Rabbit Junk – This Life Is Where You Get Fucked ( 2008 )

•October 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

 

Genre:

Digital Hardcore/ Electronic

 

Website:

http://www.rabbitjunk.com/

 

 

 

If you are a music addict who can never limit your tastes to just one music genre, Rabbit Junk’s “This life is where you get fucked” is going to be a heck of an experience for your ears.

Rabbit Junk entered the musical scene in 2004 with a self-recorded, self-titled, full-length album. Former Shzit frontman, JP Anderson, added the vocalist Jeniffer “Sum Grrl” Bernett into the mixture and created a conceptual band, which draws influences from numerous genres. I can honestly say that Rabbit Junk is one of the most complex sound cocktails I have ever heard. The official terms used to describe the band’s exquisite sound are mostly hardclash and digital hardcore. With the release of their second album called “Reframe”, Rabbit Junk gained a stronger and broader fan base. However, their crowning glory is, without any doubt, “This life is where you get fucked”, an album released in 2008 by the Seattle two man band.

How could I even begin to describe this masterpiece of an album? “This life is where you get fucked” is so conceptual, you might think it’s crazy. Consisting of 12 songs organized in 3 separate suites which are only very loosely tied together, the album combines sounds that would normally have nothing to do with each other. However, Rabbit Junk takes the risk and comes up with an amazing material, meant to satisfy fans of many different musical styles.

“The Struggle” is the first part of the album. It contains a 10 second intro, named “Transmission 1”, followed by 3 brain-busting tracks. Best described as pure rage put on music, this first part combines elements of post-hardcore and nu-metal with stunning electronic beats and synthetic sounds. The mixture is pure awesomeness and expresses the strength one needs in order to lead a perpetual struggle, with no victory and no redemption. The wild tempo variations are guaranteed to mess with your brain and the 2 contrasting voices will send shivers down your spine, especially when it comes to “Hero in Mr. Sholensk”, my personal favorite song from this album.

“Transmission 2” marks the beginning of the second part, “Ghetto Blasphemer”, perhaps the most intriguing musical and ideological combination ever thought of. As the band describes it, this suite is “a heresy against the pretty gods of sub-culture”. Who would have imagined that hip-hop beats go so well with the aggressive black metal screams and shredding guitar riffs in order to prove a point? Completely opposing genres, both musically and culturally, these 2 put together compliment each other perfectly, creating an element of shock and irony. Pure genius? Hell, yes!

Mixing punk-rock with techno and a dash of death metal for the crazy beats, the third suite called “This death is where you get life” is the final part of a great album. Speed, death and bikes are the themes around which the last songs revolve, stating that life is all about taking risks and laughing in the face of any obstacle.

What is most interesting about “This life is where you get fucked” is that the music speaks for itself, so you don’t even have to pay close attention to the lyrics. Anderson’s very versatile voice can range from typical punk-rock sound to the very difficult black metal growls and Jeniffer does nothing but complete this smashing mixture. Somehow, fans don’t even care about the repetitive and minimalistic lyrics, since the instrumental parts give them eargasms every time the album is played.

Drawing influences from a large set of genres, the music created by Rabbit Junk for “This life is where you get fucked” is a unique experience for any open-minded listener. This album deserves nothing less than a perfect score from an electronic enthusiast such as myself!

 

Sybreed – Antares ( 2007 )

•October 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Genre:

Industrial Metal/ Cyber Metal/ Industrial

 

Website:

http://www.sybreed.com/

 

 

 

Released in 2007, “Antares” is the second album from the Swiss industrial metal band Sybreed. “Antares” is the sequel to their first success, “Slave Design”, an album that was highly appreciated by fans. However, “Antares” brings a new dimension of brutality in the band’s musical style, borrowing elements from death, as well as black metal, without neglecting the synthetic aspect of the industrial metal genre.

