare. It's certainly an unexpected way to end this fine album & shows another facet of the band's sound. As already mentioned, there's a second disc which, in true ISC style, acts as a continuation of the album with a couple of unreleased tracks, a couple of old demos which are interesting rather than essential & an extended version of 'Salvation' which is the highlight of this disc by some margin & which, together with the 'main' album, makes for another essential release from this well-loved band.


 

Artist
Velvet Acid Christ
Title
Maldire
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Dependent
Style
Industrial
Date of review
21st December 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5
In contrast to his recent gothic-flavoured releases, this latest release from Velvet Acid Christ sees Bryan Erickson being influenced by the all-electronic sound that made his releases from the 90s so well-regarded. That's not to say this is a mere rehashing of days gone by as there is a definite progression from his earlier works with a varied but cohesive sound which rewards repeated listens. That the music is well able to set a whole range of intriguing & unsettling atmospheres on its own is definitely to its benefit although the horror film samples that are a constant feature of the album do drive the point home in a big way, particularly early on as 'Evoked' gets proceedings underway with a combination of unsettling melodies & vocals so effected they're barely recognisable as human although the instrumental 'Septic Rinse' brings Erickson's melodic skills to the forefront in excellent fashion as an almost otherworldly feel is contrasted by the organic-sounding rhythms before 'Bend The Sky' introduces a harder rhythmic base that provides a greater impetus for a more accessible number with more melodic vocals. That he is happy to mix things up in this manner is a another plus point although, as the album progresses, the album is given yet more variety by the more up-tempo numbers such as 'Inhale Blood' which comes closest to the current EBM styles, building up to an impressively full-on climax which should ensure it gets at least some club attention & the altogether more intriguing 'Hypercurse' which sounds almost like a mix of 90s industrial & 70s disco with a distinct Giorgio Moroder influence in the backing sequences. It's definitely a novel take with unexpected ingredients but it works as does the occult-inspired closer 'Mysteric' while 'Christ Whore' again sees the artist spinning an inventive web of abstract & darkly melodic motifs, although the anti-religious theme has all been done before. the titl. Elsewhere, the unrelenting 'Ominous Rattle' again harks back to the 90s, exhibiting the same kind of unrelenting anger that used to be Leaether Strip's stock-in-trade although, as always, Erickson makes the music his own. As the album reaches its climax it seems to delve deeper into some dark cavern of the psyche with 'Dream Curse' accurately evoking the abstract qualities of a nightmare with chaotic rhythmic cascades underpinning offbeat melodies & spoken voice interjections like the insistent whisper of your dark side in your soul. That the album boasts so much inventiveness & so many different flavours is the hallmark of a musician dedicated to his (dark) craft to fully explore his musical visions regardless of any fads or fashions. In this respect, the album is a triumph & a major return to form.


 

Artist
Ghost In The Static
Title
Fallout
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Static Distortion Records
Style
Industrial Metal
Date of review
11th November 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
Following on from their 2011 release Open Eyed Dreamer Pt.1; Revelations, this British quintet, headed by Static Distortion Records' main man Steve Fearon, really raise the bar on this album with an onslaught of expertly-realised industrial metal, mixing the usual staples with electro trimmings that are quite often superfluous, if truth be told, certainly when compared to band such as Action Directe (with whom this band do share a kind of urban British spirit) who fuse the two far more widely. Even the participation of MIXF on 'Lost' doesn't seem to make any real difference & the only time this album comes close to this is when they collaborate with labelmates Cease2xist on 'Everyone', which is a superb combination of hard electro beats & scorching guitar riffs which reach their zenith on the chorus which has all the unstoppable power of a juggernaut. The melodic vocals are another plus point here, as well, & they make their mark throughout, sounding not unlike Mike Patton (of Faith No More) on tracks such as 'Fallout' which kicks off proceedings in earnest & such full-blooded numbers as 'Saviour' & the superb 'Rapture' while the slower 'Another Day' boasts an almost symphonic edge. That's not to say that there's ever any chance of them resorting to the usual pompous 'symphonic metal' clichés, no, sirree, this is fresh, earthy & totally for real, what a talented bunch of GITS they are!


 

Artist
Santa Hates You
Title
It's Alive!
Format/Cat
CD TRI 452 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Industrial
Date of review
11th November 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9/10
Looking suitably demonic on the cover, PS & his partner in crime Jinxy have toiled long in their laboratory to bring us this monster, in every sense of the word, that has risen from its coffin just in time for Halloween, which, if nothing else, means Trisol's marketing division knows what it's doing! Of course, it all looks like a lot of fun &, in many places it is, particularly during the album's latter half with such tracks as the almost insanely infectious 'Skeletal Parade' & 'Slightly Dead' both offering superb listening experiences with the latter track seeing the duo finally giving in & adding an additionally spooky touch with some Theremin-like sounds, something that, given the subject, it must have taken some temptation not to do throughout! Not that it would have worked early on, anyway, as the trio that follow the opening intro 'In The Laboratory' are a pretty serious bunch with the lyrics of the superb 'Independence' acting as a call-to-arms for free-thinkers & alternative types everywhere with some typically excellent lead lines adding extra relish while 'Scum' delivers a totally uncompromising 'fuck you' to real-life monsters such as 'racists, sexists & homophobes, and all you other arseholes around the world', you've just got to love lyrics like that, aggressive, defiant & oh so true! A similar theme crops up on 'How To Create A Monster' which again makes some important points although the lead lines, which are typically superb, see the horror vibe brought to life &, hereafter, this comes more to the fore on 'Rise!' where the duo's typical electro stylings are further embellished by an almost symphonic riff that adds yet another dimension to the track & the altogether harsher 'Are You Scared?' as well as 'Fight Truth Decay' which is worth a mention if only for bearing such an inspired title! There's no doubt about it, Santa Hates You are a pair of geniuses, this is yet more evidence of that & this is another unmissable release from the SHY camp.


