The Sermon of Judgment

By Rev. Daryl Litts of In_Faction (www.infaction.8m.com)

Chain Border

Anthropile: Take. [12 Ton Productions]
Never do I shun experimentation, but sometimes there's a thin line between musical exploration, noise, and just plain craziness. Anthropile walks the line through all of the above. While there are more than a few catchy pieces to this aggro-industro-noiso-gonzo album, I don't think it could pass as a fully listenable album without getting a facelift. Some additional production values and perhaps some more intuitive intervention would aid the disc somewhat. Noise-addicts will like the harsh, speedy guitar and effects, and the armada of layered samples. This album is definitely interesting and worth a listen.

Apocrypho: Spiritual Cannibal [ADSR Musicwerks]
Spiritual Cannibal is a paradox of itself. While it contains fragmentations of clever effects manipulation and sound usage, it also seems rather elementary in spots as well. The album is a mixed bag of dancey electro / EBM and successful experimentation, making for an original if not complex release. While it may not appear revolutionary or vital on the surface scan, have another listen. You'll hear more and more and I think a lot of people will come to appreciate this band in the future. I'm looking forward to what they do next.

Audio Paradox: The Iniquity of Time [Flaming Fish]
I was pleasantly surprised by Audio Paradox. It seems they have some talent worth sharing, vocals worth hearing, and an album worth buying. Straight post-industrial rhythms and synth-style are used refreshingly with excellently executed programming, intelligent lyrics, and favorable melodic qualities. Guitars are used as well for the crossover fanatics, but not in great amounts to warrant offense to the electro-purists. For fans of neo-industrial music who like their "music" aspects intact and going in a progressive direction. Highly recommended.

Bunker Soldier: Innuendo [Neo Cultural Front]
Wow, Bunker Soldier was an unexpected find. They seemingly popped from nowhere to kick some ass. Admittedly, some clichés are employed here and there, but are used in a successful mix of post-industrial ass-kicking melodies and fusions of various styles. Not that all of the tracks are in your face and harsh, they're not... it's actually a good balance of listenable music and dance tunes. The keyboard and synth work is admirably well done, and clings to an old-school train of thought. Overall this is an incredible release if you overlook the garage-style production, which isn't really too much of a detraction to begin with. Recommended.

Clan of Xymox: Consolation [Metropolis]
Although I will admit that I wasn't very fond of the full length Creatures, "Consolation" really is the stand-out track on that album. This single contains the album version and a radio edit of "Consolation," another album track "Jasmine & Rose" and "Reason," a non-album, synth-pop flavored song. These tracks represent all of the things that are good about gothic-rock, and listening to Clan of Xymox in the scale of a single isn't as bad as listening to an entire album. The tracks seem more diverse and less monotonous within a span of only four tracks and twenty minutes. Simply said, if you like this single you will like the album because the stylistic approach doesn't vary heavily, making it hard to truly dislike, but repetitive enough to get annoying when taken in heavier doses.

Consolidated: Tikkun-Survivor Demos [Orchard Records]
Since the inception of Consolidated in 1989, the band has transcended any specific category of music. They have successfully melded and/or touched on hip-hop, jazz, techno, industrial, funk, noise, blues, drum n' bass, dub, and rock. Think it's a weird mix? I certainly do, and it is very unusual to find such a versatile band putting all of their varying styles into one basket. Strangely this album melds all of these different faces of Consolidated successfully onto one album and each track is different from the last, making Tikkun-Survivor a refreshing album that's not likely to make you bored at any point. I don't believe there is a weak song on the entire album. Highly recommended.

Covenant: United States of Mind [Metropolis]
Wow. Alongside Apoptygma Berzerk's Welcome to Earth, United States of Mind is one of the best things Metropolis has put out recently. Kudos. Covenant's unique approach to varied synth styles of music has reached a point of near perfection. Ranging from synth-pop and Kraftwerkian tunes to more modern likenesses of VNV Nation and Front 242, there is little room for fault. Every track is infectious and outstanding; in fact I couldn't pick a favorite track because I can't stop listening to the CD from beginning to end! The production is top-notch, which matters a lot when you want to blast it at full volume. This is an album not to be missed, and comes with our highest recommendation.

Culture Kultur: Reflex [Out Of Line / Cleopatra]
As they blend the strengths of industrial, EBM and techno around a synth-pop sensibility, CK create a danceable and smoothly listenable hybrid with just enough aggression to give it an edgy feel. The vocals are reminiscent of Front 242 in a couple tracks and I see some mainstream electronica influence involved, but not enough to warrant any offense, especially since the tracks contrast themselves so widely in genre appeal. The band has enough spunk and personality to keep in good standing on their own, challenging more generic popular acts with just enough seasoning of variety and underground flavor... but even if they lack a revolutionary ambition, Culure Kulture have created an album that is almost impossible to dislike. Accurately compared to Nitzer Ebb and The Crystal Method, CK have a lot to offer to fans of the previously mentioned genres.

Holger Czukay: La Luna [Tone Casualties]
If you can imagine a 1-track, 47 minute CD of droning, spacey monotony with a down-tempo pulsating beat, you don't need to spend money on this album. Supposedly a tribute/ceremony to the moon through electronic music, it was recorded live in the artist's studio, and the apparent lack of variation throughout the 47 minute time span make it seem rather uncreative and contradictorily non-spontaneous. The short vocal intrusion doesn't help much. To be fair, the album successfully creates a trance-like state ideal for chilling out or maybe it could be a soundtrack for dying slowly. The trance it induces is that of lethargic sleepiness. I recommend this disc to hopeless insomniacs everywhere and Jack Kevorkian.

Dead C Monkeys: Profits vs. Prophets [Corporate Greed]
If you can picture the conglomeration of Korn, Limp Bizkit, Cypress Hill, Rage Against the Machine, and even a little Die Warzau, you're already getting a good (if slightly blurry) picture of Dead C Monkeys. Their production quality is quite good, and the programming shows far more than just a DIY band. In today's musical climate, I believe a band like this has a good shot. The crossing of styles and genre bending is very interesting on Profits Vs. Prophets, and hell... even I liked it which says a lot since normally I tend to shy away from albums of this sort. Recommended for fans of the above-mentioned bands.