A special guest on this album is Dirk Verbeuren, Soilwork’s amazing drummer, who gladly accepted to record for “Antares” along with the official members of Sybreed. The result of this collaboration is astonishing. Compared to their previous album, “Antares” is a far more violent piece, but the melodic aspect of the music is also well taken care of by the increased use of clean vocals and touching instrumental sequences. Also, the electronic touch of the cyber metal sound makes Sybreed a band easily distinguishable among other similar ones.

When you listen to it from the beginning to the end, “Antares” tells a story of human decay. The conceptual lyrics revolve around themes like vanity, lies, ignorance and the misery of modern life in general.

“Emma-0” opens the album with an extremely brutal sound. The lyrics, as well as the vocal parts give this track great force of expression. Growls combined with clean vocals start to tell the story of a superior mind sick of shallowness and alienation.  Throughout the album, the idea is continued and analyzed  even more, every song being a step forward to a new realization. The beautiful instrumental track “Ex-Inferis” is the turning point of the album, because the following song, “Permafrost”, represents the decision on the superior mind to free itself from the world through death. The idea that denial is the best cure for all the surrounding misery is recurrent in the lyrics, and in the end death seems to be the final step to happiness and redemption.

“Orbital” and “Twelve Megatons Gravity” present lyrics that take the listeners into a new universe, one where the mind is truly free from all the suffering and able to transcend and become something more.

Completely opposing the anger expressed in “Emma-0”, the final song of the album, “Ethernity”, is a calm, mostly instrumental one, with no violence in the lyrics nor music. Through this song, Sybreed wants to show that the whole story told by this album has a happy ending, even though death usually doesn’t seem like one. The spirit revives, awakens, is reborn in a new, pure form.

From a musical point of view, the instruments tell the same story as the lyrics. Starting powerful, with guitar riffs inspired from black metal, fast and technical drums masterly played by Dirk Verbeuren, the album progressively turns into a melodic one, with more obvious electronic influences and throbbing synth lines that blend with the roughness of the metal instrumental parts. Considering this evolution, one could say that there are 3 essential tracks for “Antares”: “Emma-0”, the brutal beginning, “Ex-Inferis”, the turning point and “Ethernity”, the grand finale.

Mixing astonishing instrumental sounds which are both brutal and melodic, very technical and impressive electronic sequences, a voice that presents a lot of variations and lyrics that tell a philosophic story many can relate to, “Antares” can be considered the crowning glory of Sybreed’s discography so far. It is a modern album from every point of view and it defines the fairly new cyber metal concept perfectly, being like a breath of fresh air for listeners who are always looking for a new musical experience, regardless if they are metal fans or electronic enthusiasts.

 

Flesh Field – Strain ( 2004 )

•October 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Genre:

Industrial/ EBM/ Dark Electro

 

Website:

http://www.flesh-field.com/

 

 

 

 

Aggressive, yet very melodic, Flesh Field’s sound is a very distinctive one among the constantly growing flow of dark electro bands. The band was born in the late ’90s, when Ian Ross and Rian Miller started a collaboration that would later result in 2 very good albums: “Viral Extinction” in 1999 and “Belief Control” in 2001. For the release of  “Strain”, the band’s last material, Rian was replaced by Wendy Yanko, the voice that ranges from rough to musical and somewhat vulnerable, giving a modern and edgy feel to Flesh Field’s harsh electronic layout.

“Strain” was released in 2004 and it represents the end of a wonderful and creative musical project, if you don’t count the demos and remastered tracks that were promised to the fans and that can be downloaded from the band’s official website. Compared to the previous albums, this third one is angrier and a lot better. Flesh Field’s sound has upgraded to the maximum with this final release that includes many new and unique elements, such as the symphonic and orchestral areas found on “Epiphany”, as well as the choir work from tracks like “Reflect the Enemy” or “Seethe”. The album features a basic structure of EBM rythms and synth sequences that intertwines with metallic guitar riffs and both acoustic and electronic percussion in order to build a sound spectrum that would satisfy even the most pretentious tastes.