 

Artist
Aktivehate
Title
In Terrorum
Format/Cat
CD AD-HUN-40-CD
Label
Advoxya Records
Style
Electro Industrial
Date of review
4th October 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9.5/10
This album from the Portugese artist ISK actually dates from 2010 but it's never too late to expose music this good. Although this is ISK's full-length debut under this moniker it was preceded by two EPs (both of which can be downloaded free from his website) as well as his earlier work in other projects & the experience he has gained over the years is very much in evidence throughout these 15 tracks (14 originals & one Hocico-like remix to ensure it gets its share of club attention!) which mix typical dark electro stylings with a more industrial rock outlook thanks to some scything guitar riffs, the grittiness of which add to the already powerful & dark moods that grace 'Mixed Feelings', complementing the melodic vocals that accompany the harsher vocals that are the album's trademark as well as 'Diseased', which manages to overcome some rather stupid-sounding vocals on the chorus. The familiar synth patches that form the basis of the opening 'My Own God' might lead you to believe that this is going to be just another generic EBM album although the way it builds up a head of steam indicates that his compositional skills are not to be sneezed at & this proves to be the case as the album goes from strength to strength hereafter, with 'FU' & 'Slow Eyes' both mixing dark & quite complex sonic tapestries of guitars & electronics to good effect. The latter builds from its slow opening into a strong offering with more excellent riffs spinning a quite intoxicating web, something that proves to be one of his strongpoints, as evidenced by the almost gothic-sounding 'Bipolar' & 'Handful Of Nothing', neither of which are any less essential nor enthralling for being less frenetic than many of their kin with the latter proving particularly infectious & while 'Knee Deep' likewise offers a less full-on (but just as utterly enthralling) experience & comes closer to more straightforward EBM in the process, the almost frantic '00h00' goes to the other extreme, amping up the music's various elements to the max in an almost brain-frying manner based around rapid fire rhythms & riffs that spin like a nightmarish mandala. Like many of its brethren, the dark piano interlude that is 'Sacramentum' excepted, it's a pretty long track at arounbd six minutes' duration but ISK's compositional skills & the complex arrangements of the tracks mean that, even when you think any given track has said all it's going to say, there's often something new yet to come which means that none of them are even one second too long with 'Chemicals' managing to get its tale of lost love through the expansive backing as the album nears its end, thus adding a more emotive side to the overall harshness which proves to be yet another facet of this engrossing & enthralling album. Not many artists have managed to mix all these ingredients so perfectly & the fact that ISK has done so is what makes this the triumph that is so clearly is; recommended without hesitation.


 

Artist
Thirteenth Exile
Title
Into Nothing
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Prototyp/Memento Materia
Style
Industrial
Date of review
4th October 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
The release of this album from Henrik Svegsjo in November 2011 marked the end of a six-year silence following the release of his debut Assorted Chaos And Broken Machinery in 2005 (the 2007 'Pain Receiver' EP notwithstanding) &, as the opening track 'The Worm' kicks proceedings off with its faux-guitar riffs complementing the shouted vocals it's immediately clear that Svegsjo has used the intervening period wisely, taking the Thirteenth Exile sound into new, far more diverse realms & utilising a wide variety of sounds & effects to create a broad sonic spectrum that, similarly, offers a wide range of influences, from the darkly atmospheric offerings such as 'In Between' & 'My Legacy', the latter of which boasts an almost gothic mood with its brooding piano & tolling bells, through to the overt aggression of the aforementioned 'Pain Receiver' where scything guitar riffs (a legacy from his metal roots perhaps?) & stomping rhythms are coloured slightly by sepulchral voices in a manner not unlike Vigilante or any number of American bands. Indeed, when listening to the soaring chorus of 'God On Your Side' or the dirty & authentic-sounding bass & rhythms that form the backbone of 'Hate' it's easy to forget that this is a European release. The shouted vocals, untainted by any effects, add an appropriately organic feel throughout, proving their worth once again on 'Pitch Black Days' where the almost chaotic mood is contrasted by the genuinely warm voices that come to the fore as the track progresses. This mix of harsh & emotive that is taken to the next step by the almost introspective mood of 'A Perfect World' & the equally mournful 'Wanderin' Star' (no, not the Lee Marvin one!) while the closing title track unfolds from its dark, forbidding opening into a most expansive, slightly sprawling but compelling number with the mournful strings being complemented by more vocal samples that add another epic dimension to the track's introspective mood that is enhanced by the lonely piano work that, as it fades into nothingness, brings the album to a close. The consistent inventiveness that is this album's hallmark marks the album out as a major progression in the evolution of Thirteenth Exile, it never takes the easy way out by opting for an easy dancefloor appeal, it's a far more complex release than that & while that means it might take a few listens to really make its mark it's well worth persevering with.


 

Artist
The Mask Of Sanity
Title
Sickness, Thy Name Is Human
Format/Cat
Digital Download
Label
None
Style
Industrial
Date of review
19th September 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
The title of this album from this Swedish act is pretty uncompromising &, should you care to lend an ear, you'll soon find out the music is, too. The ten tracks here evoke an unforgiving world that is sombre & cruel as main man Id's talent for producing darkly evocative soundscapes that take the listener on a journey through dark emotions makes for a constantly engrossing, if not easy, listen, starting if fine style as 'The Monsters Inside Me' sees Id setting his stall out straightaway with an almost impenetrable soundscape of deep synths & hard, scything guitars being slowly propelled by an equally heavy rhythmic bombardment; the chorus does lighten the tone somewhat although this is offset by the slower sections towards the end which are positively mournful & which set things up for the surging climax. It's these dark tracks which scale the greatest heights, as is proven further by the excellence of 'Death Engine Machine' which combines a pounding aggrotech-style rhythmic base with trademark melodics to excellent effect, not to mention 'Living Black Hole' which builds expertly into a powerfully mournful piece & the similarly intense 'With Vengeance' while the dramatic mood of 'A Place Among The Forlorn' is heightened by some superb soaring melodics. This intensity soon proves to be an integral part of the album's appeal as the relatively lighter tracks suffer in comparison with some surprisingly weak rhythms forming the basis of 'Dark Horizon' & making for an odd combination with the unusually-phased backing which, in itself, could have made for a more innovative piece although the fine chorus does rescue matters to some extent (no points for the old-hat 9/11 samples, though, they were done to death years ago!) while 'The Burden' similarly, never quite hits the spot despite having most of the right ingredients, it's not a let-down, as such, it's just that, by failing to reach the same emotive levels it's more easily forgotten in amongst the excellence on show elsewhere. Still, two out of ten isn't bad going by anyone's standards & the deep, dark soundscapes that are this album's trademark have a great deal to offer the discerning dark electro lover.


