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Cocksure/ TVMALSV

Filed under: Recorded Music,Reviews,Uncategorized — doktorjohn July 8, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

Album

TVMALSV

Band
Cocksure

Cocksure

Metropolis

By Doktor John

Lovers of old-school industrial who are waiting for a modern, novel reinterpretation of their genre will find TVMALSV by the irreverent band, Cocksure, to be right up their proverbial alley. Brainchild of Chris Connelly (KMFDM, Ministry, Pigface, Revolting Cocks) and Jason Novak (Cracknation and Czar) with guest appearance by Richard 23 (Front 242), this nine-track album contains all the elements they are listening for and more.

From the first cut, “Skeemy Gates,” to the pseudo-reggae finale, “Cokane in My Brain,” listeners are served up a techno-industrial slurry of mesmerizing rhythms and distorted vocals serving up cheerfully aggressive rap at various cadences in a matrix of organized, sonic chaos.

Echoes of the ancestor bands appeal to and entice the fans of Ministry, Front 242 and especially Revco, but Cocksure takes the audience a couple of steps further with a harsh, industrial-strength version of the rap style associated with hip-hop. Nasty topics, hoarse and rapid-fire vocals are suitably wedded to relentless mechanical beats and occasionally melodious background noise.

Dictionary.com defines “cocksure” as “overconfident.” The Urban Dictionary offers a more vulgar definition. I’m sure Connelly and Novak self-identify with both.

The Sedona Effect

Filed under: Live Music,Recorded Music — doktorjohn March 26, 2014 @ 1:52 am

The R Bar
March 9, 2014
New York, NY
By Doktor John

Kai  cover

Female-fronted Brooklyn-based, dark electro band The Sedona Effect put on two screenings of their newly-released (January 2014) music video “Cross the Line” at the R Bar on Manhattan’s Bowery on a recent Thursday night to a large crowd of black-attired, dark wave fans. This band is the solo project of German-born, classically-trained soprano and dramatist Kai Irina Hahn who has recently come to NYC from London where, it can assumed, some of her conversion from lyric opera to EBM and industrial developed.

The video features a mesmerizing, layered electro-industrial track that builds through several crescendos. On screen are Kai, in the form of a femme fatale — alternately bathed in eerie, blue and red light — and in the background phantom-like, masked and fetish-clad characters.

Kai hisses her call to “cross the line.” During a black-&-white segment she holds the blade of a knife to the throat of a lethargic young male and succeeds in seducing him into final action. A large and slithering, spotted snake weaves its way throughout the video, bridging between several scenes, reminiscent of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. So —come to think of it — is Kai herself! Just the kind of thing to awaken the amoral side of the poetic persona. Parts of the video were actually shot at the RBar.

Kai Anke ShedKai snake

Besides the video, there were live stage performances featuring duets of performers, the first a “Celtic Kabuki” with Duchess Wendi and Sean Monistat who wore a deer-antler helmet. The second featured Ess Moonking and Kai herself performing parts of the choreography of “Gloomy Sunday,” a cabaret piece that she staged last year at Bizarre Bushwick in Brooklyn where Kai now resides.

A pair of very interesting photo exhibits was held as backdrop to the video release party. Anka Jurena’s work was largely b & w and quite creepy, and it included some available prints of Kai intertwined with her snake. Jesse Kleitman’s photography display featured traditional subjects, colors, filters and Photoshop enhancements.

The turnout was excellent and the video was well received, which portends an even more successful launch of The Sedona Effect’s upcoming album “Vortices,” due out in the fall of 2014.

Psyclon Nine “Order of the Shadow [Act I]”

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music — doktorjohn October 31, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

Psyclon Nine
“Order of the Shadow [Act I]”
Metropolis Records

Psycon Nine
By Doktor John

This San Francisco-based industrial/metal crossover band is back from a hiatus since 2010 with a new album due for release on November 12. There are 13 tracks, almost strictly for those in the head-banger (if that term still has meaning) crowd who are willing to accept techno-industrial elements on the menu.

There’s a fair amount of variety in this album. Several tracks are noted to begin with or have variable stretches within them consisting of formless, wind-like electronica and distant menacing samples. Numerous songs contain frantic, gasping vocals synchronized to artillery-like, pounding beats and are very danceable. Other tracks like “Suffer Well” and “Glamor Through Debris” employ death metal forms, such as machine-gun-fast vocals that are aggressive to the point of being vicious, but are better to dance to than your usual heavy metal.