Delerium: Reflections Vol. I & Reflections Vol. II [Dossier]
Capitalizing on the recent success of Delerium and anticipating the next full-length release, Dossier have re-released some of the most outstanding tracks from the back catalog in hopes of generating interest in the relatively modest and minimalist beginnings of Front Line Assembly's ethereal twin. The slight flaw here is that Cleopatra has already licensed Delerium's older material and have re-released the full albums previously. Now they're all available, and if you want to try before you buy, this is a good alternative. At a mid-price level, it's well worth the price to get a sampling of Delerium's past... but even spicier for the die-hard fans - bonus tracks. Each volume comes with a couple bonus tracks (previously unreleased...except of course by Cleoptara's releases) to justify your urge to buy these discs. Since the highlight tracks have been carefully selected, it is almost impossible to find fault here. Highly recommended.

Delerium: Silence & Heaven's Earth [Nettwerk]
Both singles are techno-enhanced with heavy-duty remixes intended solely for the dancefloor. The popularity and distinction in "Silence" comes from Sarah MacLaughlan's involvement on vocals and notable remixes by the likes of Sascha & Digweed, but the Matt Darey remixes of "Heaven's Earth" shadow even those in comparison. While the techno/dance remixes do get stale fast, I doubt these CDs were intended to be listened to straight through. A necessity for any hard-core fan, you will be forced to pay import prices from Europe or Australia to enjoy them. Recommended to anyone who has the Karma album from Delerium, or for those who didn't like the album but prefer the more technoid side of this type of "new age" music.

Diary of Dreams: Moments of Bloom [Metropolis]
Diary of Dreams isn't a far cry form Clan of Xymox. In fact I think they're a little too similar for my taste. Needless to say, if you like one you'll like the other, and if you're into the stereotypical gothload such as Switchblade Symphony's Serpentine Gallery, you certainly will not be disappointed. I think Moments of Bloom is hard to dislike, but I don't see it as a permanent resident in any CD players just yet either. Perhaps a little experimentation and line-crossing is necessary for this band to really stand out, but until they do you'll have Moments of Bloom on hand for the soundtrack to your next barbeque.

Donnamatrix: Cyberia [DMX]
Blurring the lines between metal, hard-rock and industrial, Donnamatrix fuses their own form of crossover music. Gritty and hard, caustic and cool. The female vocals are a nice touch and are done well with just the right amount of aggressiveness without screeching. I was surprised with the production quality of this independently released disc as well. Similar to Electric Hellfire Club and even (in trace amounts) Contagion.

Dream Into Dust: The World We Have Lost [Chthonic Streams]
Tragically indefinable for "critics" such as myself, Dream Into Dust stands on a pillar of its own design - but I'll give it a shot anyway. With the unlikely merging of gothic-rock drama and emotionally destructive noise, Dream keeps an interesting edge, this time more elaborately enamored and refined than the No Man's Land EP. Never allowing a boring moment, The World We Have Lost sounds like something new every time I listen to it. The sounds and atmospheric manipulations are good mood-setters because a different interpretation (even if always on the darker side) seems to emerge. Dream Into Dust also appears on the incredible On the Brink of Infinity compilation from Chthonic Streams.

Enigma: The Screen Behind the Mirror [Virgin]
Enchanting and beautiful as always, Enigma resurface with this highly anticipated album. One will note that it's not far removed from its predecessors style-wise, yet one will also notice more complexity and a shift in genre integration. That is to say that you won't hear the same as you heard on Enigma's last album, rather you will notice a maturing spirit to the band that perhaps was rushed or even pushed to quickly for this release. I say that because the stand-out tracks are more subdued than usual. Although brilliant, there is nothing that will spark and set your ears aflame if you're looking for some of the "hits" you're accustomed to from this band. But you will find the diverse musical styles, wonderful female vocalization, and ethereal sound collages. Unfortunately there are some drawbacks too, such as predictable, almost cheesy lyrics, some parts of the album that sound like Kenny G participated, and the artwork seems pretty half-assed compared to their earlier CDs too. All in all it's a fine album, it just seems a little rushed or haphazard. Fans of earlier work will surely appreciate it, as well as fans of neo-Delerium.

Eye: Politics Can Be Fun Volume I [Blatant Propaganda]
Aptly titled, the socially-conscious Eye is a Blatant Propaganda production, known for fronting political awareness and trying to inspire revolutionary solutions to governmental problems. While their intent is noble on paper, it doesn't translate as well to album form. There are some definite positive attributes to this fully electro band, but nothing above the level of novice that would be considered as revolutionary in the musical world. Clearly, having a band is a way of voicing your opinion... but for your message to travel properly it has to appeal to people as well. This CD is not necessarily a great musical effort, but it makes powerful social statements in the lyrics that are intended only to help disseminate truth about the not-so-scrupulous political world. I recommend buying it if only to help promote a good ideal.

The Girl Pool: The Girl Pool [self-released]
Groan. I can't tell if these guys are trying to be Boy George or just the weakest wanna-be synth-poppers ever. Maybe they're going for both, in which case they're successful. The album lacks in vocal variation and individuality, and is dependent on a weak, watered-down synth / live instrument hybrid of music that barely carries itself. It seems that The Girl Pool have much to toil over before they get a label interested in their work. Better luck next time boys, this one's just not cutting it.

Halo_Gen: Halo_Gen [Metropolis / Pendragon]
This is a dark ambient release; spacey and cold, electronic and precise, organic and alive... all at the same time. Drifting from the norms of most ambient/techno, you get the impression that this is one of the rare discs that doesn't involve the use of a cheap Casio, 9-volt batteries and an elementary-level education. Flowing with strikingly fresh sounds and soothing melodies, Halo_Gen is recommended to anyone who likes Haujobb's trance-inducing instrumentals or Sephiroth's ingenious mood-inducing capabilities.

