Aug 2011 09

Celldweller - Wish Upon a Blackstar: Chapter 04
Celldweller
Category: Industrial
Album: Wish Upon a Blackstar: Chapter 04
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: The penultimate chapter in the sophomore album from Celldweller, giving the audience one final tease before the conclusion.

 

One might think that releasing an album piecemeal – a few tracks at a time – might be counterproductive to the experience of listening to the full breadth of a musician’s artistic expression. However, since releasing the first chapter to Wish Upon a Blackstar in 2009, Klayton has maintained and even heightened interest in the sophomore Celldweller album with a steady output that shows not only the development of the album but of his own musical prowess. With Chapter 04, audiences are treated to yet two more tracks of hard-hitting industrialized electronic mayhem as only Celldweller can deliver. Beginning with “I Can’t Wait,” a track whose title reflects the sentiment of many a fan anxious for the completion of Wish Upon a Blackstar, Klayton launches full throttle into a menacing display of drum & bass and industrial metal as frantic beat structures and warbling synth sequences underscore his always proficient vocal harmonies. In true Celldweller fashion, the song demonstrates a progressive compositional mentality moving through unorthodox chord progressions and arrangements that have helped this artist to stand above the plethora of industrial rock and hard electro. In contrast, “Gift for You” slows the pace considerably as sensual female vocals, twinkling synthesized ambience, and a sparse, shimmering guitar line play against a squirming bass that hints at a drum & bass explosion that never comes, keeping the listener on edge but always attentive. As a piece of somber dubstep, the song is impressive again for Klayton’s vocals as layers of harmonies filtered through vocoders and various other effects add to the song’s lush atmosphere. The coda is particularly interesting as the track glitches and fades into a veritable electrified space that almost bears the hallmarks of what would normally be a guitar or keyboard solo. As with all the past chapters, Chapter 04 comes with instrumental versions of the two tracks, while the deluxe edition contains commentary tracks and Beta Cession demos. Interestingly enough, the energy of these two tracks – one fast and aggressive, the other slow and ambient, both introspective and expansive – moves with such fervor that despite their individual lengths, they move at a seemingly breakneck speed. With the fifth and final chapter to Wish Upon a Blackstar to follow, “I Can’t Wait” is an appropriate teaser track as Klayton promises the next release will contain even more material than is presented on any of the past chapters. As ever, the production on Chapter 04 is topnotch, rivaling the most widely renowned and respected producers in the industry, while the musicianship is simply above the standard industrial/electronic fare. One more chapter to go before Wish Upon a Blackstar reaches completion, concluding this phase of Celldweller’s original odyssey of performance, distribution, and production that the world of music has yet to match.
 
Track list:

  1. I Can’t Wait
  2. Gift for You
  3. I Can’t Wait (Instrumental)
  4. Gift for You (Instrumental)

 
Celldweller Website http://www.celldweller.com
Celldweller MySpace http://www.myspace.com/celldweller
Celldweller Facebook http://www.facebook.com/celldweller
Celldweller Twitter http://www.twitter.com/celldweller
Celldweller ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/celldweller
FiXT Music Website http://www.fixtonline.com
FiXT Music MySpace http://www.myspace.com/fixt
FiXT Music Facebook http://www.facebook.com/fixtmusic
FiXT Store Website http://www.fixtstore.com
 
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
 
2011-07-19
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

Celldweller - Cellout EP 01
Celldweller
Category: Industrial
Album: Cellout EP 01
Stars: 5
Blurb: Ever an artist to pursue quality over quantity, this EP from Celldweller serves as an excellent teaser and complement to the 2011 tour.

 

After the release of the debut Celldweller album in 2003, Klayton went on the road for a nationwide tour with a backing band to create a multimedia performance that would bridge the gap between the studio material and the live show. One need only view the music video for “Switchback” for a visual hint of what audiences could expect from that show. For various reasons, Celldweller opted out of performing live reportedly for good, making the Wish Upon a Blackstar 2011 tour a welcome surprise. Stripping the setup down to two musicians on stage with an expansive lighting and video rig, what stands out most about the Celldweller live show now is that virtually none of material is presented in anything resembling their original studio versions; instead, we are given a series of remixes and alternate versions that demonstrate the power of the live performance as well as the true scope of Klayton’s creative vision. The Cellout EP 01 release offers to listeners three tracks, all of which are so radically different from their original counterparts that they can almost be taken as wholly new compositions.

