Welcome!

DJ Kantrip resides in the Pacific Northwest area and focuses his work primarily in the genres of Goth, Industrial, and EBM. He plays new, local and regional acts along side crowd faves.

Here you will find all the information you need know about upcoming events, on a local and regional level. Also setlists from events that Kantrip has spun at, as well as, music reviews.

If you are interested in booking Kantrip for events or would like to have info about your events posted on to the website, please email at kantrip@gmail.com for more information.



DVD Review: Delerium Epiphany

Delerium’s first DVD, "Epiphany", by producer/director Nasty Byte, primarily takes footage from the band's 2008 performance at Washington D.C.'s 9:30 nightclub. Using a variety of camera angles, and creative editing, Nasty Byte creates a piece of art that turns this into more than just a concert DVD.

Its hard to think of Delerium as a live band. Listening to their albums, one would think that to recreate the atmosphere and sound of the albums there would have to be a ton of vocalists, and a stadium sized stage to handle all the instruments involved. With most electronic acts, a live performance consists of 2 guys with Synthesizers and a female singer which is hard to build a strong on-stage presence with. Epiphany surprised me however using a modest amount of instrumentation, and 2 of Delerium’s more versatile vocalists. Kristy Thirsk and Leigh Nash take on some of Delerium’s more popular songs, by lending their own interpretations to them. While showing this DVD to some friends, that is one criticism that I got. While Thirsk and Nash are amazing in tandem, some songs like After All or Silence, lose the power they originally had since its not Jael or McLachlan singing. But this is a minor issue as rest of the Delerium experience was spot on. Instrumentation is simplified with Bill Leeb on synths accompanied by live guitar, drums and bass, which he uses to flesh out a very rich and warm sound. I barely noticed any difference from some of the recorded songs to the live performances when I compared the two.

Of course there is the fact that Delerium’s music is an experience and its hard to bring a fan out of the inner worlds they create in their mind, to a stage with 6 people. One of my major gripes with most concert videos that there is a level of disconnect. Its hard to get that suspension of disbelief that you get with live theater or concerts, when you can play/pause a DVD. Also most concert videos are shot from a set of fixed angles, and are edited in such a way that you can almost predict what camera will be cut to next. Yes its a recorded performance of a good band, but what's to make me feel like I'm at the show. This is something that NastyByte obviously took into consideration. Creative use of special effects, along with with fluid movement between the different camera angles, make the viewer feel like they are experiencing the performance in its entirety, if not in a slightly “altered state”. There is even a grounding moment between each of the songs when the viewer is returned to reality but never in the same spot or from the same camera angle. Sometimes its from the audience, sometimes its on stage in the wings, sometimes above the stage. I think this is what made me get into Epiphany the most. The fact that this wasn't just a concert DVD, it's art. It was a “painting in motion” as the DVD box states.

The DVD also features interviews and footage of the band backstage not only as extras but incorporated into the performance of Twilight. This leads to my other criticism of the DVD. I know the song is an instrumental, and watching a montage of shenanigans and set up was nice, but since there was an actual band on stage and not just some guys behind a wall of keyboards and computers, it would have been nice to see more of that particular song on stage being performed. Again, this is just a minor complaint when the DVD is taken as a whole.

For their first DVD, Delerium could not have done better. Epiphany is a beautiful collection of the songs that made the project famous, and proof that the magic they create on CD/MP3 can be recreated live. If you are a fan of Delerium, or know fans, this DVD would make an excellent gift for the holiday season. The DVD can be found at either Amazon.com or purchased directly at the link below.

Buy Here: http://nastybyte.bigcartel.com/



- Kantrip (November 2010)

Music Review: IRIS Blacklight

Iris returns with their 4th studio album, Blacklight, two years after the release of the acclaimed Hydra EP. On Hydra, fans were treated to some new songs that had more of the rock driven direction that Iris explored on Wrath. Many hoped that the following full-length album would feature the tracks Nobody Wins or New Invaders along with more of the instrumentation that Iris experimented with on Wrath.

While there is more use of instrumentation and musical evolution of the band's sound, Blacklight feels emotionally more like their 2nd album Awakening than Wrath. More mellow and introspective, and not as angry. There are some good club tracks like Closer to Real, or Panic Rev, but the rest of the album lacks any club play power.

Lyrically the band has evolved from prior releases with the songs being more philosophical and emotionally centered. The undercurrents of unresolved heartbreak are gone for the most part. This is a trend I've noticed with most Synthpop acts after a few albums though. At some point hurt and loss evolve into thoughtfulness and hopeful sentiments. This is not a bad thing at all, in fact its a motivating factor as it allows the fans to witness the emotional growth and evolution of the songwriter, and maybe get some closure on feelings of their own.

While I'm disappointed that Blacklight failed to live up to the energy and power that Hydra teased at, it is a worthwhile listen. Calm but still emotionally lost and finding answers to those questions that we all have in life's grand scheme.

Buy it here: http://www.adifferentdrum.com/buy/DIF016/Iris-Blacklight.

- Kantrip (November 2010)

Music Review: Unwoman Casualties

Breaking ups sucks for both parties involved. This is a hard and fast truth that Unwoman reminds her listeners of on her new album Casualties. Combining several of the songs off The Keys and Trouble EPs, the new LP explores all of the icky feelings that go along with messy relationships ending. Anger, depression, hopeful longing, relief, and those often regrettable nights of wondering "what if?" Erica Mulkey really reached into some dark and personal parts of her psyche to present an accurate portrayal of those emotions we spend much of our mature life avoiding or at least hoping go away quickly.

Each song is presented in Unwoman's, unique style of Chamberpop. Elegant cello, laid over clever electronic beats and velvety soundscapes. Elements of her earlier Gothic and Industrial influences poke through what is largely a more Steampunk feeling album. Very much like the ups and downs when going through a nasty breakup, tracks like Pillar of Salt and Haunted take a more quiet and somber sound, then turn around on a dime to become jazzy and bouncy, on Bruises or Habit. Unwoman's vocals remain strong throughout the entire album. Even on the quieter tracks like “Satin” or “The Keys”, there's this unbreakable strength behind her words, which counter the sadness that the lyrics themselves are conveying. As if to say “these are the things I felt, but I'm still here and a bit wiser for having felt them.”

Currently the album is available for download via Unwoman's Bandcamp site, for 9.99 USD, and a CD format version of the album is available for 11.99 USD but will not ship until early May 2010. The CD copy while 2 bucks more comes with a full color digi-pack with lyrics, and the option to get the album signed. This personal touch make the physical copy seem more enticing to purchase. When an artist puts a personal effort into the distribution of the album it always leaves a lasting impression, as Mulkey demonstrated with The Keys album by attaching download cards or flash drives to antique keys, giving fans the option of buying a key for just the one album or a Key with a collection of albums, and a reusable flash drive to boot. Innovative and honestly is what got this reviewer to take notice of Unwoman's music.

Whether you're looking for an album with some songs to help you heal after a nasty breakup, or want some very nice modern Chamberpop for your music collection, Casualties should be an album you sample and add to your collection.

To Purchase: http://unwoman.bandcamp.com/

- Kantrip (April 2010)

Music Review: De/Vision Popgefahr

De/Vision's follow up to 2007's N00B, Popgefahr, shows the duo's further efforts in taking a greater part in the production process, however the results this time are rather lackluster. It's also the first release from their independent label, with the same name. While De/Vision are veterans to the Synthpop scene, and not every follow up album needs to be groundbreaking, Popgefhar feels largely like it was a rushed effort. Roughly translated Popgefahr means “Danger of Pop”, which is ironic considering how safe the album feels. That's not to say that there aren't some really good songs on the album. Plastic Heart and Rage jump out of the track listing as very strong tracks, and Be a Light To Yourself has a surprisingly inspirational message that doesn't feel clichéd in the least. The rest of the album is classic De/vision however and begging for some remixes to give them a bit more of their own identity.

The band returns with the production team, Schumann & Bach, so its not surprising that a majority of Popgefahr sounds a like N00B 2.0. This is not an uncommon side-effect of good Artist-Producer collaborations tho. The last few Skinny Puppy albums are proof positive that you're gonna get a rather uniform style when you keep the same production teams as before. This however means that the artist has to push themselves to ensure that the material doesn't become too cookie-cutter. Popgefahr cuts a bit too close to that line though. Well-rounded album and exactly what fans of the band have come to expect and enjoy? Very much so. Could it have been more? Definitely. Kudos to establishing their independent record label, but much like VNV's most recent release, it feels lacking in the end product.

To Purchase: http://www.metropolis-mailorder.com/product.php?prodnum=MET+641

- Kantrip (April 2010)

Music Review: Faith and the Muse Ankoku Butoh

Faith and the Muse released their 5th full length album in 2009, Ankoku Butoh, a multimedia collection of Shinto-inspired goth rock. The Eastern travels of the Spiritual Warrior theme that Faith and the Muse has cultivated over their past few albums, carries on their traditional sound, while showing a bit more of the darker and angrier feelings of the band.

Ankoku is nothing really out of the ordinary for Faith and the Muse. Opening track is an instrumental, next few tracks are rousing goth rock anthems, and then there's some more slower tracks mixed in. All of which tell a very vivid story about nature worship, connecting with the past, and warnings of being more aware of the unseen around you. In a departure from The Burning Season and Evidence of Heaven, there are less electronica elements, and a return to a harsher punk rock/tribal rock sound. Its rare, but some formulas work for bands, and Faith and the Muse has a formula that works. Especially when they pour so much time, effort, and detail into every album. In keeping with a tradition of mixing in imagery and musical styles from various nature worshiping cultures, Ankoku borrows heavily from Japanese Shinto. Taiko Drums thunder through several of the tracks and references to Feudal Japan and mythological creatures appear within the lyrics . While there's only minor alterations to their normal style of music, Ankoku gives the impression that this is a beast from a different world than what we're used to. Lyrically, the album also feels less introspective than previous releases, with most of the tracks like Sovereign, Battle Hymn, or Blessed being a call to arms or challenge to the listener, rather than putting the listener into the spiritual warrior's perspective. There's also a lot more of William Faith taking the lead on vocals which is always a treat. Faith and the Muse has always had this brilliant dynamic of William Faith's stellar instrumentation, and Monica Richard's mesmerizing vocals and thought provoking lyrics, but in the past the tracks that just reach out and grab you are when Faith takes the lead vocals. Ankoku provides more than one track with Faith's vocals, and quite a few where both Monica and William can be heard.

The music is only one part of this most recent Faith and the Muse release. Boxed with the CD is a DVD full of rare videos, live performances, and interviews with the band which gives fans a glimpse into the creative process. The set also includes a 30 page art book with lyrics and poetry that lends visual shape to the mirror that Faith and the Muse is holding up to our world this time around. Plus with the trailers on Mercyground.com of the upcoming tour, its apparent that the live performances were designed to be a key part of this multimedia experience. Again the big difference between Ankoku and say Annwyn, Beneath the waves is that there's little interpretation or ambiguity involved. Faith and the Muse are parting the veil back to let us see what they see.

If there is any downside to Akoku Butoh its the fact that getting the album is an all or nothing deal. You have to buy it in the bundle with the CD, DVD, and Book. Granted you're getting the full experience but its price point may cause some fans or new listeners to turn away. One nice thing about any form of underground music is the almost fanatical devotion an audience will give to bands, however there is that sticky matter of affording supporting your favorite artists. I'm not about to get into some grand debate about putting a price on art, so I'll leave it at the fact that paying 30.00 for a new album with multimedia content you may or may not want along with it, is a bit of a turn off. Maybe an option for a digital purchase of just the audio content would have been nice.

Cost and complexity aside, Ankoku Butoh, is Faith and the Muse doing what they do best. Delivering thought provoking Goth Rock that tries to put a bit more spirit into a less and less spiritual world. If you're a long time fan, this is a must have, if you're a new listener, I'd recommend starting a few albums back. Decide if the full boxed set is worth the investment.

Purchase here: http://www.mercyground.com/merchandise-AB.htm

- Kantrip (March 2010)

Music Review: Ego Likeness Breedless

Ego Likeness "Breedless"

“I'd rather be breedless than be like you.” These are the words that ultimately define Ego Likeness' fourth album, Breedless. 4 years in the making, fans have been enticed with album artwork, live performances of new material, and the Compass EP Series, which revealed some of the worlds and images that Breedless is all about. A dark trip through the parts of the mind and soul, that challenges the listener to embrace their inner monsters, rather than hide from them.

The title track Breedless, and songs like Inferno, serve as prideful anthems that wave banners bearing ancient day and modern monsters. This focused yet feral aggression can be heard in Archer's guitar work, and the very detailed programming, which stands out from the rest of the band's catalog. Previous releases had some high-energy tracks with mostly a lo-tempo trip-hop vibe, which helped to lull the listener into the world Ego Likeness was creating. This time the band seems to want to keep the listener awake and aware of their aural surroundings. That's not to say that Breedless is all rage and defiant anthems. It actually has a very full emotional and musical spectrum to it. There are quiet lulls in the storms with songs like 30 Year War or Song for Samael. Tracks like South, or The Lowest Place on Earth, are revisited but the revisions and placement in the album give them a more introspective feel rather than being the warning calls they were on their respective releases. Every song on Breedless has some element that forces you to perk up, and play the track back again or wonder what is coming next.

For many fans, the wait has been long, and they will be glad to know that the wait was well worth it. Breedless' US release date on April 13th 2010 on Metropolis Records, and its European release date on April 16th 2010 via Dependent Records. Pre-Orders are now available via Metropolis Record's website. Its apparent that Steven and Donna's excitement about this album matches that of their fan base. The duo hand created and have sold 50 limited edition Breedless boxes which contain the album, handwritten notes, and other memorabilia and were promoted exclusively over their personal Live Journal and Facebook accounts. These boxes all sold in less than a week.

Between painstaking attention to details, and rabid response to early releases, its safe to say that Breedless is Ego Likeness' finest work to date. What ever kind of creature Breedless may be, its apparent that its evolving into something epic.

DJ Kantrip

Pre-Order here: http://www.metropolis-mailorder.com/product.php?prodnum=MET+633

- Kantrip (March 2010)

Music Review: XUBERX Intelligence Revised

XUBERX "Intelligence Revised"

Intelligence Revised is the remix companion to XUBERX's 2008 debut CD, Intelligent Demise. I don't normally get excited about remix CDs, but this particular collection was a fun listen. It's chocked full of the club-friendly goodness that all remix albums are composed of, but when played along side the main album, it gives the listener a glimpse into what XUBERX's musical mission is. Unlike Intelligent Demise, where the songs incorporated several elements of the various sub-genres of industrial within each track, the contributing artists decided to take each song and present it with a specific focus. For example, the Caustic remix of Intelligent Demise removes the guitars and rock elements from the song and focuses on its the noize beats and vocals.

Some of the more stand out remixes on the album are Gone (5 minutes and 27 Seconds remix) by the Gothsicles which takes on an atmospheric trance feel. When the beat drops, its not hard and fast, but rather subtle and gentle. Don't discount it for a good floor-filler in a club mix though. Blind Till Now turns The World Ends today into a hard rock track reminiscent of the industrial sound of the mid-90's with more guitar and less oontz. The Dark Clan completely overhauls Solution into an epic goth rock opera. The only original element on the song is the vocal track. Backing vocals, drums, bass, and piano are added with a stellar guitar solo wedged in towards the end. Out of all the remixes, this is the one that impressed me the most and was an awesome way to close out the album.

Its obvious that band wanted this CD to supplement its main release. Each remix aligns on the track listing with “Intelligent Demise”. Ingression is track one, The World Ends Today is track 2, and so forth. This makes it feel less like a CD of club-fodder and more like a second look at Intelligent Demise. I do have some complaints about the album however. Zomboy's vocals clash with the music on the more synthpop tracks. His vocals work very well with a hard industrial sound, but on the light and poppy remixes, it creates a rather discordant effect which detracts from the overall enjoyment of the song. Some of the remixes like the Assemblage 23 version of Within Silence get buried in between the more stand out tracks. While holding true to the original track listing, putting an A23 remix in between Iris and Winter Offensive, means that there's going to be about 15 minutes of EBM and Industrial that bleeds together during casual listening. They aren't bad remixes, its just their placement in the track listing that give off this effect.

