The Sermon of Judgment

by Rev. Daryl Litts

Chain Border

Abiku  Novelty  Self-Released
Abiku (www.abiku.tk) is an enigmatic noise/ambient/experimental duo that is spacey, weird and way fucking out there. The closest comparison I can make with the self-released Novelty is to Controlled Bleeding music-wise and Diamanda Galas in terms of vocals. Dark, seemingly random seeds of melody and manipulated bits of sound are set amongst the likes of shrieking female vox (sometimes relaxed to beautifully haunting rants) and relentless low-tech percussion. This unlikely grouping is strangely enjoyable, yet has the potential to destroy your speakers if you’re not too careful. Recommended for the curious cats out there in need of something very different.

And One Aggressor  Metropolis
Aggressor is just what you might expect as the next chapter in And One’s catalog and certainly does not disappoint. It embraces the rougher edges of the band’s more aggressive work while retaining the sensitive grace that evolved in their sound over the years, blurring the lines between synthpop and electro-industrial genres. Filled with strong minimalist percussion, quirky synth hooks, 100% German lyrics and enough hits to take Tyson out in the first round, And One continue to impress with unrelenting vigor.

Cesium_137  Elemental  Metropolis
These guys do not fuck around. As soon as you put Elemental into your stereo, you’re instantly hooked by an unrelenting brand of electro-pop that simply demands your attention and doesn’t let go. The extraordinary depth and quality of the music structure reminds one of a hybrid of Haujobb, Assemblage 23 and Informatik; all label mates that embody not only tight music, but also high production value and consistent sonic excellence. The range on this album shifts between gruff vocals with an aggressive EBM beat to gentle vox bathed in syrupy synthpop, yet never swaying overlong to either extreme. Overall, Cesium_137 is my choice for best album this month, which I hope means something to you.

Decree  Moment of Silence  Metropolis
Holy shit is all I have to say. How many years since Decree’s last release? And now they’re back with the harshest brand of industrial music I’ve heard in years. Mixing tonally shredded guitars, live and digital percussion and acidic vocals, Moment of Silence blows away the dead and buried Wake of Devastation release, which more or less passed for a noise album. Don’t get me wrong, Moment is noisy…but with tight structure and deliberate subtleties which make the album a bona fide necessity for any hardcore industrial music fan. Decree is the genre’s answer to death metal, with a backbone named Chris Peterson (of Will, Delerium and Frontline Assembly), who brings all of his diverse experience to the table in a maelstrom of intensity. If it took this long for Decree to mature into its current form, it was definitely worth the wait.

Die Form  InHuman Metropolis
This well-established French S&M band are nothing short of intriguing. The strangely juxtaposed operatic female vox and thumping electronics may be a bit distracting to some, but work effectively in most tracks. A few songs seem to float aimlessly with weaker musical appeal and unvarying over-the-top vocals, an easily pardoned flaw given the relatively short timing of the pieces (most are under 4 minutes). InHuman drifts in purgatory with its hit or miss songs, making it more or less forgettable to anyone who isn’t a hardcore fan of the band. Only time will tell if the upcoming sequel ExHuman will go above and beyond its predecessor.

Fiction 8  Forever, Neverafter  Nilaihah
Forever, Neverafter is one of those confused albums that can’t quite decide what genre it belongs to, yet offer up one great hook-laced song after another regardless of stylistic preference. Male and female vocals trade lead from track to track, melding with strong industrial, goth and electro hybrid compositions to form instantly addictive pieces. Fiction 8 have in one hand created an album almost impossible to dislike, while in the other they are responsible for many a song that I couldn’t purge from my head all day.

Imperative Reaction  Redemption Metropolis
Redemption is Imperative Reaction’s passport into mastery of their electronic industrial craft. The smooth combination of slick melodic vocals, strong programming and a good sense of pop structure make for a viable club album, with nearly every track primed for the dance floor. Basically, the album is pretty much what you’d expect…great beats, lots of satisfying hooks and pretty much homogenized by the influence of contemporary synthpop and electropop bands—but who isn’t these days? It may not be revolutionary or defining in terms of genre milestones, but it’s a solidly likeable album that will not let you down.

Lights of Euphoria  Krieg Gegen Die Maschinen  Metropolis
Lights of Euphoria are part of an energetic community of electronic bands who are too untamed to force their album into a single style. Ranging from industrial and EBM to synth and futurepop, Krieg may repel any hardcore or purist connoisseurs, which is the disc’s only drawback. Perhaps the wild array of styles could be more focused, but overall this is a diverse and welcome album for any fan that can appreciate the best of a wide variety of electronic music genres…especially with appearances by VNV Nation, God Module, Grendel and Davantage.