Haloblack: Raw Tension [Fifth Column]
Sometimes we find genius when we're not looking for it. Raw Tension is a case like this, blowing away all expectations and introducing a hard electro / industrial / rock style that should be met well by fans of Ministry, 29 Died, Sister Machine Gun and even Circle of Dust. Prepare to hear experimentation that leads to innovative results, noise frequencies that become songs in themselves, and get this - it's all mixed with purposeful song structure that seems almost produced to the point of perfection! Raw Tension is available from mp3.com, and you can get more information at www.haloblack.com. I highly recommend it for the sake of anyone who needs to whet their taste with something drastically new and undeniably cool.

Hocico: Cursed Land [Out Of Line]
Hocico is the kind of band that perfectly meld so many distinct styles that they create a new entity entirely. Mysterious keyboards and synthetic sounds flow around distorted vocals that don't seem so typical, with constantly changing percussion which keeps the mix even more interesting. It also gives Cursed Land an attention-keeping property not found in many electronic music releases lately. Harsh and aggressive with an unmistakeable European sound, Hocico lash out with speed and intensity to the point of making Leæther Strip look like Saturday Morning Cartoons. I don't speak sacrilege like this often, so trust me when I tell you that Hocico is worth an enthusiastic listen.

Hyperdriver: Antichrist Revs [Beergut]
This band, adequately named according to their brand of electro, drives a hyper-speed blend of tech-noise together with a very welcomed sense of humor. The BPMs will give you a nose bleed if the harsh, volatile insanity of the music doesn't do it first. There is a clever musical integration on Antichrist Revs that I find particularly alluring despite a mostly technoid feel. At times it becomes harsh enough to lose any reminder that it's digitally produced, so kudos to Hyperdriver if they can get a mosh pit started at a rave.

In The Nursery: Groundloop [ITN Corp.]
Fucking amazing. ITN return, breaking all expectations and offering yet another masterpiece. The Humberstones boldly proclaim this album as "music to make movies to," and rightly so. Whereas their optical music series has been based on the concept of making "soundtracks" for films, Groundloop is powerful enough to elicit its own screenplay in the minds of astute listeners. The percussive element is accentuated on this album, giving a bold force to the orchestrated music and a desirable contrast to the smooth female vocals and muted electronics. It seems to be designed with maniacally masterful precision, and a desire to have a universal piece of work that could at any given point relate to any film in existence. Therefore, it goes without saying that Groundloop could relate to any mood as well. Enthusiastically recommended.

In The Nursery: Exhibit [ITN Corp.]
This 15 track, 73 minute compilation is specifically intended to spread a sampling of ITN's back catalog to a South American market, but the album was also released in Europe with a limited edition slipcase. It begins with their earliest work in 1986 ("Timbre") and continues through their middle period ("Sense") and finally on to some of their newer and more elaborate works ("Poema") in 1998. ITN's music crosses lines between the militarism of early industrial music and orchestrated classical music, swaying in and out of percussive elements, string/keyboard arrangements and vocal usage. This album is a flawless representation of In The Nursery, a perfect portfolio of some the band's most amazing works through 14 years of albums. The music is as striking and attractive as the angelic cover artwork. In The Nursery are a band that I always highly recommend.

Infrastructure: The Wasteland [Demo]
Wow. From Chelmsford, Massachussetts. Fuckin' awesome. We need more underground bands from unlikely places like this in the US... it's nice to see people out there are still making electro-industrial and are trying to be innovative about it. On top of everything, Infrastructure consists of a single female (Stacia Tucker), which in itself deserves some respect. Besides the fact that I'm personally fond of female vocals over electro precision, the conflicting fem vox and industrial beats keep an interesting musical tension going that I've always been partial to. My favorite track is "Solitude." Recommended, check her out.

Interface: The Artemis Complex [self-released]
Surprising for a solo-release. This underground NY act definitely has some spunk in their junk and are very ripe for the picking. Unfortunately I fear the market for this type of non-pop synthy electro is dwindling quickly. The tracks are catchy, the music is shockingly well done, and the musical intuition is there... the only thing I thought could use work were the vocals, but hey... this is damn good for a self-release. I look forward to hearing more.

Ionic Vision: Homo Sovieticus [DSBP]
Who can go wrong with a band that samples Porky Pig? 'Nuff said. Seriously though, this album got my attention in a good way. The music is a mix of old and new styles of electro / industrial / EBM (think early-mid career Front 242, The Klinik, Leæther Strip, etc.). It is produced amazingly well for an independent band... especially since this album is actually a collection of old, rare, and unreleased material. Club-goers will enjoy the dancefloor kinetics and steady rhythms, rivet-heads will enjoy the aggressive vocals, and anyone will appreciate the twisted sense of humor and irony that thematically adheres to the statement on the back of the insert: "compulsive tunes for every nation and its propaganda." I'm anxious to see how far Ionic Vision can push themselves, I think they will progress nicely.

Koji Asano Ensemble: Flow Augment [Solstice]
Demonstrating experiments with live instruments such as piano, violin, viola, cello, and contrabass, the Koji Asano Ensemble creates stimulating and challenging orchestrated compositions with a heavy asian influence. Flow Augment is original and engaging, but not necessarily what you're used to as everyday "listening music."

Kevorkian Death Cycle: A + O (m) [Metropolis]
On first listen I despised this CD, dismissing it as random drivel as elementary as any novice industrial dance band, and as cheesy as their band name. Upon forced post-listenings I began to notice more and more that I liked. Still, it's not more original than an upbeat Pulse-Legion/Evil's Toy-type disc, but it has its moments and hooks. They do integrate trace elements of live instrumentation, which is seemingly adventurous for them, but it should be since most of their tracks are geared toward no-brainer club play. Nothing Earth-shattering here, but still worth a listen... or two, or three.