Although some melodic lines are rather simplistic, each of the 12 songs tend to stick to your brain after the first listen. Sometimes starting with slower, string-laden parts, the songs drift into a fast, furious and catchy tempo.

Flesh Field has chosen great titles for the songs on “Strain”, resuming the essence of the lyrics in just a few very suggestive words. The fact that the band’s name is actually an unofficial term Ian Ross came up with to describe the psychological defense mechanisms of rape survivors gives fans a sneak-preview of the themes that Flesh Field approaches. Behind the general animated and intense atmosphere hide lyrics that reveal deep and personal emotions expressed with brutal honesty. Concepts such as self-consciousness and self-preservation are recurrent throughout the album. Most songs speak of getting hurt, an experience that everyone can relate to, and the methods each person finds in order to cope with those destructive feelings that follow. Some may resort to building walls around them, while others use rage as a weapon. The songs on “Strain” are rich in emotional content: “The Collapse” is an ode to decadence, “Recoil” presents an intense duality and conflict between the real, hidden thoughts of a person and the masks they wear on the outside for protection against the deceptions, lies and suffering brought on by others. On a slightly different note, “The Eucharist” slides into the religion realm, portraying the brainwashed people who are slaves to their gods. From beginning to end, the songs on “Strain” depict a fairly complete image of the flaws of human nature.

Ian Ross’s voice remains as powerful as it was on the previous albums, mostly undistorded on this material. As for Wendy Yanko, she truly shines more and more with every passing song, constantly surprising the audience with lots of very interesting variations. It is truly impressive how she can switch from the aggressive tone used on “The Collapse” to the melodic, soft and haunting voice featured on “Uprising” or “Epiphany”. From this point of view, Flesh Field has improved greatly since her arrival, Wendy possessing much better vocal qualities than her predecessor Rian Miller.

Energic, dense and creative, “Strain” is the album that shows Flesh Field’s musical potential better than any other release. The American duo found the best way to exist the music stage by leaving behind a memorable piece that can very easily become addictive for electronic fans, but can just as easily bring joy to the ears of metal enthusiasts that will appreciate the amazing guitar work included on the album.

 

 

Turmion Kätilöt – Perstechnique ( 2011 )

•September 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Genre:

Industrial Metal

 

Website:

http://www.turmionkatilot.com

 

 

 

 

Turmion Kätilöt, which literally means “Midwives of Destruction” or “Midwives of Perdition” is one of the weirdest music projects I have yet to encounter. Born in 2003, the Finnish industrial metal band consists of six members: MC Raaka Pee, B. Undertaker, Spellgoth (who is also the lead vocalist of Trollheim’s Grott), Master Bates, RunQ and DQ. The main thing that instantly caught my attention was the fact that the band adopts a look that is in no way characteristic for the industrial scene, appearing to be more of a black metal band than anything else. Corpsepaint, spikes and chains lead to an almost grotesque aspect of the band members. Still, don’t let this detail fool you! Turmion Kätilöt has nothing to do with the Nordic black metal movement, being a truly interesting industrial metal act.

Turmion Kätilöt combines the best parts of bands like Strapping Young Lad, Hanzel und Gretyl,  Ruoska and KMFDM, creating a style of its own, a very bizarre one if I might add. Released in 2011, the band’s newest material, “Perstechnique”, is a very pleasant surprise for their fans. What makes this album stand out is the fact that the band seems to have moved away from the Rammstein influences obvious in other previous materials. Turmion Kätilöt has grown, developed its own musical style, charged with terror, sexuality and a symbiosis between metal and electronics which sounds simply awesome. I love the fact that despite the loud guitar riffs and the general metal-ish feeling, the synths really stand out through sounds and beats reminding of trance, electronic and even drum&bass on certain areas. The seemingly danceable backdrop is contrasted with the tortured screams of front man MC Raaka Pee. All in all, the album tends to confuse the audience who doesn’t really know how to perceive it because of the so many different elements combined in 10 tracks.