Despite my minor gripes about Intelligence Revised, its one of the few remix CDs that I've been able to listen to repeatedly and not just scan for club-friendly tracks and then let to sit in one of my notebooks until the right time comes. By taking each song and focusing on just one of the many sub-genres that XUBERX packs into their songs, the listener is treated to just how unique the band's overall sound is. Whether you are a fan, or critic of the band, I recommend this album just for the listening experience alone.

Track Listing:
1. Ingression (remixed b X-Fusion)
2. The World Ends Today (remixed by BlindTillNow)
3. Intelligent Demise (Zombois Say Go! mix by Caustic)
4. Forgive, Forget (remixed by Iris)
5. Hollow (Tanglewood Remix by Uberbyte)
6. Gone (in 5 minutes 27 seconds by Gothsicles)
7. Solution (Aileron Remix By Hopeful Machines)
8. Within Silence (Robogirl Remix by Assemblage 23)
9. Blood Debt (remixed by Winter Offensive)
10. Blackened (remixed by Ego Likeness)
11. Forgive, Forget (Forgiveness Foregone Remix by The Dark Clan)
12. Hollow (Slow Harmonics remix by Null Device)
13. Blackened (remixed by Projekt Nemesis)
14. Solution (Wishmaster Remix By The Dark Clan)

Band Website:
http://www.xuberx.com
To Order:
http://www.radio-active-music.com/shopmusic.html

- Kantrip (April, 2009)



Music Review: XUBERX "Intelligent Demise"

XUBERX “Intelligent Demise”

There is currently some kind of renaissance going on within the Industrial genre of late. Artists and bands tired of the trends of Industrial leaning too far to the ends of metal or rock, or going as far deep into the electronic end where monotony and noize is the only result. I’ve listened as several bands over the past 2 years made a point to find that balance of rock, and electronic music and take it somewhere it hasn’t gone before. XUBERX’s Intelligent Demise is a prime example of this current trend.

Rather than balancing their Rock and Electro elements, XUBERX makes them dance back and forth, which creates this bizarre harmony that works. There’s no other way to say it. It just works. The band consists of two Baltimore DJs, Cheetahdave and Liebchen, and newcomer to the industrial scene, Zomboy.

Since its release back in September 2008, Intelligent Demise has received mixed reviews. Due to the large amount of influences you can hear in their music, it’s not hard to see why many have developed a love/hate vibe for the album. Elements of Darkwave, Noize, EBM, and Rock all find their home within each song. Not each song showcasing a genre. For example, the song Hollow, starts with a hard gabber-ish beat, that gives the impression that this song will be Noizy, but a few measures in, the song turns to take a more rock approach. Then when you get to the bridge, there is a lovely calm bit with PIG-like orchestration. It sounds very confused, but when you hear the execution, it is flawless. The nice part about the album is that the energy remains high throughout the whole CD. None of the tracks are cookie cutter either. Each track has something attractive about it either in the lyrics, or the music that makes you pay attention. This is not some album to throw in and casually listen to. It won’t let you. My preferred tracks on the album are the downtempo but very angry Blackened, an entirely revised Rogue State ’08, and Hollow, which I can’t put into words just how cool it sounds.

For their first full-length CD, XUBERX, has set a very high bar for themselves. By finding a way to bring fuse elements of all the sub-genres of industrial back into the parent genre, they have taken two steps back and three steps forward. I look forward to their next album just to see what they can do. Will they open a track with a soft Attrition like synthesizer, and then jump into an Ohgr type rant. Maybe do something hard and grindy like Genitorturers with Claire Voyant like vocals? With news that the band is helping on a PJ Harvey tribute album, I can only imagine what they will patchwork together into a piece of art.

For More Information go to:
http://www.xuberx.com

- Kantrip (Jan, 2009)

Music Review: Ego Likeness "West"

Ego Likeness "West EP" West is the 2nd of the much anticipated Compass EPs from Baltimore band, Ego Likeness. West delivers new tracks along with remixes and a remake of one of their older tracks. While the wait for West was long, fans will not be disappointed.

Nature's cruel and unforgiving ways remain a core focus of Ego Likeness' music, but West feels softer and calmer in its approach of such subjects. I Live on What's Left (2008) is a perfect example of this gentle severity. The new single Sirens and Satellites revisits the lyrical themes of South. The urge to surrender to the overwhelming depths of the ocean. Rather than invoking Leviathan, a strong anthem is sung to the Sirens of the sea. Or maybe it's the sirens singing of their allegiance to some deeper force. Either way, the chime-like synths, doubled vocals, and guitars create a very hypnotic track that you can easily lose yourself in, much like its namesake's call. If you haven't had a chance to sample this track, please see this live video of the song being performed at Dragon-Con 2008.

Hypofixx lends his talents to a remix of Burn Witch Burn, which is perfectly oontzy and stompy. With most EBM remixes you get the hooks and little more, but not here. There is a nice balance of all the hooks that make the song fun to dance to, and the song's narrative. Egg of the Mother, is the predecessor to Save Your Serpent. Don't expect a 2002 version of the song though. The Egg of the Mother, is largely instrumental and ambient with lots of low drum beats, spacey synthesizers, and Donna's quiet chanting. Keeping up with this ambience is the Sidhe Remix of Severine by Hopeful Machines. This version of Severine is content and resigned to the cruel lessons taught by a harsh mentor. Very atmospheric, sad, and a fitting way to close out the EP.

If you are going to order this EP, DO NOT WAIT. Unlike their last EP, The Lowest Place on Earth, West is limited to 300 copies which have had a large number pre-sold when the band announced its release in November. Each copy is signed and only costs $10.00 (US) with $2.00 for shipping and handling.

For more information, or to order go to:
http://www.egolikeness.com

Live Video of Sirens and Satellites (Dragon Con 2008):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9Las66_4bg

- Kantrip (December - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: Greater Than One "The Complete Works"

When thinking about the industrial music scene of the early to mid-90's some common names come up. Consolidated, Skinny Puppy, Chris Connelly, Pigface, and the list can go on. This was a period where industrial music was just as it was named. Machine built and not pretty in the least. Harsh beats, lyrics full of political unrest, and random samples from various movies, and news reels all creating a bizarre mosaic that was dancy and thought provoking. I was introduced to this musical revolution when a friend in college forced a box of Pigface, and Current 93 CDs into my hands and said "listen and learn." The obsession started there and hasn't stopped for me. Sadly in all the time I've picked at people's musical knowledge, never once did the name Greater Than One (or later GTO) come up.

GTO was a collaboration b/w London-based, husband and wife team Michael Wells and Lee Newman. Starting in 1985, GTO spread their messages via performance, recordings, and art installations. Later their recorded albums were picked up in the US by Wax Trax! and other independent labels, and as with the fate of most underground music labels, vanished from circulation when the label vanished. Thankfully, Brainwashed Archives re-released GTO's entire catalog of works. The collection consists of 3 packs, each pack focusing on one of the LPs, and bundling in additional EPs, enhanced CDs and DVDs within them. Having given all 8 of the CDs a good listen, I'm rather annoyed with the fact that it took me so long to hear about GTO. Dating back as far as 1987, elements of their music can be heard in almost every aspect of industrial music today. I would even venture to say that they explored some musical ground well before many of the noted industrial pioneers, based on the dates of their recordings and the sounds they produced. Greater Than One was well ahead of their time.

The first album, All the Masters Licked Me, is largely ambient and experimental. War drums and droning chants bleed gracefully into Japanese flutes and soft gongs, and then back into some dead-like moans with clock noises providing a steady beat. There's not a lot in the way of vocals or lyrics, and the song titles convey most of the messages that the band was putting out to the audience. Names like, The Intelligence of Natives, The Sweet Smell of a Supermarket on Fire, and We Are the People with the Human Fist. If you're a fan of acts like Test Department, Psychic TV, or Hopeful Machines, I highly recommend this particular album out of the bunch. Bundled with this CD is the Trust EP which is only 2 long tracks, running about 30 minutes in length, and an enhanced CD with MP3s, photos, and an art book.

The next LP in the collection is London, which was originally released in 1989. This album incorporated more of a pop/dance sensibility in it, and has been said to be the point where sample bands became their own genre. Tracks like Now is the Time and Peace are chocked full of funky bass lines, and a house music style, often looping pieces of historic speeches or instructional recordings over and over to spell out the song's ultimate meaning. In comparison to All The Masters Licked Me, London is a bit more hopeful and optimistic in its demeanor. While the messages conveyed are no less severe, GTO takes a more pop-oriented approach to delivery. Elements of the darker side of GTO emerge in the latter portion of the album on songs like Brick Lane, The Rose The Cross and The Flag, and Crisis. The second CD of this pack is largely the same as the first. Lots of dancy beats, heavy sampling, and overt political themes. There is also a DVD with music videos, and art reel included in this binder.

Last but not least we have the final contribution of GTO to the evolving industrial scene, G-Force. G-Force is vastly different to the other 2 albums. First off, it relies less on a collage of random audio samples and focuses more on vocals, synthesizer loops, and very progressive beats. Out of the main LPs that the collection gathered, G-Force is the most club-friendly but impressed me the least. It was hard to distinguish one track from the next when I just had it on in the background. It sounded very generic and not like the pioneering sound terrorists that I had just spent 6 hours listening to. The Utopia EP, which is also bundled in this collection, was much more to my liking. Opening up with the collage-sampled I Don't Need God, it still has that polished engineered sound to it, but maintains the heavy political tastes that the previous albums maintained. I think my favorite track on this EP is Fear is the Agent of Violence which consists of 2 gentlemen discussing Trotsky's theories on communism and art, while war drums and very foreboding horns blast in between the arguments. It is very much a switch back to the ideas that GTO explored on All the Masters Licked Us. The last CD of the G-Force pack is unreleased material that the band had yet to coalesce into an album. These tracks demonstrate where Michael Wells would later go with bands like Signs of (ov) Chaos, and S.O.L.O.

So after about a week of listening to Greater Than One, I am reminded of what made Industrial music so appealing to me in the first place. Heavy hitting political commentary, stitched together like some punk scrap book, with a bit of a dance beat to it. The release dates of some of the material, as far back as 1985, makes me think that much of what we enjoy today was cut and tested by this duet out of London. I don't really recommend it for club play, except for the tracks "Now is the Time" or "Utopia AA", but I highly recommend this entire collection to fans of anything early to mid 90's Industrial. Greater Than One fills that odd missing link b/w bands like Coil and Sheep On Drugs. Even if you think committing to 8 CDs of one band could be bit too much I recommend at least sampling the London album. You will not be disappointed.

For more information please visit http://brainwashed.com/gto/

- Kantrip (November - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: Darker Days Tomorrow "Nothing"

On their sophomore release, DDT returns with their trademark guitar-driven electro industrial sound. For the most part this album varies little from the first album Zeitgeist; however there are some tracks that demonstrate the possible directions the band could take from this point.

Nothing (Version) has a soft and light feel to it and would fit well in a nightclub set. Nothing (Harder) takes on hard and angry vocals and feels very KMFDM-ish. Then there are the tracks like Harbinger and Degrade which have a Front Line Assembly approach to them. Somber with evil sounding drums and synthesizers, where everything weaves together to create this world the lyrics are describing. The bulk of the album is good guitar driven industrial music that almost borders Noize, but never makes that full leap into the genre. On the topic of lyrics, Nothing has a good balance of songs regarding political issues, and personal reflections. Honestly the personal outweighs the political on this album in my opinion. The title track Nothing speaks of the urge to run like mad when everything blows up around you and the feeling of futility that often follows from rebuilding. Complete has an angrier and more defiant tone to it as if trying to say “I will succeed and I will make you watch while I do it.”

My only complaint about the album is the vocals. When you have musically stellar album, it really can take down the listening experience when the vocals stay dry from track to track. While I don’t expect every artist or band to be flexible in every aspect, I had hoped that the vocals would have followed suit with the experimental nature of some of the songs. This isn’t so much a gripe about the band as it is a gripe with Industrial music as a whole. Lately any project with a male lead vocalist seems to have this default raspy voice that borders on monotone with its delivery. There is this anathema to actually trying to push the limits of ones voice along with the limits of ones instruments. Most Synthpop has amazing ranges within the vocals but they never leave the security of their pre-programmed loops, while industrial is the exact opposite. Psuedosanct does vary his vocals from this industrial rasp to something softer and sadder on In The Name Of, and Nothing (Version).

On the whole, Darker Days Tomorrow delivers another good album of industrial that seems to hold true to an ideal of what industrial music is. It’s hard enough to be noize, with enough guitars to be Rock, and dancy enough to get played in a club. If I had to sum up the album in one word, it would be, balanced.

For more information please visit: http://www.darkerdaystomorrow.com/Home.html

- Kantrip (September - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: Hellblinki "Oratory"

You'll have to forgive the conversational tone of this review. It’s hard for me to listen to Hellblinki (formerly The Hellblinki Sextet) and not think back to all those early shows held in a small venue that doubled as an art gallery. To not think of all those nights in the Hangnail Gallery with all those elements of being “under construction” fading into the backdrop as the band rolled out onto the stage. Suddenly you were in this bizarre world ruled by jazz, cabaret, opera, and tribal drumming. If you can't forgive it then take those mental images with you as I proceed because that is the exact way Oratory needs to be heard.

For their third full-length album, Oratory, Hellblinki has brought together a brilliant combination of new and old material with a lot of the experimental elements that makes them fun live. The band uses surreal audio samples to open songs like The End, and Bella Ciao, while bridging the main songs with random conversations one of their fans had with the Hellblinki answering machine. Andrew Benjamin channels a combination of a circus ringleader and zombified Tom Waits in his vocals, while their accordion player and female vocalist Valerie Meiss, bounces between a very sultry jazz singer to that of a formally trained opera diva. The Old I mentioned previously refers to tracks the band has been playing live for years but have not appeared on an official album, like Bella Ciao, Ruckus and Can Be Free. The parts of the album that impresses me most are the songs that are not likely to be played at a live Hellblinki revel, songs such as Circle, Drums, and River. These tracks have some untamed chaos to them being largely instrumental in some parts and stitched together with snippets from news reels, old films, and Valerie's singing.

There are lots of bands that can find their niche and evolve within it. Sometimes you have an album that is completely unlike the past ones and you figure, "Hey, the band is trying something new". This usually occurs around the third album. For Hellblinki, their third album just shows how good music just gets richer with time. If you haven't heard the band, go look them up on myspace.com under Hellblinki. This is a good album for those nights where you feel a little down, a little bouncy, and just all over weird. And if you haven’t had the opportunity to see Hellblinki live, go now! It’s a night you will not soon forget.

For more information go to: http://www.hellblinki.com

- Kantrip (August - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: The Myriad Form "Self/Titled"

The Myriad Form is collaboration between Severina X Sol (Cylab), Richard "Lurch" Pilawski (The Unextraordinary Gentlemen), and Ian W. Mayer (Near Death Experience). Fans of their individual projects may raise an eyebrow to such a meeting of minds but the result is some of the best Goth rock, darkwave, and shoegazer I've heard in a long while.

Tracks like The Oceans Deep, and 100 Days have this melancholy Shroud-like sound to them that is good background music for quiet days. I love the album purely for its opening track The Oceans Deep. For a darker sound, I suggest Orchid, and Her Void. Very dancy and with that bit of electro that pushes it over to the Darkwave genre. The rest of the album I can't describe as anything other than good ole Goth Rock. Soft at times, hard in others. Honestly there is not a single thing about this album I could say something bad about.

While it was released over a year ago it would still go on my top 10 of albums for the year.

For more information please go to: http://www.themyriadform.com

- Kantrip (July - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: ThouShaltNot "New World EP"

It’s been 2 years since ThouShaltNot released Land Dispute and months of fans asking if a new album in the works. There were a few mentions on Livejournal and their website that an album was coming but no news when. And now the fans rejoice because ThouShaltNot has re-emerged with the New World EP in support of their 2008 US Tour.

According to the band, the EP is some of the material that did not fit, but was in the direction of the new album's sound. The New World EP has a lot of the electro feel of White Beyond but a lot more of the storytelling approach that Land Dispute had. Tracks like New Year, and Route 25 definitely have some great tale to tell, while April We Can Break Through If We Try, and New World are sure to be club anthems. The band also covers the Rolling Stone's Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses and the Legendary Pink Dots' A Space Between.

