I had been hearing bits and pieces about this band over the past few years. Comments made mostly in various parts of the Internet, snatches of reviews from DJs, a few mailing list comments, etc. This is the first time I have heard them, though, and I really didn't know what to expect.
Renew is their second album. There are 17 tracks and only one is a cover (that I know of): Stripped by Depeche Mode. Their first release, Void of Course(1), was released in October of 1999 to favourable reviews. The album was self-produced, but mixed by Neil Kernon who has worked with bands like Queen and Queensryche. They have performed in various parts of the US, though, being based in New Jersey, tend to play mostly east coast and southern dates (as seen on their website). The line-up consists of Jacqueline van Bierk (a European transplant-don't know which country) on vocals, HH Gadget on drums, bassist S.A. Sebastian Gnolfo, and two guitarists: Dan Esser and Jim Robbins.
Various reviews of live shows mention their compelling stage presence aided by pyrotechnics and theatrics...and unnamed bodily fluids (?!), but, since all I have is a CD to look at I'll have to stick to the music on there. I did check out their photo pages on the website and have to say that Jacqueline certainly does have a way with her outfits!
How to sum up the CD? Strong vocals (one comment was a "gothic Stevie Nicks", though, at times I would say more a "gothic Gwen Stefani") and punchy tunes with strong rock attitude. Some songs are quite rock/industrial sounding while others have more of a pop sensibility, yet, it seems to work no matter which direction they slide.
One problem (and maybe it's the promo version only) is that the track listings are only on the CD itself, which makes it...interesting...if one wishes to know the name of the tune or, as a reviewer, to put a name to the songs that stand out.
The stand-out songs: Showgirl with its catchy melody and so very NOT radio friendly lyrics (and ends up being my fave song on here), the two short instrumentals Inside the Cell and Cuts, that are eerie and atmospheric using backwards vocals and noises to make it so, B which is a lot like The Associates (who? some may ask...(2), Over It - a very hard rock romp, an extremely spacy Venus Asleep whose background sound had me thinking of humpback whales doing mating calls, and the title song Renew which my husband described as having "I'm angry at you since I've already done the washing up three times this week" vocals.
I have to say that I enjoyed a portion of this CD very much and could recommend it to those who like their gothic music with a bit of a rock edge. This is a swirl-free zone!
(1) Reviewed in Legends
(2) If you don't know who, Legends interviewed This Ascension in #100.