One downside of “Perstechnique” is the fact that only 2 songs, “Grand Ball” and “Hellbound Earth”, can actually be understood by the English speaking public, since the others are entirely in Finnish. Still, maybe there is a good part to this, because you can actually focus on the sound itself instead of the message. And I tell you, the sound itself is mind-blowing.

“Perstechnique” is strange, even sick… which is why it’s totally worth listening to! The bizarre qualities are enhanced due to the near perfect matching of elements which should never fit together, the trance portions being, by far, my favorite ones. The album is powerful, energic and it has the potential to be a great starting point towards a new, individualized musical style for Turmion Kätilöt.

 

The Secret Meeting – Ultrashiver ( 2007 )

•September 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Genre:

Darkwave/ Electronic/ Shoegaze

 

Website:

http://www.thesecretmeeting.net/

 

 

 

 

The Secret Meeting is a remarkable project that brings together the best of 2 bands, being a collaboration between kaRIN and Statik from the band Collide and Dean Garcia, the mastermind behind Curve. Together, these artists bring to light a type of music that is, at the same time, familiar and refreshingly new, something that fans of both bands involved will surely love. Released in 2007, “Ultrashiver” is the album that put The Secret Meeting on the music market and brought them positive reactions from fans and critics as well.

“Ultrashiver” can be seen as one of the best ways to describe the concept of shoegaze, the term most often used to define the delirious sound that combines distorted guitar riffs with lush electronic atmospheres and deep, sensual, haunting vocals. It’s a very complex and heavily layered soundscape, an utter delight for those who enjoy good quality music and the moods designed by this particular kind of harmony. Listening to The Secret Meeting’s “Ultrashiver” is like taking a look in a very deep well that reveals mystery and darkness, but also a seductive fascination towards the unknown.

The album consists of 10 tracks that are simply irresistible for darkwave and electronic fans who will, however, be surprised by the intoxicating vibe infused with every passing song. “Ultrashiver” holds both charm and depth and it presents the best musical qualities of all the dedicated people involved in its production, who were driven by the desire to create something great.

The basic structure of “Ultrashiver” leans on an outline of guitar, bass and drum  mixtures, but the electronics are what give the album its sharp and modern edge. The synth lines build up in tempo to create an increasingly dynamic atmosphere in each track. Shimmering electronic modulations are proof of Statik’s compositional genius, a force to be reckoned with when it comes to this album, and the vast palette of rock instrumentals controlled by Dean Garcia only comes to complete this outstanding sound. Still, the eerie, warm, ethereal feeling that kaRIN’s voice produces must be the most unique aspect of this project, which Collide fans are already more than familiar with.

“Ultrashiver” is an album full of seductive textures and unexpected mood changes, with tracks so skillfully produced that it is almost useless to pick a favorite one and luxurious atmospheres carefully built layer by layer. The Secret Meeting’s music has the power to caress the ears, while simultaneously drawing responses from the body that reacts almost automatically to the rhythm changes. The band couldn’t have chosen a better name for an album that can really make you shiver of pleasure. It’s addictive, dreamy and it’s a secret that truly must be shared!

 

Diorama – Cubed ( 2010 )

•September 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Genre:

Darkwave/ Electronic/ Future Pop

 

Website:

  http://www.diorama-music.com/

 

 

 

 

2010 was the year when the German band Diorama brought to light their newest and very expected album, “Cubed”. Torben Wendt’s musical project has reached a maturity beyond recognition with this material than deserves the highest ratings and sincere congratulations. Very complex and innovative from a stylistic point of view, with a number of different influences harmoniously coexisting in each song, “Cubed” represents the final result of 2 years of hard work. The title, the artwork on the CD cover and the meaning behind the metaphors in the lyrics point to the central theme of the album, the cube, viewed not as a simple geometric figure. The cube represents a confined space, which can be a stage, a prison, a shelter or the outlines of the boundaries set by the mind of any individual. Circling around this idea of an abstract cage, most of the tracks feature the trademark duality of melancholy and irony in the lyrics that serve as a wake-up call and an invitation to break the aforementioned self-implied boundaries.