 

Artist
Decoded Feedback
Title
Diskonnekt
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Dependent
Style
Electro
Date of review
15th August 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
There aren't many bands who you could say are producing their finest material after the best part of 20 years but Decoded Feedback definitely are as this latest release sees Marco Biagiotti & Yone Dudas continuing the good work of the preceding album Aftermath with a sound that is lusher, richer, at times darker & a lot more expressive than ever before. It gets straight down to business to with the unforgettable opener 'Another Loss' which incorporates all those attributes into a scintillating six-minute winner where the deep mass of luscious melodics is underpinned by a battery of dynamic rhythms. This expressive stance is a trick the duo employ to fine effect throughout with the later 'Blood Red Moon' exhibiting a slight yearning mood while the sultry Arabian flavours that characterise 'It's You' make for another winning number. On tracks such as 'Mescaline' & the pacey 'Night Terror' these are embellished by Marco's guitar which add an altogether grittier edge to proceedings although there is a slight nagging feeling that the melodics themselves are just a tad repetitious & while this isn't a massive problem it's tempting to wonder if more complex & changeable lead lines would have made these fine songs even better. It's not a massive problem anyway & is definitely not the case on the slower 'Heart Of Stone' which boasts a quite stunning lead line that makes for a nicely insistent feel as it worms its way into your heart & mind while, as the album nears its end, 'The Devil You Know' rolls along with a sort of quiet malevolence & is the most overtly dark piece on the album. That's not to say it's without its more humorous moments as the samples from Deliverance add a somewhat tongue-in-cheek side to the seemingly uncompromising title; it's a most offbeat track that is likely to be viewed with initial bemusement by some but it's not hard to picture them playing this live with wry grins on their faces & it is something a little different, as is, to a lesser extent, the old-school flavoured 'Soultaker' which sees the one & only Claus Larsen adding his distinctive vocals to the mix & it's equally good to see them taking instrumentals seriously as they do on 'Dark Odyssey', which, with its 80s Kraftwerk-inspired rhythms & darker bass chords, is a fine danceable track rather than the usual short interludes of weird sounds & effects that so many bands treat instrumentals as. And another good point is that the closing 'Blade Runner Tribute' isn't the danceable version of Vangelis' main theme as might have been expected (Siva Six did that not long ago, anyway) but rather a slower track that mixes many of the lesser-known themes along with some appropriate voice samples with, towards the end, those CS80 sounds that the Greek maestro made his own so many years ago &, with their luxurious swells, still resonate strongly today &, although their style is very different, it doesn't sound out of place one bit, bringing to an end another fine album from this venerable & well-loved duo.


 

Artist
Various Artists
Title
This Is What We Call British Industrial
Format/Cat
2CD
Label
DEProjects
Style
Industrial
Date of review
15th August 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
This chunky two-disc compilation was not only financed by the participating artists but proves that not only is there a vibrant industrial music scene in the UK. Additionally, the 30 tracks here prove that many of them are willing to mix a greater range of influences into their music rather than sticking slavishly to genre limitations, particularly on the first disc which ranges from the spikey analogue synthpop of Analog Angel & a typically dark offering from Global Citizen, through Altered's more straightforward electropop remix (in comparison to their usual Berlin Cabaret style), Futurefrenetic's likeably straightforward dancey electro & onto a surprisingly danceable number from Autoclav 1.1 which, as it progresses, throws in a good mix of melodic & abstract effects that make for an intriguing number. Elsewhere Albitrax & Cryogenica both bring forth more rock-influenced styles with some heavy guitar riffs very much to the fore, a facet that is taken to its ultimate conclusion by Ghost In The Static, whose 'Another Day' is certain to appeal to all metal lovers. Another encouraging point is that the legacy of punk is alive & well here through Action Directe, whose 'This Is Radio Hell (Proletarian Jihad Mix)' kicks off proceedings in a manner not unlike New Model Army or a more radical version of The Clash but also through History Of Guns & Cease2Xist, who mix that legacy with some muscular electro-industrial styles & a real throat-busting performance from mainman Dayve Yates. In fact, the vocals are of a uniformly high standard throughout with Death Emitting Diode maintaining that fact with their electro offering 'Firewall (Infernal Inferno)' In fact, the only real let-down on this disc is Sebastian Komor's remix of Cybercide's 'Searchlight' which leaches all the feeling of the original & leaves in its wake a rather anaemic attempt at a dancefloor filler (they'd have been better off sticking with the original, despite Komor's marquee value) while Draconic Elimination Project's experimental 'Alice In Bondageland' similarly starts out with some really irritating voice samples although some of the later snippets do at least raise a smile if nothing else. The electroheads really come out to play on disc two, starting with the well-loved Inertia, whose 'Repeat & Follow' has lost none of its infectious qualities for all that it's almost two years old now while both Je$us Loves America & Kommand + Kontrol will appeal to old-school EBM lovers (the former making some salient points, too!) while electroclash rears its head once more through both Outsight & Mixei's 'Spark In The Air' which hits a punk-like note, thanks to its spikey sampled guitars makes its mark with another excellent vocalist to boot. On the other hand Non Bio's 'Beers Monsters' wins no points for its crap title & not many more for the music which is typical 'abstract twiddling around on a laptop'nonsense. Far better are Kontaminant's 'Fortify', a nice slice of dark EBM that recalls such German bands as Prager Handgriff & the like & sci-fi mafia's thrashy industrial style that's reminiscent of Cultivated Bimbo & their ilk, a thrashiness which SystemFX explore to a lesser extent while the poppier end is represented by Terrornation whom, as the whole thing nears its climax, are followed by the slowly, unfolding, broodingly dark industrial rock of Xykogen which, in a nutshell, emphasises the variety that this collection contains. This is a most worthwhile venture as it brings together many promising bands together in one place & proves that there's more to British industrial than VNV Nation!