Laibach: Laibach [NSK / Nika]
This is the fourth edition of the first official Laibach EP, originally released on vinyl from SKUC-Ropot in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Yugoslavia in 1985. For those used to Laibach's minimalistic early works and the first Occupied Europe Tour, this album should sound familiar stylistically. It's definitive of classic early industrial noise and ambience, and is inspired politically like the motives in most Laibach releases. They wind the album together in a darkly distorted European fashion, and fill it with the political imagery and cynicism that only Laibach does just right. Electronics are native to this album in a way that will seem revolutionary to current fans of the industrial genre, creating some strong pieces that will enlighten those who missed out the first time around. For people who own previous versions of this album, you can look forward to extensive new artwork, packaging, and lyric sheets.

Little Miss. Conception: The Plate Glass Fallen Sky [self-released]
This album definitely wins the most Goth award of this issue, but unfortunately the smartest part of this CD is the name of the band. The cliché nonsense that is gothic-rock continues to live on with the usual groaning moaning vocals, whiny and drab guitars, and elementary percussion. Even considering such inventive songs as "Angel" and "Cold," one can only imagine what the music sounds like... especially if you've ever heard any other goth bands that just don't cut it. Whip the handy dandy cross out of your velvet breast pocket and hope that CD stays away from your CD player.

Logs in the Mainstream: Acaustic [Corporate Greed]
Alternative/experimental math-rock fused with electronic drums and programming... not something you'll see everyday, and something I've definitely not received in a long time. This disc is interesting to say the least, captivating right down to the clever lyrics and amusing spots of college mentality. Ranging in similarities from Primus to They Might Be Giants, Logs in the Mainstream offer up some innovative tunes.

Lords of Acid: Expand Your Head [Antler Subway]
Expand your what?! More sexual silliness and sickness from the masters of distastefully fun music. Expand Your Head sees the Lords pulling a familiar and not-so-unheard-of trick... remixing to the point of no reason other than to bide time and make cash for their next original release. If you're into remixes or if you are a hard-core LOA fan you'll want this CD of course, but those in need of some Lords of Acid history lessons will find this CD helpful because of the career-spanning tracks that are revamped. Remixers include Critter, Luc Van Acker, Chris Vrenna, God Lives Under Water, and Richie Hawtin. Ranging from re-takes of the classic "I Sit on Acid" and "Rough Sex" to "Crablouse" and a KMFDM remix of "Lover," anyone will find something they like from areas of the back catalog. Besides the remixes, LOA have generously included 3 brand-spankin' new booty calls ("Am I sexy?," "As I Am," and "Who do You think You Are?") which make the trip to the CD shop even more necessary.

Love Spirals Downwards: Temporal [Projekt]
If you're not already familiar with this dreamy, atmospheric band with lush female vocals, you should be. This collection of past and present works spanning from 1992 - 99 is just the right sampling to get to know them. Starting with newer material and steadily reaching back into the band's history, you will sail through 13 beautifully soothing tracks, each with their own individuality, but most with a frame of ethereal quality, a touch of melancholy and even a little sprinkling of trip-hop flavor in various places. Highly recommended.

Mediæval Bæbes: Undrentide [Nettwerk]
Featuring some of the same blood that makes Miranda Sex Garden a superb and original band, new production by Velvet Underground founder John Cale, and a more modern approach to their theme and music, The Mediæval Bæbes emerge with this innovative third album which combines anciently rooted songs and compositions with a sprinkling of new-world influence. Within the tracks are ambient fusions of acoustic elements (such as recorders, bells, guitars, dulcimer, and even the hurdy gurdy), with Middle English, French, German, and Italian poetry pieces beautifully vocalized by over ten females. Just as the first two albums, "Salva Nos" and "Worldes Blysse," "Undrentide" makes for a fresh and fascinating listen, absolutely unparalleled in style.

Mentallo & The Fixer: Love Is The Law [Metropolis Records]
This release has been geared toward a more dense and heavy side of Mentallo, including more industrial-style percussion and a new concept that severely contrasts the previous progressive-rock-influenced album Algorythum. While some of the spacey samples and hypnotic trance-like factors remain from previous works, Mentallo evolves yet again into a new entity which may or may not be for the last time, as the band has finally left its birthplace, Metropolis, to pursue an identity as the more ethereal Shimri. Nevertheless, this is a spectacular release, harnessing all of the otherworldly intrigue we've come to expect from Mentallo, plus new aspects of experimental percussion and sound elements not too distant from the likes of early Skinny Puppy and Download. Some special guests appear on Love Is as well. Michael Greene of Mainesthai contributes enigmatic vocals to "Exit" while Robert Bustamante of Fektion Fekler / Moksha adds programming to "Truth Be Told." This "final" album comes highly recommended to any fan of M&TF and progressive electronic music... it is an honorable closure for Mentallo and an excellent nest of fire from which Shimri will arise.

Mira: Mira [Projekt]
Nothing short of what you might expect from a release on Projekt, the 4-piece Mira captures a new side of the ethereal genre, bending towards a dreamy, sleepy "shoegazer" brand of progressive-rock. Ripe with fascinating songs and incredible female vocalization care of Regina Sosinski, Mira drifts along a line similar in respects to slower melodic Belly material. This disc is both beautiful and enchanting, and comes highly recommended.

Moksha: A People Undone [ArtOfFact Records]
Moksha boldly offers a healthy injection of music and songwriting into electronic music. As they jump from the lethargy of gothic music and hard-edged grit of industrial sounds to more upbeat variations of each, Moksha continue the style of Fektion Fekler with experimental and introverted pieces created over the span of a decade. They even incorporate an acoustic angle on the mix, just when you think you might have a grasp on their modus operandi. Not only do they have guts and originality, but they're insistent on their artistic freedom. Taking the route of a relatively untapped keyboard and synth style similar in ways to Mentallo & The Fixer, A People Undone will appeal to those who like bands that are adventurous in their music, and undaunted by genre pigeon-holes and simple classification. Moksha does not challenge listeners, they enlighten them and offer something new, something beautiful, and something forceful all at once.