Beginning with Klayton’s We Will Never Die mix of “Own Little World,” the song is stripped down to its already infectious chorus and given a drum & bass treatment complete with an engaging and melodic synth phrase that while repetitive is never boring. Complete with that trademark warbling bass, this track is perhaps more Celldweller by-the-numbers than the other two. The new version of “Frozen” finds Klayton pairing off with his live band mate, Bret of Blue Stahli, transforming the original’s erotic dubstep ambience into a hard-hitting array of stuttering and danceable electro. The new vocal recorded by Klayton is certainly punchier than the album version, making it a perfect translation to the live environment. The same can be said for “The Best It’s Gonna Get vs. Tainted,” in which the two tracks are combined atop a throbbing electro beat in an intelligent fashion that takes the best elements of both songs. While the original version of “The Best It’s Gonna Get” was in this writer’s opinion somewhat lackluster and “Tainted” sounding like some strange hybrid of dubstep and Michael Jackson, this version transforms both songs into a powerhouse that served as the perfect intro track to the Wish Upon a Blackstar 2011 tour. Only three tracks and just under 16 minutes long, the Cellout EP 01 is yet another fine release from Celldweller that proves the formula of quality over quantity can prevail.
 
Track list:

  1. Own Little World (Klayton’s We Will Never Die Mix)
  2. Frozen (Celldweller vs. Blue Stahli)
  3. The Best It’s Gonna Get vs. Tainted

 
Celldweller Website http://www.celldweller.com
Celldweller MySpace http://www.myspace.com/celldweller
Celldweller Facebook http://www.facebook.com/celldweller
Celldweller Twitter http://www.twitter.com/celldweller
Celldweller ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/celldweller
FiXT Music Website http://www.fixtonline.com
FiXT Music MySpace http://www.myspace.com/fixt
FiXT Music Facebook http://www.facebook.com/fixtmusic
FiXT Store Website http://www.fixtstore.com
 
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
 
2011-02-08
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

Blue Stahli - Blue Stahli
Blue Stahli
Category: Electronica / Rock
Album: Blue Stahli
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Blue Stahli stands as an exciting debut album from an artist who stands to progress beyond the shadow of his producer.

 

Listening to the self-titled full-length debut from Blue Stahli, it would be easy for the average listener to dismiss the act as yet another one of Klayton’s musical excursions. After all, Blue Stahli’s Bret Autrey is a FiXT recording and remix artist, has produced various works of film and television music for the label, and is in fact one half of the current Celldweller live lineup. True as it may be that Klayton has taken Bret under his wing, it would be a mistake to dismiss Blue Stahli for when listening to this album, the listener is presented with a sound that while similar to Celldweller retains a personality all its own. One need only listen to “Kill Me Every Time,” the first taste of Blue Stahli over two years ago and also presented on the album, for proof as the song slithers sensually along with breaking beats and groovy bass lines reminiscent of Paul Oakenfold, while the smooth and highly melodic vocals recall the ‘80s retro rock of Julien-K. The same can be said of the fast-paced charge of “Doubt” as fluid synthesizers move atop frantic beat structures that make the song a perfect contender for the next big racing video game, and “Takedown” juxtaposes this high octane electro/rock energy level with a vicious interplay of Bret’s venomous screeches with Xtina’s luscious melodic refrains in the verses. Of course, with Klayton producing the record, some moments will sound clearly influenced by Celldweller; this is especially true in “Ultranumb” with the combination of aggressive alternative rock melodies with glitch-laden industrial textures making for an explosive opening track. “Corner” is another notable track with its slow building intro of ambient marching beats leading to some atmospherically somber verses with a hint of Middle Eastern flavor and highly emotive choruses that are simply too catchy to ignore. The only flaw this writer can find with Blue Stahli is that the last two tracks might have served the overall flow of the record better had they been reversed; the thrashing speed and pure vitriolic rage of “Give Me Everything You’ve Got” ends the album rather abruptly and violently, while “Metamorphosis” is a much more satisfying affair, melodically, structurally, and compositionally. This is a matter of personal opinion and does little to discount the power of Blue Stahli’s performance. While some may find it difficult distinguish between this and Celldweller, there are enough differences to hear the potential for Blue Stahli to progress beyond the producer’s shadow as the shared DNA between the two acts is just enough to bring out the best in both artists. If nothing else, the dynamic between Bret’s songwriting and Klayton’s impeccable production makes for an enticing and exciting album.
 
