Jun 2011 20

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Category: Electro-pop / Indie Rock
Album: Exit Strategies
Stars: 4
Blurb: Hypefactor’s first full-length album is a near perfect balance between exploratory production and accessible songwriting.


Jun 2011 20

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My Enemy Complete
Category: Industrial / Alternative
Album: My Enemy Complete
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Industrialized alternative metal with enough soulful melodies and powerful emotions to break out of the underground into mass appeal.


The fusion of alternative rock with industrial has existed virtually since the styles were first formulated, but for a band to effectively utilize this mix in a manner that appeals to both the mainstream and underground is a rare thing indeed. Along comes Washington, DC’s My Enemy Complete with a six-track EP full of dark electronic textures, passionate songwriting, and blazing rock structures that makes for a delectable helping of musical potency. Featuring former members of two of the local scene’s more revered acts, namely Carlo Pizarro and Brian Fasani of 51 Peg and Bilaal Y of Chrysalis, the sound of My Enemy Complete is at once familiar and forward-thinking as these six tracks resonate with all the power and professionalism of experience merged with the hunger and drive of a fledgling act beckoning for attention from the masses. Beginning with a haunting mechanical soundscape that brings us to layers of squealing guitar melodies and thunderous percussion, “Resistor” begins the EP with a bang. The chorus carries the listener into a powerful emotional height as Bilaal’s voice – reminiscent of Maynard James Keenan – soars with simultaneous despair and rage, while his and Pizarro’s chunky guitars growl with guttural intensity that permeates throughout the band’s music. Hearing this song, one could immediately mistake My Enemy Complete for a late ‘90s alternative metal act, albeit without the rap element so prevalent of that era and with a healthy dose of gritty electronic backdrops for added depth. Also adding to the dynamic mix is Fasani’s drumming, combining quintessential industrial loops with the fury of his live percussive assaults, which in tandem with the grungy guitars makes for a very devastating sound. “Rite of Passage” continues this trend with atonal verses atop an almost psychedelic wall of guitars and ambience that will remind listeners of The Tea Party if filtered through the caustic mechanisms of Chemlab, while “A Thousand Cuts” brings in a melancholy piano that in tandem with crystalline guitars and Bilaal’s soulful voice give the song a lush aura not dissimilar to the bleakest dark pop songs of the ‘80s. Marching drums, stark atmospheres, and samples on mental states of loneliness begin “The Cord,” already starting the song on an epic note, aided by some of the most soul-penetrating melodies present on the album and the occasional dropouts into pure shimmering guitar and synthesized ambience. If anything negative can be said about the band, it is perhaps in the simplicity of the song structures as each track treads along similar progressions of verses and choruses, all even beginning with appropriately decrepit intros that serve to enhance the ambience and leading into the dense production of guitars, drums, vocals, and synthesis; it all bears just a smidgen of the formulaic but thankfully flows without too much tedium. With production by Dennis Kapayos and released on local label Radio.Active.Music, My Enemy Complete’s music possesses all the elements to break out of the confines of the DC-based underground and achieve mass appeal.
Track list:

  1. Resistor
  2. Rite of Passage
  3. Stain the Same
  4. A Thousand Cuts
  5. The Cord
  6. The Way Out

My Enemy Complete Website http://www.myenemycomplete.com
My Enemy Complete MySpace http://www.myspace.com/myenemycomplete
My Enemy Complete Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Enemy-Complete/110037068329
My Enemy Complete Twitter http://twitter.com/myenemycomplete
My Enemy Complete ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/myenemycomplete
Radio.Active.Music Website http://www.radio-active-music.com
Radio.Active.Music MySpace http://www.myspace.com/radioactivemusic
Radio.Active.Music Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Radio-Active-Musiccom/130074466228
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
CD Baby
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Jun 2011 20

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Red This Ever
Category: Goth / New Wave
Album: Never Listen
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: Red This Ever tragically drops the ball on what could have been a great sophomore release.


The second album from Baltimore’s Red This Ever shows the band has made great strides in their writing and style, but has utterly fallen apart in terms of production and sound quality. A modern twist on ‘80s new wave and post-punk, Red This Ever merges catchy synth lines with warm but gloomy vocals and rock guitar to produce a style that feels both familiar and fresh. Unfortunately, even though it should be an exciting follow-up showing the growth and talent of this act, the demo tape quality sound production ends up leaving the listener sorely disappointed and longing for what this album obviously could have been.

