Jun 2011 20

Cover Image
AUN
Category: Ambient / Experimental
Album: Black Pyramid
Stars: 4.5
Blurb: AUN takes the yawn out of ambient drones with Black Pyramid, a dark masterpiece of imagination.

 

Roughly inspired by the strange and beautiful sci-fi/fantasy worlds of French artist, writer, and director Enki Bilal, AUN’s Black Pyramid is an album of drones and tones that kidnaps the imagination and takes it on a fantastic journey.

The cover art features a floating pyramid, much like the poster for Bilal’s 2004 film Immortel (Ad Vitam), and it is easy to imagine the album as the soundtrack for that pyramid’s slow voyage over a post-apocalyptic dystopian landscape. Melodic and haunting, the music is slow and intense but ultimately detached from the scene it illuminates. “See how it is,” it declares, making no judgment. As buildings burn, criminals flourish in a lawless land, and deserts reclaim the once pristine manmade havens, the silent structure glides steady overhead. Amidst the chaos and droning melodies, there is a sound effect like random electrical discharge being released from the base of the pyramid, gently caressing and scorching all it touches.

Like aural psychedelia, Black Pyramid’s harmonic variation lends itself perfectly to a vivid mind trip. Electronic effects, muffled percussion, and droning electric guitars blend and weave between the eardrums in such a way that the nearly 48 minutes of sound simply soar by, leaving the listener breathless with a dreamlike memory of a dark and stunning wasteland. Simply put, this is how it is done.
 
Track list:

  1. Phoenix
  2. Taurus Ten
  3. Black Pyramid
  4. Ursa Major
  5. 2095
  6. Ursa Minor
  7. Shining

 
AUN Website http://www.denovali.com/aun
AUN MySpace http://www.myspace.com/aundrone
AUN Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/AUN/6476118006
Cyclic Law Website http://www.cycliclaw.com
Cyclic Law MySpace http://www.myspace.com/cycliclaw
Cyclic Law Facebook http://www.facebook.com/cycliclaw
Denovali Records Website http://www.denovali.com
Denovali Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/denovali
Denovali Records Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Denovali-Records-Label-Mailorder/106331143029
Denovali Records Twitter http://twitter.com/denovali
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2010-08-31
 
Charity VanDeberg (CharityV)

Jun 2011 20

Cover Image
Filter
Category: Industrial
Album: The Trouble with Angels
Stars: 3
Blurb: A return to form for Filter, balancing underground industrial rock with mainstream alt. metal with just satisfying results.

 

Filter has always been a band to skate the fine line between the industrial rock of the underground and the alternative metal of the mainstream. For 18 years, Richard Patrick has infused his particular brand of rock & roll rage with a fair helping of electronics and programming to give his music an edge that has now become part of the paradigm of modern production. The 2007 album, Anthems for the Damned saw the band moving toward a more introspective direction, taking on the politics of the time in a manner reminiscent of U2 and KMFDM, though hardly as passionate and not nearly as musically effective. The Trouble with Angels presents listeners with a return to form as each of the 10 tracks unleashes Patrick with some of his most melodic and his most metallic modes in years.

From the opening ominous bass line of “The Inevitable Relapse,” we are taken back to the days of “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” with Patrick’s vocals shifting between a mild autotune croon to his familiar screams as the music blasts out with a mix of programmed rhythms and pummeling guitars. Yes, indeed, the electronics are back as much of the album follows suit with the electronics remaining ever present but seamlessly blended into the background as the thunderous percussion and guitars dominate the mix. Patrick continues to balance melody with malignancy as “Down with Me” blisters from the ambient verses into the abrasive chorus to make for a catchy bit of industrialized alt. rock. The same can be said for songs like “No Love” with its marching beats and infectious grooves, while the title track takes on a melancholy ambience similar to the likes of 16volt before breaking into one of the more somber melodies Filter has yet exhibited. And then you have a bit of no holds barred aggression as Patrick screams nonstop through “Absentee Father,” only to be offset by the tearjerkers “No Re-Entry” and “Fades Like a Photograph (Dead Angel),” both of which prove that Patrick has not neglected his sensitive side.

The deluxe edition includes a bonus disc with five extra tracks that further indicate the more electrified approach Filter has taken with The Trouble with Angels with “Shot from the Sun” and Clayton Worbeck’s mix of “The Inevitable Relapse” being the best examples, while other tracks like “My Life Before” and “Plume” allow Patrick to soften up with some somber but saccharine sweet pop fare. Ultimately, The Trouble with Angels will be a pleaser for Filter fans disappointed by the band’s shifting toward mainstream acceptance on later albums; it’s probably the angriest Richard Patrick has sounded since Short Bus. On the other hand, it’s hardly Filter’s most adventurous outing and while the band set a precedent for the style in the ‘90s, little has been done to expand on that, making The Trouble with Angels a rather vanilla album at best.
 
