form/alkaline - "disk 1.2"
the artists formerly known as Scar Tissue, who were responsible for
some great rhythm-based industrial soundscapes. However, they
recently decided to try something new and changed their name to
reflect the change. Unfortunately, the "something new" isn't all
that new, it's dark ambient. For the first few tracks, there's
little to distinguish form/alkaline's bleeps, drones and whirrs from
those of innumerable other, similar acts, including Scorn and Black
Lung. Then, from track 5 onwards, the beats pick up and
form/alkaline add heavy militaristic and tribal rhythms to the mix
alongside some fucked-up noise sample - sirens, screams, disjointed
voices. In other words, form/alkaline become a lot more interesting
when they start playing around with the same sounds that made Scar
Tissue interesting. It's all very well trying something new, but I
hope the band have realised that they're at their best advancing
their own particular sound, rather than failing to do anything new
with music that's been done before, a lot.
Libitina - "A Closer
Libitina have, what you'd call, an ultra-Gothic sound. From
the opening horror soundtrack sounds of 'Esclaviditud', it's obvious
that innovation is not exactly their strong point, they're simply
recycling the sounds of their predecessors. At the same time, it's
hard to pick out who they sound like. There are shades of the
Sisters and of Rozz Williams here and there, but, in general, their
sound is fairly generic and more than a bit clichèd. There's the Dr.
Avalanche style drum machine, the pounding bass, more than a few
powerchords, the overwhelming keyboards and the overwrought vocals.
Not to say it isn't enjoyable, but nothing really new. They do have
a few points in their favour. The first is their tempo on tracks
like 'Dies Irae' and 'Drowning in the Dark', which they play quite a
bit faster than your average brooding Goth band, adding a bit of
life to the proceedings. The second point is their sense of humour.
Their witty parody of Pulp's 'Common People', 'Gothic People' is
guaranteed to raise a smile. All in all, there's nothing
particularly wrong with the CD, it's perfectly listenable, but it
just doesn't have that necessary spark to make it special. Maybe
Luxt - "Americoncussion
Compilation veterans Luxt play a pile-driving,
hard-edged mix of hardcore punk and heavy techno. Vocals are shared
by Anna Christine and Erie Loch, mixing the male/female voices well.
Anna's strong, bitchy sound clashes with and compliments Erie's
roaring hardcore sound, preventing them from sliding into the boring
repetitive sound of many new indus bands. The second track, 'Knock
You Down', has a very funky, almost hip hop, vibe, which is
reminiscent of vanished cross-over heroes, Senser, 'though an awful
lot heavier. 'Brutal' is more melodic, though it's pumped up by a
very intense guitar sound. Luxt have the intensity and musical
ingenuity to stand their own against the more popular extreme
industrial bands and are preparing themselves to do just that. Their
next album is something that should be watched when it comes out and
don't be surprised if they end up on MTV alongside Korn or Coal
man(i)kin - "sem(i)nal"
man(i)kin are one of the new generation of
techno-Goth bands being pioneered by Nightbreed. Along with Inertia
and Intra-Venus, man(i)kin are bringing Goth music to the dancefloor
with a bang. man(i)kin are the most dance-influenced of them all,
with some of the tastiest beats to be heard anywhere, including many
techno acts. All forms of techno go into the mix - rave, house,
trance, hints of gabba and drum n' bass, topped off with some EBM.
What keeps them from being another dance act are the vocals, the
morose and droning voice of Seth, which gives the music a dark,
The vocals are what fix man(i)kin definitely in the
world of darkwave and make them one of the more interesting and
eclectic bands of the darkside. However, in the long run, this could
be a disadvantage. Nailing their colours so securely to the mast
will undoubtedly impact negatively on their cross-over potential.
Their sound is a little too dark for your average disco. So, for
now, man(i)kin can remain our little secret.
Moonspell - "the butterfly effect"
Like many of Century Media's better bands, Moonspell are a
metal band gone Goth. In comparison with many of the others, though,
Moonspell haven't let go of their metal safety-blanket yet. Thus, we
have a very uneasy and often unlistenable mix of melodic
guitar-driven Gothic rock and awful death metal. Even worse, they
sound like the silliest of cartoon doom metal bands, Cathedral, on
tracks like 'butterfly fx'.
When they drop the bullshit metal
posing, like on the slow and sleazy lounge lizard vibe of 'can't
bee', they don't sound half bad. In fact, 'can't bee' is a very
powerful slice of mature Gothic music. Unfortunately, it's a
treasure buried deep in the mess that makes up much of the rest of
the CD. There are a few other good moments, 'selfabuse' and 'I am
the eternal spectator' are sharp clean tracks, 'selfabuse' is like
an industrial track without the techno, while 'I am…' is a bizarre
mix of electro rhythms, industrial distortion, metallic guitars and
a piano bit that sounds like it came from Bowie's "1. Outside".