 

Artist
Freakangel
Title
Let It All End
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Industrial
Date of review
1st May 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
Estonian I remember this Estonian trio winning a competition back in 2009, I think it was, to get signed up to Alfa Matrix. Well, they're still going strong now & this is their second album of dark industrial rock/electro music that has a potential appeal to fans of Marilyn Manson & Mortiis as well as Psyclon Nine's more recent works. This album is the perfect mix of hard guitars that in the case of tracks such as 'Parasite' have an almost languid feel, complimentary electronic elements that stretch the band's agenda a great deal & a mix of vocal styles that range from a masculine shouted style that brings a more organic, human feel to such tracks as the danceable 'A Product Of Bleeding' while the harshest resemble Psyclon Nine's nerO & add a decidedly evil edge to proceedings while a sharp contrast is provided by Psy'Aviah's Emelie Nicolai whose melodic voice provides a ray of light piercing through the darkness on a number of tracks, most notable on 'Porcelain Doll' where her wordless voice adds a dreamy feel to this slow & deliberate track while the confident performance that matches the infectious mood of the surging, dynamic 'Mutual Forms' shows how versatile she is. The album gets off to a fine start in as 'Erasing The Distance' lays down a marker as to what the album is about by combining all the elements that make the music their own with a powerful delivery that, like any good opener, is sure to make you sit up & listen while 'I Am Not Yours' makes its mark with a more minimalistic, darker mood that is later broken by a harder, grinding feel that is the closest they come to more conventional industrial/metal styles. That they don't rely on this exclusively is to their advantage as they're at their best when mixing varying styles although that doesn't stop the short, sharp blast that is the title track & the equally authentic-sounding closer 'We Only Live Once' which again boasts some pretty mighty guitar riffs & full-on throat busting vocals, from making a positive mark although the real highlight comes in the form of 'Used' which mixes the guitars with jaunty electronic backing to excellent effect that is but one more facet of the Freakangel sound. By combining different influences & refusing to stick to one genre this album should have a pretty wide appeal, from metallers to industrial lovers & this should see them achieving a greater longevity as a result.


 

Artist
Suicide Inside
Title
Homicide
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Industrial
Date of review
1st May 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7/10
Suicide Inside is a project featuring Ambassador21's Alexey Protasov & Natasha & it's actually their fourth album but their first on Alfa Matrix. Rather than making easy-to-categorise music the duo show a more adventurous frame of mind, throwing anything that takes their fancy into the melting pot with Natasha's vocals which can be aggressive, sassy or totally cool, as the situation dictates, keeping the riot grrl ethos very much alive (although it's worth remembering she's been doing it since before the term was even invented!). In the case of the opening 'Goodbye My Love' this means combining a speeded-up & generally fucked-about-with rendition of 'Bolero' with backing noise & an assortment of voice samples which sounds nicely off-the-wall & when it ends it's as if it were collapsing in on itself. As fun & as attention-grabbing as it is, though, it does come across as something of a novelty & the remainder of the album has a more serious feel to it with 'Snake H' mixing choppy rhythms & sampled guitars with Natasha's in your face vocals making for a decidedly full-on mood although the lyrics bring Combichrist's Without Emotions to mind. This could well be intentional as, apart from it being difficult to believe they would never have noticed the resemblance themselves, the voices on 'Call Girl' sound as if they're sampled from Miss Construction's Fuck Me Too although they're cut up to such an extent that their origin becomes impossible to detect with any certainty. Again this is a cut up mish-mash with the funky rhythms underpinning the whole caboodle while the melodic effects add a more accessible ingredient. This habit of giving various conventional musical staples a mutated, unpredictable &, in the case of 'Go Zonkers' a rather manic setting is one that the duo make their own with the funky rhythms of 'Razor' sounding not unlike The Chemical Brothers but with a nice thrashy, punky mood thanks to the sampled guitars while the symphonic elements that herald 'Act Up' provide a startling contrast to the overall aggression that borders on unadulterated fury (with a touch of The Prodigy in there, as well!). Only the title track & 'Til The End Of Time' which could well appeal to lovers of more straightforward electro show any inclination to take the easier way out although, in the latter case, Natasha again stamps her authority on proceedings with a spoken performance that is coolness personified & which is again contrasted by the downbeat ending to make for a more restrained offering & which proves that they're not limited to one mode of expression while providing a bit of a breather for the more fainthearted!


 