Monstrum Sepsis: Neophite [Paraminion Studios]
These guys aren't too bad... but they seem to be more constructive with their instrumental pieces than their vocalized work (which isn't very "vocal" at all). The music is creative, but still follows a stream of influences and similarities ranging from Skinny Puppy to the more recent Pain Station. They do pay attention to details however, and this is as apparent in the music as it is with their self-produced album art. Overall this is an interesting and catchy release... definitely not bad at all for a novice release. Hopefully these guys will progress steadily, because they are definitely on a great track.

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult: Dirty Little Secrets [Rykodisc]
Everything you've come to expect from the modern incarnation of the TKK. No surprises, just 18 tracks of funky, sexual, fun-stuff from the pimps of electronic music. This is a far cry from their original days on WaxTrax! and closer to their Sexplosion! Release, yet ironically they are mostly remixes of their older material with eight exclusives mixed into the batch. Indistinguishable from their original albums, these tracks seem to meld seamlessly with the new pieces, ultimately painting a picture of what the Thrill Kill Kult is today. Very poppy, very mainstream, yet still very fun.

Noxious Emotion: Elements [ADSR]
Simply put, Noxious Emotion is getting better with each release. If you thought Symbols was a great milestone, take a listen to this. While the stylistic achievements overlap slightly (see the artwork), you will notice that some tracks seem like they were intended for the Symbols release, but have evolved to a higher level of production and musical ingenuity. Elements is nothing short of impressive; heavy, aggressive, intelligent, and clearly on the path to even higher planes. Even the vocals have improved and seem to flow better with the cascade of EBM beats and masterful basslines and keyboard work. Highly recommended.

Pig: Disrupt Degrade and Devastate [Blue Noise]
You can always tell a Pig song when you hear it, always. That hasn't changed with DDD, and neither has the incredibly distinct industrial-rock power that Pig is known for, especially after Wrecked and Sinsation. Since KMFDM (now MDFMK) has disassembled and degraded themselves, Pig fortunately remains to fill the hole that they've left empty. While there are only two original tracks on this 6-song EP ("Disrupt Degrade and Devastate" and "Flesh Fest"), it still offers enough of a taste to leave you longing for the full-length Genuine American Monster, which will be out in Japan by the time you read this. DDD is only available as a Japanese import right now, but it's worth the money. Other tracks include remixes of the above-mentioned, plus live versions of "Everything" and "The Only Good One's a Dead One."

Pig: The Swining / Red Raw & Sore [Cleopatra]
Repressing Pig's deleted The Swining and Red Raw & Sore was a great idea, relieving fans of paying high import prices and the stress of mortgaging their homes to purchase the out of print CDs on eBay. The albums are slightly edited to allow their compression onto one disc, but the good news is that it includes extra bonus versions of a couple songs. Fans of the musical style mentioned in the above review will want to check this out as well, and fans will want the Keith LeBlanc and KMFDM remixes, as well as the awesome remixes by Pig.

Pulse Legion: One Thing [Metropolis]
The weird thing about this techno/electro/industrial-dance band is that they are so monotonous, so cliché, and so uninspired that they are actually too catchy to hate. While every track is almost the same as the last, they each seem to have their own hook. It would be much better if the band were more diverse, but I do see improvement from their older material. Don't buy it if you're looking for something spectacularly entertaining, but if you're already a fan of their older nonsense this should knock your socks off.

Rammstein: Live Aus Berlin [Motor / Mercury]
Showcasing Rammstein's best live tracks (how hard could it be with such a limited back-catalog?) this disc is basically a waste of money unless you're a completist. The tracks are not much different than their studio counterparts, and the CD doesn't include the fiery special effects that the band uses onstage... so the only use I can see for this album is for people who like Rammstein but don't wish to spend cash on their other full-length material and singles. It's also good for new fans who just like what they've heard on the radio or MTV and don't want the filler tracks from the studio releases.

Regenerator: Debugged [Flaming Fish]
Please pardon the undecided review. Debugged is good but not great. There's something here that I can't put my finger on that makes half of the tracks appealing half of them seem silly. I think the mix and trade of female / male vox is a good idea, yet even those get sappy and seem unnecessary at times. Some of the beats and keyboard work is appealing and done well, but some of it seems almost novice, just like the lyrics. Some of it seems slower than it should be in the wrong spots and the song compositions don't always fit like they should. My review has left this album hanging in a gray area, so I guess that's my real interpretation of it...

Lorin Richards: ENKI [self-released]
Along with his CD and press photo, Lorin (formerly of Graven Image) included a god-damned novel explaining his album and the mythos behind its concept. Fortunately I didn't read more than the first couple paragraphs or I might have been dissuaded from actually listening to the music, which would have been unfortunate because it's very interesting and creative indeed. In fact I have no basis for comparison on this one... truly Lorin has an artistic vision, but he's more adept at putting it into sounds than words. ENKI drifts through an indefinable void of trip-hop and electronic rock influence, with just a touch of home-made novelty. For the most part the songs are written well, even if a bit elementary in creation, and musically are soothing and refreshing in ways. However, I do believe that this CD could have been done better in areas, though Mr. Richards is on a healthy track toward something very good.

Rob Zombie: American Made Music to Strip By [Geffen]
Sporting remixes by bands such as God Lives Under Water, Rammstein, Damage Twins, and Charlie Clouser, Zombie's previous works have a new life breathed into them. For the most part the new remixes tend to walk the line of industrial and techno music, increasing the speed a couple notches and accentuating the subtle influence already found in Zombie's tunes. The crossover effect is powerful on this album too, most notably recognized in Rammstein's "Black Leather Catsuit" mix of "Spookshow Baby" which fuses the appeal of aggressive guitar with an industrial edge. I can see why KMFDM hopped on for the previously released Nightcrawler Remixes; they must have seen the same potential for Zombie music as is now being recognized more fully.