Track list:

  1. The Inevitable Relapse
  2. Drug Boy
  3. Absentee Father
  4. No Love
  5. No Re-Entry
  6. Down with Me
  7. Catch a Falling Knife
  8. The Trouble with Angels
  9. Clouds
  10. Fades Like a Photograph (Dead Angel)

Bonus Disc – Deluxe Edition

  1. The Inevitable Relapse (Clayton Worbeck Mix)
  2. Drowning
  3. Shot from the Sun
  4. My Life Before
  5. Plume

 
Filter Website http://www.officialfilter.com
Filter MySpace http://www.myspace.com/filter1
Filter Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Filter
Filter Twitter http://www.twitter.com/officialfilter
Rocket Science Ventures Website http://myrocketscience.com
Rocket Science Ventures MySpace http://www.myspace.com/myrocketscience
Nuclear Blast USA Website http://www.nuclearblastusa.com
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon CD (Deluxe Edition)
Amazon MP3
 
2010-08-17
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Jun 2011 20

Cover Image
Combichrist
Category: Industrial
Album: Never Surrender (Single)
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: Vaunting their increasingly rock-before-EBM direction, this teaser single is more lopsided than explosive.

 

Preceding their fourth album to date, Combichrist slung their rabid fans this rather minimal single. Without doubt, “Never Surrender” is one of the strongest tracks from the Making Monsters era. Grinding its teeth through spoken verses, waxy synths, and crackling drums, it at first seems oddly sedate for Andy LaPlegua’s bombastic one-man electronic riot. While the organic edges to its percussion during these moments finally conveys the primal, tribal intensity of their live shows, it’s when LaPlegua explodes into a throat-shredding scream for its combative chorus that truly augments the whole with the energy one expects for Combichrist.

Though this bipolar number is a bit lopsided in sound, the remixes at least breathe a little variety into the whole. Minimalist electronic guru Terrence Fixmer hones the piece down to its essential parts, fracturing lyrics into sound bits, and reduces its instrumental content to a basic, cold structure of twitching, clacking, machine noise, monochrome drones, and typewriter beats. Former Icon of Coil cohort Sebastian Komor by far supplies the largest surprise here in retooling it into an acerbic attack of serrated guitar riffs and cacophonous drums, with the results a slow-motion riot of pure ‘90s machine rock. Finally, gloomy crossover wunderkind IAMX supplies a second minimalist version, though its buzzing, puzzled synth line and unobtrusive snare hop feel more uninspired than stark.

Even backed by these formidable talents behind its few remixes, “Never Surrender” isn’t as crazed as its name implies, but diehards probably won’t be too disappointed by its meager contents.
 
Track list:

  1. Never Surrender (Album Version)
  2. Never Surrender (IAMX Rework)
  3. Never Surrender (Remix by Melt)
  4. Never Surrender (Terence Fixmer Remix)

 
Combichrist Website http://www.combichrist.com
Combichrist MySpace http://www.myspace.com/combichrist
Combichrist Facebook http://facebook.com/combichrist
Combichrist Twitter http://twitter.com/combichristarmy
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2010-08-14
 
Vlad McNeally (VladM)

Jun 2011 20

Cover Image
Semi0n
Category: Noise
Album: Nuclear Attack
Stars: 1
Blurb: English band Semi0n follows up the debut with the concept noise disc Nuclear Attack.

 

While their debut EP took a distinctly guitar- and drum-driven approach, Semi0n returns with another EP that enters completely different territory for the band. Nuclear Attack is a concept piece that strives to sonically create an audio interpretation of what a nuclear attack would sound like. Eschewing anything that might actually resemble music, Semi0n treat us to such tracks as “The Quiet Peace,” 13-and-a-half minutes of static, feedback, and miscellaneous sounds. They have succeeded in their goal; Nuclear Attack is about as enjoyable to listen to as living through an actual nuclear war. Nuclear warheads have a long history of being the ultimate deterrent. This latest release from Semi0n is the ultimate deterrent for anyone who’s ever heard their music. You will never want to play this again.