TSN definitely is going for more of an electro approach on this EP, but still keeps that indie-rock sound that dominated Land Dispute. April, We Can Break Through is the best example of this approach. Nice dancy vibe, but there is a very sad and soft quality to it that almost makes you want to hold back from dancing and just enjoy lyrics. The title track "New World" is best summed up by saying, last but not least. The song opens up with a four on the floor beat, and catchy hooks. Then when the first verse hits, the intensity jumps through the roof. If it hasn't been played already in a lot of clubs, I heavily recommend bugging your local DJ about it. And yes it will fit in nicely with that VNV Nation track that people have to hear every damn week.

The only problem I had with this EP is that it was limited edition, which means that unless you or a friend snagged a copy at one of the shows during the tour, good luck getting your hands on a copy now. I only say that because of the fervor I saw when fans hit the merchandise table.

If New World is an example of material that didn't fit on the new album, I honestly can't wait for the next full-length. Definitely one of my top albums of this year.

For more information go to: http://www.thoushalt.net

- Kantrip (July - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: The Synthetic Dream Foundation “Behind the Gates of Horn and Ivory”

Never judge a book by its cover, or title for that matter. Yes I am talking about a CD here, but the same principle applies. At first look, the latest release from Brett Branning's The Synthetic Dream Foundation "Behind the Gates of Horn and Ivory" looks and sounds like something full of neo-renaissance music akin to Qntal, Corvus Corax, or maybe even Inkubus Sukkubus (or are they spelling it with C's again). However the digipak's art and title are misleading. What you get is about 60 minutes of hard, dark, and fast industrial that sounds like it belongs in a sci-fi movie's soundtrack.

Big thundering beats and deep synth loops make up the backbone of most of the tracks, but the meat of the songs range from something sinister and apocalyptic or fast and hopeful. Tracks like "They Who Breathe Darkness" or "Formless Beasts" embrace the dancier "hopeful stuff" while songs like "They Who Breathe Darkness" and "Among the Angels Debri" angle along the former moods. A big sell for me on any album that is largely instrumental is how it all flows together. Too many slow tracks grouped together and then jumping to fast make the album boring but if you keep jumping from fast to slow then you make the album distracting and the listener has a hard time losing themselves in it. "Behind..." has a nice balance to it overall. Tracks that start out hard and fast usually end on a fading slow note, and then a "slow" track will take over. All of the tracks are completely club friendly. They all have a nice beat that make them fit right in with some songs from E Nomine, Juno Reactor, Haujobb, or This Morn Omina. It just depends if you want "4 on the floor" or something a bit more disjointed.
Now 90% of the album is instrumental but there are some tracks with vocals to them. The vocals consist of a raspy voice reminiscent of Suicide Commando or Hocico. With the way that Brett Branning creates these very heavy soundscapes the raspy lyrics sound almost like some other loop or sequence that has been added to the mix. Normally vocals like this will cause me to click to the next track, but I enjoy them as part of the experience, in this case.

Since receiving this album in the mail it’s hardly been out of my CD decks. I highly recommend giving it a listen, and if you're a fan of what I am calling "Epic Industrial Music" (as in instrumental electro stuff that seems to tell a story), then I HIGHLY recommend giving this album a listen.

You can learn more about TSDF at: http://www.tsdf.net/

- Kantrip (June - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: Lunascape “Innerside”

“Innerside” is the long awaited follow up to Lunascape’s 2005 album “Reminiscence” and their 2nd US released album. When I first heard “Mindstalking” I was immediately taken with the band’s detailed soundscapes and exotic vocals. “Reminiscence” was like listening to a hazy half-wake dream that you didn’t want to leave. Innerside still has Lunascape’s trademark sounds but rather than being a dream world on the verge of waking, the album has a feeling of insomnia within a spiraling metropolis. It feels more cool, calculated, and aware of its surroundings.

Musically the album is more electric. And I don’t mean more “Oontz oontz oontz”, but the synthesized elements seem to take a forefront on most of the tracks while the guitars and bass lines back them up. Then on songs like “Electro Love” and “Chemical Lingo” there’s less trip-hop and more pop. It’s not a drastic difference mind you, as the guitars, violins, drums, and pianos still create flowing soundscapes that moves flawlessly from track to track. Kyoko’s lyrics on the album also have a sharp awareness to them. “United Brands” addresses the fashion industry and equal rights, while “Burden of Beauty” takes on today’s obsession with plastic surgery. The majority of the songs have an ambiguous meaning to them, which is more common with Lunascape. They could be love songs; they could have great personal meaning; they could remind you of some random comment made in passing. The vocals and lyrics are very easy to get lost in and also make your own. The tracks slide in and out of each other and the more pop-driven songs have a nice slow build up to them, so it’s not jarring to the listening experience in the least.

There is a deluxe version of the album out with 2 CDs. The 2nd CD “Otherside” is composed of the band’s earlier works, songs from the Flikken movie soundtrack, and their submission to the Neil Gaiman tribute album, “Ravenstar”. Hearing some of the early tracks on the 2nd CD, you can tell that Lunascape hasn’t altered their sound too drastically over the years but you can tell where experience and experimentation has taken some of the rough edges off.

Innerside is easily Lunascape’s best album. It’s a beautiful balance of trip-hop, rock, and pop that provides a beautiful listening experience. You can put the CD in and let it keep on playing and playing.

For more info: http://www.lunascape.net/

- Kantrip (April - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: Individual Totem “Mothfly”

I’m always a bit skeptical when someone touted as a “veteran” of any musical movement comes back after a long hiatus with a new album. And that’s exactly what “Mothfly” is. The culmination of almost 10 years of work by Individual Totem, after almost disappearing completely after 1997’s “Mind Sculptures Flesh”. With many bands this can go one of two ways, a huge flop with disappointed fans or the band picking up where it left off and churning out what can be a spectacular release. Thankfully Individual Totem falls into the latter category.

Mothfly is chocked full of industrial goodness from every end of the genre’s spectrum. You get the more rock/club driven stuff with the opening track “WWW” and “Redeemer”. There’s the experimental disjointed (read: Its not club material but it’s really effin good shit) tracks like “The Ugly Game” and “Reflexion”. And then there’s my preferred taste the more atmospheric twisted stuff like “In Memorial”, and the title track “Mothfly”.

After playing the CD for a few friends who didn’t know who Individual Totem was, I got a lot of comparisons to other acts. Skinny Puppy, Haujobb, Project Pitchfork, X Marks the Pedwalk, and KMFDM to name a few. This isn’t surprising since Individual Totem was cranking out tracks with these other bands around the same time period (Mid-Nineties-ish) that helped to evolve industrial music into its current forms. The reason that it took them so long to come out with a new album was apparently due to a lack of a supporting label, some technological issues, and IT’s own attention to getting all the details of the songs just right. Thankfully they have found a home with Artoffact Records and we’ll see more of their ground shaping work with a little more frequency. To hear what they have been working on for over a decade now go to: http://www.myspace.com/individualtotem

- Kantrip (April - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: Iris "Hydra"

The latest EP from Iris, it could be argued that Hydra is a taste of what’s to come or maybe an overdue remix album for 2005’s Wrath. Either way it’s a must have album. Reagan Jones and Andrew Sega continue to evolve the rock fueled synthpop they have been experimenting with since “Awakening”, with tracks like “New Invaders”, “Quit Breaking Your Own Heart”, and “Nobody Wins”. The rest of the album is filled with very creative remixes of tracks from Wrath like “Land of Fire”, “Appetite”, and “No One Left to Lose” and some older tracks. Also included is a behind the scenes DVD which takes the viewer into the creative process of Wrath and Hydra, and on the road with the band on various tours. I honestly hope that the three new tracks are teasers of a new full-length to come. If they are any indication of what the band’s been up to, it will be a stellar album.

I know that there are not too many people that got into Iris beyond “Annie, Would I Lie to You”, but I honestly do urge those persons to give the band another listen. Start with Awakening or Wrath. Hydra is probably not a good starting point for new fans, but for long time fans or DJs that need some really good remixes of Iris tracks to fit into their sets, this is a must buy for 2008. For more information on Iris go to: http://www.irismusic.com

- Kantrip (April - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: Abney Park "Lost Horizons"

Abney Park has quickly become recognized as (and I quote) “That Steampunk band”. Granted they’ve been around longer than this recent Steampunk craze that has hit the gothic and industrial culture, but if you’ve seen the band live in the past couple years, you’d realize why they’ve earned that title. The band’s latest release Lost Horizons cements their Steampunk identity with narrative tracks that build up this world of Lost Tomorrows for the listener.

Tracks like “Airship Pirate” and “The Secret Life of Dr. Calgori” paint a sepia stained picture of a world where gears, brass, and steam replace silicon, wires, and plastic. Captain Robert’s vocals have this low whispery quality to them which fits well with the way Magdalene Veen’s backing vocals weave in and out of the mechanical rhythms of the guitars, dumbek, and violins. For fans of Abney Park’s older stuff, but not big fans of the Steampunk craze, you needn’t worry. AP retains their electro gypsy rock sound on tracks like “Sleep Isabella”, “The Emperor’s Wives”, and “This Dark and Twisty Road”. There are also tracks like “Herr Drossenmeyer’s Doll” or the bonus track at the end of the album that has this almost dark broken calliope vibe to it. Closing the album the listener is treated to the very bouncy “Post-Apocalyptic Punk” which I am still on the fence if it’s just supposed to be fun and silly or a stab at the Nu-Punk that’s been popular lately. *shrugs* It’s up to interpretation I suppose.

Overall, Lost Horizons is an amazing album. No one solid sound to the whole album and it’s nice to hear Steampunk themed music. I like a lot of the more jazzy, chamber music bands that make up most of the Steampunk genre mind you, but its nice to hear an album where the band takes on the persona of adventurers in this bizarre alternate reality and sings of their adventures and misdeeds. If you haven’t heard of Abney Park or want to see what the crew of the Airship Ophelia has been up to, go to http://www.abneypark.com

- Kantrip (April - 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: Voltaire "Ooky Spooky"

I’m a year late in grabbing this CD, but seeing as how I just now bought the album I think a review is due. I’m a big Voltaire fan, but I’ll admit that while “Time and Again” was able to showcase V’s more serious songwriting side, it was a bit disconcerting to go to his shows and hear the more bawdy and silly songs, and then pop in the CD to hear something like “Welcome to the World”. I like both sides of the man’s musical talents, but if you’re more a fan of the more vaudevillian stuff, then Ooky Spooky is the album for you.

Voltaire puts to CD several of the tracks we’ve been hearing live for sometime like “The Cantina Song”, “Hell in a Hand basket”, and “Bomb New Jersey”. For fans of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, the CD kicks off with “Land of the Dead”, the opening theme to the Cartoon Network movie for the show. There are a few “thinker” tracks on the album as well. “Dead” would’ve fit in very well on Time and Again, with a very scathing look at the nature of faith and religion. Stuck with you has a similar serious tone and is a very touching song, if you look beyond the references to Korean bayonets, and dismemberment. But once you get past these tracks you find yourself back in the middle of the morbid laugh-fest closing out the album with “Reggae Mortis”, and “Hell in a Hand basket”.

As a longtime Voltaire fan, I think Ooky Spooky is a damn good album. In comparison to the other albums in his discography, its light hearted and revisits a good bit of the twisted humor that we got introduced to with “The Devil’s Bris”. It’s a nice evolution and bit of relief from the rather serious themes of the past 2 albums.

If you haven’t had a chance to sample some of his wares then go visit his myspace: http://www.myspace.com/voltairenyc

- Kantrip (April - 2008)

MySpace Music Finds: 01/11/08

The Velvet Razor: Rather nice little gothy electro sound. Only one song on the profile. From their MySpace I guess they are no more but the one song is worthy of listing.
Link: http://www.myspace.com/velvetrazor

Behind The Scenes: Mmmmm I heart goth rock. I heart it so much especially when it sounds like this. They will apparently be at Blacksun 2008 in May.
Link: http://www.myspace.com/behindthescenesmusic

The Sugar Dames: Not so much gothy as just nice dark, jazzy, and sultry. If you like Nick Cave, or something with a lounge-y feel, I recommend this highly.
Link:http://www.myspace.com/thesugardames

The Passing Hour: This band reminds me of stuff like Prophetess, or Ikon. Wonderful vocals and I heart the guitars.
Link: http://www.myspace.com/thepassinghour

Sapphire Solace: A new collaboration from Rick Joyce of The Last Dance and Velvet Shadow. Fans of The Last Dance, Collide, and i:Scintilla will defintely enjoy this.
Link: http://www.myspace.com/sapphiresolace

Jaggery: Something for those with a ear for college indie rock, trip-hop, and music for quiet rainy days. I like Javelin and Elfin Arrietty out of all the samples on the profile.
Link: http://www.myspace.com/jaggery

Utah Saints: Not new but I stumbled upon thier Myspace. Apparently they DJ more now but are working on some Breaks version of old tracks. Some samples are on their profile. Glad to see them still in action.
Link: http://www.myspace.com/utahsaints

False Redemption:Metal, Industrial, and he writes songs about things that happened to him at work. I actually know what happened with Blood Salad. Anyways not normally my cup of tea but he's got passion and creativity.
Link:http://www.myspace.com/atasteofpuredistaste

- Kantrip (January 11th 2008)

MUSIC REVIEW: De/Vision, "Noob"

I'm a huge fan of De/Vision but I've always believed that the new releases have always been good for just listening and then wait for the remix album to come out to pimp their music in the club. After hearing N00B I immediately revised my opinion on this matter. In fact I'm almost loathe to hear any remixes of the tracks from the latest De/Vision album.

From start to finish N00B is very very L337. The album has a very Depeche Mode flavor to it, and feels a lot like De/Visions early catalog. I believe the reason for this is that the band collaborated with the producers on the album this time rather than their previous works. A good example of this is the N00B version of "Love Will Find A Way". The original was very synthy and had a very upbeat feel to it. The N00B version has a darker mood, has sampled guitars, and is a bit shorter. You can hear where the song was changed and how its all the better for it.

As I mentioned before, the album doesn't need any remixing. From Track 1, the album is perfect for a nice dark and gothy set. And I'm not using "gothy" in the terms of a EBM set. I mean GOTHY. Depeche Mode, some slower Cure and Siouxsie, Attrition, or something along those lines. Best tracks off the album for club play would be, What You Deserve, Obsolete, Flavor of the Week, and Love Will Find A Way.

One of my favorite albums of the year and will definitely be on the top 10 list.

- Kantrip (November 3rd 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Blaqk Audio, "Cex Cells"

Granted this AFI side-project has been out for some time but I'm just now getting around to post the review on it. When I first found out about Blaqk Audio I was very skeptical. Punk-rock band doing a synthpop/EBM project. Then I remembered that most of the bands currently that have a more electronic sound to them (Cruxshadows, Clan of Xymox, etc) started with a more punk rock sound and later evolved into a more electro based sound. So I took a listen to the sample I got of "Stiff Kittens". Wowies.

Blaqk Audio has a sound that pulls from a lot of earlier albums from many EBM veteran acts. You can hear a bit of VNV, A23, Covenant, Icon of Coil, Blutengel, and others. Amazing energy that moves from track to track throughout the album. My only real gripe is that it starts hard and fast and begins to lose its edge about 5 songs in. One song starts to blend into another and its hard for me to focus on each track beyond that. But that's my personal perception. Tracks like Stiff Kittens, Snuff on Digital, Bitter for Sweet, and Semiotic Love are some of the best tracks on the album and show good promise as dance-floor anthems.

Honestly I like what I'm hearing, and while "Cex Cells" has its dull moments, I can still pick out the dull moments on Covenant's "United States of Mind" as well, despite it being one of my favorite albums. I really hope that Blaqk Audio is not just a one shot deal, and that another album is in the works. Usually a sophomore effort has a bit more polish but keeps the same passion of the debut. Honestly this is one of the best new finds of the year for me.

- Kantrip (November 3rd 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: XUBERX, "Rogue State"

XUBERX is a new Powernoize project out of Baltimore MD, founded by DJ Cheetahdave. Normally I shy away from noize bands or anything that touts the title of "noize". However, after listening to the EP, I'm not so certain that powernoize is a good indicator of their sound.