Artist
Weena Morloch
Title
Terror Uber Alles
Format/Cat
4CD TRI 455 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Varied
Date of review
1st May 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
5/10
Trisol has never been a label to do things by halves &, if this mighty 4-disc offering is anything to go by, it's a habit that isn't going to change any time soon. It collects together a whole load of rarities from Alexander 'Samsas Traum' Kaschte's other, more varied project, including a lot of his earliest material on the first three discs & what a hard-going experience a lot of that is!! It seems that in 2001, when the majority of the material on the first disc was recorded & before it became the varied rock/metal/punk-like entity it is now Weena Morloch was a hard industrial project whose uncompromising music was full of impenetrable walls of sound backed by incessant rhythmic colouring like the churning of a factory machine & some voice samples & the odd bit of screaming as well, bringing the works of Asmus Tietchens & his ilk to mind. Its appeal is likely to be extremely limited with the only respite coming right at the end in the form of the poppy remix of Samsas Traum's 'DerDieDas' which, despite its raw presentation, does at least hint at the more accessible realms Kaschte would later explore although disc three which contains Epanalepsis, suggests he hadn't got there by 2005 as it's another dose of the same with 'Todesekktion 1338' sounding like an old Space Invaders game as well as the odd Nazi voice sample thrown in elsewhere for added controversy. It feels like a definite step backwards as Kadaverkomplex on disc two, which dates to 2002 is a far more varied offering with the opening 'Stammheim (Kampf)' coming across like a rougher version of The Chemical Brothers, albeit with more obvious German cues while 'Die Erde Wird Leer' could well appeal to 80s synthpop lovers, although some of the rhythmic backing effects could have been taken off the Test Match Special theme!! There are a number of industrial noise tracks here, too &, by now, it's getting a bit monotonous although at least these are offset to some extent by 'Das Maedchen Aus Dem Jenseits' which is a nice melodic little ditty with a pleasant synth theme & 'Kugel In Gesicht' which likewise has a decent tune & good vocals, slightly reminiscent of ASP while the 'extended club version' shows that Kaschte was able to turn his thoughts in this direction by that time. All of which just leaves disc four to bring together the live version of the Amok album (which was released less than a year ago!) as well as the 7"-EP 'Trauma'. The live tracks come across as a more straightforward rock proposition compared to the album versions & also show that Kaschte has a good, if slightly eccentric, stage presence (the insane giggling that precedes 'Attentat' being a good example of his eccentricity) while the music is a solid rock experience with the lively 'Alarm' standing out through its Theremin-like synth colouring while the highlight that is 'Wenn Ich Einmal Gross Bin' exudes a confident Bowie/Bolan-like swagger & is an excellent track with some really raunchy guitar riffs. A couple of tracks appear both as live & studio versions, namely 'Wasser' which mixes rock guitars, synths & industrial rhythmic effects & the pacier 'Schande'. This is easily the most accessible disc in the collection, thanks to the uncompromising nature of the majority of the material on the other discs although the generally more polished music & the English lyrics that crop up during 'Razor' & the electro-flavoured 'Girl' probably won't hurt in that respect, either while the studio tracks will appeal to anyone who enjoyed the varied flavour of the last album. Over all, the effect is a little like looking through an old photo album (the cover art seems to suggest that this was the idea, too) which, as we all know, can be a bit of an ordeal & this is certainly true some of the time here, so much so that it's unlikely many people will enjoy all of this &, given that the live material was released so recently, the financial factor of a release of this magnitude might be asking a lot, we shall see…


 

Artist
Aesthetic Perfection
Title
All Beauty Destroyed
Format/Cat
2CD OUT 518/519
Label
Out of Line
Style
Industrial Electro
Date of review
27th March 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
After the 'breakthrough' album that was A Violent Emotion, & the massive round of touring that followed it, this latest album from Daniel Graves was much anticipated &, discounting the remix disc which strips away everything that makes the album proper so special & isn't worth bothering with, it doesn't disappoint at all. Compared to the AP live sound, this is less of an electro/industrial/rock effort, thanks largely to the absence of the live drums, rather it carries on the good work of the preceding album, developing further the distinctive electro sound that is somehow clinical yet dirty & never anything less than enthralling, thanks to his knack of combining superb melodic hooks, insistent sequence lines & powerful rhythms on such tracks as 'One And Only' as well as the preceding single 'Inhuman'. However, as the opening 'A Nice Place To Visit' gets underway, it seems that the time he spent supporting Combichrist has rubbed off on him as, with its pitch-bending synths, stomping rhythms & screamed vocals, the spirit of Andy LaPlegua looms large here, ditto the sirens that open the following 'The Devil's In The Details' although in both cases, Graves makes the songs very much his own. Indeed, as the album progresses, it becomes apparent that these facets are actually indicative of how much more of everything this album has compared to its predecessor; more power in the music with some no-nonsense, hard-hitting tracks in the form of 'Celebrity Sin' & particularly 'Motherfucker' which is every bit as uncompromising as the title would lead you to expect with a battery of surging rhythms & no-nonsense sequencing hitting you square between the eyes & setting the scene for a lung-busting vocal performance from Graves, whose varied & versatile voice, mixing an evocative &, at times distinctly melancholic melodic style with shouted phrases that act like an exclamation to what's being said, ensures that there's likewise more emotion here, be it the sad resignation of 'The Little Death', the more restrained feel of which actually brings the message across all the more clearly or evoking the sleaze described during 'Filthy Design'. Similarly, there's also a more varied sound, particularly towards the end with the totally a capella 'Under Your Skin', which provides something of a breather after the anger overload of the preceding tracks, seeing him experiment with a plethora of voice effects to create a very human experience which presumably includes the rhythmic backing effects too, while this emotive side is taken to its logical conclusion on the beautifully bittersweet title track which ends the album where Lauren Kroethe's delicate piano sets the mood for Graves to open his heart in a startlingly intimate manner while the shouted lines work surprisingly well here, actually build the heartbreak still further, coming across like a despairing cry from the heart, rather than a jarring aberration they could so easily have been. In a way, it's just as powerful as the faster tracks, if not more so & certainly stays with you long after its conclusion, making for a fitting end to a fine album that sees the artist pushing his own electro boundaries a bit further & finding fertile new fields to explore as he goes.


 

