Music Reviews



Herzparasit: Parakropolis

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 14 2017
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Artist: Herzparasit (@)
Title: Parakropolis
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Herzparasit is a Neue-Deutsche-HÄrte band (think Rammstein and Oomph!) from Munich, Germany and 'Parakropolis' is their third album. As with most Neue-Deutsche-HÄrte bands, they mostly sing in their native German, kind of nationalist thing, you know. (There is one track in English, but we'll get to that later.) After the dramatic buildup and recitation on "DNA Unbekannt," Herzparasit begin their trudge and slog through "Manege Frei!" with some lively orchestration, plenty of metallic guitar and emotionally overwrought vocals, heavy on the vibrato. In fact, heavy on everything. It seems like it won't let up on the next track, "Tastsinn" but actually does a bit after the guitar intro for the verse. Before long though we're back to the typical sturm und drang Neue-Deutsche-HÄrte is known for. Sven Mehrens from Defated guests on vox for "Meine Traume Jagen Mir Hinterher" ("My Dreams Hunting Behind Me," or something like that) and Sven must be the one with the harsh, gravelly vocals, the only real difference from what's preceded it. "Blut Lught Nicht" is a more uptempo number compared to the mid-tempo tunes preceding it. Definitely more metal than anything else, it's unusual because of the "kinderstimmen" on the chorus. "Zack! Boom! Bang!" is exactly the kind of song you'd expect from this band, sort of stripped down verse, buildup, then let it rip on the chorus. I'm worn out already and there's still 7 more tracks to go. On what follows there is some nice synth and keyboard work but El Toro's metal guitars are pretty overwhelming. As for the next to last song, "It Must Be in English!," I guess the boys got tired of music critics like me complaining that all their songs were in Deutsch and we couldn't understand what they're singing because we're too fucking lazy to learn the language. Of course, they're right but that's not going to change the universal pop music language to German. "It must be in English! Please no other language! Don't say it in Denglisch! German ist doch garbage!" Okay, we get it Herzparasit, or at least I do. The silly synthpop opening kind of drives the point home. Sad though that this song is the one most likely to get played in the U.S. One of the nicest songs on the album is the last one - "Regentage," a well-orchestrated ballad devoid of heavy-duty guitars. The vocal style really works well here too. I'm impressed. My overall impression is that 'Parakropolis' won't get much attention from American audiences, but the band obviously didn't write and record it for them anyway. Although singer Ric-Q's vocal style isn't one I personally favor, it's better than guttural growl even if it is melodramatic. While most of the material on the album is typical Neue-Deutsche-HÄrte, they do rise to the occasion now and then and deliver something a cut above in the songwriting. Germans should really dig it, those who like dark gothy metal anyway.

Descendants of Cain : Conversations With Mirrors

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 30 2017
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Artist: Descendants of Cain
Title: Conversations With Mirrors
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Over the course of their existence, from 1998 on, London, UK-based band Descendants of Cain have released five albums prior to 'Conversations With Mirrors,' the music being mostly in the eclectic/esoteric gothic rock vein. Led by the enigmatic DM Kruger, the band seems to have evolved over the years refining their music and moving away from what could be called traditional goth rock into more art-prog territory, and with this album, a less culty and more commercially viable sound. Not to say they've gone pop, for that certainly isn't the case. Opening strong with "Shapes in the Mist," this is a song of comrades in arms, something I could hear being used in the pirate series "Black Sails," or maybe even a contemporary war movie. Its bold chorus of manly voices makes it somewhat anthemic, nothing like I've ever heard from D.O.C. before. (It's also the longest track on the album as well.) In "These Hands" DM channels the emotiveness of Peter Gabriel, and in a different way, this song is nearly as strong as the opener. "Lost in the Woods" gets kind of gothy-metal without succumbing to excess. "Unbreakable" is rather draggy and maudlin and "Scaring Crows" is similar but with a nice memorable chorus. "Shallow" reminded me a lot of Roger Waters in a down mood which is kind of typical for Waters. Thinks pick up dramatically with "Let Go" and its standout hook, along with some snazzy bouzouki. "A Thousand Years" introduces Nikola Jackson's lovely voice for some nice contrast, and this is another song I hear Waters' influence in, along with another band I can't seem to recall presently. "Defiance" once again recalls Peter Gabriel in a melancholy mood, augmented by a great string section. Final track "Lost to the Noise" is the only real bummer on the album; sparse plaintive piano melody with a woman crying in the background. Just sad. On 'Conversations With Mirrors' D.O.C. has a more massive sound than previously, and Kruger's voice is more varied than ever before making for an interesting time of it. I like this better than their prior albums ('Songs From a Vanishing World,' 'Hell Bar Blues') but I think there's still room for improvement. Its richly atmospheric, deeply emotional and introspective, and although many will dig it, there are some that probably won't, thinking it's too self-indulgent. Still, 'Conversations With Mirrors' is a work of art and the work put into it shows. Moving away from the strictly gothic into more alternative territory is always a risky move for a band with a cult following but if you don't take the chance when you really feel it, how will you ever grow?