Rogue State has that quality of dancy industrial that I found in acts like Nitzer Ebb, or Die Warzu. Repetitious beats and rather harsh sounds but elements of melody to it as well. For example the beats are clear and bouncing and don't sound like someone was beating on the drum machine with a hammer. The vocals are run through a processor, but they aren't distorted screaming. The lyrics have something to say rather than being a litany of political rage, and violent metaphors. There is also a very nice "live" element to it as well. The remixes on the album take the song "Rogue State" to places that may be considered more "powernoize" with the "hammered drum machine" sound to it, and a level of distortion added.

XUBERX is good industrial dance, that's about all that needs to be said. Its clear, clean, angry, stompy and fun. Its not trying to force feed post-apocalyptic tragedy down your throat and makes you want to dance, not start a war. I look forward to hearing a full length from them in the future.

- Kantrip (November 3rd 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Ego Likeness, "South"

This limited edition EP is part 1 of a 4 CD set that Ego Likeness will be releasing over the next year or so. From my understanding the EPs South, North, East and West will be a combination of new material, older tracks reworked, and some remixes.

The title track South builds more on the themes and sounds Ego Likeness explored in Dragonfly (or that's my take on it). Speaking of Dragonfly, there's a 2007 version of the track Second Skin. This version is the way that Steve Archer wanted it to sound originally, and the difference is very noticeable. There's less "atmosphere" to the song and there's a steady beat that starts up the track as well, making it very friendly for beat-matched set. The lyrics aren’t as processed but the song still retains its very earthy feel. The remixes on the album are rather good as well. I'm not a big fan of the Angelspit remix of "Burn Witch Burn", but they made a very cool industrial take on the track. The E.A. Rowe remix of Aviary makes the song sound less pensive and stressed. Aviary has more of a sound of surrender to it than a sound of paranoid awareness. Ending out the EP is the rather jazzy track "Funny Olde World" which was Ego Likeness' alternate submission for the Neil Gaiman tribute CD "Where's Neil When You Need Him?". This song being about the demon, Crowley, from "Good Omens, Bad Omens".

The only disappointing factor to this album is its rather limited edition status, which means that if fans want to get their hands on it or any of the coming releases it means grabbing it while you can. The band has already announced a bit before Halloween that they had about half the CDs sold and that after they hit 200 sold mark they would not be available for online sale.

Being a big EL fan I'm eagerly awaiting the next 3 EPs, but as far as introducing new fans to EL's music I would recommend one of their full length CDs first and not starting with South. If you want to order the CD, I recommend doing so now and not later. Go to: http://www.egolikeness.com/south/southpreorder.html

- Kantrip (November 3rd 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Monica Richards, "Infrawarrior"

Fans of Faith and the Muse will no doubt be interested in Monica Richard's solo project "InfraWarrior", but I feel it’s important to note that this is NOT another Faith and the Muse album. While Faith and the Muse has used Welsh myth, pagan symbolism, and eco-centric themes in their music, the lyrics always existed outside these realms. Hits and glimmers but no direct associations, and always a mystery open to a thousand interpretations.

“InfraWarrior” contains its own mystical energy, but it’s not veiled. The myths, symbols, and politics are all there but they are blatant, raw, and feral. It sounds as if Monica Richards opened her head and poured out her fears, hopes and angers for the listener to "see". We are shown her as the Warrior, the Artist and the Woman. We hear her words and opinions but she makes it clear that these are her thoughts, and not anthems to rally around.

Musically, the album has a very tribal and atmospheric feel to it. Almost every track has a primal marching beat and heavy droning synths accompanied by violins, bass, and guitars. Richard's vocals fluxes between fierce whispers and throaty wails, and when combined with the instrumentation, the listener is taken to another realm entirely. It’s not monotonous though. Elements of Punk Rock, Goth, and Electro filter through on some tracks giving the album dance appeal for club DJs as well. These elements support the songs and do not over power them, so the musical landscape that's been created is not broken.

The aspect of "3" is another theme in the album that's worthy of note. The Triple Goddess, the three faces of Womanhood, the three trials of a warrior. The album artwork is rife with Triple Spirals and altered images of Richards in various "triple aspects". The music itself seems to follow this pattern. The first five tracks on the album have a common theme of anger. “Fell to Regret”, and “Gaia” speak of disrespect to the planet and the opression of women, while “In Answer” and “Into My Own” addresses--what I feel is--Richards' own artistic frustrations.

The next five tracks have a very pagan feel to them. Songs about the Antler King, spiritual journeys, and reflections on death all have a pan-celtic theme, and follow a tale of sacrifice, journey and rest. The album closes on a more nostalgic and tender note. Covers of Doctor Doolittle, and Avengers songs; and songs with a personal tone to them. The effect of all this is that we have seen the Warrior, the Artist/Shaman, and the Woman, all in one voice.

All the symbolism, and the "in your face" lyrics, caused me to study the album more than I was able to sit down and enjoy it. Again, it’s not Faith and the Muse, but at the same time, its sound is just enough like it to not alienate fans. It’s an amazingly good album, and a look into the mind of one of my favorite musicians.

Definitely one of my top 10's for 2007.

http://www.monicarichards.com/

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: i:Scintilla, "Optics"

The full length follow up to 2004's "The Approach", truly shows how i:Scintilla has evolved and expanded their sound. Within the realm of industrial rock, I've noticed that there's this middle ground of rock, and electronica that is not easily grasped. You either have a very electronic sounding album with sampled guitars, or you have a kick ass rock album with electronic elements backing it up, but i:Scintilla's managed to tame this middle ground perfectly.

Brittany Bindram's vocals have an angrier and crisper sound to them. Unlike "The Approach”, where the vocals sounded softer and were often times a bit hard to understand, here they are clear and strong. I'm in love with the guitars on the CD too. With most industrial you get these recycled loops or just lots of wailing solos. Definitely not the case here. It’s not an "element"; it’s a core to the song. It sounds very odd, but I can actually feel the guitars' energy in the back of my teeth. It’s very visceral. The synths and programming give the album its texture. They add extra dimensions to each song giving you things to listen for. An odd beat here and there, a loop that just jumps into the song and right back out again. Its all very lively and everything merges perfectly into complete songs.

My only kvetch is the reappearance of “Havestar”. Why? Because there was an EP for “Havestar” already released, and it was one of the more stand-up tracks on “The Approach”. Considering that "The Approach" is out of print, I can see why there was a need to recycle some of the tracks from it onto this album, but I feel that "Havestar" has had its moment of spotlight in helping to bring i:Scintilla to more ears.

Other than my one small complaint, “Optics” is a flawless album. There is not one track on the album that would be out of place in a dance club and out of the club it's stellar driving music. I get this mental image that this is what a live-show would be like. Hard hitting and unrelenting from the start and only winding down towards the end leaving the band as exhausted as the audience. Even after all that you still want to keep dancing.

This is going into my top five albums for 2007 already. There is a limited edition 2-CD set full of new remixes from Ego Likeness, Stochastic Theory, and contains the popular combichrist remix of “Havestar” as well. If you have not had a chance to hear what i:Scintilla is about then go now and listen. http://www.iscintilla.com

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Hopeful Machines, "Amphetimedian"

"Amphetimedian" is probably the most bizarre Hopeful Machines album to date. After several albums, I can identify the unique sound that runs through each HM album, but this time I was left at a loss of sorts. “Amphetimedian” is a fusion of calm and chaotic, all at once.

Imagine if some spider was hopped up on drugs and began randomly just pulling snippets of things into its web, and somehow by accident it all fell together like some perfect geometric structure. That's what this album is like. There's a strong "spine" that runs through the songs; obscure movie samples jump out of nowhere, and the synths will suddenly just change key. One moment you're just coasting along a very atmospheric sound while a eulogy is recited, and BOOM, the calm is broken. The shifts are almost violent, but you can still hold on to the "spine" behind it all.

There are tracks like “BrineOilTrainYard” that are entirely mellow and remind me of earlier Hopeful Machines stuff, but the bulk of the tracks such as “Life”, “Acceleration”, and “Onepillleftandmanycallstomake” all embody this chaotic geometric sound.

“Amphetimedian”, like every other Hopeful Machines album, is available for free download at http://www.hopefulmachines.net . It was released at the same time, with “TheSkyOnlyDrinksFromMyMouth”, which can be purchased as a limited edition delux album with “Amphetimedian” by contacting Steve Archer through http://www.hopefulmachines.net

Disclaimer: I am not saying this music was inspired by drugs and I know that the creator does not do drugs, but sometimes my metaphors can be a bit out there when it comes to trying to review music. Just to clear up any confusion...

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Attack Attack Attack, "No Gods, No DJs"

When this album was given to me, I was told that it was “noise”. This made me leery of it from the get-go unfortunately, but hearing about the concept behind Attack x3 and the follow-up project from Wingzar-8, made me curious. After listening to it several times, I would say that this is "noize", but its not the annoying kind and despite its overly political nature, I love the concept behind it.

Attack Attack Attack is a project by Wingzar-8 (a computer) and Margaret V.A. (an anarchist human). These two unlikely creative forces joined to created Attack x3, to convey a message of revolution, anarchy and overthrowing governments, capital, and the oppression of humanity. It’s noted on the CD as well that even though Wingzar-8 is a former member of the R.L.A. (Robot Liberation Army), it does not represent the views of this group. So what we have is a combination of free-robot and green-anarchy philosophies. Sad to say, that despite their disclaimer, Wingzar's anti-human sentiments come through strongly across the whole album, and it really throws the listener off to hear Margaret V.A. sing of revolution against humanity.

The album's "noize" is comprised of lots of samples of revolutionary speeches, distorted lyrics from Margaret V.A., and alternates between raw chaotic beats on some tracks, and then soft ambient synths on others. The track "Jim Jones Oh Jimmy", is actually a speech, I assume, from cult leader Jim Jones, set on a very soft background of looped synths. There are some club friendly tracks too like, "Take A Stand (Against God)", and "Girls Gone Violent" (which is a lovely anti-Suicide Girls tune). My personal favorite is "The Wall of the Living and the Dead", which has very lovely vocals and melodies. It has a very pink floyd feel to it.

As enjoyable as this album is, I am sad to say that this is the only CD from Attack x3. After this album, the two artists went their separate ways. While Margaret V.A. has yet to release a solo project, Wingzar-8 has released its own project, which I will be reviewing soon. From the sound of it, Wingzar has returned to its R.L.A. roots and philosophies.

If you're interested in learning more about Attack Attack Attack, or related projects spawned from it, please visit: http://www.tangledwilderness.org/ for more information.

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: AT4, Virenifedaa Op Va Deftouanula

I love being handed CDs randomly. Its like some christmas present you didn't expect to get. You just don't know what's inside of it, and you're never quite sure if it has a reciept. I was handed this EP as I was walking out of a show recently, and from the title I was able to discern that it was an electronic act, but what kind was it?

AT4 is best described as what would happen if Tear Garden, Skinny Puppy, and Mind in a Box cut a project together. The vocals are robotic and modulated like MiaB's while the beats are raw and vicious like Skinny Puppy. The Tear Garden influence enters into the atmospheric synths and sound scapes.

Its good EBM, and has a hard industrial edge so it could appeal to multiple audiences. My only criticism is the rough edges in its production. The beats are too "out front" and the vocals are "too far back". Its the best way I can describe it. I enjoy the sound that's being presented but a bit more engineering is recommended.

If you're interested in hearing more about AT4, I highly recommend going to their site: http://at4.t35.com for more information.

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Abney Park, Death of Tragedy

Abney Park "Death of Tragedy" I've known about Abney Park for several years from various tracks that people have sent me and just hearing about the band. This is the first time I've had the opportunity to listen to a full length album from the Steampunk/Gothic act out of Washington state, and I have to say I am loving every minute of it.

The most recent album, "Death of Tragedy" combines middle-eastern, gypsy, and gothic rock elements to create a musical experience that you want to put on repeat and listen to for hours. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every track made me want to get up and dance or shimmy (as much as my skinny ass can). The songs fluxuate between being thought provoking, fantastic, and silly. "Dear Ophelia" is a sad song written from the point of Hamlet, quite nicely summing up the Shakespeare tragedy. "All Myths are True" points a finger at apocalypse myths with broadcasters announcing the world ending tragedies as they occur. Lastly, and my most favored track, "The Wrong Side", is a fun dancy anthem for all those who enjoy things that are dark and wicked in this world.

And while this has nothing to do with the album, if you can ever see Abney Park live, I highly recommend it. They have an amazing energy with antics between the band and a very steampunk look. They dress like a troop of victorian mad scientists and vagabonds, and perform on bizarre inventions covered in clockwork,sprockets and springs. Its truly a very fun experience as far as the music and the visuals go.

All in all, I can say I am very impressed with "Death of Tragedy". It makes me want to go back into their discography and fill in the gaps to get a better idea of what Abney Park's music has evolved into.

http://www.abneypark.com

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Unitcode:Machine, no title listed

UnitCode:Machine is an EBM project out of Fort Worth, TX. The compares its sound to collaboration of Depeche Mode and Asche, which honestly I did not hear, but its very good EBM, to say the least. The disc I was sent contained a few tracks which were a good representation of the band's sound. I like the contrast I hear in their music. It has a hard industrial drive to it, while the vocals are softer and have a synthpop feel to them. So I can see the Depeche Mode vs Asche connection but not hear it.

A few stand up tracks of note are "Desolation" where male and female vocals bounce back and forth quite nicely and "Nightmare" which is a very strong instrumental track.

Fans of band like Interface, Blind Faith and Envy, and Distorted Reality may dig this project and it sounds like it would mesh quite well in a club set with said bands. Currently U:M is working on a new album so we'll see what new sounds come out of this project.

http://www.myspace.com/unitcodemachine

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Life Towards Twilight, I Swear By All the Flowers

What if machines could speak to us and sing to us, how would they do so? That's how I feel about Life Towards Twilight, except rather than a more futuristic organic sound, LTT is more of what the "things" around us would say and sing. More gears and springs than wires and buttons. If I were to assign a bit of a title to this kind of music I would say "Atmospheric Goth" but that doesn't properly describe this album as I've listened to it. Its not dancy and doesn't really have a rock appeal to it. But its good. Damn good. Its perfect music for rainy days or even if you want something to calm you.

The overall sound of the album is lots of pops and clicks from phonographs played over the sounds of trains clacking along tracks, while a piano and music box plink out little melodies. Railcars roll past on endless journeys and clocks tick their seconds by as the cars pass it by. Each "thing" adding its own voice to a "song" that we may hear everyday around us in the bustling cities. There's a sad feel to it that gives you the impression that these sounds pulled together to fill a void of silence and break their lonliness, but that's the mental image that I had when I put this CD in my player. Elyse Reardon lends her vocals to the album adding a human element to this serene world of sounds, but like with everything else, her vocals blend into the melodic cacophony rather nicely becoming another piece in the 'atmosphere'.

If you like more atmospheric and experimental projects, I highly recommend Life Towards Twilight

http://www.ltt.bottle-imp.com

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Bjork, Volta

A friend of mine commented once that Bjork is probably one of the only original things left in the world. Being a long time fan of her music, I'm inclined to agree. With most any musical act I've heard, I can trace a sound back to another artist or band that was an inspiration. Bjork is no exception, but rather than emulating aspects of her inspirations she breaks them down to the most basic elements and then turns them into something entirely her own. After Post, Bjork started on a path of building albums around singular elements. Strings, Horns, Vocals, etc. All of the songs had their own energies but you could see the core aspect in each song. Volta's focus is aound drums. In interviews Bjork has expressed that there is a strong horn focus to the album, but I feel Volta is more about the drums.

Vola is usual Bjork fare, meaning lyrics that range from faery innocence to deep philosphy. Often in the same verse. Her vocals stretch and reach a variety of ranges for going from soft and tender to primal shrieking. Tracks like "I See Who You Are", "My Juvenile", and "The Dull Flame of Desire" have the soft tranquility that pervaded the past 3 albums, but Volta is largely defined by the more firey songs like "Innocence", "Earth Intruders", and "Declare Independence" with their tribal drums, and revolutionary lyrics. Listening to this album reminds me of the pop energy of Post. Rapid shifting moods and tempos.

