CD Review

The Azoic - "Where Broken Angels Lie"

By Rat Bastard

Where Broken Angels LieThe term 'darkwave' has often come under attack as being far too ambiguous. Often when one uses it, one has to also explain whether one is referring to ethereal music (such as the sort that is often pushed by such labels as Projekt), electronic goth, German gothic/industrial, or whatever the hell else has managed to find itself absorbed into the mass of oft-used descriptions for 'darkwave' music.

Nilaihah Records openly presents itself as a 'darkwave' label, but the question that immediately comes to my mind is, "Does the music from the label best suit the term, or, for that matter, does the term best suit the music?" (After all, I would more be inclined to call much of what Projekt calls 'darkwave' ambient/ethereal and leave it at that; Black Tape for a Blue Girl just doesn't embody the term very well as far as I'm concerned).

After listening to Where Broken Angels Lie, the debut album from The Azoic, one of the first two offerings from Nilaihah (the other of which is Oneiroid Psychosis' Garden of Remembrance, which I have also reviewed [in this issue -PAN]) I would have to say that, labels aside, this is certainly music with a dark and sinister edge. I, for one, can refer to it as being 'darkwave' without reservation (not that this truly matters, of course, but this two-syllable description is a hell of a lot more convenient than 'dark ethereal industrial' or 'neoclassical horror electro').

The Azoic and Oneiroid Psychosis, however, are two sides of the same coin. Even though both bands employ the use of layered electronics as their modus operandi for the provision of sufficiently creepy and dark music, The Azoic is a bit more upbeat, drawing more from industrial influences with driving beats and copious use of sampling.

Sure, this is still music to brood around and stalk to, just like other exemplars of the genre, but The Azoic's music is meant to facilitate a bit more active movement during said brooding and stalking. Songs like Drown (of which there are two different mixes on the album) and the opener Nilaihah are very dancefloor friendly, while still maintaining a dark and sinister ambience.

The vocals come in two flavors: distorted male and not-so-distorted female. The male vocals are spoken/shouted, with the amount and form of distortion varying from song to song which provides a certain amount of range so the male vocals are executed well, even if they aren't particularly unique or original. The female vocalist, while not having the most technically impressive voice (she is certainly no Lisa Gerrard or Monica Richards), still gets the job done. She ranges from spoken word to a light airy timbre (which is showcased in Summoning) and even belts out a nice strong and forceful chorus line or two in the original mix of Drown (For some reason, these vocal sections are missing from the Pulsating Mix). So, The Azoic does present a great deal of vocal versatility, even if the vocalists don't really stand out from the hosts of others. And besides, the music is also quite good, making up for any shortcomings in the vocal department. Those who listen long enough will also be gifted with three bonus tracks: two ambient soundscapes and an ethereal instrumental piece.

Basically, if you like dark electronic music with a beat, then check out The Azoic (particularly if you're a fan of bands like Wumpscut or Mentallo and the Fixer). Where Broken Angels Lie is a solid release just as The Azoic is a solid representation of the darkwave genre. As I have implied there is room for improvement, but it is also obvious to me that the room is actually there and waiting to be occupied.

Getting back to my initial darkwave ponderings, I must conclude that Nilaihah, with The Azoic and Oneiroid Psychosis are off to a great start in cornering the market on quality darkwave music. Thus, I am definitely looking forward to the future releases from these bands and whoever else Nilaihah chooses to sign. I would advise any interested parties to do the same.

Contact Information:
Post: Nilaihah Records, Attn: The Azoic, 401 E. Oakland Ave., Columbus, OH, 43202

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