As the album plays out the sound mix issues quickly become obvious and distracting. With “A Hundred Miles Behind Me,” the audio levels on the drums are so out of proportion that they suffer from slight distortion and much of the song is drowned out by an overpowering and unpleasant bass kick. Throughout the album, the mix is inconsistent in a manner that makes it impossible for it to be written off as a “stylistic choice,” and instead feels rushed and sloppy. Tracks like “Only Survivor,” “Touched,” and “Small Conditions” will vary wildly in which instrument will sound muffled, distorted, or tinny leaving mammoth blemishes on tracks that really could have been much better if the sound mix would have been taken seriously. Despite these complaints, there are still many rays of sunlight that manage to peek through the cloudy sound mix. The debut album, Selfless suffered lyrically due to an overly simplistic, heavy-handed, Dr. Seuss-ian rhyming scheme that, other than in “Pretty Little Josephine,” doesn’t really make an appearance on Never Listen, and results in a much more compelling vocal presentation. There are also tracks like “Where Are You?” and “Amazing Grace” that have some wonderful energy to them and show off the softer, and grittier sides of Red This Ever, and even some of the shoddier mixed tracks like “A Hundred Miles Behind Me” and “Total Control” have strong choruses that will stick with you.

The warm and welcoming male vocals delicately balance on the line between gloom and heartfelt crooning and generally shine through even the roughest moments of the album. The only time they really don’t work is “Ahhhhhhhhh, Let’s Go!” with the song’s chorus feeling held back because of vocals that don’t quite carry the intensity that seems needed for this lively track. Though a lot of the guitar work provides fairly standard rock flourishes, it is appropriate and works well within the context of the album. Largely used to supply some extra edge to the music, the guitar work does get a few opportunities to shine in the tracks “Only Survivor” and “Where Are You?” and provides an excellent Southern California punk feel to “Amazing Grace.” In the same boat as the guitars, the synth work largely adds a bolder flavor to the album, but takes over some of the spotlight in tracks like “Gone Out Of Style” and “New Skin.” Red This Ever obviously has the elements to be great, but even the finest ingredients and the best recipes still require a talented chef to put them together, and in this case the results came out a bit burnt.

With its striking vocals, rhythms, and arrangements, Never Listen shows all the signs that it could have been and should have been a much better album, but the inconsistent and amateurish sound mix on it just completely wrecks the album. There are many exceptionally catchy, memorable, and impressive moments to be found, but more often than not they are better in memory than they actually exist on the album, leaving the dream of the album to be much better than the reality of it. Sadly, Never Listen is a rather prophetic title because, despite the obvious strides the band has made, the poor production quality makes the album very difficult to enjoy, leaving the title as a reminder that the listener is better off sticking with their hazy memory of the album than actually listen to it.
Track list:

  1. New Skin
  2. A Hundred Miles Behind Me
  3. Total Control
  4. Small Conditions
  5. Plans
  6. Gone Out of Style
  7. Only Survivor
  8. Pretty Little Josephine
  9. Where Are You?
  10. Amazing Grace
  11. Ahhhhhhhhh, Let’s Go!
  12. Touched

Red This Ever Website http://redthisever.net
Red This Ever MySpace http://www.myspace.com/redthisever
Red This Ever Facebook http://facebook.com/redthisever
Red This Ever Twitter http://twitter.com/redthisever
Red This Ever ReverbNation http://reverbnation.com/redthisever
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Trubie Turner (Flexei)

Jun 2011 20

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The Prep School Tragedy
Category: Industrial / Hip-Hop
Album: It’s All a Show
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: A powerful debut blending industrialized rhythms with aggressive hip-hop from one of the best new acts on the scene.


Some might find the marriage of industrial rock and hip-hop to be a novel idea that harkens back to the days of nü-metal and rap-rock of the late ‘90s. As bands like Stromkern, SMP, Celldweller, and Saul Williams have experimented with the combination to wide acclaim, the novelty of the combination has given way to become a definite style all its own. Hailing from Chicago, the Prep School Tragedy present a blistering debut album with It’s All a Show, chockfull of scathing industrialized production and aggressive rapping, offset by some highly melodic and catchy choruses that bring the music above the simplicity of standard hip-hop.