Namnambulu  Distances Nilaihah
Even if you can’t say the name on the first try, Namnambulu are a band that hits you immediately and in more than one way. The thick vocals drift through a pensive introspection while a heavy beat keeps your pulse and/ore feet moving. The purgatorial mix of ballad and dance track makes Distances a unique album, comparable perhaps to slower pieces by VNV Nation, with just as many attractive hooks and laden with a dramatically gripping vocal quality. Overall, Distances has made the cut to my permanent iTunes track list, which means Nambambulu get an A+.

Null Device A Million Different Moments  Nilaihah
While only a sophomore album, A Million Different Moments is more mature than some bands can hope for in a lifetime. Null Device run the gamut on this disc with worldly styles that are diverse and yet intertwined by a sensitive cohesion that propels the band past your everyday synthpop group. They aren’t afraid of guitars and certainly aren’t allergic to exploration. If you’re a fan of the genre and crave something that offers more than you’re used to, look no further.

Satyricon  Volcano Red Ink
Okay, there is such a good thing as good death metal and bad death metal. Satyricon is poised directly in the middle, blending thrashing guitars and passably decent tunes with just the right amount of cheesiness and cliché ideology. It seems that they didn’t go out of their way to take the album above just what it needs to be, which may not be worth your time and probably wasn’t worth mine. I may sound split down the middle on Volcano, but that’s simply because the album is, too. Half cool, yet half crusty is still only crusty in my opinion…

Seabound  Beyond Flatline  Metropolis
Beyond Flatline is an infallible and charismatic album that will impress with its tidal wave of synth hooks, voluptuous beats and pleasantly hollow vocals. Anthem after anthem rock this album solidly into the “instant classic” category. Seemingly inspired by the likes of Covenant and the current camp of synthpop-slash-industrial powerhouses, Seabound bring a fresh modern flavor to the table and are establishing themselves as a major force to be reckoned with.

Wumpscut Bonepeeler Metropolis
Finally we see an original album from Wumpscut entirely worthy of the name and the expectations instilled by it. This album is full of asylum-style aggression and fist-pounding percussive might, yet laden with a cold lethargy that only Wumpscut can deliver in the proper doses. In the tide of sweet synthpop thickly permeating the industrial and electronic genres, Bonepeeler offers a fresh injection of dark electro to shock the system.

Yelworc  Trinity Metropolis
Long known for their dark electronic style and occultist themes, Yelworc’s sound is subtle yet undeniably evil. This album takes me back to Skinny Puppy’s Too Dark Park, a kindred album in its chilling unorthodox nature. Trinity is completely immersed in a dark realm of innovative music that is infectious enough to keep your attention while subjecting you to viable creativity—sort of like hiding medicine in your food. To feel the full weight of Trinity, it should be heard in full (not to mention in the dark) as it operates seamlessly as a complete opus. This is not a radio album and it may not be the best to bring along for a road trip, but I’ll be damned if you can’t scare some old folks by playing it really, really loud.

Foetus Male! MVD
I am excited to see this Foetus classic re-released in a newly packaged DVD format, yet there are good and bad sides to the conversion. The good side is that the audio has been remastered in 5.1 surround sound for an outstanding aural experience by Jim “Foetus” Thirlwell himself. The bad side is that the video was seemingly copied directly from a worn master tape with no digital touch-ups, so you get all of the unwanted video artifacts such as lines, grit and even a bit of distortion at the edges (if you watch it at full capacity) that you would on a used VHS tape. On the whole it’s not too far from watching the VHS version except for the enhanced sound, which admittedly makes the DVD worth buying for that purpose alone.

Director’s Cut  Miglia Technology Ltd.
Perhaps the most user-friendly digital video editing device available, Miglia’s Director’s Cut (www.miglia.com) offers ease of use and indispensable reliability and function at a reasonable price. To start, one needs only a moderate computer (Mac or PC) with a Firewire connection and an analog source to be converted to DV or vice versa—and that’s the hardest part. In my case, I wanted to archive some old concert footage from brittle VHS to the more reliable DVD format. Director’s Cut allows for standard A/V and S-VHS inputs from devices like VCRs or camcorders while allowing output to a computer as well as a separate monitor (not required) for real-time editing. I used a simple VCR and an old Commodore monitor in conjunction with Apple’s iMovie for editing the video (included with OS X) and iDVD for authoring a DVD ($49, www.apple.com). Your computer automatically recognizes the device as a DV camera, so no complicated software or drivers are necessary. Once you have your system set up, the no-nonsense interface makes for an effortless procedure. Depending on your project, you may capture or export in either PAL or NTSC formats with the push of a button. At half the price of many similar DV devices, Miglia’s Director’s Cut makes it both painless and realistic for anyone to set up a video-editing studio.

Legends Online