Another unusual evolution is the political nature of Volta. Bjork addresses ecology, terrorism, anarchy, and goes a bit into what innocence is to her. I wouldn't say so much that she's angry and being outspoken as she's just expressing her opinions on some things. Next album we may be back to songs about snowflakes and what thoughts they inspired.

No doubt, Bjork fans already have this album in their little mitts, but for anyone new to Bjork's music, but been too overwhelmed by her discography to step in, this is the album to choose. Its all the pop appeal of Post with the instrumental experimentation she's been known for.

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: VNV Nation, Judgement

I hate writing bad reviews. Sometimes it can't be avoided. I had hoped that after hearing snippets of VNV's newest album "Judgment", that we would be treated to something new and at least different from their prior releases, or at least something embracing their original ability to tell a story. However, when I managed to buy the CD used from someone for six bucks, just months after its release, my hopes sank. Listening to it, they sank lower.

If you've heard "Matter + Form", then you heard “Judgment” already. Admittedly, “Judgment” does take VNV back to the dark and bleak imagery of “PTF” and “Empires”, but it’s still the same boring formula that dominated the last two albums. A few blockbuster tracks like "The Farthest Star" and "Momentum", some somber spoken word tracks, and then a lot of instrumentals in between. The very spacey sci-fi theme to the lyrics is back as well. Journey onward and forward. Okay great, but where to? If I wanted to hear EBM Star Trek Music, I'd go listen to my Syrian CDs. The instrumentals are high energy and intense but sounding too much like Juno Reactor for my tastes. Can you still use it in the clubs? Oh, hell yeah. There's plenty of floor filler gems. As much as I disliked "Matter + Form", "Chrome" is still one of my favorite VNV Tracks. “Testament” is actually a very cool track and I love what its saying. "We've come to Paradise just to burn it down..." I don't discriminate against the track, but the album as the whole? That's another matter.

My main gripe is that VNV's lost the ability to tell a story. That's what set them aside from any other EBM act in my opinion. You could take the first three albums as a story line, or break up the albums into their individual tracks perfectly. Either as a personal anthem or this amazing tale of war and struggle, VNV was a true gem in a time when 60 minutes of "oontz" on a CD was becoming the norm, and quite boring.

If you're a diehard VNV fan, you no doubt have this CD in regular rotation already. It’s not as spacey and futurepop-ish as I feared, and does have that nice little dark edge to it, but for myself? I'm scanning it, marking the tracks I think would be good club play and storing it in my CD books as another CD just to have in case it gets requested. Honestly, this is very disappointing.

DJ Kantrip

- Kantrip (June 5th 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Assemblage 23, Meta

A23's latest album, "Meta" has dispelled about any negative thoughts about Shear's music I might have had at one point. I know I've said a number of times before but the problem with Electro acts is that its way to easy to get a full CD of the same Loops and beats that you've gotten before. It takes a really creative act to make a trademark sound and then tweak it enough that it becomes something new entirely. That's exactly what Meta is. Here's a breakdown of what I thought of each track:

01 Decades (V2) - I never heard Decades V1, but this is good stuff. About how I'd expect an A23 album to start out. What I like about it, is that you could drop the CD into a CD player and instantly mix it into a set. People who dig an older VNV or Lights of Euphoria sound will like this version of Decades

02 Raw - Hands down my favorite track on the album. Angry, stompy and full of lots of anger, then when the chorus hits, the song lifts up and gets all synthy and light. The lyrics and vocals do the same. Determined and pained and then hopeful and inspirational. I would LOVE to hear an extended version of this song.

03 Sorry - There's a small crowd of drama-mongering puppy-dogs that I would love to play this song for. Truthful and brutal. Sometimes you can be there all you want for someone but really all they want is someone to pity them. This is a song that should be played for every one of those people. It?s light and dancy. Not as much angry in its sound as it?s more spacey and trancy.

04 Ghosts - Darker and harder than the other tracks so far. It?s got a good beat, but it doesn't swallow the song. What I like about this track is that there's all these little beats, synths, and loops that are layered into the track that just burble to the surface and go back down. I keep listening to find some new sound it in.

05 Binary - The first single from the album. It?s good. I can see why I got club play. Not as impressive sounding as Raw though. I like the message the song conveys though. Not everything is "binary" or Black and White.

06 Damaged - The slow mournful track. Every EBM album has one. I'm not gonna be mean but its true. I like that the lyrics are not just mere wallowing in misery. Shear's message in this song is clear, "I'm Damaged, but I'm making something of this damage. I'm living, not just surviving."

07 Madman's Dream - I don't like political tracks. I don't but I like the new wave synthy sound to this track. It?s a pretty blatant shout at the dissatisfaction with our current government, but the bass line, the vocals, and synths just hook me into this track regardless.

08 Truth - Honestly I had a hard time getting into this track. It was hard in that "Hammer on Metal" way, with lots of stompy beats but I couldn't lose myself in the track.

09 Crush - I like the sound of the track but I had a hard time discerning what the lyrics were getting at. What kind of message was being conveyed?

10 Old - The slow closer track. Opens with a nice bit of drums that sound like they were recorded from the back of a big room. It has a bit of a nostalgic and hopeful feeling to the lyrics. Good way to close out the album.

If anything, I knew that there would be a slew of new albums coming out from electro acts. VNV, A23, God Module, etc. I keep hearing mixed reviews about a lot of them. Hit or miss. Recycling the same or coming up with something new. Well this is definitely something that encompasses all of it. The album as a whole has its hits and misses. It recycles some of the old sounds and comes up with new ones. In my opinion this make the album a must buy. I highly recommend it.

- Kantrip (April 25, 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: The Bastard Fairies, Momento Mori

Much like the name of the band suggests, The Bastard Fairies are a bizarre mixture of childlike wonder and adult cynicism. Musically the band is about as eclectic as you can get. Robin Davey's musical stylings are truly varied. Circus-y and surreal one moment, then you're dropped into a jumpy country western vibe. Just as you're happily tapping your foot and nodding along, the album shifts again and sounds like a folk-indie rock project from the late 90's. Yellow Thunder Woman's vocals can become deep sensual and breathy and then childlike and innocent. I think the one thing that I like the most about the vocals is the southern drawl that just sneaks in almost on purpose during some portions of songs. Lyrically the band has a very profound political message, or maybe not. Its hard to tell. Alot of the songs have this theme of sexual liberation to it or rails against modern religion in some manner, but its not in an obvious way. For example, the track "The Greatest Love Song" sounds very happy and light and you really get this feeling that this is a sincere love song, until the lyrics turn to wants of lobotomies, vasectomies and dressing alike. Or the track "Whatever" (which is not on the free album download), has YTW reading off a list of politically active behaviours that she is wanting to do, in the hopes that she can sleep with the person. While enjoying the music I found myself really trying to read beyond the obvious sarcasm and wondering if I should be looking for some deeper meaning to the lyrics or just take them at face value. The album's addicting like that.

The Bastard Fairies are also very much into videos. Very much. Just perusing their YouTube channel, or myspace they have several videos of their music available.

I also think I mentioned that the album is free somewhere in there too. Well it is. If you go to the bands MySpace or Webpage (see links at end of review) you can sign up to download a free version of the album. And despite the fact that the band is encouraging people to download the album for free, if you're one of those people that just HAS to buy the music, well on April 10th, you can because they have a CD/DVD coming out of the album with 5 bonus tracks on it.

If you're a fan of bands like Rasputina, 12 Rounds, Bjork, Snog, or They Might Be Giants, you really should check out The Bastard Fairies. And honestly what can it hurt? The album's fucking free!!

- Kantrip (March 30, 2007)

MUSIC REVIEW: Absurd Minds, The Focus

I've been reading a lot of reviews for this album from Absurd Minds and the general voice I'm hearing is: "Project Pitchfork with a steady dance beat through out the album". I'm actually inclined to agree, but I decided to probe a bit further in the album. The Focus has a very dark spacy sound to it, which when spun with bands like Syrian, Azoic, and the new VNV, creates a nice flow of music and content. The lyrics are what caught me the most on this album. There's alot of questions being asked. Alot of philosophy and even some rational questioning of the current status quo. Nothing angry. All just "why are you all acting this way". The album begins to fail after the 3 track however. The lyrics begin to sound cyclical and the music does the same. Its almost as if all they did was make a few good tracks, then change the sequencers and took a thesaurus to the lyrics. Keep the beat and concept. Lather rinse and repeat. Don't get me wrong. This is an excellent CD and will no doubt pack a dancefloor, but its not really something I could throw in and listen to for an extended period of time. Definitely worth a look if you're interested in just the lyrics, which I HIGHLY recommend. http://www.absurdminds.de

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Anders Manga, Blood Lush

If anything can be said about Anders Manga, its that they don't like to make their fans wait for new music. Less than 6 months since "Welcome to the Horrorshow", Anders Manga gives us, "Blood Lush". "Blood Lush" differs from the previous releases in that its sounds and themes are more concrete. As the name hints at, there is a vampire theme to the album. Lots of songs about blood, and hunting and being "of the night", but its in no way cheesy in the execution. Of course the musical sound doesn't deviate from the unique form of Darkwave that AM is well known for. Gothy and Dancy while not being too much of one or the other. What sets it apart from the other releases is that Blood Lush is very black and white in its emotional themes. The sad songs are very soft and trancy. The angry and uptempo songs make you want to "stand up and hunt". Honestly I envisioned a lot of those fancy fetish clubs that you see in modern vamp/cyberpunk flicks while listening to this album. A few gems are "Sleeping (In the Fire)", "Night of the Long Knives", and "At Dawn they Sleep". My only complaint is with the title track "Blood Lush". The backing female vocals do not mesh well with the lead male vocals, and honestly it sounds very unfinished and rough while the rest of the album has this very polished sound. Admittedly its still not "Left of an All Time Low" (which is my fave album to date), but its got more of an angry industrial edge to it, making it a bit more easy to fit into the hyper hours of a good night at the club. This is a very strong way to follow up "Welcome to the Horror Show" and I can't wait to see what's due next.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Anders Manga, Welcome to the Horror Show

Following mere months after their second album, “Left of an All Time Low”, Anders Manga has released, “Welcome to the Horror Show”, their third full length album. While the hype and promotion for this release has been rather muted, the album lives up to all expectations that fans have for the Charlotte, NC band. Anders returns with his progressive take on gothic dark wave dance music, but unlike, “Left….”, which is more fast and upbeat, “Welcome…” sounds more like a Switchblade Symphony, or 12 Rounds album. Dancey, but with more of a focus on the mood and lyrics. Honestly I was quite nervous that it would be another “Left…”, but the first single “Beautiful” dispelled that fear very quickly. “Welcome to the Horror Show” is an amazing counterpart to the sophomoric effort. The title track encompasses this feeling perfectly. For those that preferred the more aggressive sound of “Left…” I recommend the tracks, “Residual Fear” and “Lovely Sort of Death” which bring the mood back up to that heavy synthy dance vibe. Me personally, I prefer the slower tracks like “The Shrine” or the cover of Nick Cave’s “The Mercy Seat”. While I was surprised to see another full length album so quickly from Anders Manga, but “Welcome to the Horror Show” is by no means rushed or slapped together. From start to finish the album is another shining example of Anders talent and ambition. I have no doubts that we’ll see a fourth album next year possibly, but if I were them, I’d let “Welcome to the Horror Show” settle in with fans. Again, it wasn’t as heavily publicized as “Left of an All Time Low”, but truthfully the album’s quality should propel it onto play lists and charts very quickly. For information on how to purchase this and other Anders Manga albums or to check out the video for “Beautiful” go to: http://www.andersmanga.com

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Ayria, Flicker

Overview: Again its an album that's been out awhile but considering the energy that I saw at the live show, I had to get the most recent album. Here's what I thought:
1. Its Been Fun - Very honest track about the emotions and thoughts that go after an innocent "rendezvous" at a club. Reading the lyrics you'd think it'd be more somber but its an amazing dance track.
2. Counterblow - The softer vocals don't do well to mesh with the harder beats on this track sadly. It doesn't grab me as strongly as some of the other tracks. I like the vocals but feel the music should be a bit more mellow.
3. Selling Rebellion - Nice distorted sounds fit the subject of marketing deviance and rebellion as being "cool" while stripping the rewards of individuality from it. If that makes sense. Anyways its got a good message to it.
4. My Revenge Against the World - Favorite track on the album. Sounds like it would mix well into Nitzer Ebb's "Join in the Chant". Solid aggressive stompy goodness.
5. Pink Dress - This is a bit more of a goth rock track. Not as dancy but the vocals are very pretty and I like the mood that the song builds between the verses and chorus.
6. St. Edith - Slow track with a very melancholy feel to it. Kinda trip-hoppy but not much. Nice cool down track. If anything I like how it adds an element of diversity to the album's sound.
7. Infiltrating My Way Through The System - Bringing the tempo back up with another track of Individual vs The System. Bouncy and Oontzy. Its a fun track. No real criticisms but its not stand out.
8. Be Me - This is one of the fun songs that I heard live. It has a very new wave 80's feel to it. Very fun track to dance too.
9. Post Apocalyptic Girl - Another track where the vocals don't quite mesh well with the music. Being one more for lyrics I liked what it had to say but the music made it very distracting.
10. Cutter - Much like the first track Cutter is a high energy track with lyrics befitting a more somber subject. I like this track because of what it has to say and the music is damn good.
11. My Device - This song just starts up with an electronic uproar that just throws you into the song. Its easy to get lost in it and just stomp along with it. The vocals weave in and out of the synths beautifully. When the vocals are light and airy, so are the synths, when the synths turn dark and vicious the vocals follow suit. I really love this track.
12. Flicker - The title track is not really all that grabbing. Its a nice piece of electro, don't get me wrong but My Device grabbed me harder.
13. Lovely Day - If "It's Been Fun" was the more flippant and logical take on the feelings of temporary companionship and lonliness, then Lovely Day is inner feelings and thoughts that follow on the nights where that companionship isn't found. Its quiet, somber and an excellent way to end the album I think. Open with a force of "I know this is bad but its what I need to get by" and close with "Yeah well it was just a temp fix, and now what?".


- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Carfax Abbey, Second Skin

I'll admit the first time I head Carfax Abbey I was NOT impressed. It sounded like aggressive new metal. I even got to see them live and it only reinforced my initial impressions of their music. Second Skin made me re-evaluate my stance on their music. The screaming and metal guitars are still there but only on a few tracks. I got more of a Gravity Kills, Stabbing Westward, or Machines of Loving Grace feel from this album. More singing and less screaming and growly voices. Second Skin has a nice electronic industrial rock sound to it, and if you can get passed the cover of Cry Little Sister, you'll find that alot of the tracks on the album are good for getting a dancefloor going. http://www.carfaxabbey.com

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Corvus Corax, Best of...