Track list:

  1. Ultranumb
  2. Scrape
  3. Anti-You
  4. Doubt
  5. Corner
  6. Takedown
  7. Kill Me Every Time
  8. Throw Away
  9. Metamorphosis
  10. Give Me Everything You’ve Got

 
Blue Stahli Website http://www.bluestahli.com
Blue Stahli MySpace http://www.myspace.com/bluestahli
Blue Stahli Facebook http://www.facebook.com/bluestahlimusic
Blue Stahli Twitter http://www.twitter.com/bluestahli
FiXT Music Website http://www.fixtonline.com
FiXT Music MySpace http://www.myspace.com/fixt
FiXT Music Facebook http://www.facebook.com/fixtmusic
FiXT Store Website http://www.fixtstore.com
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
CDBaby
 
2011-03-15
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

SKOLD - Anomie
SKOLD
Category: Industrial Rock
Album: Anomie
Stars: 4
Blurb: Well worth the 15-year-long wait, the sophomore album from SKOLD is a finely crafted display of industrialized rock & roll.

 

Tim Skold is a most unusual character in the underground music scene. From his odd beginnings in the hair metal turned industrial rock act Shotgun Messiah to his later associations with the likes of KMFDM, ohGr, and most recently Marilyn Manson, Skold has maintained a prolific output over the past two decades, releasing his self-titled debut in 1996 and earning a reputation as an effective producer and musician in the interim. After 15 years, SKOLD fans can rejoice at the release of the sophomore album, Anomie.

Anybody expecting Anomie to be a rehash of the previous album as the leaked Dead God EP in 2002 was will be in for a shock. To be sure, Skold hasn’t abandoned any of his industrial leanings, as evidenced by the introductory single, “Suck,” a raucous display of chugging guitar riffs and pounding mechanical bass rhythms, sounding not unlike something he might have produced during his tenure with KMFDM. As well, “Black Out” marches along with an atonal synth refrain between instances of an explosive one-two guitar punch, complete with deep analog warbles for texture, and “Tonight” races by with a highly danceable beat and immersive synths reminiscent of ‘80s new wave if roughed up by rivetheads after dark. However, at its heart, Anomie is ultimately a rock & roll album – synthesizers play accompaniment to what is a very guitar, bass, and drum-driven collection of songs. “Satellite” trudges along with a steady tempo with Skold’s voice taking on an uncharacteristic low tone overtop noisy yet bluesy guitars, very much akin to Iggy Pop’s and David Bowie’s Berlin period in the late ‘70s; perhaps a remnant of influence from his days with Manson. The same can be said of “The Hunger” as morose acoustic guitars move at a somber pace, with Skold singing an emotive and somewhat vampiric chorus, while an incendiary guitar solo and distorted Mellotron-like sample at the end of “What You See Is What You Get” bring the album to a fittingly dramatic close.

“Rock ‘n’ roll’s not suicide, it’s life support;” so Skold proudly proclaims on “Here Comes the Thunder,” and so exemplifies the lyrical and musical theme of the album. Wrought with heavy guitar solos and infectious riffs that will surely get stuck in one’s head and stay there long after the end, Anomie shows a new and improved SKOLD, seasoned by years of performing with other luminaries of the underground music scene and showing a maturity of production and songwriting ability, balancing polish with grit to make for an album that sounds rawer than it really is. Granted, the lyrics are still juvenile to the point of being outright emo on some songs, but there’s a simplicity to them that gives the themes of social alienation and personal discovery added weight, enabling them to rise above the criticisms of past work. In short, SKOLD’s Anomie has been well worth the decade-and-a-half-long wait.
 
Track list:

  1. (This is My) Elephant
  2. Suck
  3. Black Out
  4. Angel of Noise
  5. Satellite
  6. Becoming
  7. The Hunger
  8. Here Comes the Thunder
  9. And Then We Die
  10. Miserably Never Ever
  11. Tonight
  12. What You See Is What You Get

 
SKOLD Website http://www.skold.com
SKOLD MySpace http://www.myspace.com/skoldofficial
SKOLD Facebook http://www.facebook.com/skoldofficial
SKOLD Twitter http://www.twitter.com/skoldofficial
SKOLD SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/skoldofficial
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2010-05-10
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

SKOLD - Suck
SKOLD
Category: Industrial Rock
Album: Suck
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: As the first taste of new material from SKOLD in 15 years, Suck does everything but.

 

15 years is a long time to wait between albums, but Tim Skold has certainly made it a point to stay busy in the interim since his self-titled debut in 1996. Having worked with the likes of KMFDM, Marilyn Manson, The Newlydeads, and ohGr, Skold has earned a reputation as one of the underground’s most prolific producers. Now signed to Metropolis Records, Skold makes his return as a solo artist with the Suck single, presenting four new songs and four remixes of the title track as a teaser for his sophomore Anomie release.