One has to give them credit, however. Thematically, the idea is a great one, and considering their past work, they’ve certainly proven they’re willing to take risks, which honestly counts for something. They also incorporate a number of sounds throughout the EP that would have been quite provocative had they been used in another context or style. The last song on the record, “The Shape of Things to Come” revisits the more conventional rock style the band previously toyed with.

Once again, however, they put out a ridiculous physical release package. Instead of a run of 20 CD-Rs as with the last release, with Nuclear Attack you get your CD-R, a cassette with the album on one side and three unreleased tracks on the B-side, and other tacky items like a letter from a bureaucrat at the Home Office. As with Sex, Death, & Repetition, the quantities are greatly limited, but this time they didn’t disclose the actual number. While packages like this are certainly favored among diehard collectors and can heighten the listening experience, Semi0n should save such tactics for when they release something worth listening to.
 
Track list:

  1. You Cannot Win
  2. Nuclear Attack
  3. The Blast
  4. All that Remains Is…
  5. The Unquiet Place
  6. The Reawakening
  7. The Shape of Things to Come

 
Semi0n MySpace http://www.myspace.com/semi0n
Semi0n Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Semi0n/120867031275414
Semi0n BandCamp http://semi0n.bandcamp.com
MoMT Records Website http://www.momt.co.uk
MoMT Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/momtrecords
 
2010-08-04
 
Brian Backlash (BrianBacklash)

Jun 2011 20

Cover Image
Noblesse Oblige
Category: Synthpop
Album: The Great Electrifier/Beck and Call (Single)
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: The avant-garde pop duo’s new single highlights their more club-oriented side.

 

Fans of Noblesse Oblige’s previous work won’t be too surprised by their digital single debut for Metropolis Records; featuring two original songs from their third album, Malady, as well as eight remixes, it highlights the more club-ready side of the duo’s stylish but avant-garde blend of synthpop, post-punk, and cabaret. “The Great Electrifier” is suffused with understated cool, with lead vocalist Valerie Renay delivering a disaffected patter over producer Sebastian Lee Philipp’s acoustic guitar and quiet pop rhythm, while “Beck and Call” is Joy Division by way of Brechtian cabaret, Philipp crooning airily over insistent, affected and effects-laden acoustic strumming. The remixes are by and large dance-ready minimalism, with Renay and Philipp themselves contributing a disco-strings-and-electronic-beeps mix of “The Great Electrifier” and Funker Vogt offering an EBM-flavored but surprisingly subtle mix of “Beck and Call.” The rest of the remixes range from moody house as on Dunwich’s remix of “The Great Electrifier,” to robotic old-school electro as on Lucas Croon’s version of the same song. All are solid, but none particularly stand out, especially in comparison to the full-length album itself, which is drenched in artsy, Crowley-inspired mysticism. For the club DJ and the long-time Noblesse Oblige fan, this is good stuff, but newcomers to the project would be better served by the stylistic diversity on the album proper.
 
Track list:

  1. The Great Electrifier
  2. Beck and Call
  3. The Great Electrifier (Noblesse Oblige Club Mix)
  4. Beck and Call (Eric D. Clark Remix)
  5. Beck and Call (Funker Vogt Remix)
  6. The Great Electrifier (Dunwich Remix)
  7. Beck and Call (Spidersleg Remix)
  8. The Great Electrifier (Lucas Croon Remix)
  9. Beck and Call (Randy Twigg Remix)
  10. The Great Electrifier (Toulouse Lox Trax Remix)

 
Noblesse Oblige Website http://www.noblesseoblige.co.uk
Noblesse Oblige MySpace http://www.myspace.com/noblesseoblige
Noblesse Oblige Facebook http://www.facebook.com/noblesseobligeofficial
Noblesse Oblige Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/noblesseoblige1
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
 
2010-07-27
 
Matthew Johnson (infinitywaltz)

Jun 2011 20

Cover Image
Bella Lune
Category: Goth / Electro-pop
Album: Synesthesia
Stars: 3
Blurb: Twinkling electro and shimmering goth rock make for an enticing sophomore album from Bella Lune.

 

The sophomore album is never an easy task, especially for a band that has experienced a great deal of good fortune in a short amount of time since the debut. Founded in 2005, goth/electro act Bella Lune has been a rising star in the scene since the release of the Abstracted Visions album in 2007, performing alongside such heavy-hitters as Voltaire, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Julien-K, I:Scintilla, and even crossing the seas to perform in Japan and be featured in numerous compilations. With Synesthesia, Fuchsia and Kal3id take their appealingly dark flights of fancy further with twilit melodies and starry ambience.

