AlphaVox from Miami don't fit snuggly into any predefined boxes. They're definitely not Goth, but they're far too dark to just be pop. This nine-track demo draws together a number of different and disparate elements, but their causal delivery makes it very appealing. There's hints of industrial techno on tracks like 'Religion' or 'Today anymore', with emotive synth-pop vocals on the likes of 'Blood of heroes' or 'Space age lovesongs'. 'We won't go' brings in elements of Portishead's trip hop sounds, and is matched by a snarling Gothic tone to Richard Paz's vocals. The CD starts and ends with two completely different tracks, which show the diversity in the band's sounds. 'Foreign land' is slow, emotive and largely based around melodic vocals and an acoustic guitar, while the closing track 'Where have u taken me?' is a chaotic piece that starts quietly, but quickly gets lost rather enjoyably in drum n' bass beats and big noisy electro sounds. This is different, and won't be to everyone's tastes, but it is a commendable stab at dark pop music.
The Crüxshadows - Paradox Addendum (Dancing Ferret)
This 7-track release is a mix of new tracks and alternative mixes of previously released stuff. Continuing their format of mixing trad Goth elements - chunky guitar riffs and whiney vocals - with newer techno sounds and their trademark violin sound (obviously an idea pinched from New Model Army), they offer a rather tasty example of how the Goth sound can be updated without necessarily going all out techno. Their style is fresh and easy to like, without being lightweight, and it does have a nice bit of dancefloor savvy. It must be pointed out, though, that vocalist Rogue (very X-Men-tastic name there!) sounds a lot better when he actually sings, rather than putting on a Gothic voice that does sound rather passé. There is room for the Crüxshadows on the middle road, between the dated trad stuff and the ravey stuff, alongside the likes of The Last Dance.
Claire Voyant - Claire Voyant (Accession)
Claire Voyant - Time and the Maiden (Accession)
Following the success and critical acclaim that greeted the recent Claire Voyant remix CD, "Time Again", someone high up thought it was a good idea to re-release their first two albums, on which the remixes were based. From a marketing point of view, it was a good idea - I was as eager as many others probably were to hear these CDs. Alas, disappointment was just around the corner. The basic building blocks of the remixes are in place here - in particular Victoria Lloyd's great vocals - but they don't sound so good. The reason for this is obvious, Claire Voyant is a band with their own sound and style. They're good at what they do, ethereal electro-Goth, but they're not hugely imaginative. The remixers showed what the song could sound like with a lot of imagination and by taking the music into a host of different and exciting direction. In reality, the original versions of the songs were never likely to stand up in comparison with one of the best remix compilations I've ever heard. Here's hoping Claire Voyant learned a few tricks from the remixers for use on their next album.
- Detraction - - Caught within
- Detraction - is Doug Seldeen, one-man industrial Trent Reznor wannabe. He growls his tales of heartache, misery and solitude over a tight and calculated electro-industrial backing on songs with titles like 'I don't care', 'lost it all', 'no one of consequence' and 'the burn of regret'. I'm sorry, but I have heard it all before and I don't need to hear the nth reworking of the same tired format.
Die My Darling - Sleep
I should hate this, but I don't. The chunky riffs, the obvious beats, the calculated vocals, it shouldn't work, but DMD have a swagger, a self-confidence that makes it work. It is somewhat like Motley Crue or Guns n' Roses when they first emerged from the Strip. If that stuff was Glam Rock played by LA punks, then this is electro-Goth performed by LA glam rock punks. Fuck, this band is so arrogant, they do their own remixes! DMD have a refreshing swagger that adds a bit of Hollywood sleaze to the scene.
Glampire - the Soft White Ghetto (Musesick)
To call Glampire one of a kind would very much be putting it lightly. One look at the black-clad dreadlocked glam-Goth freak would be enough to convince anyone of that. Musically, he's as elusive as mercury, on minute funk, the next rawk, the next pop-Goth, the next techno. It seems that nothing is out of bounds for Glampire, and all the better he is for it. From a Gothic point of view, he's closest in sound to the early days of Gene Loves Jezebel, before they descended into the morass of the LA glam rock scene. This is Gothic rock for people who like pop music. If you insist on all your Goth being gloomy, depressive stuff, then this isn't for you. But, if you can appreciate a track like 'Halloween in July', which is closer to 'No Rain' by Blind Melon than anything by the Sisters - a Goth track for balmy summer days, then Glampire is for you.
Megadump - feed me, fuck me, kill me! (Accession)
This is a bit of a grower. Initially, the coarseness of the sound and the chaos in the mismatched sounds grates incredibly. But, after a few more listens, when the beats worm their way into your head, it emerges as emerges as something rather fresh. Megadump take the ultra-Germanic sound of bands like KMFDM, Rammstein, Die Krupps and take it right into the heart of techno. Thus, there's a lot of hoarse German, or heavily accented English, vocals, but it's backed by some of the heaviest, most powerful techno around. This ain't just bangin', it's bludgeoning. On note of dischord is 'borderline', a Euro-dance number where the growling vocals are replaced by the warbling voccodered vocals preferred by Eiffel 65 or the Truesteppers. Don't go there, please! Other than that, Megadump provide a surprisingly enjoyable alternative to the more dance-oriented sounds of Covenant and VNV Nation. They do, however, have a truly awful name.