M. W. Wild: The Third Decade

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 30 2017
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Artist: M. W. Wild (@)
Title: The Third Decade
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Unless you're really familiar with the German Gothic rock scene you probably never heard of singer M. W. Wild, and his previous band, The Cascades. They released four albums between 2001-2006 and although they received some acclaim in Europe I don't think they made much of a dent Stateside. As a prelude to this review I listened to a few of their songs and wasn't really impressed by them. Wild's 'The Third decade' is an entirely different matter though. Better recording, production, better musicianship, better songwriting, better all the way around. I tell you though, if you didn't know what you were listening to, you'd swear this was the new Sisters of Mercy album. The thing is, there is no new Sisters of Mercy album, and according to Andy Eldritch, there probably won't be one anyway because he's just not motivated to put another one out. IF the Sisters did put one out though, I bet it would sound a lot like this. Mr. Wild's baritone vocal style is uncannily close to Andrew's, and the songwriting, phrasing and overall performance is a dead-on match for the sisters. There are no "killers" akin to "Temple of Love," "Vision Thing" or "This Corrosion." There are however, some damn fine songs. "Red Carpet," "Marionettes," "Nobody," "Fly With Angels," and "Russian Roulette" are easily the best out of the thirteen tracks on 'The Third Decade.' The only downer is the overwrought ballad, "Turning Leaf," which isn't a bad track record, all things considered. I suppose beside the Sisters comparisons could be drawn to bands such as Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Merry Thoughts and 69 Eyes, but it sort of seems superfluous to me. MW Wild could have included a female vocalist on the order of Patricia Morrison to enhance the sound but maybe that would have just been to darn close. (Hey, I would have liked it though :-) So if you're hungering for some classic goth-rock ala Sisters, this ought to do the trick. Nicely done!

Tashaki Miyaki: The Dream

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 16 2017
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Artist: Tashaki Miyaki (@)
Title: The Dream
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
I'm not a great fan of that mixture of shoegazing and dream pop that someone named dreamgaze, to be honest, but there are some amazing details in the style of Los Angeles-based singer and musician Tashaki Miyaki that manage to boost the canons of the genre. Those canons are still there: the plain popsicle of quickly sliding pop rhythmical patterns, a set of dual guitars, one sustaining the chords of the other, a lollipop of schmaltzy melodies, a lulling pace that sometimes brushes against the backcombed style of 50ies American female singers or 60ies Americana country-folk ones. Some songs are the ones that you could expect coming after giving a kick against an old jukebox, but the way her dream (to reprise the aptly forged title) melts various elements by means of some slight distortion on the guitar, the guessed effects of her candied vocals that adds some shirring on a stream, sounding so fluid that her dream could become yours, some unexpected hiccoughs of the sound (such the distorted lead guitars on songs like "City" or "Get It Right") and the strange beauty of their fusion with the angelic serendipity evoked by Taskaki's voice could let you surmise that that juke-box fallen down the sky after getting kicked by a furious angel. Such a description could have been influenced by the catchy intro and outro of L.A.P.D., where the makers of this selection of Ms Miyaki's more or less recent outputs injected something lysergic that could vaguely resemble the ephedrine atmosphere of Amorphous Androgynous's "Slo-Mo" in a more orchestral sauce.

Oiseaux-Tempête: Al-'An!

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 13 2017
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Artist: Oiseaux-Tempête
Title: Al-'An!
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Sub Rosa
Oiseaux-Tempête’s latest album is sonically ambitious, fusing their French shoegaze and post-rock sensibilities with an array of guest musicians, substantially recorded in Beirut and with a range of Middle Eastern flavours. Combined with multilingual found sounds and with a raw feel to the effects, diversity is at the core of this album.

However some of this ethnic variety is a better fit for the languid tone than others. While pieces like “Electrique Résistance” are definite successes, evocative modern moods with expert careful use of sound effects, tracks like “Mish Aaref Eish W Leish” feel a stretch too far, with a tempo just too slow to sustain the almost poppy vocal. Some of the shorter pieces, many under four minutes, feel like experiments or diversions that didn’t get properly concluded, but it’s the subtle segueing between tracks that justifies their inclusion.

Sometimes it’s the simpler pieces that make more sense- “Ya Layl, Ya 3aynaki” is a relatively classic bit of drone structure, with warm ebbing hum-and-strum that is on safe ground and works well. “Carnaval”, structured around an alarming saw-toothed synth loop with slow-stepping building arrangement surrounding it, is bold and confident in its use of the plaintive vocal as a form of interlude from the electronic relentlessness. The almost jazzy tones of “Feu Aux Frontières” are a highlight.

“Through The Speech Of Stars” is a standalone seventeen-minute track that’s quite a different beast from the rest of the album. The emphasis is closer to post-rock here, stabbing bass guitar notes and slowly accelerating drums underpinning a slightly indulgent distorted lead guitar that meanders around a five note melodic core. After temporarily fading to nothing, a long spoken-word English language poem is an extended interlude before the band reform for a Resonance Association-like second phase and crescendo.

It’s an impressive multicultural mélange but there’s something about the overall product which somehow doesn’t seem to achieve its full potential.


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