'disappear here' is more lounge lizard, though it's more upbeat than
'can't bee' with a more intense guitar line. Everything else
descends into a pit of death metal noise, spoiling everything
they're trying to do, until 'k' wraps the CD up with and
instrumental rhythm sound that doesn't really go anywhere. Moonspell
have got to make up their minds, the death metal sounds will put
anybody but an ardent metalhead off. In fact, it took a few listens
of the CD to realise there were some good tracks in there.
Nocturne - "Twilight" (Hollows
Nocturne are young (most of them are in their early 20s),
ambitious and somewhat arrogant. Their music, while it is admittedly
dark, isn't the same as Goth; at least that's what they say.
Surprisingly, though, they're not completely wrong. Rather than
simply trying to hype their sound, they are honestly pointing out
that they are not just another Banshees/Bauhaus/Sisters clone. Lead
singer Lacey Connor's first gig was as support for Marilyn Manson,
with her previous band, the Furies. This marks them out as a band
completely tied into the pseudo-Goth scene that's grown up in the
States, and largely out of the more exclusive "real" scene. They use
their position in a very amorphous scene to their advantage,
throwing together a wide range of influences and giving them a dark
twist, without regard for what should or shouldn't be done.
times, there are shades of the Pixies or the Throwing Muses in
there, at others there's the Riot Grrrl-esque sounds of Babes In
Toyland or even Daisy Chainsaw. To this they add shades of their
contemporaries, bands like Genitorturers or NIN, to create a
hard-hitting, sharp and sexy sound. Their sound isn't a million
miles from Grace Overthrown, a band with much the same background.
There's a nice line of humour in their style, with gloriously
overblown lyrics, that at times get so silly, there is no doubt this
band is averse to pompousness. Tracks like 'Spookius Mortem' or
'Pride Must Die' (wittily shortened to P.M.S.) prove this without a
doubt. These are laid on top of pounding rhythms, powerhouse guitars
with a very seductive lyrical performance by Lacey. Nocturne, along
with G/O, give hope that the current revival may not simply be
Manson-inspired hype and may continue to produce enjoyable and
interesting new music for some time to come.
one - "walk the mercy mile"
one is the return of Goth/metal band Meridian's
vocalist, David Wilkinson. "walk the mercy mile" is the follow-up to
last years "Receive the Word" EP. That's the history, done, now, the
music. In general, this is sharp, tasty electro-Goth, featuring 80s
style synths and beats, with guitar samples ranging from lightweight
decoration to powerhouse riffs that beef up the sound immensely. The
one flaw with one's sound is the vocals, a lot of the time David
sounds like he has a poker rammed up his arse. His singing is often
reminiscent of Faith No More's Mike Patton, but with a forced,
unnatural feel that grates quite a bit. However, this is not the
case on all tracks, 'In the End' is the most 80s electro-style
track, on which he sings rather nicely, proving that he doesn't need
to try so hard. It's pretty much the same for most of the
techno-influenced 'Gods of Love' until he hits the chorus and his
butt-cheeks seem to clench again.
'Temple of You Soul', on the
other hand, shows clearly what he's trying to do, it's like a
Goth-ified version of something off FNM's "Angel Dust", but there is
obvious strain in his vocals. It's surprising he doesn't burst a
blood vessel. Funniest of all, though, is his constipated version of
Tears for Fears' 'Shout'. Please, it's a silly pop song, but the
intensity and gravitas he tries very hard to add just make it sound
ridiculous. All in all, this is a promising release, but would
somebody please give this guy a backrub! This is supposed to be fun,
don't try so hard.
Various - "Storm the Palace: Worms AD MCXVII" (Palace of
This whole classically-influenced atmospheric/ethereal malarkey has
really taken off recently and has even been made sexy by the
Mediæval Bæbes. Of course, with the demise of the great bands of the
genre, Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil, there's a large void to
be filled. In steps Palace of Worms with a proposition no
self-respecting floaty Goth band could resist - an album based on
the music and history of the Dark Ages. And so we have "Storm the
Palace: Worms AD MCXVII" a flouncey, foppish, and occasionally dark,
collection of assorted musics about slaughter, crusades, disease,
and, of course, death. The bands lining up to spout incomprehensible
Latin and ye olde Englishe include some gloriously pretentious names
as Mors Syphilitica (a personal favourite), Hagalaz Runedance
(sounds like a brand of ice-cream), El Luto Del Rey Cuervo and
Nothvs Filivs Mortis (whew!). There are some more well-know (and
easier to spell) names in there too, like Penitent, Rosa Crux, Stone
588 and Autumn Tears.
The tracks that stand out are those that
sound a bit different, in particular Proscriptor's 'Our Blood and
Veins from the McGovern Regiment' - a highland war romp complete
with bagpipes, military drumming and some bizarre sound fx. Nothvs
Filivs Mortis' 'Legio' is another, with its dark, oppressive feel.
This is no reflection on the 16 other bands, each of whom acquits
themselves well on the more classically-oriented music. Each and
every band shows a high level of ability, both musically and, where
applicable, vocally, in some cases playing music rather different
from their usual style. This is a concept compilation that works
very nicely and would make a great soundtrack to a book by David
Eddings or Raymond E. Feist.
All reviews by Girl the Goth.