Artist
Formalin
Title
Wasteland Manifesto
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Out Of Line
Style
Electro Industrial
Date of review
26th March 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8.5/10
This is Formalin's second album of 'Berlin City Industrial' music, following on from 2010's Bodyminding & it's a massive step forward from the uncompromising but somewhat one-dimensional sound of that album. That's not to say the music has lost any of its anger or rebellious vitality nor its harsh edges, far from it, but here it's been enhanced with a more soaring melodic edge that both emphasises & contrasts their anger & passion, transforming their sound into a somewhat punky take on electro-industrial music that could well appeal to fans of Katscan with Tominous' gruff, macho vocals similarly sounding typically 'industrial' & giving the music more character in so doing whilst adding a decidedly rebellious, snotty but passionate attitude to virtually every track, particularly on 'Copycat Criminal' where the duo declare open season on plagiarists everywhere, crowning this no-nonsense blast with the line 'Formalin Will kick your arse'. This is counterbalanced in places by more melodic vocal tones which add a more reasoned side even to such no-nonsense-titled tracks such as 'The Great Armageddon' while the soaring chorus that it boasts is a hallmark of the album & one that pays dividends time after time with 'Faker' boasting the kind of riffs that any metal band would be proud to possess but all done synthetically while the big bass chords that punctuate 'Collider' are another masterful touch that proves this young duo have really got this style down to a tee. The excellent closer 'End Of All Suffering' offers further proof of this, the slower tempo proving the perfect foil for another epic-sounding chorus backed by powerful rhythms that ends the album on an expansive note that it's impossible not to be swept up by. The more minimalist tracks 'Tied & Blinded' & 'Fight The Enemy' do have a certain old skool EBM feel to them, particularly the chanted '1,2,3,4' bridge on the latter track & while the former does have an effective uncompromisingly harsh edge to it it is a tad repetitive when listened to at home, although it's certain to do the business in the clubs. However, it's when they're bridging the two environments & offering a more versatile listening experience that they are at their best & that's a feat they accomplish with ease time & time again. In fact, the only let downs here come in the rather naff voice samples of 'Fruits Of Evil', I mean 'I shall invoke your demons, bwa ha ha'; even if it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek it's still a bad idea while the spoken female voice on 'Burst Into Fire' isn't really imposing enough to make its mark, like she's mumbling & although it's no big deal a more assertive performance wouldn't have gone amiss. Overall, though, this is an excellent album by a talented duo developing a style that is very much their own & making their mark in the electro world.


 

Artist
Schwarzblut
Title
Maschinenwesen
Format/Cat
CD
Label
Alfa Matrix
Style
Industrial
Date of review
26th March 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9/10
If you're looking for a varied album then you need look no further than this Dutch quintet's latest release because this has got pretty much everything. Much has been made of the fact that their lyrics are inspired by Weimar poets such as Adolf Frey & JW von Goethe which might give the impression that this is going to be some sort of gothic/mittelalter album & while this is one of the many avenues that the band explore, most notably during 'Einst' which combines lute & orchestral motifs in a most emotive manner for the full-on medieval experience but, there's so much more going on here, starting with the danceable albeit melodic EBM styles of the opening pair of 'Schlusspoetik' & 'Ein Schatten' which might come as something of a surprise, particularly given that Zeon's vocals are in the typically harsh style although these are offset a good deal by Angelika's more melodic voice which, throughout the album, proves to be an important part of their musical armoury. The former gets the album off to a pretty good start but it's the latter that really hits the spot, being an instantly infectious winner that's a cert for dancefloor adoration while 'An Den Todesengel' later takes this side of their sound to ever harsher realms, veering towards so-called 'hellektro' realms. So far so predictable, you might think but the gothic flavours that Angelika brings to the album hint at the variety that is the band's hallmark, starting with slow & atmospheric 'Der Schwere Abend' which builds from mysterious beginnings into a sumptuous gothic-inspired piece of electro while those overtly melodramatic spoken vocals that so many goth bands use appear at the beginning of 'Nomen Ist Omen' & while this develops into a rousing electro/medieval piece with chanted vocals in the expected way, it's so rousing that it really is hard to resist. By now, the question that needs to be asked is 'can this band make a bad track?' & once 'Heimfahrt', with its overloaded-style vocals that seem to link the old & the new & lighter electro feel that verges on synthpop, gets into its stride, the answer would seem to be a resounding no as this is another infectious piece while few bands could equal the feeling of suspense that makes 'Die Fabrik' another winner & shows yet another facet to their sound while 'Der Schwarze Tod' manages a similar feat & is as dark as the title would lead you to expect. To finish comes a 3-part piece inspired by JW von Goethe's 'Gesang Der Geister Uber Den Wassern' & this is a full-on piece of classical magic, alternating between rich choral progressions & sepulchral choirs in a manner that is evocative, dynamic, varied & exciting & illustrates anew just what a varied band this is & how expertly they have mastered their chosen musical field. Yes, this is an album that does so many things but does every one of them well & that can only make this a must-have release, in fact, the only problem I can see is that you're going to have to wait until May for it to be released!!


 

Artist
Samsas Traum Vs Weema Morloch
Title
Kaefer. Maden. Wuermer. Spinnen
Format/Cat
CD TRI 440 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Various
Date of review
28th February 2012
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
6/10
This double offering brings together both of Alexander Kaschte's bands, the symphonic/progressive metal of Samsas Traum & the more varied approach of Weema Morloch although the large number of remixes means it's a pretty varied affair for the most part. Of the 35 tracks on offer, only 11 are originals & even some of them are pushing it a bit, particularly on the Samsas Traum disc as, aside from 'All Die Toten Spiegel' which kicks off proceedings in fine style & is a good example of what they're about & the surprisingly sweet 'Leb' Wohl, Geliebter Sohn' where the piano & strings that lead the way might prove a touch too 'nice' for some of their fans, the rest of their original material is made up of two instrumental demos (which, admittedly, aren't bad)& two live tracks that scream 'filler' & are likely to be of interest only to completists. I can't get away from the feeling that more 'real' tracks would have made this a more tempting proposition for fans & whether the varied remixes prove to be a masterstroke in tempting a wider range of punters to give it a go or prove too varied for anyone but those with the most catholic tastes is open to debate. What isn't is that whoever got these remixers on board weren't afraid to engage a wide range of artists & even if the inclusion of a few labelmates did make the task a touch easier these are chosen well, too, with Tying Tiffany again proving herself to be one of the most exciting new artists about with a fine interpretation of 'Den Wolken Naher' being a prime example. Elsewhere Jovian Spin cater for electro lovers as do K Is For Kraken whose C64 stylings are a major surprise. Elsewhere Chillheimer & Digimortal both stay closest to the ST sound, albeit a grittier variant in the latter case while Fabrik C's mix of harsh pounding beats & abstract effects should go down a storm on your average aggro-tech floor. Finishing things off is Tony Wakeford, whose participation was, I'd guess, something of a coup & his neofolk style is yet another musical facet that this disc alone covers. That Weema Morloch's disc is just as varied isn't a massive surprise as their last album had enough surprises in its own right & this again proves to be the case on the originals here as the beautiful 'orkester version' of 'Amok' & the equally lovely cover of Mono Fur Alle's 'Hallo Verfassungsschutz' are contrasted by another rocky 'instrumental demo' & even more so by the mix of impenetrable noise effects & lonely piano that makes up 'Akka Und Bachyt' & is an intriguing blend if nothing else! The remixes again cross a number of genres, ranging from the straight ahead electro of Santa Hates You, the bleepy synthpop of The Girl And The Robot & the ultra-rave stylings of Extize on the electro front through to the industrial rock of Mechanical Moth & PTYL & the abstract offering from Morpheus Lunae while Merzbow seems to just tag on a few harsh effects almost as an afterthought. More industrial royalty comes in the form of Albin Sunlight Julius, who provides a somewhat repetitive interpretation of 'Sammheim (Kampf)' & Deutsch Nepal who provide another abstract ambient/industrial offering, although, if this is the best they can come up with, I can't really see what all the fuss is about. Still, with so much variation there should be something for everyone here although it's highly unlikely anyone is going to like it all.