For those of you that like a good bit of Gaelic tribal music, this is the album for you. The best of Corvus Corax is a good introduction to these german minstrels and dispels that horrible stereotype about Bagpipe music sounding like slaughtered cats. The CD also contains a nice live performance of the band which nicely conveys the energy and passion these men have for their music. http://www.corvuscorax.de

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: The Cruxshadows, Dreamcypher

Overview: I'm usually very critical of Cruxshadows releases. There's always one powerhouse track and then several that just blend into the background too well. Dreamcypher is no where like the other releases. I actually was able to get into every track. I don't know why. There's still almost a slew of Greek/Roman mythology references, but the very strong theme of honor, purpose, and chivalry that runs through the album makes it very enjoyable. I found myself able to really lose myself in the album and the stories.
1. Pygmalion's Dream - The intro track. Sets up the concept of the album quite well.
2. Windbringer - Strong song with very powerful lyrics. Has a more electro sound to it, which turns me off slightly, but its a fun track to dance to.
3. Sophia - The song that beat out Beyonce'. And I can see why. The message conveyed here is a much needed one I think. It has a more rock sound to it and its one downside is the bridge. Then again that was my same complaint with Tears as well, but its honestly one of my fave tracks to sing along with.
4. Defender - Unresolved love. An oath to protect, even if its not wanted. I'm kinda jaded to the story being told here but if you like such things, its a good track.
5. Perfect - The violins on this track are bouncy and easy to dance around too. It takes the edge off the overly electro sound of the track. The lyrics speak of a more happy and positive love. Kinda cheesy but its a good track. The lyrics read a bit like a Cure song.
6. Elissa - There's nothing really stand out about this track to me besides the fact that you can really hear how much Jessica Lackey's vocals add to the band's sound up.
7. Eye of the Storm - Slower track, but the guitar on it is very cool, and I love the more goth rock feel that it has.
8. Ariadne - Another of my favorite tracks. Everything about this song is just cool.
9. Sleepwalking - Dark and Jazzy. Nice way to slow down. I like the heavy basslines on it. Again it has a very Cure sound to it.
10. Solus - Slow start up but this song just sweeps you up along into it. Very fun to stomp around to.
11. Dido's Reply - I dunno about this one. It reminds me of a lot of the stuff on Faith and the Muse's "Elyria" album. Its artsy and short. That's about all I can say about it.
12. Memorame - Another slow track but I can get into it alot more than Sleepwalking. Its soothing and sad but not depressing.
13. Birthday - #1 Favorite track on the album. Mostly because of the message saying "do something with your life before its too late". The violin on this song are stellar.
14. Kisses 3 - This one ends out the album very nicely. It has the same soothing and quiet sound that Memorame had but coming right after something as high energy as Birthday its hard to lose yourself in it.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Darker Days Tomorrow, Zeitgeist

Overview: From the ashes of Emergence comes Darker Days Tomorrow. A new project featuring Eric K and Kim K from Emergence. For fans of Emergence the sound and energy is much the same but DDT has a more electro than rock sound to it. Having been privy to the early demos for some of the tracks I was really excited to hear what the final product would sound like. And here it is:
1. Unload - Very driving pounding track. The lyrics are a hair too distorted for my tastes but the energy on the track is amazing. Solid sound.
2. Desperate - This is one of the demo I initially heard. The finished product is alot more electro than the original. While I preferred the more rock driven demo, I still love the lyrics and synths in the track. This would make a good warm up track for a club set. Good set to bring the tempo up from a more ambient tone.
3. Mistake - This is a nice fast stompy track. It has a very hard rock drive to it that just sweeps you up into it. I love the guitar in it. Good and growly.
4. Zeitgeist - The title track. Its a nice bit of electro-stomp. This has a bit of the Emergence feel to it, and think its one of the stronger tracks on the album.
5. Lies - Very down tempo. Very clean. I like the leather-strip vibe that the track gives off.
6. Hold Me Down - Another hard rock electro track. Again bringing the sound back to the "Industrial Rock" sound I liked on the demos, but with the cleaner electronic edge on it.
7. After the Storm - This was one of the favorite tracks I heard early on. While I was disappoined with Desperate's cleaner more electic sound, I am quite pleased with it in this instance. This is probably my favorite track on the album.
8. I Live - I love the "headbang" quality of this song. I don't so much want to dance as just headbang to it. Despite its overly electro noizy qualities I dig it.
9. Burn Your Bridges - Good track. Sounds a bit too much like I Live for my tastes. Not my favorite but its good.
10. Take No More - Electo Industrial at its best. Sadly not the kind of vibe that I get into. I don't get why everything has to have samples of George W Bush in it. Lately, I mean despite the obvious reasons, but its getting overdone.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: De/Vision, 6 Feet Underground

I am a HUGE De/Vision fan and suffice to say I walked into this album expecting some soft tracks but alot of bouncy club-worthy anthems of love and loss. Well I got the love and loss but it's far from club worthy. With the exception of the recent single "I'm Not Dreaming of You" and "Take Me Over", "6 Feet...." is a very mellow and calm affair. De/Visions trademark, "We'll speak right to the hole in your heart that most recent ex put there" lyrics are in still in place, but the approach is far more melodramatic. Its not all heartbreak on this album. Tracks like Unputdownable, and You Are the One have a "squishy in love" hopefulness that is perfect for those quiet nights alone or just appreciative cuddle time. The instrumentals on the album bridge the songs gorgeously, making the album a bit easier to listen to, than past albums. It used to be songs of being in love and being broken alternating...now you get a bit of synth/trance candy for the ear before you get the next does of "squish" or pain. All in all I wouldn't say that 6 Feet Underground, is their best work, but as a nice quiet, lonely album it does its job well. Not what I would recommend for people just getting into De/Vision. For long time fans I would highly recommend it just as an interesting comparison to their other works.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Ego Likeness, Order of the Reptile

After months and months of teasers, soundclips and telling EVERYONE to "Save your Serpent", the Order has finally arrived, and it was well worth the wait. The new Ego Likeness album, "The Order of the Reptile" is no less than amazing. I got my first taste of the new album last year when the sneak peek for "Aviary" was released, and I knew the full length would be addicting as their last album. "Order...", like previous Ego Likeness releases, is full of immersive gothic/industrial/experimental soundscapes and lyrics that force you to think back to a time more primal and unfettered. While, "Water to the Dead" was a solitary journey through a barren wasteland of reflection and survival, "Order of the Reptile" takes you back to the core roots of life. To the ideas of tribe, and the basis of your existence. The things that brought you to where you are now. The album plays like a collection of anthems, and accounts of a strange tribal society. Their pride, their persecution, their mindset, all the while coaxing you along to "Never Surrender", or "Build no temples". Musically, the band continues to evolve their "post-goth" (thank you DJ Kangal) sound. Fast guitars, and beats fused with synths that merge into a undertow of sound that sweeps you along. No oontz, but a energetic electro-rock barrage instead. And if the music doesn't get you stomping, swooning, or whatever you do, then the vocals will definitely knock you over. Its not all upbeat though. Slower tracks like "Aviary" and "Raise your Red Flags" balance out the album nicely. While, "Water to the Dead" was fast paced in the beginning, then slowed down into a very eerie and more experimental sound, "Order of the Reptile" rises and falls evenly. "Aviary" leaving you with a quiet appreciation and fear for the "cage" that you may live in, but "Save your Serpent" reminding you that you came from places older and deeper so there's no need to fear, building up into the faster "Severine". Definitely a dance floor friendly album. In fact if you ever see Ego Likeness live do not stand in the back. Get up there. Dance. They like that. Even out of the club its an enjoyable album to get lost in. A bonus data track of the video for "Aviary" is on the CD, as well as very neat photography in the booklet, and a cover of Sister of Mercy's, "Afterhours" at the end. Definitely one of my top 5 albums of 2006.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Estampie, Signum

Estampie's recent release "Signum" has not had much in the way of a reaction and I'm wondering why. No its not club-friendly in the least. Its very soft mellow quiet music on one end. And on the other its very bouncy music you want Jig to and raise a few tankards of ale while cheering the bar wench. Syrah and Michal of Qntal lend their talents to this album along with a bevy of other artists who obviously know what they are doing as far as neo-rennaisance music goes. If anything this album is worth picking up giving a listen to. If you don't dig it give it to your nearest SCAdian buddy. Or better yet, keep it for those days in december when you have everything just right and want a moment of that nostalgic peace for the dark ages. I dunno, but seriously give this band a listen.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Filament 38, Unstable

I know I've been railing about the repititious nature of alot of Electro-Industrial lately but the new f38 is not too bad. It has a very solid sound to it, even if it does begin to blend together track after track. From the DJ aspect of things, this can be a very good thing. It means you can spin alot more than 2 or 3 tracks from an album to keep a floor moving, but for those folks at home who want a bit of atmosphere, maybe not. http://www.filament38.com

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Frozen Plasma, Artificial

When the EBM band, NamNamBulu, broke up I was both relieved and saddened. NNB was this amazing band that just showed up in my CD collection one day (after a brick to the head suggestion by a friend of mine), and while their subsequent US releases on Nilaihah exposed them to a wider US fanbase, they started to face that nasty curse that we've seen soo many good EBM bands suffer from. Either going way out in left field and losing fans, or falling into that repetitive rut. Sadly NNB, fell into the rut. Their last single "Alone" left me with a less than pleasant taste in my mouth. Of course with the break up there was a promise of a new project to come. And it has arrived with an amazingly fresh and new sound. Frozen Plasma is the brainchild of Vasi Vallis (NamNamBulu, and Reaper) and Felix Marc (Diorama), and brings back that amazing sound that many fell in love with. Don't get me wrong, its not NNB all over again. No Vallis has taken a far more upbeat approach to his music, and Marc's vocals are the perfect companion for them. I couldn't see NNB's vocalist trying to sing on a higher key to match this current sound. Honestly I thought they were trying to sound more like Seabound than themselves. Frozen Plasma has that new and refreshed feel to it. The lyrics are still very introspective and speak of "journeys not taken", but they are a bit more optimistic. The musical side of the album is very pleasant to listen to. The melodies flow from one song to the next and the songs are arranged in a way that you can just move from one song to another and lose yourself in the album. It does get slow at times, but of course I would consider any album that tried to be straight up OONTZ for 12 to 13 tracks to be tedious. Its why I'm not a techno DJ. If you're looking for something that will go well with Conetik, the latest Melotron, or even some Neuroticfish, I HIGHLY recommend this album. I look forward to hearing more of what Frozen Plasma can do, and hope that they don't hit that same curse that NNB did.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: The Gothsicles, NESferatu

Overview: There aren't too many artists out there that you meet who ARE the music they play. darkNES however is one of those guys who is old-school nintendo, stompy dancy electronic music, and overall one of those wierd people that I am glad I have met. I had heard "The Konami Code" awhile back and when I heard what was brewing as a full-length release I was excited. darkNES' vocals are a bit harsh and strained at times but they work well with the clear and crisp synths and beats on the tracks. Its an amazing satire of what's current in "goth" music of late. Its like here's your dance music, but we dare you dance while you have a good laugh as well. There's a slew of remixes at the end too, but I won't review those. If you do pick it up, be sure to listen to track 17. Really. Here's what I thought of the album:
1. I can tell that you shop at hot(t) topic - He's not being insulting. But he can really tell where you bought your clothes. Nice way to open the album.
2. Triple Shot - Okay you really have to be up on your Video Game jargon to understand this album. Nice stomp and you really want to go play Galaga. The Monty Python sample just made the damn song too.
3. Konami Code IV - Unless you lived without a NES when you were a kid, you more than likely only heard of the ancient mystical code of "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left Right Left Right, B, A, Select Start". Here we have the musical equivalent of the moment of panic as you hammered in the code trying to beat the intro screen, and the joy of hearing that "chime" when you entered it in right. Good for stomping and gothy geeks WILL dance to it. Trust me.
4. Turn Signals are Cool - Dark, Growly, Forboding. And much like a good skinny puppy track I had to strain to figure out what the lyrics were. Basically it conveys a simple message that the world needs to embrace. "Use your fucking turn signals dammit".
5. One Second Ghost - Another video game reference, about the split second of invicibility caused from a careless move in a game. Very fun to stomp around the room too. The use of a Speak N Spell in the track just rocked.
6. English Version 2.0 - Dear Project Pitchfork, De/Vision, And One, etc.... Please listen to this track. Albeit while some of the best music I hear comes from Germany, please seriously try to put some thought behind what you're translating, or just put the album out in German. We'll still buy it. That's what I think this song is trying to say. Thank you darkNES for saying what many of us have thought.
7. Hey I've Got That Font - Eric Oehler of Null Device lends his voice to this track. A very fun track about one of the little things that binds us together in this little cyber world.
8. Mix This Song into A23's Maps of Reality - I've actually heard a dj (who shall remain nameless) got pissed off at this track. Let me say this. First off as much as I love beat matching, its getting a bit ridiculous and I've seen how flawless beatmatching can lead to an empty floor. Have fun with your DJing but don't lose your audience. Secondly, thank you for giving me a damn track I can mix into Maps of Reality and even giving me the cues. Okay commentary aside this is a really fucking funny track and I'd love to see it snuck in on a dancefloor when its packed just to see how it would fare on the unsuspecting gyrating masses.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW:I:Scintilla, Havestar EP

I've always enjoyed that I:Scintilla is an industrial rock band. By "rock" I mean that any electronic elements are a part of the music but not the basis of the music. They have guitars, drums, bass, and vocals. You hear that in the music. Its not all synths and programming. Nothing wrong with that, but its nice to have a switch up. The new EP for the song "Havestar", is a nice look at how the band would sound if they were more Oontz based. And I can say with certainty, I'm liking what I hear. The album opens with re-recordings songs, Havestar, Scin, and Bells. Also included is the Toxin Remix of Capsella which is one of the first songs I ever heard from the band. Its nice to have a copy of that song on CD. All of these tracks give new listeners a good idea of what they'll hear on the full-length album, The Approach. After that we get into the remixes. I'll admit that some of the mixes didn't grab me. There have been some attempts at remixes of the tracks in the past that were less than spectacular but the band seems to have picked out the best of the bunch on this album. First off is the Combichrist Remix of Havestar. Good solid stompy angry electro industrial. Just what you'd expect from Combichrist. The Diskonnected remix also does the song great justice on the angry tone of the lyrics as well. The Implant remix makes the song more bouncy and pop driven in my opinion. Its good as far as the sound goes but you don't get the same impact that the other 2 remixes give you. Another unexpected take is the Klutae remix of Capsella. Its dancy. It still has the 95 bpm tempo, but its more electronic and is lacking the tragic and desperate energy that that the original and Toxin remix has. I'm interested to see how this remix will fare in the club scene. Again as a fan of that song, a dancy take on it has thrown me for a loop but it is good. The only remix I had an issue with was the Neikka RPM remix of Scin. It didn't grab me. Several of the original elements of the song didn't mesh well with the remixed elements. I was hoping for a really cool remix once I saw that Neikka RPM did it, (since previous remixes and original works have been just stellar) but it lacks the punch and energy that the other 5 remixes have. As a DJ, I would recommend this album to other DJs. Admittedly it can be hard when you're spnning for an 00ntz crazy crowd to get more rock driven tracks in. Harder to spin newer artists unless they are oontz. Well here's a good selection. Also for fans of I:Scintilla I highly recommend it. The re-recorded versions of the original tracks are just dead on, and the Toxin Remix of Capsella adds an element to the original which makes the song feel "complete".