Jean-Pierre Saccomani: The Four Seasons [MCP Productions]
Beautifully crafted ambient compositions are displayed in the context of a year, each piece of the whole representing a different season. Thus, there are 4 epic tracks plus an additional fifth which acts as a summary ballad. As implied by the human / flora fusion on the cover, this CD is both classically influenced and clearly has an obvious thematic intention. Overall this is a most impressive work based upon classical sensibilities and modern production through electronics. It should be regarded highly for it's musical worth; the soothing properties of each track (or seasons I should say) accurately portray the artist's concept and superbly exemplify the potentials of electronic composition. Highly recommended.

The Saints of Eden: The Other Side [Metech]
Hark, is that another crossover band I hear? Yes, and this time it's 100% cool. If you like such bands as Sister Machine gun, Girls Under Glass, Circle of Dust, Contagion or even KMFDM this will suit your need for fast guitars, precise programming, distorted vox, excellent keyboards and a heavy beat-driven chaos. This is another band who has not only songwriting talent, but also keen abilities and mastery of their craft as well... this is a band that knows their stuff. Highly recommended.

Schizoid: Enough is Enough!!! [D-Trash / Generation Fuck You]
This album is a living breathing embodiment of every form of techno, noise, and electronic experimentalist music... on crack. It's mixed into a cauldron of angst, capped off with speedy schizophrenic rage and then left to simmer in a writhing boil. It may send you into a Beavis-and-Butthead-esque fit of "Destroy! Destroy!" but it is entertaining, even if it isn't "listening music." Actually I don't know what it is to be honest, but the term "interesting" comes affectionately to mind. There are samples and found-sounds everywhere, so you'll hear something new each time you listen to it. Crazy stuff, for sure!

Spahn Ranch: Anthology 1992 - 1994 [Cleopatra Records]
Collecting Spahn Ranch's first 3 releases, some rare tracks, and an unreleased song, "Anthology" highlights the band's earlier works on a convenient 2-CD set. The raw, industrial sound with less structure and distorted vocalization of the early releases on disc 1 will hardly remind you of the more refined and artistic Spahn Ranch that we know today, but they will remind you of the rough-on-the-edges roots from which the band arose. Disc 2 comes closer to the modern Spahn Ranch, but still remains harsh and aggressive. It kicks off with "Breath and Taxes," the catchy track that also gave rise to a video. This is where Athan Maroulis' vocals are stressed a bit more and the music becomes more complex. Even though I'm not as fond of SR's earlier works as their newer material, this album is pretty representative of the band and what they stemmed from.

Stillstand: Nebel [Fusion Audio]
Stillstand is the slower, more ambient project of Martin Steinebach, also known for his Monoid and Conscienta Peccati industrial-based monikers. Nebel is an album that can have many different effects, mostly relaxing and enjoyable, but also mysterious and awkward. The organic nature of the electronic elements contradict themselves in a manner that evokes dreamy wonder and introspection. The compositions are beautifully rendered slices of what Steinebach refers to as "music for driving through fog," which is the perfect description I suppose, coming from the creator. Fans of Sephiroth's Cathedron and Controlled Bleeding's The Poisoner should find this CD to be a welcomed addition to their collection.

Tony Stoufer: One Swell Foop [Absolute Obscurity]
Creative technoid soundscapes with more ingenuity and cleverness than most techno CDs I receive. Void of vocals, One Swell Foop is as intriguing as it is masterful in its musical stance. It is both fun and aesthetically enticing without being in-your-face and repetitive, and Stoufer's not afraid to get laid-back and chill. While some spots get a little close to conservative chain-restaurant in-house music, it can be forgiven for the aforementioned attributes.

Strategy: Intense [ArtOfFact]
Strategy, a member of Austria's Trylok, triumphs with this dark, moody solo journey into blue realms of electro. Likenesses can be drawn to Front 242, In Strict Confidence, Covenant and even some of the slower melodic works of Wumpscut, but is certainly not a clone of any. Fans of dark, aggressive synth mixed with EBM and industrial styled beats should find it interesting, and there's some slower parts to keep the mix diverse enough to make the disc very listenable all the way through. Highly recommended to fans of Trylok and In Strict Confidence.

Terminal Choice: Venus [Out of Line]
Okay, try to ignore the band photos on the inside cover... the band doesn't sound as cheesy as they make themselves look. In fact I was pretty impressed on how well done the CD was. It seems like an album that should be getting a lot more attention than I've seen concerning it. The vocals are distorted but melodically intact, melding perfectly with the musical style and creating some infectious hooks and choruses that are bound to stick in your head. The music itself is a mix between electro and crossover guitar integrations, all done with precision and specific intent. There are no mistakes here, the band knows music and how to use it. While certain portions musically and lyrically may be considered cliché, overall this is a disc that is recommended. My favorite track is "Poisoned Love."

Thine Eyes: My Knobs Taste Funny [Doppler Effect]
These guys are pretty off the wall. I wasn't as impressed with this album as I was with their previous Christian Sex Loops. It seems less inspired and more random. Albums like this just fail to keep my attention too long, especially if meandering on without seeming to have an intention or true feeling in the music. Experimentalism would be great as an excuse, but it can only be taken so far. The good points of this album are the healthy remixes by Mark Spybey, Scar Tissue, and Pain Station.

Thou Shalt Not: Thou Shalt Not [ADSR]
This is a remarkable release, laden with synth-pop likenesses and progressively enchanting compositions. Tinges of trip-hop are slight but apparent and overall the mix is a steady and consistent attention-keeper. Relatively untreated vocals fall anywhere between Depeche Mode, VNV Nation, and Red Flag and attain some high moments in catchy melodies. The lyrics are well-written and have a bittersweet nature for the most part, but the whole album is not just sappy-synth-schtuff... there are plenty of interesting areas that get groovy, aggressive, and even incorporate some interesting sample-usage. Over all this is a very well-rounded release worthy of attention.