 

Artist
Project Pitchfork
Title
Quantum Mechanics
Format/Cat
CD TRI 437 CD
Label
Trisol
Style
Industrial electro
Date of review
20th December 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
8/10
Signing to Trisol seems to have provided Peter Spilles much more time to work on new songs as this is the Pitchies third album in as many years (& that's not counting Santa Hates You which has been even more prolific in the same period!), in contrast to most of the first eight years of the new millenium which saw them release the same number of albums & two EPs! What's even better news is that this, whilst maintaining the polished & crisply-delivered thrills of the previous two albums, wipes the floor with either of them with the first half of the album proving especially good value as, after the by now traditional surging & dynamic, anti-dictator-themed opener in the form of 'Freeze In Silence' they really hit the spot with the excellent 'Lament', where, even if the triumphant mood of the chorus is somewhat at odds with the downbeat lyrics, it's impossible not to get swept up in its brilliance, quickly making its mark as one of PP's finest tracks of recent times. This high standard is maintained by the punchy & catchy 'Run For Cover' & the fast-paced 'Radical Business' where the uplifting theme is offset by a touch of the offbeat before 'Mute Spectators' goes for a more melancholic mood that builds into a rousing finale & the reflective title track allows the listener time to get their breath back. Hereafter the quality becomes a tad more variable with 'The Queen Of Time And Space' being the nadir in this writer's opinion (sorry, it just bugs me) & while 'Splice' benefits from a somewhat harsher mood than what has preceded it it's left to the closing 'You Rest In My Heart' to end the album on a high note with soaring synths that resemble vintage Numan (never a bad thing, in my book) adding to the track's already memorable mood; it's a triumphant conclusion to a fine album that proves the Pitchies still have what it takes & then some!


 

Artist
Terrolokaust
Title
God Loves The Violence
Format/Cat
CD FACT 3168
Label
Caustic Records
Style
electro industrial
Date of review
20th December 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
9.5/10
EBM & industrial electro lovers everywhere, drop what you're doing & check out this album from the Spanish duo of Javi Ssagittar & Indio right now as it's easily one of the finest releases of the year. On the face of it the duo do stick to the established modern EBM template pretty closely but there's a definite freshness here that elevates this head & shoulders above most other such releases. A lot of this is down to Javi's vocals which are infectious & possess a kind of raw melodicism, bringing an extra expressive layer to every song, particularly during 'Your Fucking Drugs' where the duo are joined on vocals by Betty CM who also has a strong voice & who contributes towards making this song among the album's highlights, an accolade for which there is no shortage of contenders, from the excellent title track, which you may have heard on the World Wide Electronics compilation through the swaggering 'Nihilismo Moral' with its Spanish-language vocals, the surging cover of Ministry's 'Just One Fix' & on to the utterly superb 'The Pain Of Knowing', where the slow, resonant rhythms, heartfelt melodics & painfully heartfelt vocals all combine to form a masterpiece of power & emotion that harks back to the days of grunge. It really is little short of a masterpiece & is probably the highlight, making the second half of the album a particular delight as proven by the brilliant 'Evolution Of Tomorrow', the dynamic style of which would have made a good closer to the album (aside from the remixes) were it not for 'Primitive Ways' which does the job in a nicely dramatic, forbidding & epic note, building up steam as it goes until it reaches its climax as an intense melodic industrial workout that is just the icing on this particular cake. Simply put, this is a quite superb release that puts many established EBM/industrial artists to shame & is one you absolutely should not miss.


 

Artist
Be My Enemy
Title
This Is The New Wave
Format/Cat
CD DWA120
Label
Death Watch Asia
Style
Industrial
Date of review
26th September 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
5/10
I have to admit that when I first started listening to this album from one Phil Barry, the mix of hard guitars & pounding rhythms led me to believe that this must be an American act so it was quite a surprise when the sleevenotes made it clear that this is, in fact, British although the fact that it was produced at Marc 'Cubanate' Heal's studio soon explained why such a mix-up could be made! It's fair to say, then, that this should indeed appeal to those who have fond memories of Cubanate & their ilk as the 10 tracks on here take a definite influence from the industrial styles of the 90s while the sometimes repetitious feel of certain tracks might also appeal to fans of Uberbyte et al who don't mind the metal elements. So, there's plenty of dancefloor potential here with tracks such as 'Helter Skelter' well placed to take advantage of such opportunities, bearing a superficial resemblance to Concrete Lung but lacking their raw, more dystopian feel due mainly due to the overly polished production which gives the album a rather sterile feel & which makes it sound rather safe for all its power & robs it of some of the impact it could otherwise have had. A more raw-sounding production would almost certainly have made a difference here, making this the album it could so easily have been. This also means it's a bit of a bind to listen to all in one go although, when taken in smaller snippets, individual tracks start to hit home, among them the action-packed 'Death Drive' which mixes some superbly scything guitar riffs with frantic Drum 'n' bass rhythms & 'Start The Revolution', which boasts a mix of danceable rhythms & typically gutsy guitars in a manner not unlike a more metal version of The Prodigy, make for what is easily the best track on the album. Overall, though, the production just sucks the life out of the music which makes this something of a missed opportunity & anyone looking for more satisfying industrial thrills would be better off checking out the albums from Concrete Lung & Digicore instead.