Considering the philosophical nature of the material, it is a fair assumption that “Cubed” is Diorama’s most conceptual album so far, and a very good one for that matter. Rich in musical layers as well as ideological content, this material is genuine sonic exaltation for the people familiarized with Diorama’s often confusing word-play. One must see beyond the clubby beats and catchy synth lines in order to truly appreciate the value of “Cubed”, because the technique of using superficial attributes for channeling something more complicated in the brains of the listeners without them even noticing is a trick that Diorama masters beyond any shadow of a doubt.

The standard version of the album consists of 13 tracks, whereas the lucky owners of the Deluxe edition can enjoy a second CD with 5 more bonus songs. “Cubed” debuts with a slightly altered version of the previously released single “Child of Entertainment”, a version that features a sublime piano intro before the explosion of electronics. Every song that follows holds a subliminal aggressive tone due to the strong lyrics that urge to the destruction of the figurative cube. They scream “Break free!” to anyone willing to see beneath the surface. Thus, songs like “Acid Trip” or “Ignite” present themselves as invitations to fight against the rigidity, to break away from the established paths. “Cubed” is about being human, about being imperfect and often insecure. Dark feelings expressed through soft organic rythms and intermingling atmospheres create an unbearable feeling of loss in tracks such as “Gone Gone Gone”, as opposed to the wild drum beats, raging guitars and upbeat synthetic sequences that dress up “Record Deal” or “Alpha Animal Complex” in club-like outfits that make the true meaning more difficult to unravel.

“My Counterfeit” and “Lord of the Lost” are the only 2 genuine ballades on the album, as mysterious and enigmatic as any Diorama song. The former flirts with jazz influences when it comes to rythm and the piano that dominates the track, making it an overwhelmingly emotional experience. “Lord of the Lost” is considerably darker than the first ballad and it presents an amazingly well-structured melodic line. It’s phasing in beats, growing in power at first and then unfolding a complex build of elements, intertwined with chilly atmospherics and the marvelous sound of vintage piano.

For some listeners, the “Cubed” experience ends with “Stereotype”, a piece that, through rough edges, impressing guitar riffs and unpolished sound, reminds of early industrial. This is the last song of the standard album edition, which will be completed by 5 more on the Deluxe package. “Stukkato” opens the list of bonus tracks with a range of organic notes that later slide into the familiar electronic territory. A deep  feeling of hopelessness is induced by the vocalist’s tonality and through the lyrics. The following “Batteries” and “The Hunt” are heavy tracks, with low-key vocals and metaphorical illustration of wishes and emotions of mankind in the very artistic manner that is characteristic for Diorama. The outstanding “Jericho Beach” and “Shadow Play” also make the Deluxe edition of “Cubed” a treasured item for dedicated fans, since the melodic complexity that lays the grounds for feelings of resentment towards the meaninglessness of life, as well as the atmosphere itself, is breathtaking.

Revealing hidden faces of Diorama and its musical brilliance, the album that revolves around the abstract concept of the cube we each build for our own purposes is undeniable proof that talent, determination, hard work and deep understanding of the human nature are key ingredients to creating a material that will, most certainly, not be forgotten very soon. “Cubed” is an intense and dynamic album that builds dramatic tension with every note and lyric, a feeling that, hopefully, will bring people to “rip out the edges of their cubes”.