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Heimatarde, Gotteskreiger

Um. Wow! That's about all I can say. From the description I was expecting some Suicide Commando's wannabe act, but what I got instead was the sounds of ancient, sword on sword battles and Feindflug like warbeats while sampled Bagpipes wail along side some evil sounding synth lines. Definitely conveys alot of aggression while avoiding the cliche'd post-apocalyptic theme alot of bands have taken. The best part is that I've finally found something I can mix Qntal's "Illuminate" album into. Fans of This Morn Omina, Juno Reactor, and Feindflug will definitely get into Heimatarde. http://www.heimataerde.de/

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: The Hellblinki Sextet, A Pirate Broadcast

I've been pimiping this band since 2001 and I don't intend on stopping anytime soon. Long and short of it is that Hellblinki has finally put out a CD that represents their true sound. Their inital release can be described as little more than an experiment in jazz/goth/blues. In fact I think there's only one or two tracks they play live off the first album. A Pirate Broadcast though finally gives Hellblinki fans what they've been wanting. Polished versions of their most popular live songs. For those not familiar with Hellblinki, just imagine Rasputina, Tom Waits, and Dead Can Dance having a 3 way orgy and not knowing who fathered what. Lead singer, Andrew's gravely bass vocals are contrasted well by the opera-trained Danielle's voice. Jangly steel guitars clash with wailing violins. Obscure TV and Movie samples flow over tribal drums like water. Sounds like alot of noise but in reality you get something quite beautiful from this unholy union of influences. Some of my favorite tracks include the gothic dirge, "The Lily", the festive and jumpy Love, She Said and a rousing remake of Disney's "A Pirate's Life. Recently the sextet replaced the operatic vocals of Danielle, with the soulful voice of Cammy (formerly of Apocalypse Theatre) so it will be interesting to see how their live material will sound. Again if you like something creative and hard to pin down then I HIGHLY recommend the new Hellblinki Sextet album. http://www.hellblinki.com

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Hopeful Machines, I am an island (And she is my ocean)

Based on its title, I figured that "I am an Island" would be a soft gentle and melodic trip into ambient electronic music. I was so wrong. Unlike previous Hopeful Machine releases, Island is far more aggressive and has very club-friendly tracks to it. The opening piece "Frozen" nails the feeling for the album perfectly. Hopeful Machines has always been an amazing example of just what ambient industrial music should sound like. I love industrial music but the slew of new "noize" bands out there make it painful to listen to. Hoarse scratchy vocals run through countless filters and all beat, no attempt to work on melodies. I love it when its just instrumental soundscapes and solid beats. That's exactly what this album delivers. Instrumental industrial the way it should be.Even more of a bonus is its early to mid 90's sound. Alot of the samples, beats, and synths would find themselves also quite at home with a lot of the industrial tracks from the 90's. Stuff like Coil, early Frontline Assembly, Xymox. There are also tracks where there's less of an industrial sound and more of an early 90's dreamtrance sound. Steve Archer definitely outdid himself on this release and like with the past Hopeful Machines, I'm really excited to see what the next release brings. You can download the album for free from the website: http://www.egolikeness.com/Island

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Ikon, Destroying the World to Save It

Ikon is finally back after several years and they came back with a sound reminiscent of their earlier material. As I said earlier about Proj. Pitchfork and NIN failing at this, Ikon does it beautifully. This album scraps the overly electronic nature they built up on The Edge of Forever and This Quiet Earth, and takes them back to their goth rock roots of "Flowers for the Gathering" and "Shadow of the Angel". The vocals are well polished, and the lyrics aren't drowned out by the music (like on previous releases). Even the overly hokey Judeo-Christian/Satanic/Apocalyptic metaphors are well done. You honestly don't notice them and just get lost in the album. Note: other bands that try to pull this off really do it badly. Anyways glad to see the Boys of Ikon back and I hope that they can keep this chemistry in their future releases

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Interface, Beyond Humanity

New York’s Interface has returned with their 4th album, Beyond Humanity, one of the most diverse EBM albums I’ve heard in a long while. Fluxing from hard driving EBM, to Trance, to aggressive electro industrial, Beyond Humanity, chains all these styles together in a very pleasant manner, that makes the album very easy to listen to. The vocals impress me the most honestly. Most electronic acts tend to have one set style of singing, unless it’s a female vocalist. Either the male vocals become distorted raspy growling and screaming, or something that sounds like Erasure, or New Order. Interface’s vocalist actually displays a range and ability to work his voice around the tempo and mood. Nobody’s Hero has very aggressive beats with a complimenting distorted growl-y voice backing it up, while on Stranger in a Strange Land his voice becomes softer and melodic. Melodic is a very good way to describe the album overall actually. The tracks build the energy and tempo up and down very smoothly. There are no jarring jumps from hard pounding Oontz to calming trance. Just very smooth transitions from one song, to a similar style instrumental which begins to slow down, as it ends, allowing a slower song to float right on in. I’ve not heard much of Interface’s previous work but I am very impressed with Beyond Humanity. There’s a good bit of thought, talent and skill that shows in listening to the album. There’s a distinct impression that you’re listening to a story being told, rather than just a collection of very good songs.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Juno Reactor, Labyrinth

Well its been 4 years. 4 years since we all shook our booties to Pistolero and Masters of the Universe. Even longer still since we all first felt the need to shimmy to God is God. But my FAVORITE techno band in the world is back with their trademark style of organic techno music with their latestr release "Labyrinth". Opening up with the haunting and atmospheric Conquistador 1, the album drops into some of Juno Reactor's hardest material to date. Giants makes very liberal use of heavy metal guitars and drums while Juno Reactor's synths dance violently in the back ground. Tracks like Zwara and Conquistador 2 harken back to the days of bible of dreams but a few beats faster and a tad heavier. Of course no Juno Reactor album would be complete with out some tracks to bring bou back down out of that psychotic dance drive. Mutant Message and Angels and Men accomplish this feat perfectly. Closing out the album is Navaras which will be sure to make any DJ sick of playing Carmina Burana Remixes. Same taste (re: Booming Choir in the background with an apocalyptic feel to it), but not the same song. This is probably going on my Top 10 Albums of the year. If anything Juno Reactor does one thing I've heard no other techno band do, and that's evolve their sound continually and Labryinth is no exception. While Bjork may be proving her mettle by removing instruments, Juno Reactor refines thiers by adding more. And lets hope they don't stop.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Anders Manga, Left of an All Time Low

In 2005, a fairly unknown band called Anders Manga came out of Charlotte, North Carolina with a very cool darkwave track called "Shiver", and followed up several other songs that took a refreshing look at the Darkwave Gothic sound. A little bit electro, some goth rock aesthik, with some industrial growl, and presto!! Something new and innovative in the midst of a lot of Ooontz Thanks to some self-produced high-quality videos, and a loyal "Militia" of fans who bugged club DJs and shared songs with their friends, Anders Manga exploded out of the southern US with their full-length album "One Up For the Dying". After several months of touring across the country and playing several musical festivals, Anders Manga has come back with their sophmore effort "Left of An All Time Low".
"Left..." maintains the goth/industrial fusion that AM debuted on their first album, with some amount of growth overall to their style. The vocals explore a wider range of tones, and the music isn't too oontzy, but there is a solid beat to keep you actively dancing. You have your high energy tracks, like the Mercyful Fate cover, "Gypsy", or "Bad Girls Go To Hell". Then you have the more stomp/punch/plod tracks like "Glamour", or "Bloodletting on the Kiss". "Surrender" and "Empire On the Sun" address the quiet and sad side of the band, very much like "Heart of Black" from the first album.
Anders Manga is a band very excited about their music. Creating it, performing it, and especially hearing back from their fans. I've run across very few bands that show an equal level of devotion and admiration to their fans that AM does. "Left of an All-Time Low" is just what I was expecting from this band. It's an expansion of their talent as well as their energy. http://www.andersmanga.com

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Lunascape, Mindstalking

For Lunascape's newest track "Mindstalking", Dancing Ferret released a nice Maxi-single perfect for DJs. Lunascape is a nice slow, jazzy band with a dark lounge feel to them. Kyoko's vocals are reminiscent of Portishead or Somegirl, while the music has a very relaxing shoegazer vibe to it. There's really only a few tracks reminiscent of this sound, because the rest of the CD is remixes. Fans of bands like Olive, Faithless, and will love the many renditions of mindstalking you will find on this maxi. The track is dissected and presented in so many ways its not funny. Drop it in your goth, Industrial, Synthpop, House, or Dub sets. There's a remix for all of them. :) The video track on the CD isn't too bad either. Well produced video for the track that shows some production value was placed behind it. All in all a good CD to pick up

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Melotron, Cliche

Listening to Melotron's "Cliche" makes me feel less sad about NamNamBulu's break up. Not because Melotron copies their sound but b/c of the addictive nature of this album. Melotron follows up the powerful Sternstraub with a very poppy and flowing album that has a very depeche mode feel to it. Slow. Fast. Bouncy. Melancholy. There's a good balance to the tracks. Nice easy dance tracks like Halt Mich Feit, and slower ballad-like tracks like Frei Das Meer bring the mood of the album up and down with out jarring the listener too badly. Honestly Melotron accomplishes what I think And One was trying to do with Aggressor and beautifully so. Get out there, buy it! Request it, love this album

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Mercurine, Waiting for Another Fall

Probably some of the most refreshing goth rock I've heard in some time honestly. Very bouncy with shoegazer elements, so those folks that like to dance to The Cure, and Joy Division may stay out on the floor for this dark little act from California. The vocals are very reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins but are more pronouced so you understand what is being said. The guitars aren't to whiny but still wail just enough to add that hint of melancholy to the music, while the drums keep with a nice bounce to one's step. Mercurine is a breath of fresh goth music in what seems to be an over abundance of Electronic Industrial rage. http://www.mercurine.com/

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: And One, Military Fashion Show

And One has 2 types of songs. The more flowy synthpopy anthems like Virgin Superstar, Get You Closer, or Sternradio. Then there's the stompy computer marches like "Panzermensch", "Technoman", or "Metal Hammer".
The new single, "Military Fashion Show" combines both of these styles quite nicely. And as an added bonus for those fans that disliked, "Aggressor", its in english. The lyrics don't make much sense and I'm sure "cutiest" isn't a word, but its used in two songs on the single. Still its And one, doing what they do well, and that's make dancefloor anthems.
While this is only a single for the upcoming album, I am hoping that its not an indication of what to expect. The single has the title track, a remix, and 2 b-sides which both have the Stomp-Stomp computer feel. I'll admit it. I still go out stomping like a madman to "Panzermensch" but if this is an indication of a full album of it, then I dunno what to think.
Its good. Go listen to it. I think if you're an And One fan, you'll like it. If you're like 90% of the "Club Wall" critics that I know you'll not like it because it is "Panzermensch v2.0".

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Mulu, Smiles Like a Shark

While this was released in 1997, and has become a very hard to find album, Mulu's "Smile Like a Shark" is a must have for Synthpop fans. The album on a whole is very mellow, and has alot of elements one would find in a release from Olive or Everything But The Girl, but has a bit more of a darker edge than these other female led electronica bands. Tracks like Sinking, Bitesize, and Desire paint a very somber picture, good for rainy days in. Filmstar, Trixter, and Pussycat are very dancefloor friendly, but do not threaten the very jazzy and mellow feel that the aforementioned tracks build. Fans of Somegirl, and Mesh will get into this project if you can find it. I believe that this release never got much play just b/c it came out a few years too early to hit the synthpop wave that's sweeping the Goth/Industrial clubs. If you're interested the best place to find this album is Amazon or Ebay, as tracking it down via local shops and special order seems nigh impossible.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Panzer AG, This Is My Battlefield

When I first saw that Andy LaPlegua of Icon of Coil was involved on this lil project I was immediately skeptical. In the past, one-man projects that spawn from more popular EBM acts tend to at least contain some element of the parent band that you can trace back. I was very surprised when I began listening to Panzer AG, b/c fuck if I can find ANYTHING on here that remotely sounds like Icon of Coil. LaPlegua serves up a 15 tracks of Industrial-Grade goodness that prove his musical diversity and abilities. Well, within the realm of Industrial Music that is. Instrumental Power Tracks like Panzer, Bereit, and Introduction of the Damned dominate the album for the most part but he begins invoking elements of Raymond Watt's Pig, in Battlefield and Sick is the one who adores me. The lyrics are soulful and introspective while the music is loud and violent. There are some softer tracks on the album like Tides that Kill or It is All In Your Head, but my first impression of these was that he was trying to prove he could do what Project Pitchfork or Wumpscut had been doing. Some gripes about the album include the overuse of samples. The Album artwork amused me though. Panzer AG uses alot of the fonts and visuals reminiscent of early industrial stuff (BiGod 20, Mussolini Headkick, Nitzer Ebb) which is nice but he puts the following message on the back, "This is NOT a Pro-Faschist project. Thanks for the clarification there, but honestly the lyrics and fact that 80% of the album is instrumental, kind of eleminates the need for such a thing. If it were out and out like "3rd Reich From the Sun", then maybe but neh. My personal fave off the album is the gabber noise driven Bereit. I normally hate Gabber or anything Noise driven but this track had enough back beat and rhytmic goodness to make the use of Noise beats actually tasteful. For anyone wanting a good intro to Industrial Music or wanting an album that covers it all, then I highly recommend it. It has some good tracks to spin on it, but by and large if you think this is going to sound anything like Icon of Coil just b/c Andy LePlegua has something to do with it...move away. Go buy Monofader instead.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Project Pitchfork, Kaskade

I know I said I wouldn't write a bad review but sometimes to talk about the tracks you do like you need to publicly flog the others. In this case it means flogging most of the tracks off Proj. Pitchfork's latest. Experimentally its a good album. Club worthy? Enhhhhh. And I say experimentally in the sense that they're breaking new ground but not bring the fans with them. "Kaskade" is an interesting montage of Electronic, Rock, and Industrial. Musically the album is quite stimulating, but Peter Spilles' vocals aren't. Spilles exercised some awesome vocal range on the Inferno Trilogy (Inferno, Behind the Throne, Trialog) but here we're treated to the same monotonous sing/speak that dominated IO and earlier material. It sounds like Project Pitchfork was trying (like NIN) to reach back for their earlier sound (Re:Souls/Island) but realizing they've evolved too far to do it. Then still tried. At least Skinny Puppy realized this. The album is not with out some good tracks. For anyone wanting to give the album the good old Dancefloor try, I recommend The Touch, Abyss, The Present, and my favorite Schall und Rauch. These tracks have a pretty good synch b/w the music and Spilles' vocals. You can hear the deep philosophy and meanings in the lyrics but sadly the vessel that they're delivered in is making too much noise to hear them.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Psyclon Nine, Inri

One of my friends described Psyclon Nine as, "Cradle of Filth with synthesizers". I would be inclined to agree with this, if it didn't mean comparing Cradle of Filth's talent with Psyclon Nine's apparent lack of talent. I'm not one for satanic rock. Nothing against Satanism but I have issues with any band that overtly pushes spirituality onto its listeners. The quality of the "music" is also disappointing. It sounds to me like some angry 15 year olds discovered there was more to life than Marilyn Manson, raided Hot Topic, and tried to copy Velvet Acid Christ, then got creative with Photoshop for the album cover. Seriously. I'm SO not impressed with this album. If anything I could probably use its rather childish approach to the apocalypse to turn some kids onto the electronic music scene.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Rotersand, Welcome to Goodbye

DJ Triskyl first floated me a single of Roterand's Merging Oceans sometime ago and I fell in love with the album. I found with much difficulty a copy of Truth is Fanatic before its US release, and fell in love with the album, but stacked up against alot of what I was spinning at the time, Truth... felt very new and unusual. It was hard to fit into my sets and I got alot of questions like "When did Pink Floyd release a techno album"? *stabbing motion* :) Still there was some murmuring and appreciation of the relatively new electronic bands endeavors among DJs. Then there came Exterminate Annihilate Destroy, and Doctor Who fans and Rivetheads did rejoice. Now? There is the full length from that single. Welcome To Goodbye. Welcome... from the start has a very showy and dramatic feel to itThe band's Pink Floyd influence shows through brightly and they aren't afraid to admit it. Each track feels like there was alot of production and effort put into it. Where, Truth had a very unfinished and rough edge to it Welcome... is polished all over. I would say Exterminate Annihilate Destroy is my favorite track but the more I listen, the more I'm entranced with the whole album. I HIGHLY recommend this album to anyone who dismissed Rotersand at first...this is going to be one for the books.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Seabound, Double Crosser

Overview: I know that this album was released last year but I just got it so pardon the delay. Its a Seabound album. If you have the previous 2 albums, then honestly don't expect anything groundbreaking. This frightens me as they are following that 3 album curse that most electronic acts have had the bad luck with: "3 solid floor packing album and the 4th just makes everyone go WTF?". But that's just superstition talking. Being a huge Seabound fan, I'm enjoying the fact that the sound didn't change too much. Its nothing groundbreaking but its a good.
1. Scorch the Ground - The "teaser" track I never heard when it was released. Its good. I can see this being a very big club hit (probably has been).
2. The Promise - This one starts off sounding like Torn. Dark Beats with whispered lyrics, but then it just takes off. Vocals become loud and strong and the beat becomes a bit more shiny. Someone running lights in a club could have some fun with this track.
3. DoublePlusUnGood - Um well the title confused the fuck outta me, but the song's very calming and relaxing. Its the usual litany of tragic love and lost moments, but its very hypnotic and easy to lose yourself in.
4. Sapphire - Very ambient. I don't wanna say quiet. Its ambient. The track kinda starts softly and then builds its way up. The sound just immerses you in the room.
5. Domination - Bouncy, fetishy, and dancefloor friendly. I could see a nice BDSM scene being done to this song. Nice piece of ear candy on this track.
6. Every Last Grain - Instrumental. Very cool and nice bridge into Castaway.
7. Castaway - Honestly? Its this album's Avalost. Song with heavy metaphors with Love = Boat on the Ocean. I'm wondering if this is going to be a recurring theme for at least one song on future albums. Don't get me wrong though. Its my second favorite track on the album. Just I kinda saw this one coming from 10 miles away.
8. October - My favorite track off the album, mostly for personal reasons due to the lyrics but I love the feel of the track as well. Has a very New Order vibe to it.
9. Traitor - Good stompy angry track. Love it.
10. Breathe - The closer track. Slow mellow. Brings it all to an end. Reminds me of the ending track on Covenant's "United States of Mind" but better.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: SITD, Coded Message 12