 

Artist
Concrete Lung
Title
Versions Of Hell
Format/Cat
CD ARMCD010
Label
Armalyte Industries
Style
Industrial
Date of review
26th September 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
The uniform grey & the photos on the cover makes it clear that the particular version of hell that the British duo Ed Oxime & William Reiver have in mind is everyday life & the music emphasises the same feeling of rage, boredom & frustration, delivering a kick in the head with its mix of epic synths & hard, brutal percussion being topped off by pile-driving guitars that mix punk, industrial & metal into one infernal whole. The vocals are of the throat-busting variety as Oxime screams his anger for all the world to hear, starting with 'The Outer Circle' & then continuing onto new & ever more brutal dimensions as the impenetrable wall of noise that forms the basis of the short, sharp blast that is 'Suicide High Rise' perfectly evokes the modern concrete jungle until it ends so suddenly the effect is almost vertigo-inducing. Elsewhere 'Wall Of Christ' provides a further uncompromising sonic blast while the slower 'Flux' proves that, had they been around back then, this band could have had Rage Against The Machine no problem! Not that it's all about the power, mind, as there are plenty of more subtle parts, too, as proven by the initially smoking mood of 'Mind Eraser' that, when joined by the usual harder elements, make for a more offbeat experience, likewise the way in which the various elements of 'Wall Of Christ' at first seems to be nothing more than a chaotic jumble that only fit together given time prove give the album greater depth & character , an aspect of the band which is taken to its most logical extreme during the superb 'Pylon Kingdom Pt.1' which is a slow, doom-laden piece full of forboding guitars & synths & tolling bells setting a decidedly gothic, almost supernatural mood that perfectly evokes the images of statues that appear on the label & inner sleeve while 'Dead In The Mind' takes this even further with its oozing soundpool setting a nightmarish mood that's bleak, abstract & dark, not unlike the neofolk act ROME, believe it or not while the sax that breaks through towards the end put me in mind of early Faust, acting like a last sentinel as the music fades away. At over seven minutes it's given the chance to really fulfill its potential & is all the more satisfying for that, in fact it would have been an excellent track to end the album on but as it is there's one last blast in the form of 'bonus track' 'Crash Reality', the bonus track that, if the preceding piece was the nightmare, jabs you in the ribs to awake you to the everyday despair that is this album's driving force. So don't go into this expecting just the power, this is a far more varied industrial offering that deserves widespread attention.


 

Artist
Digicore
Title
Without Freedom
Format/Cat
CD ARMCD011
Label
Armalyte Industries
Style
Industrial
Date of review
26th September 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
7.5/10
The UK quartet of Danny Carnage, Matt Bastard, S-73 & Cell here unleash the true sound of cyberpunk, bolting mechanical appendages in the form of the drum & bass rhythms & adventurous electronics that crop up throughout the album onto the still-beating heart of punk & providing it with a new lease of life as well as resurrecting the rotting carcass of 90s rock. Indeed, the mellower moments that crop up during the verses of such tracks as 'Without Freedom' & 'Tear It Up' to name but two, are not totally dissimilar to bands such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers & the like while the ChopChop remix of 'We Will Fall' sounds, at least initially, positively laid back in comparison to much of the album & although it goes without saying that there is no comparison in terms of inventiveness & dynamics, it means that, for all the power, there's a human heart beating at its core, this music hasn't forgotten how to feel but it asks questions & takes no prisoners. Witness the pounding brutality of 'Where Were You?', 'No Rest (For The Rebels)' & the superb 'Obey', which is so overwhelming as to inspire you to start setting up the barricades forthwith, while 'Cyberpunks Unite', with its mix of drum 'n' bass rhythms & scything guitars, acts as a call to arms against everyday conformity & the closing 'Your World Is A Lie' makes its mark through its chaotic mix of fractured rhythms that sound as if they're going to collapse upon themselves any moment & belting guitars that almost seem to be struggling to keep up & raw shouted vocals, devoid of all effects & left in their original state; of all the songs on the album, this is the one that comes closest to the raw spirit of punk, it's angry, surging & raw for all its polished elements & it puts you back in touch with your most primal emotions.


 

Artist
K-Nitrate
Title
Voltage
Format/Cat
CD AD-HUN-46-CD
Label
Advoxya
Style
Industrial
Date of review
26th September 2011
Reviewer
Carl Jenkinson
Rating
4/10
Now here's a prime candidate for the 'blimey, are they still going?" log!! I remember K-Nitrate playing early on at an Elektrofest some years ago but then, as with so many bands, it all seemed to go quiet. That was until 2010 when this newie saw the light of day, on the Russian Advoxya label which indicates that Graham Rayner & Chistian Weber's networking techniques are not to be scoffed at! Sadly, the album isn't the electrifying experience that the title might promise, being a repetitive industrial slog that's lacking in variety or any real excitement while the lack of any meaningful vocals robs it of any kind of character. It's certainly crisply rendered & powerful when taken in small doses & there are some promising riffs in there, too, but this promise is never really built upon which makes listening to it all in one go something of an ordeal, what good ideas there are being stretched far too thinly over the album's 10 tracks & it's only towards the end that anything comes along to make the listener sit up & take notice in the shape of 'XMachineX' which is quite an infectious little ditty beiing followed by 'Disbeliever' which isn't totally without merit either while the atmospheric break that graces otherwise minmalistic penultimate track 'Automatik Killer' offers another glimpse of what they could be capable of but, overall, these bursts of inspiration aren't enough to make this one worth recommending, not when there are so many bands out there turning out much better music, sorry.