The Crüxshadows – Dreamcypher ( 2007 )

•September 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Genre:

Darkwave/ Electronic

 

Website:

http://www.thecruxshadows.com/

 

 

 

Initially formed in Florida in 1992, The Crüxshadows is one of the most enduring acts of the darkwave scene from all over the world. During the years, the band has grown a lot, displaying constant signs of evolution with every new material, regardless if it was a full length album, a single or an EP. The group’s discography is a very vast one and it has registered great successes in landing tracks among the first positions of many charts. Although the lineup has changed over the years, the charismatic mastermind and lead singer Rouge remained the one constant and familiar element fans could rely on. As he declared in interviews, he was always motivated by the thought that music had the power to change the world and make people look deeper inside their souls.

“Dreamcypher” was released in 2007 and it quickly became the band’s best selling album up to date. For those who were familiar with the activity of The Crüxshadows, this did not come as a surprise, since the album is most certainly better than any other previous discs. Combining the fondness the band had for the classic 1980s synthpop/ new romantic sounds with very modern dance elements, “Dreamcypher” approaches perfection. The album consists of 14 mid-length tracks that feature the typical Crüxshadows catchy beats blended with a meaningful and inspirational message that lies behind the lyrics. Alluring keyboard sounds pair up with rythmic synth lines and guitars in order to create an ideal musical base for the essence of the band, which is the poetry hidden in the lyrics.

Most of the tracks on “Dreamcypher” are upbeat and worthy of their positions in dance charts, the most remarkable from this point of view being “Birthday” and “Sophia”, who would later become singles. Very well structured, the songs on this album tend to drift towards the mainstream when it comes to sound, but the highly emotional nature of the lyrics is the one that keeps The Crüxshadows well grounded into the gothic area. Revolving around the motto “Live. Love. Be. Believe.”, the verses are powerful, meant to penetrate into the heart of the listeners and give them something to think about. Even though they may explore dark feelings such as lost love, regret or fear, all of the songs hold a strongly positive note to them. The Crüxshadows brings hope, encourages braveness, teaches that any obstacle can be overcome and inspires anyone with a heart that’s open enough to listen. It almost seems like The Crüxshadows is a belief system of its own and the reason it has so much impact is the fact that it’s built around a great range of genuine human emotions, feelings that any listener has experienced at least once in their life. Imagine having your own thoughts reflected back at you through the words of someone you have never met, but who somehow understands what you’re going through and knows exactly what to say to make it better. This is the kind of experience provided by The Crüxshadows!

On the opposite side of the dance-oriented anthems that consist nearly half of “Dreamcypher” lay beautiful and heart-melting ballades such as “Memorare”, “Kisses 3” or “Sleepwalking”. What’s interesting about these songs is that, despite the fact that The Crüxshadows has never laid low when it comes to electronics, they still own a very particular atmospheric feel that is characteristic for darkwave acts. Also, some might argue that, generally, a heavily synthesized voice does not serve emotionally charged melodies well. In this case, Rouge’s voice is far from being cold and mechanical, the distortion effect giving it an otherwordly sound that matches perfectly with the musical background. And if you come to think about it, it makes sense that words of such wisdom and empathy would be delivered in a tone that is beyond humanly.

It’s quite difficult to favor one song over another, since “Dreamcypher” is so carefully created that it reaches the soul of listeners with every note. Still, “Eye of the Storm” and “Memorare” have to be acknowledged as masterpieces that really stand out and shine. The fact that they are substantially longer than other tracks on the album offers them an unfair advantage though, because they present the band with the opportunity of bringing more elements into the mixture, creating a hypnotizing, layered and addictive sound.

The Crüxshadows has never aimed at pleasing the critics, who consider their music too pop for the goth subculture and too underground to fit the mainstream, instead focusing on finding the perfect balance that would speak to the only “critics” that matter: the fans. With “Dreamcypher”, that balance has been undeniably reached. It is a strong, yet sentimental and passionate album, with songs that vary from slow to fast tempo and lyrics that cover a great spectrum of emotions in poetic words of stunning beauty. From beginning to end, “Dreamcypher” is a refined, sublime and enchanting musical piece that will stick to your heart and make you come back for another taste of  the Crüxshadows experience.