I'm not too sure what to think of this SITD. The vocals are a hair softer in my opinion. It sounds like SITD is keeping their hard and fast sound but using more of the singing I heard on "Rose Colored Skies" and "Venom" of off "Stronghold". Not a shiningly good release for SITD but I can hear their evolution in this album. Then again I'm still listening to "Stronghold" right now as well. Maybe this one just came out too quickly. http://www.sitd.de/

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Skinny Puppy, Mythmaker

Overview: The latest SP album doesn't fail to please. Of course part of me will always gripe, "its no Rabies", but that's a rather static way to think. If any true criticism can be made then I think that Mark Walk needs to not be involved in the next project. "Greater Wrong of Right" sounded a lot like the previous Ohgr albums, and with the influence of The Scaremeister co-producing this one, you can feel a more "traditional" Puppy feel to it. Honestly I've been enjoying this album since it showed up on my door step.
1. Magnifishit - First off this is the best possible track to open the album with. Its got good energy, nice beat and instantly gets you stomping and jumping around the room. Love this track.
2. DAL - This one reminds me of alot of the deftones remix that was on Remix DysTemper. Very disjointed at the start but after awhile you mind manages to feel its way around its chaotic rhythms.
3. Haze - This one reminds me of "Cult" from The Process. A soft digital voice speaks out the sorrowful lyrics while a light synths and beat dance behind it. Then a harder angrier voice jumps in with bass and guitars. The visual equivalent would be wolves crashing in on a field full of dancing bunnies.
4. Pedafly - Building drums and synths drive up to this awesome piece of stompiness. I can see this one showing up on club playlists. I really love the flow of Ogre's vocals on this one. It reminds me of his solo stuff. The free-flow rantiness of it all.
5. Jaher - Another softer and quiet track. You know. One of the ones where you can make out the lyrics even if its still like listening to a puzzle being put together incorrectly. It has a very calming and cooling quality to it. Nice way to mellow down after the last track.
6. Politikil - This one has more of a angry metal drive to it like a lot of the stuff on Rabies. Obviously political in nature with the lyrics. One thing I like about Skinny Puppy is having to hear the lyrics over and over before I can even discern what the song's about. Things that just paint the picture don't impress me much. Good sound but I had enough of the politics on "Greater Wrong..."
7. Lestiduz - This one just didn't really shake me up that much. It was a good track. But nothing that really made me dance.
8. Pasturn - Another slow track that is quite enjoyable but honestly when compared to Jaher, it kinda just sounds the same.
9. Ambiantz - Bouncy, and kinda happy sounding. Still has that dark sinister undertone to it but you want to dance around the room in a circle with other people to it.
10. Ugli - This is just how I figured the album would end. Chaos beats, Ogre chanting "Jesus wants to be Ugly!" over and over. Good stompiness. Like one last good yell into the storm just as the clouds are parting.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Covenant, Skyshaper

I was waiting with much baited breath for this release and I will admit that I was expecting something with the power of previous Covenant releases. I'm sure many people were as well. However what Eskil and the gang have laid out for us, is not high energy, but it is fast paced. After giving Skyshaper a good listen I have come to many conclusions about the more "disappointing" releases from And One, Wolfshiem, and VNV Nation. They aren't designed to be dance albums. Listening from the perspective of it being just good electronic music, (kinda like 808 State) I have to admit that Skyshaper is a good CD. No, not a lot of the tracks will be floor filler anthems, but Covenant has put out a good example of how their creative process works and gave it a very raw feel. Part of this comes from reading the liner notes. Many of the beats and synth loops were actually parts of songs that didn't make prior albums, or hadn't fully developed until now. The song "Greater Than The Sun" was actually birthed well before Covenant formed. While Northern Lights painted this electronic soundtrack for traversing a snow covered city, Skyshaper is what you'd listen to after the thaw and melt. Constantly noticing the little things and details you had never noticed before, like the song 20hz which was based on the unheard frequency that emits from pumping blood. If you wanna get the dancefloor moving, I would suggest Ritual Noise, and The Men. For something with a bit more stomp. Sweet and Salty is good, but largely the tracks come and go from your mind as you hear them. There is a double CD out but I encourage you all to save your money. The 2nd disc is 3 tracks. The first being an insanely long snyth/drum loop. The 2nd being a b-side called Pulse and the third is a "toned down" remix of Ritual Noise. Unless you're a hardcore Covenant fan, don't go hunting this version. Get the regular release. So, Skyshaper isn't what fans were expecting but neither was Casting Shadows by Wolfshiem and its a very enjoyable album to listen to. Can't pack a club though. Like with De/Vision, just wait for some remixes. You know they're coming.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Stochastic Theory, Opposite Extremes

Synthpop is becoming one of those genres of music where I am getting very cynical about every new release or new artist that’s coming out. I’ll admit that most of the projects I hear lately sound like they have pulled some sample, loop, or vocal styling from one of the big precursor acts that dominated the DJ charts the year before. And the precursor acts retool their sound in some experimental manner that causes their fans to run in the opposite direction. But that’s the nature of Electronic music. Yesterday’s innovation is today’s pre-programmed loop, and today’s innovation is considered too daring for dancefloors. I worried that the new Stochastic Theory album would fall into one of the two traps there. Either being overly generic, or being so experimental that DJs would be too scared to touch it. Nothing could be further from the truth. “Opposite Extremes” is a very cool album from start to finish. The synths are bouncy and dancy but have an underlying melancholy to them that fits the lyrics perfectly. I have to admit that finding albums like this are rare and in between. With most EBM and synthpop you get the drive to dance like a maniac or just chill out. One or the other. “Opposite Extremes” has both of those vibes. Crank the bass a bit and the track “No Illusions” goes from being a very cool “listening” track to a “pack the floor” track. There’s a very nice New Order feel to the whole album. One track being just solid synths and beats and the next bringing in more of a “live” feel where the electronic elements compliment the guitars and drums. The cover of REM’s “Losing my Religion” threw me for a bit of a loop actually. I’ve heard all sorts of bands and tracks covered but REM’s one of those ones that I could not conceive of as being remixed or converted or covered. Could just be my old indie rock roots talking here, but Chuck Spencer does the song due justice making it one of the highlights of the album. I’m still entranced with the tracks “No Illusions” and “Ok”. Overall a kickass album and probably one of my favorites of this year. For information on how to purchase the album and to hear samples go to: http://www.stochastictheory.com

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: De/Vision, Subkutan

Those oh so lovely boys from De/Vision are back with their follow up to 2004's 6 Feet Underground. For those of you who are only familiar with De/Vision's club hits, this album (and 6 ft Underground) are not oontz driven, so if you give it a listen don't expect club hit one after another. I've always considered De/Vision to like Depeche Mode without any pulled punches or cryptic lyrics. They wear their poor beaten hearts on their sleeves and get pretty plain with the lyrics on Subkutan. The most recent single "The End", plainly states "You make me puke". That's it. No fruity mystery. No analogies to the pain. She makes him puke. I'm being rather flippant but the very upfront nature of the lyrics makes the album very enjoyable. You can relate to a lot of what's being said. There are some love songs on the CD mostly emphasizing the sancity and sacredness of being alone, and that rush of adrenaline when you meet the "right" person. Musically, if you liked Two or 6 Feet Underground, you will dig this album. Only 2 or 3 tracks get very fast or could be considered dancefloor friendly. The rest are very laid back and reflective. I find this a neat, because Subkutan was released off of Dancing Ferret Records (rather than Metropolis or Dependent) and meshes well with the label's more ambitious explorations into dark trip hop. Over all Subkutan is a good album. Nice to heal a broken heart, and it doesn't short change you on the painful lyrics. Very calm and quiet, which makes it perfect for nights in. And yes you can use this for "mood" music should you program the last tracks. Trust me, last thing you want is to have "The End" start playing in the middle of a tender moment. I speak from experience on this. If you're a De/Vision club fan, only one thing I can suggest, and that is wait until the remixes come out. De/Vision remixes are as inevitable as rain in seattle.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: The Last Dance, Reflections of Rage

This past year has not been a good one for me in regards to remix albums. There is usually only one or two creative remixes off these lil tributes and all the rest is floor-friendly remakes of already overplayed tracks. The Last Dance has broken me of that little cynical outlook though. Reflections of Rage has some of the most creative remixes of their album Whispers in Rage that I've heard. The remixes completely transform the songs into something new, rather than just putting a harder dancebeat behind them. ThouShaltNot turns transforms Voices into a VNV-like stompy industrial track. Corvus Corax ads powerful celtic drums and what I think are bagpipes to Nightmares without compromising the song's dancy nature or CC's celtic feel. The original tracks on the album are good as well, providing a bit more incentive to the listener to buy the album for more than the remixes. The most shocking track on the album is the remake of Brittany Spear's "Oops I did it again". I didn't think it was possible but it is actually quite good. All in all this is most definitely worth buying.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Tre Lux, A Strange Gathering

Overview: Tina Root from Switchblade Symphony has been working on her new project Tre' Lux for a few years now and we're finally getting a taste of what her musical talents can bear. First off for those of you who dislike covers I'll warn you now: This is a whole album of cover tracks. Disappointed? Don't be. Root shows her musical versatility with this album. Anyone expecting Switchblade Symphony II or Darkwave Gothy takes on a very ecclectic selections of songs is in for a BIG shock. Sounds range from Dark Trip-Hop, to a very indie shoegazer vibe.
1 - Never Let Me Down - Cover of the Depeche Mode Song. Okay admittedly this sounds like a Switchblade track. But its very addicting and bouncy. I love the way Root's vocals bounce between childlike and then sultry and low. Very nice track and I hope it gets good club play.
2 - Come Away with Me - Norah Jones cover. Little more break beat with distorted guitars. While you have this wierd jangled musical wall behind you the vocals just flow like water. Evenly and nicely. It all comes together nicely though.
3 - Wild Horses - Root's take on the Rolling Stones doesn't deviate too much from the feel of the original. I like the almost Mazzy Star feel to it.
4 - Yellow - Probably my 2nd favorite track on the album. I'm not too keen on Coldplay, but hearing Yellow done this way makes me want to revisit their music. I doubt it will have the same shoegazer-y effect that this version has on it. Root's energy is the strongest on this track in my opinon
5 - The Chauffer - Favorite track. Hands down. Trip-hoppy. Sultry. Dancy. Flawless. Another possible club friendly track.
6 - I Know There's Something Going On - I remember this song, but not well enough to remember the original. So I don't quite know how i feel about this.
7 - Pure Energy - Fans of bands like Ayria, Distorted Reality, and Azoic will be sure to like this take on Information Society's hit. It sounds like it would mesh well with a lot of current EBM acts too. Kurt Harland lends his vocals to this as well.
8 - Black Hole Sun - I got burnt out on this song after the 50th time I heard it back in the 90's. I still rush to turn of the radio when I hear it now. Just too much saturation. Its a good version of the song that Root presents here. Very twisted and chaotic. They vocals follow suit. Its a little tough to swallow at first but it does grow on you.
9 - Karma Police - Again we revisit a very shoegazer 90's rock take on Radiohead. Here we see the combination of a very nice mellow flow of music and the variety of range in Root's voice. Almost very deadpan and sullen when singing the verses, and then childlike and innocent (with a hint of spite) on the chorus.
10 - Everyday is Halloween - Least favorite track. I can hear what she was going for, musically but I fail to be able to lose myself into the track.
11 - Run - If it wern't for the liner notes indicating that this song was originally by Snow Patrol, I would've thought that Root wrote this song herself. Its a very pretty song and I love what the lyrics have to say. Her take on this does an excellent job of imparting the growing feelings of hope and inspiration you run into through out the song.
12 - Bad Trash - Yep. The Switchblade track. But done simply and cleanly. The liner notes simply say "I wrote this song when the world was happy." When you listen to the original you really don't get that its a happy song. But when you hear it with just Tina Root and a Guitar, you really do get the feeling that "wind shall blow bad trash away when anguish is near".

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: ThouShaltNot, Land Dispute

Its been said that Alex Reed, from ThouShaltNot, is a genius. I'm not going to dispute this claim. All you have to do is listen to TSN's albums and the proof is right there. "Land Dispute" is no exception to this precedent. Now its not like when you hear Land Dispute, you'll think "Wow, he is a genius". Actually with any of their albums I've had to give them several listens until the lyrics and the musical composition makes sense. Lets take, for example, "Walk Away" it has a nice flow and rhythm to it through out the song, but when you get to the bridge you're lulled into this monotonous chant which you start to keep time with. Then as there's a break before the last chorus, you start to anticipate the next measure. "One two three four, two two three..." next measure drops. A bit disconcerting at first. TSN explores various rhthyms and beats on this album, that take some time to adjust to the ear, but ultimately are addicting. Lyrically the album is no less of an enigma. At first listen "The Projectionist" sounds like a snap shot of some old director showing love for silent film he's stolen. At 2nd listen it could be a very deep metaphor about one's spirituality and beliefs. On another it could be about a soulmate that completes you. Who knows!? Either way the lyrics make you think. And thats one thing I love about TSN. Its music that makes you think. Not about politics. Not about love. Not about some greater purpose in life. You have to THINK about what the song is saying to you. For example, I've decided that their last album "The White Beyond" is a metaphorical map of how to achieve divinity. Another fan took it as a musical outline of how life shapes itself along side history, from conception to entropy. Either way it could be agreed that there was a linear stream of consciousness running through the album. One thing about "Land Dispute" is that it does not have the linear storyline quality that "White Beyond" had. The album opens up with the rather indie rock sounding "When I Crash" and goes into the frantic "Walk Away". Then just as you're gearing up for another crash of guitars and drums, the mellow and pulsing "Crawling Deeper" comes on. Again, you have to think. Stay on your toes to enjoy TSN's albums. Honestly I think its a great album. Its got a nice Rock feel to it while it is very dancy too. Add in the thinking element, and you have what I feel to be an honest to goodness piece of art.

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: VNV Nation, Matter+Form

I think I'm one of the few people that's getting into the new VNV Nation but after taking a good look at the album I can understand why. I like space-themed future pop. Colony 5, Syrian, Seabound. You get the picture. That sounds like where Ronan set "Matter+Form" honestly. In space. Blazing new horizons. Gone are the dogs of war and cries of "Revolution", the battle that was fought over the past 3 albums is over and its time for a new world. Okay so that's too poetic maybe but its why I get into it. I do have some issues with the album. First is that there are too many instrumentals. WAY TO MANY INSTRUMENTALS!!!! Plus the lyrics seem a lot lighter and less like there's some inner struggle going on. Too bad Ronan's still hanging on to that Angst though. Learn to work with your voice man. See what it did for Bjork. Its an instrument as well, despite not having a USB port to jack into. Anyways I like the new VNV, it seems to be where the "story" he was writing was heading so it makes sense. http://vnvnation.com/

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: Wumpscut, Evolve

Its Wumpscut with 80% more female vocals. Don't get me wrong. Its a very dark and ambient album and 10 times better than "Bone Peeler" but I was still able to dissect the album by reading the tracklisting. Of course the more "dance driven" track on the album is "Churist Churist" which again proves my theory that all "floor-filler" tracks from Wumpscut makes some kind of Jesus/Crucifixion reference. "Maiden" is a very nice track which has a very Die Form feel to it and I was hook on "Rush" when I heard it off the single "Blondi". The only thing is that "Its Wumpscut". Its good, if you're a Wumpscut fan, but if you're someone like myself, who likes to hear a bit of variance from album to album, this may not be the way to go for you. http://www.wumpscut.com/

- Kantrip (Date Lost)

MUSIC REVIEW: XP8, Forgive

I first heard this band on MySpace.com and I wasn't disappointed with what I heard. Then again I only heard one or two MP3's of the band as well. XP8 has a very Seabound-like element to their music. Hard industrial beats with a dark etheric ambience to it. The lyrics are not angry or bitter but more forlorn and "gothy". My favorite tracks are Das Licht and She Says, but sadly the rest of the album kind of blends together for me. It was hard to remember how one track ended or began. One thing is that the band does have the potential to evolve their sound and I can't wait to hear what the next album will sound like. http://www.xp8.org

- Kantrip (Date Lost)