Beginning with the album version of “Suck,” we are immediately treated to a mechanical percussive bass loop quintessential to SKOLD’s sound, as guttural guitars chug along with the pummeling beat. Skold has often been derided for his lyrics, often being compared to the puerile melodrama of emo, and it’s unlikely that “Suck” will alleviate any of these criticisms. Indeed, Skold seems to revel in the irony as he proudly proclaims “Suck my rock” with the song overtly denigrating the mediocrity of the majority. The remixes offer some enjoyable and highly listenable moments, with 16volt’s Suck It and Mop Up version being laden with deep bass synth rolls and breakbeats as Combichrist transform the song into a straightforward dose of EBM that is ultimately unsatisfying, though DJs will find much use for it. Front Line Assembly’s Down On Your Knees remix slows the song down into a somber elegy of ambient industrial, and the My Glock version by Bitteren Ende warbles by as an enticing bit of moderate dubstep. After the remixes, we are treated to three additional songs, beginning with the scathing vocals and brutal guitar riffs – complete with a blistering solo – of “I Will Not Forget,” Skold showing more venomous bite on this song than ever before. A slow buildup of piano and light guitar strokes steadily rise to a cacophonous chorus, eventually erupting into a frenzy of thrashing drums and noise on “A Dark Star,” while Skold’s voice takes on an almost gothic quality in the verses to “Bullets Ricochet,” the song following a similar atmospheric cadence to the preceding track and ending the single with an explosive guitar solo.

Traces of Skold’s five years with Marilyn Manson are abundant in the new songs as evidenced by their morbid tonality and grating rock & roll abandon, but SKOLD’s music stands on its own thanks to his distinctive voice and subtle production exhibiting simultaneous polish and grittiness. As a preview of things to come on Anomie and as the first taste of new material in a decade-and-a-half, SKOLD’s Suck certainly does not suck.
 
Track list:

  1. Suck
  2. Suck (Suck and Mop Up – 16volt Remix)
  3. Suck (Down On Your Knees – Front Line Assembly Remix)
  4. Suck (Gag It and Tag It – Combichrist Remix)
  5. Suck (My Glock – Bitteren Ende Remix)
  6. I Will Not Forget
  7. A Dark Star
  8. Bullets Ricochet

 
SKOLD Website http://www.skold.com
SKOLD MySpace http://www.myspace.com/skoldofficial
SKOLD Facebook http://www.facebook.com/skoldofficial
SKOLD Twitter http://www.twitter.com/skoldofficial
SKOLD SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/skoldofficial
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2011-04-12
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

Sonik Foundry - Parish of Redemption
Sonik Foundry
Category: EBM
Album: Parish of Redemption
Stars: 3
Blurb: Catchy and melodic, but severely lacking in originality, Sonik Foundry’s debut on Nilaihah Records is at least worth the listen.

[..]

Aug 2011 09

Necro Facility - Wintermute
Necro Facility
Category: Industrial
Album: Wintermute
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: With a balance of dark and light, industrial and pop, Necro Facility’s Wintermute is study in contrast and balance.

 

The third release from Sweden’s Necro Facility, Wintermute is an album that combines standard electronic and industrial elements with a surprising melodic twist. Complex layers of harmonies, effects, and rhythms deftly back vocals that range from pop sweetness to agonizing screams. It is a balancing act that the men behind the music, Oscar Holter and Henrik Bäckström, are apparently more than ready for.

You know you’ve found something different after only the first few notes of the first track. “You Want It” begins with a slow, steady drum beat and gentle tune. Then it gets intense. The aggressive, shrieking vocals are typical of modern industrial music, and when you begin to think this is just another band that features a growling, screaming singer, the more melodic second voice comes in. If Mesh was a total whore and had a bastard child with any random industrial band, it would sound something like Necro Facility. It’s difficult to pick out just a few of the best songs, because they’re all generally comparable. The album starts strong and stays there. “Waiting for the Snow” may be considered the least interesting, but that’s only because it is more focused on the music than lyrics.

Every song on Wintermute is well written and expertly mixed. The pop and industrial foundations combine well, both acting as counterbalances to keep the tunes from falling too far to the warm and sunny or the frigid and dark sides of the spectrum. Even with the strong musical basis, the vocals make this album stand apart.
 
Track list:

  1. You Want It
  2. Explode
  3. Cuts
  4. Do You Feel the Same
  5. Fall Apart
  6. Waiting for the Snow
  7. Ignite
  8. Skrik
  9. Supposed
  10. All That You Take

 
Necro Facility MySpace http://www.myspace.com/necrofacility
Necro Facility Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Necro-Facility/329096005686
Progress Productions Website http://www.progress-productions.com
Progress Productions MySpace http://www.myspace.com/progressproduction
Artoffact Records Website http://www.artoffact.com
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD (Artoffact Records)
Amazon CD (Progress Productions)
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
 
2011-05-15
 
Charity VanDeberg (CharityV)

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