With production assistance from Sean Payne, there is a stylistic similarity to Cyanotic on many tracks, full of glitch-laden textures so common to that band. Indeed, the Glitch Mode mix of “Hate Everything I Do” could easily have been a track off of any of Cyanotic’s releases; the same could be said of “What Have I Become” as its KMFDM-esque guitars pummel over a highly danceable industrial rhythm. None of this is to discount The Prep School Tragedy’s own merits. Take “Phoenix in the Sky” for instance as its haunting chorus plays atop a slow backdrop of gritty atmospheres reminiscent of the darker works of Front Line Assembly, while “Step into the Night” plays up the metal influences as the vocals take on a caustic growling quality that make it one of the heaviest tracks on the album. But before you start thinking that this is all style and no substance, one need only listen to “Thought I Toldja” with its mockery of the overt materialism and communication breakdown of today’s generation as a chorus of “OMG, LOL, FML, and go to hell” repeats throughout, sung by “The Squad,” The Prep School Tragedy’s own cheerleading team. And then there is “Tearing Me Apart” with its statements against the corporatization of pop culture, while the music is perhaps the album’s most melancholy track as a monotone vocal harmony plays in the chorus atop chilled ambient passages.

If there is anything flawed about The Prep School Tragedy, it would be simply that the band’s influences are readily apparent, both on the industrial and the hip-hop ends, but this is easily forgivable as the strength of the songs and the high production values make It’s All a Show a rather powerful debut. With the industrial/hip-hop style gradually gaining momentum, The Prep School Tragedy stands to become one of the scene’s best new acts and one that will have much to behold on future releases.
Track list:

  1. Hate Everything I Do (Glitch Mode Mix)
  2. Seduqtion
  3. Step into the Night
  4. Phoenix in the Sky
  5. What Have I Become
  6. Smokin’ that Genius (Sippin’ that Bird)
  7. Bussdown
  8. Thought I Toldja
  9. Watchu Wanna Do
  10. Tearing Me Apart
  11. It’s All a Show
  12. Hate Everything I Do (Original Mix)

The Prep School Tragedy Website http://www.theprepschooltragedy.com
The Prep School Tragedy MySpace http://www.myspace.com/theprepschooltragedy
The Prep School Tragedy Facebook http://www.facebook.com/theprepschooltragedy
The Prep School Tragedy ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/theprepschooltragedy
Glitch Mode Recordings Website http://www.glitchmode.com
Accessory Music Website http://www.accessorymusic.com
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Jun 2011 20

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Category: Industrial / Soundtrack
Album: Unbound Saga: Official Game Soundtrack
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: An aggressive soundtrack to an aggressive video game, Unbound Saga presents a furious helping of pulse-pounding machine rock.


One might think that while it difficult for an underground artist or label to find an audience, there is still the option for them to license their work to various companies for various products and purposes. And yet, it almost seems like so few of them actually do so… or, at least, manage to do so successfully. Since the early ‘90s, Chicago’s Cracknation has teetered on the edge of recognition and acceptance, both in the mainstream and in the underground, leading to its standing not just as a record imprint but as a production house to several artists licensing out various styles of music for several years. The label’s latest release, Unbound Saga presents an official soundtrack to Vogster Entertainment’s arcade fighter comic-style game of the same name. Not unlike the game, the music on this album runs a gamut of high energy industrial and electronic tracks; from the glitch-guitar onslaught of the opener, “Madmaker,” to the vicious drum & bass of “The Drowning,” to the big beat electro of “The Radiant One” and “Power Transfer.” As to be expected, there is a stylistic resemblance to Cracknation flagship acts Acumen Nation and DJ? Acucrack, which should please longtime fans of both bands despite the lack of composer Jason Novak’s signature rasp and rage on the vocals. Indeed, certain tracks even bear a slight similarity to past songs as a particular synth sample on “Positron” is reminiscent of sounds heard on “Gun Lover” while “Body Parts” bears a striking resemblance to “200 Bodies Per Minute.” Typical of latter day Cracknation releases, though uncharacteristic for the average video game soundtrack, is that each track segues seamlessly into the next to create the impression of a spastic DJ mix. While this adds to the impressions of Unbound Saga as a conceptual musical experience, there is no discernible loop quality that would normally occur in the music to necessitate extended gameplay. Still, this is hardly a detriment to the enjoyment of the album on its own merits, with the remix of the theme song closing things out on an epic note of symphonic industrial rock majesty. With music this energetic and aggressive, it undoubtedly plays as perfect complement to the game for which it underscores; as well, it presents to fans of Cracknation an album of blistering machine rock and electronica sure to send them into furious spasms.
Track list:

  1. Madmaker
  2. Stealth Under Fire
  3. Body Parts
  4. Power Transfer
  5. The Drowning
  6. Slowdogs
  7. Train to Hell
  8. Release Me
  9. The Radiant One
  10. Ultimaker
  11. Cut a Swath
  12. Urban Wilding
  13. Positron
  14. Deadmaker
  15. Unbound Saga Theme (Remix)

Cracknation Website http://www.cracknation.com
Cracknation MySpace http://www.myspace.com/cracknationrecords
Cracknation Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cracknation/285988987668
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Jun 2011 20

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Category: Experimental / Industrial / IDM
Album: All Standing Room in the Goodnight Saloon
Stars: 3
Blurb: Organic warmth and digital chill make for a frigid album that falls short of melting hearts as easily as previous releases from Autoclav1.1.


Jun 2011 20

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Category: Synthpop
Album: Hexagonal
Stars: 3
Blurb: Simplistic synthpop that evokes the best of the old-school rather pleasantly.


Synthpop is one of those genres that never seem to change. Indeed, there are many different bands and artists with their own individual approach and style, but ultimately, the basics of synthpop remain consistent – a mix of saccharine pop melody with catchy layers of synthesized ambience and more often than not some danceable beats. Such is the case with France’s Celluloide, whose old-school sound evokes the best early works of Depeche Mode and The Human League, and with the trio’s latest release, Hexagonal, the formula seems to work just fine.

What sets Hexagonal apart from past Celluloide releases is the absence of any English tracks, relying on their native French and giving the songs a much more honest quality rather than lose in any translation. Beyond this, the band has done little to alter the conventions established as arrangements of arpeggios and simplistic beats create a complex ambient tapestry as exemplified on songs like “Le Goût du Poison” and “Pilote Automatique,” complemented by waves of sweeping pads and Darkleti’s effective yet disaffected voice, at once sensual and robotic. The devotion to classic synthesizer sounds is most obvious on “Cœur 8-Bit” and “Faire du Bruit,” both utilizing the square and saw sounds that comprised much of the early days of synthpop, but Celluloide also exhibit a modern sensibility on tracks like “Et Si…” and “Nuclépsynthèse” with their bass lines bearing a resemblance to the slightly darker works of And One and the intro to “Sans Conditions” being akin to IDM.

Ultimately, there is nothing new or groundbreaking to be found on Hexagonal, and for a band like Celluloide, that is something of a comfort. While innovation and evolution are preferred, the simplicity of the band’s classic sound makes for an enjoyable bit of synthesized nostalgia that can be a respite from the overwrought sounds of most synthpop today.
Track list:

  1. Imprévisible
  2. À Contre Temps
  3. Le Goût du Poison
  4. Les Quatre Coins de L’Hexagone
  5. Sans Conditions
  6. Et Si…
  7. Pilote Automatique
  8. Cœur 8-Bit
  9. Faire du Bruit
  10. Nucléosynthèse
  11. Un Conte de Fée
    Celluloide Website http://www.celluloide.online.fr
    Celluloide MySpace http://www.myspace.com/celluloide
    Celluloide Facebook http://www.facebook.com/celluloide
    Celluloide Twitter http://www.twitter.com/#!/u0176
    BOREDOMproduct Website http://www.boredomproduct.online.fr
    BOREDOMproduct MySpace http://www.myspace.com/boredomproduct
    BOREDOMproduct Facebook http://www.facebook.com/boredomproduct
    Purchase at:
    Amazon CD
    Amazon CD (Limited Edition)
    Amazon MP3
    Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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