“Denial” sets the stage for the album as twinkling synths and restrained dance beats underscore a somber violin melody while Fuchsia’s vocals hover ghostlike in the mix, making for a lovely and ethereal opener. Throughout the album, Bella Lune displays a penchant for combining various influences into a lovely mélange that is at once reminiscent of the new wave of the ‘80s and the goth rock of the ‘90s. Songs like “Ophelia,” “Illogical Logic,” and “Spiral Effect” recall the dark electro-pop of early Depeche Mode, while the rickety bass and shimmering guitars that resonate throughout, especially on songs like “A Different Effect,” “Unanswered Questions,” and “Last Words” will surely remind many listeners of The Cure. The cloudy atmospheres of reverberating guitars and synthesizers on “The Finite One” will doubtlessly appeal to fans of the more mystical modes of Faith and the Muse, while “The Dolly Pop Song” possesses an almost whimsically erotic quality offset by Fuchsia’s vocals, which sound at times remarkably similar to Cranes’ Allison Shaw.

There is very little negative to say about Bella Lune’s Synesthesia – the production is effective, the songs catchy and melodic. At the same time, there is also not much that distinguishes Bella Lune from most other goth/electro groups, and while this certainly helps the band gain favor alongside the likes of The Birthday Massacre or The Crüxshadows, it will be nice to hear how Fuchsia and Kal3id develop their sound in the future to become a standout act in the genre. Regardless, Synesthesia is an album that hits more than it misses and is worth more than a few listens.
 
Track list:

  1. Denial
  2. This and the Other
  3. Ophelia
  4. A Different Effect
  5. Who Knows
  6. Illogical Logic
  7. No Escape
  8. The Dolly Pop Song
  9. Spiral Effect
  10. Unanswered Questions
  11. Last Words
  12. So Long Ago
  13. The Finite One
  14. Silent and Still (Black Jacket Remix)

 
Bella Lune Website http://bellalune.net
Bella Lune MySpace http://www.myspace.com/bellalune
Bella Lune Facebook http://apps.facebook.com/reverbnation_fb/artist/bellalune
Bella Lune Twitter http://twitter.com/bellalunemusic
Bella Lune ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/bellalune
Aetheria Music
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
CDBaby
 
2010-07-24
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Jun 2011 20

Cover Image
Aerial FX
Category: New Wave / Synthpop
Album: Same River Twice
Stars: 3
Blurb: There’s no wave like the new wave.

 

In the early ‘80s, a five-piece band based out of Oxford dramatically changed their sound to meld with the surging new wave movement. They adopted the name Aerial FX, releasing two singles and one full album before their abrupt disbandment in the middle of the decade. Now, 25 years later, a full album’s worth of Aerial FX music has surfaced – Same River Twice. With 12 songs that have never seen the light of day until now, Aerial FX’s commemoration will make listeners yearn for a return to the days of new wave with its unabashed upbeat mood and lyrics.

Same River Twice is a fantastic flashback to the ‘80s new wave genre, filled with poppy dance numbers, catchy grooves, and a great rock sound. Sultry, melancholy vocals trade off with light and romantic ones. From the opening track of “Hold Me” through the ending track of “Make It for You (12” Version),” Aerial FX flaunts the genre outstandingly. Guitars collide with synth, from “Heatwave” to “Where Is Tomorrow” to “I See Changes.” However, while the music is very nostalgic and very enjoyable, this is by no means an outstanding album. It fits the mold of the genre for the time, doing all the right things in all the right places, but Aerial FX doesn’t jump out the way that artists such as New Order or Joy Division did. In fact, Aerial FX sounds very reminiscent of these bands and more, making them more of a mirror for the time.

Same River Twice is a solid album and a great reminder of 25 years ago. However, it is a repeat journey, as the album title implies, down the same river as many other bands. Aerial FX is a way to reminisce on the good old days as much as possible.
 
Track list:

  1. Hold Me
  2. Out the Window
  3. April 5th
  4. Heatwave
  5. Spirit
  6. Down to Heaven
  7. Who Is Down There
  8. Where Is Tomorrow
  9. Soft Game
  10. Make It for You (7” Version)
  11. I See Changes
  12. Make It for You (12” Version)

 
Other Voices Website http://www.othervoicesrecords.com
Other Voices Myspace http://www.myspace.com/intuitionrecords
Other Voices Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Other-Voices-Records/139059179466944
Other Voices Twitter http://www.twitter.com/othervoice
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2010-07-20
 
Zak Vaudo (Chaostar)

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