Philtron - Chronotrope (Synthetic Symphony)
Philtron is a bit different from the rest of the pack. The description sounds familiar, they mix the sounds of synth-pop, rock and techno, a la Covenant et al, but they do it very differently. They seem to mix these elements without losing the differences between them, thus this is rocky and poppy and dancey all at the same time. The biggest difference is how the songs are structured, much more in a traditional pop song kind of way, each with its own individual style and every element playing its own part. The songs are particularly melodic, owing largely to Sven's vocals, which shy away from the droning tones of the average EBM vocalist. It's very hard to put a finger on exactly what is different about Philtron, but they really do not quite fit with anything else around at the moment. And that can only be a good thing!
Psyche - Misguided Angels (Art of Fact)
This CD is Psyche's assault on the US scene, following almost a decade of silence for them Stateside. This mish-mash of remixes, rereleases and collaborations is not likely to make much of an impact, though. The first big problem is that they've missed their window of appeal for this kind of reappearance. A couple of years ago, hoards of Euro bands re-emerged from the shadows to relaunch themselves across the Atlantic. And, really, none of them made much of a mark, did they? Mittageisen, Clan of Xymox, Girls Under Glass, anyone? It's Nu-Metal or techno/EBM or nothing these days. And that's not what's on offer here. This opens with 'Unveiling the secret', a dark electro track that would have been perfectly at home in the late 80s. Then there's the over-done synth-pop vocals of 'Exhale' or 'Murder in your love', it just sounds so old. The techno elements sound dated rather than retro and it doesn't get all that much better. The collaborations with Haujobb and Skinny Puppy's Dwayne Goettel also fail to impress. A lot more work is needed to bring Psyche up to date, and a cover of Tainted Love's 'Sex Dward' is very much the wrong way to go about it.
Various - Carnival of Souls (Nightbreed)
Another Nightbreed compilation, another mixed bag of naff trad Goth and kick-ass new dance stuff. This one's based around the annual Goth/fetish 'extravaganza' - all the bands on this have played it. Basically, this is another sampler of Nightbreed's roster, with the addition of the late, and not particularly lamented, Sneaky Bat Machine with the silly, but kinda fun, 'Disco 4 the Dead'. Shining lights here are, as usual, Intra-Venus and Inertia, who provide the Funker Vogt mix of 'Regime', but really, the rest is largely the same as "The Gothic (?) Sounds of Nightbreed 3", or "New Alternatives Five" without the diversity. If another Nightbreed sampler is what you really need, I'd recommend seeking professional help!
Various - Cryonic Tanz V. I (Cryonica)
For those that don't yet know, Cryonica is the new label that was set up by Reza and Alexys from Inertia. This 31 track compilation is their broadside against the forces of apathy and conservatism in the Gothic/industrial scene. It's called 'an electro-industrial compilation', rather tamely in my view, because, in the main, it's made up of the new stuff, the techno drenched alternative dance music. There's a major mix of styles on display here, but almost all are touched by the hand of techno. There's the techno-industrial of Flesh Field, the techno/EBM of Assemblage 23, the techno-Goth of the wonderful 'The Voice' by Technoir or the techno/electro-pop of New Clear Sky and The Nine. And that's just in the first seven tracks! There are some notable absences, (wot no Covenant, VNV Nation, APB or Intra-Venus???) and the odd duff track, like Razed in Black's NIN clone, 'Nightmare', or Project X's flat and lifeless 'Humanity', or Cenobita's bizarre techno black metal combo, 'Destino Final', but all in all, this is DA BOMB!
Various - music from the Succubus Club (Dancing Ferret)
This compilation is a soundtrack to the cult game, taken quite a bit too seriously by some rather sad individuals, "Vampire: The Masquerade". The Succubus Club is one of those "run by vampires for vampires" type clubs that cause the average Goth to chortle in derision. In these days of rubber-clad techno-Goths, vampire fetishism is so passé! Anyway, the music. We'll, as you'd expect, there's lots of stuff about Eastern Europeans with fangs dressed in velvet capes. Dancing Ferret play it smart, though, by sticking their no. 1 act, Crüxshadows, with a very New Model Army influenced swirly fiddle-based piece. It's not bad at all, but Seraphim Shock's growly, moany, whiney piece of Goth trash is rubbish. Paralysed Age's 'Bloodsucker 2000' has got to be a joke - all bad Romanian accents and the most unsubtle of sexual references. Wench's 'Heart of Darkness' is a breathless attempt at sensuousness - a bit silly really.
Sunshine Blind, on the other hand, treat us to a cracking punky piece slamming the herd mentality to which "Vampire: The Masquerade" appeals… funny that. Bella Morte? Yawn - second rate pop-Goff. Carfax Abbey (silly name by the way - very English Heritage) seem to have no idea what they're doing, 'soul to bleed' is a mess of electro beats, industrial samples, whispering and shouting, awful. Beborn Beton save this CD from the bin with the banging techno/EBM 'hemoglobin'. The way they fit the title to the beat is classic. Following that, there's the latter-day compilation sluts, The Mission (UK, if you're a yank). I'm sorry, but I cannot take Wayne Pussy seriously as a techno-Goff. The Mish's co-sluts, Nosferatu, are here too. How many comps is that now lads? Between the two is 'Rotting on the vine', an incomprehensible track by Kristeen Young. I don't know what it's supposed to be, nor do I care. Diary of Dreams dissapoint with the stereotypical Gothic stylings of 'Blind in Darkness', where's the crisp electro sound of 'Chemicals', eh? Neuroactive, on the other had, do not disappoint with their blippy techno-EBM piece, 'Superficial' (a telling piece with which to end this compilation). I'm just surprised this CD wasn't on Cleopatra.
All reviews by Girl the Goth, unless otherwise stated.