Uranium 235: Cultural Minority [Mystic Music / Lightyear Ent.]
Hard-hitting industrial rock from NY. Recently signed, this band displays potential for success and a commercial nature to their music. They front a crossover style which Manson fans might find interesting. Fans of Contagion, Hate Dept., Electric Hellfire Club, Circle of Dust and Carbon Haze will also want to check this out, but be warned that U235 walk the thin line between electronics and hard-rock / metal if you're not into that style. Overall the album is likeable if not spectacular, but certainly worthy of getting attention in particular circles.

Vampire Nation: Wise-Ta-Nech (Pre-European Africa) [Hexagon / J-Bird Records]
Vampire Nation once again define their narrowly self-invented "coven-funk" genre with this release. The album is an evolution for the band, incorporating funky rhythms and seemingly jazz-influenced keyboards with a strange quirkiness reminiscent of mid-career Cabaret Voltaire. My favorite tracks, "Sailing Down Africa" and "The Possibility of African History Verdict from Evidence" are diverse pieces, one being a laid-back, mellow, trance-like piece, and the other being a more percussive track similar to minimalist industrial, yet still holding tight to the trance border. All of the tracks are woven together by dreamlike keyboards and cosmic sound effects. And in case you're wondering, the band's name has nothing to do with vampirism in the black-clad Bella Lugosi sense. It actually refers to the plundering of a nation, another form of "vampirism." While the only track directly related to the theme by "lyrical" content is "The Nature of the Trade" (it's mostly a sampled piece), I think the overall value of the album strictly (but naturally) comes from the music itself.

V/A: Autum: The Zion Crystal & Juin Star: The Shadow of the Phoenix [self-released]
I disregard The Zion Crystal in favor of Juin Star, a.k.a. David Hartwell, an incredible electronic musician out of NY that has enough talent to create the next potential Subconscious Communications release. No shit. These few tracks remind me so much of what Doubting Thomas (Skinny Puppy members side-project) was getting at, and unfortunately never got to continue. For an independent artist who drops his CDs off for consignment at the local Rhino Records store, this is damn good and well worth the 5 bucks. If you want to obtain a copy, email me (InFaction@aol.com) and I'm sure I could grab you one.

V/A: Blind Admiration [Seraph Productions Ltd.]
I had the pleasure of listening to many albums from this label. Unfortunately my space is limited, so I thought I'd review the label sampler as an overview. It is a low-cost cardboard-packaged album with 10 songs from Ashes, Jamii Szmazinski, Colortone, Ennui, Paris by Night, Garden of Dreams, Angelhood, Rachael's.Surrender, Dalet-Yod, and With Sirens Entranced. It is also furnished with a multimedia portion for use on your computer, a convenient introduction to the incredible bands. Straying from any specific genre preference, Seraph seems to stress art and artistic freedom over marketing, leaving the band styles to differ heavily between progressive, ambient and mood music to tribal, gothic, and experimental platforms. All of the tracks are as individual as the artists who created them. "Blind Admiration" comes highly recommended to people with open minds and a varied taste for exceptional music.

V/A: Gala Masala [Orange Entropy]
This 16 track compilation contains clones of every "alternative" band from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins and Blind Melon to Mr. Bungle, Beck, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Most of it's good, some of it sounds like it was recorded on a Radio Shack tape recorder in a bathtub in the basement under a dirty mattress. Bands included are: Godboy, Plastic Ash, Elevenland, The Great Glass Elevator, the Bubble, Subatomic Billiards, Ben, Fiber, and Shower.

V/A: Richie Hawtin: Decks, EFX, & 909 [Mute]
Decks, EFX, & 909 is the culmination of Richie Hawtin (A.K.A. Plastikman, Fuse, Cybersonik, and Circuit Breaker) and over 20 other artists including Ratio, Richard Harvey, Thor, Quadrant, and Nitzer Ebb only to name a few. Spanning a diverse range of contributors in 38 tracks and over 60 minutes, the album seems to be one gigantic dance track that evolves and changes over time and interpretation like a game of "Operator." The result is a hypnotic and infectious album, taking a singular concept and manipulating it in so many ways and by so many people that it would seem impossible not to find it interesting. The only real stray from the "rave" feel of the album is Nitzer Ebb, who add a quasi-industrial effect for two brief minutes. Naturally, Richie himself produces the most smooth and consistently cool dance sections on the disc, but my favorite piece is the final track, produced by Rhythm & Sound.

V/A: The Infinity Paradox [Fusion Audio Recordings]
The Infinity Paradox showcases new blood in ambient and experimental electronic music with something of import to display. Ranging in sub-genres and appeal, fans from camps around Aphex Twin and Squarepusher to Cabaret Voltaire and Download will find this CD interesting. Everything here was very selectively chosen and it shows in the quality throughout all 15 tracks. My favorite track is "Nazarene" by MRSA-16. Recommended as a great sampler for excellent underground ambient and experimental music.

V/A: Kinetic Instinct [DSBP]
DSBP's latest 18-track "elektro-synthpop" compilation is a generous offering indeed, supporting indie and underground acts that definitely deserve a listen. Kinetic Instinct entertains a theme of electronic music filled with emotion and fresh sounds. This is the best way to find out what's out there in the way of great new electronic/synth-based music, and as always DSBP doesn't ask for much in the way of greenbacks. I heavily recommend it on many levels. Bands included are Biopsy, System Der Dinge, Pivot Clowj, Noxious Emotion, Captive Audience, Any Questions, Dead Jump and Diverje to name only a few!

