Feb 2014 04

Stiff Valentine - Empire of IllusionStiff Valentine
Category: Industrial / Rock
Album: Empire of Illusion
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: With the energy and the irreverence of punk infused into a straightforward coldwave style, Stiff Valentine’s latest is a well produced if nonessential romp for its particular audience.


For over 10 years, Chris DeMarcus has striven with his band Stiff Valentine to put his own indelible mark on the industrial rock scene. Infusing a punk-like irreverence into a recognizably coldwave musical mindset, DeMarcus along with Kerry “Babz” Peterson has taken Stiff Valentine presents an uncompromising energy that has extended into live performances, earning the band the title of “The Second Best Canadian Band, Ever!” in the eyes and ears of many a fan. With Empire of Illusion, he pulls all the stops to deliver a vicious barrage of mechanized, sample-laden, guitar-driven machine rock that will surely please genre enthusiasts.

A grooving breakbeat and a whir of electronics begin “F451” before a guttural guitar riff and DeMarcus’ growling vocals enter, shouting “We fight fire with fire!” Equal parts dance floor killer and most pit filler, the song sets the stage for Empire of Illusion’s relatively straightforward and no nonsense style. From the breakneck tempos of thrashing riffs and drumbeats with a swirling vocal refrain on “Incorruptible” to the smarmy electro dance of “Faith in Our Machines” and “A Brave New World” topped off with offbeat growls of guitar, the album touches on a rather broad range of attitudes and approaches. With tracks like “I Am the Liquor” reveling in its alcoholic debauchery to the sardonic and satirical observations of the formulaic nature of the electro/industrial scene on “Dirty Boys,” both songs featuring a fine interplay of DeMarcus’ and Peterson’s vocals, Stiff Valentine exhibits an acerbic wit that allows the listener to not take things too seriously, which is both a blessing and a curse. Indeed, along with DeMarcus’ atonal bellows devoid of any notions of melody (except on “Get Back,” if only briefly), a song like “Iron Heart” is – perhaps consciously – a pastiche of the Teutonic and Germanic brands of industrialized rock and metal, and while songs like “Suicide Execute” and “Nu Mecha” might seem like they attempt to present a more sober and meaningful lyrical outlook on the state of modern society, the dynamic ambience and pummeling percussion of the latter track recalling the sounds of Vangelis on the Blade Runner soundtrack, Empire of Illusion does little to stray from its own beaten path of simplicity and succinctness.

Stiff Valentine certainly wears its influences on the sleeve, with DeMarcus’ vocals reminiscent of the likes of Hanzel und Gretyl or Static-X, immediately appealing to the band’s punk and metal sensibilities. Unfortunately, despite the occasional breaks of augmentation via effects, especially well done on a track like “This Must be the Place,” the vocals are perhaps the main area that would turn off the casual listener as they draw the line between passion and parody. On the other hand, the music is pure machine rock in the tradition of the greats like Chemlab or KMFDM with Galen Waling’s drumming further enhancing the human element. The audience for Stiff Valentine’s musical style is perhaps limited to devoted rivetheads and explorative metalheads, but Empire of Illusion is at least an enjoyably well produced effort in its particular niche.
Track list:

  1. F451
  2. Iron Heart
  3. Incorruptible
  4. Suicide Execute
  5. I Am the Liquor
  6. Get Back
  7. Faith in Our Machines
  8. Dirty Boys
  9. Nu Mecha
  10. A Brave New World
  11. This Must be the Place

Stiff Valentine Website http://secondbestcanadianbandever.com
Stiff Valentine MySpace http://www.myspace.com/stiffvalentine
Stiff Valentine Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stiffvalentine
Stiff Valentine Twitter https://twitter.com/StiffValentine
Stiff Valentine ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/stiffvalentine
Stiff Valentine Bandcamp http://stiffvalentine.bandcamp.com
WTII Records Website http://www.wtiirecords.com
WTII Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/wtIIrecords
WTII Records Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/WTII-Records-LLC/118624595174
WTII Records Twitter http://twitter.com/WTIIRecords
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)


  1. […] have been some great reviews of Empire of Illusion kicking about from Regen Magazine (USA), Orkus Magazine (Germany), Grave Concerns (USA), and The Cascade […]

  2. […] have been some great reviews of Empire of Illusion kicking about from Regen Magazine (USA), Orkus Magazine (Germany), Grave Concerns (USA), and The Cascade […]

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