V/A: On the Brink of Infinity [Chthonic Streams]
This compilation is superb not only in it's musical aspect, but in its design, conception, and continuity as well. The concept is based on the music for this release though, instead of vice-versa. It seems to have an ominous overtone, infinitely apocalyptic and sorrowful, weaved into the creation of each piece. One need only to look at the beautifully feigned antiquity of the brown packaging and the Albrecht Durer print on the cover for a hint at the types of dark-folk, baroque, renaissance-esque, and unorthodox "gothic" music to be found within. Every track is a beautifully rendered and well-chosen representation of the styles of music present. Included on this album are works by Howden / Wakeford, Empyrium, Arcane Art (feat. Lord Vindictus), Anima In Flamme, Funerary Call, Nothus Filius Mortis, Kerovnian, Gruntsplatter, 15 Delights of Dionysius, 4th Sign of the Apocalypse, Dream Into Dust, and Backworld. The best of these amazing tracks for me are "Die Schwane Im Schilf" by Empyrium and "Illumination" by Arcane Art.

V/A: Radiant Decay: A Tribute to Nine Inch Nails [Vitamin]
First off, I don't understand the point of tribute albums to bands that are still in commission. Second, I don't know why tribute albums like this always have second rate, unknown, same-genre bands covering well-established bands, thus bringing well-produced material to an undesirable level. Often these albums become an embarrassment in comparison to the original, and such is the case here. Pseudo-industrial garage bands covering Nine Inch Nails is the last thing anyone needs if looking for something new or different. My advice is this: if you like Nine Inch Nails and you already have the original versions of the tracks on this album, steer clear of Radiant Decay. Trust me, the originals are better... but granted there are a couple rare exceptions here as always. A couple of the better covers here are "Sanctified" and "Last."

V/A: Saints & Sorcerers Volume III [Saint Thomas Records]
This album serves as a reminder as to why I despise the modern incarnation of gothic music so much. While not every track is deserving of such a harsh reaction, I believe that overall this album is not necessary unless you want to hear new underground gothic rock, or "acid-goth" as it's called on this album. Any way you slice it, I see little that could be considered new or innovative. What you see is what you get here: gothic rock. That's it, nothing special... although a couple of the 16 tracks hold infectious properties. But I couldn't tell you which bands are deserving of praise, because the CD's track listing is fucked up.

V/A: Seireenia [Projekt]
I once read that the most universally accepted sound as "beautiful" is the female voice producing a soft vowel sound. Projekt goes for that basic fact by presenting a compilation of groups with ethereal, female voices. At their most complicated these groups offer what sounds like simple choral music for a few voices, as in Stoa's "Maare Illucescend." Whether chant-like or chanteuse-like, the vocals are gentle exhalations of Latin-sounding syllables. These medieval vocalizations are another instrument blended into a dark, ambient mix on these tracks. The compilation includes newly released tracks from Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Mira. Other names present include Switchblade Symphony, Lycia and Amber Asylum.

VA: Subout [Basic Unit Productions / Waldorf Electronics]
Waldorf (the synthesizer company) and Basic Unit Productions released this as an exclusive promotional compilation intended to portray the marriage of music and technology. The problem with compilations of this nature is that, even though they are well-intentioned and of good concept, it puts bands in a position to rush out exclusive tracks that may be only half-heartedly thrown together. Rumor has it that the Front 242 track took under an hour to produce, which explains both the mediocre and rushed feel of the music. Unfortunately, Front Line Assembly also whip out an easily forgettable electro track. Dkay.com (ex-Die Krupps) seemingly rip off the Die Krupps hit "Fatherland" and make a song almost completely identical. Wolfsheim, DKDent (a.k.a. Dirk Krause of Armageddon Dildos), Kalaydoscope, and Cleaner (Daniel Myer of Haujobb) offer some decent tracks, but the best track, a synth-pop piece called "The Cliffs of Norway," is from a band I'd never heard of before: Ernst Horn (a.k.a. Deine Lakaien). Contributing other tracks are Hal Ten, Oomph!, De/Vision, Boon, and Diary of Dreams. I wouldn't say this album is the best representation of new electronic music considering its biased and mostly "exclusive" nature. None of the tracks are really "hits" but hard-core fans of the various bands and contributors may want to get their hands on the exclusive tracks.

V/A: The Thin Edge of the Wedge [ArtOfFact]
This compilation is one of the best assemblages of electronic music I've heard. Including 11 brilliant pieces from such bands as Beborn Beton, Strategy, Noxious Emotion, Moksha, Abuse, and Cybershadow, you'd be foolish to miss out. Fresh and diverse, this compilation is recommended to any fan of the industrial / goth genres that needs to hear something innovative. It's obvious that ArtOfFact has good taste and artistic appreciation. I look forward to the future of this label. Highly recommended.

Will: Deja-Vu [COP Int.]
The long-buried team-up albums of Rhys Fulber (ex-FLA) and Chris Peterson (current FLA, Decree) have been resurrected on COP as a single disc much to the delight of fans searching for the rare early 90s releases. They were originally known as Pearl of Great Price and Word.Flesh.Stone. on Third Mind Records. The new converged version contains 16 tracks of "MIDI-evil" synths, chants, medieval and gothic influences and reflective sampling, paired with John McRae's tortured vocals, which makes for a very dark and beautiful CD. The vocals tend to disrupt the music at points, and I was even wondering if this re-release would do without them due to past discontent by fans. This minor flaw is counter-balanced however, by incredible instrumentals and the simple fact that this is after all an industrial / medieval crossover, which is bound to sound... well, different. For myself at least, I can offer a big thanks to COP International for re-releasing this gem.

David E. Williams: Hello Columbus [Ospedale Records]
This 3 track disc is very well done musically, effectively combining electronic percussion and keybards with acoustic and live instruments, including violins, saxophone, and various strings. Some would try to classify it in one of the goth-whatever genres, but I believe Williams transcends such nonsense to create a pleasing and beautiful CD. The lyrics are intelligently written and have a bit of poetry behind them. The music varies greatly from classically influenced to distorted and tumultuous sounds. As diverse as the music, the vocals can go from sounding like the Crashtest Dummies to being agonizingly distorted, neither of which I find to be a fault because each element is chosen carefully and not over-used.

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