Track12, “Penance” is barely a minute long and consists of wind-like noise without melody or rhythm, and then a brief noise bridge that could be the sound of two locomotives being violently slammed together numerous times before lapsing back into relatively soothing noise.

Track 9, “But With a Whimper,” contrary to T.S. Eliot’s line “…the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper,” contains a couple of series of loud bangs separated by desperate whispering, and is definitely not for dancing.

The final track, “The Saint and the Valentine” comes as an astounding melodious departure from the rest of the album, with pitch-dark minor-key symphonic elements and moments of pleasurable, carefully sung vocals in a theatrical whisper alternating with the abrasive screaming heard on the rest of the album.

Heavy metal is neither my favorite, nor my forte to evaluate. “Order of the Shadow [Act I]” has definite redeeming features, although it is not going to be within everybody’s comfortable listening zone. The best thing I can say about it is that it sounds like Skinny Puppy died in a horrible accident, went straight to hell, connected with some metal heads and from there produced this brutally seductive album.

Covenant/ “Leaving Babylon”

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music — doktorjohn October 25, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

Covenant
Leaving Babylon
Metropolis Records

By Doktor John

Leaving babylon

“Leaving Babylon” is used to exhort Christians to leave the sinful world behind and to refuse to participate in political and social life. I would venture that Covenant meant some other variant of meaning. I will leave the interpretation to the reader/listener.

The title track comes in two forms. As the first track, it is a mere 3.2 minutes long and opens with indistinct samples as if one were eavesdropping on a newscast, followed by bare-bones percussion one might hear from banging on a trash can lid a la Skinny Puppy or Einsturze Neubauten. Soon a slow-paced cadence supersedes and the title is repeated again and again as a disconsolate mantra. “Leaving Babylon II” is the seventh track and consists of a slow-paced monotonous10 minute zombie walk, I perhaps through a virtual cemetery.

“Last dance” picks up the pace and eventually evolves into symphonic, electronic strings and full-throated but grief-stricken vocals. “Thy Kingdom Come” begins with a mournful acoustic guitar then proceeds into a lush melody and dire lyrics sung over a moderately-paced rhythm providing a showcase for Simonsson’s uneasy, stressed-out vocals. “Prime Movers”—in ancient and medieval philosophy—is the term that refers to the creator of the universe, and was once employed by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas as proof for the existence of a god. I can’t say exactly how the title was chosen by Covenant, but this track has a nice galloping pace, combined with a recurring synthetic riff that will pull everyone irresistibly onto the dance floor.

The 6.5 minute track, “Ignorance is Bliss,” starts with an eerie high-pitched drone of strings hanging over the introduction, with delicate synthesizer notation soon taking over as doleful singing brings it all together. A bridge of jubilant chimes intervenes, then a brief, bare-bones, techno-industrial run with simple vocals before the strings, vocals and compelling rhythm rise again in a grand crescendo to which the chimes gloriously return. The effect is an uplifting, emotionally triumphant experience.
“For Our Time” is real change of pace, with few if any techno or industrial conventions. It is sparse on instrumentals, relying heavily on Eskill Simonsson’s deep dark and up-front vocals.

“I Walk Slow” begins with the Eskill Simonsson’s intimately addressing the listener in pained, troubled whispers, his sad words punctuated by simple, sympathetic guitar strumming and disorienting bursts of static. “Auto (Circulation)” returns to the driving, techno-industrial style that won’t allow the listener to sit still, so compelling are the seductive beats. The final track, “Not to Be Here” is a lusciously beautiful, romantic, but anguished ode with a wistful narrative of the kind that sometimes motivates those on the dance floor to square off, embrace and dance two-by-two.

Whether one is looking for classic Goth, hard-core industrial, dark themes or uplifting, triumphal anthems, Covenant has put all these qualities together in their latest, must hear/must have album.

Front Line Assembly /Echogenetic

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music — doktorjohn September 2, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

Echogenetic for blog

In the 26 years since Bill Leeb left Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly has moved in fits and starts through industrial, disco and metal to an increasingly electronic style but always featuring Leeb’s penchant for intensity and harsh themes. FLA’s latest release, “Echogenetic,” represents their 18th studio album, containing eleven tracks. Fans of FLA and of industrial in general, need have no fear: This opus upholds the every essence of the genre as they have come to love it.

The first track, “Resonance” is a slow-paced, emotionally burdensome slog through an electronic swamp with eerie male choral interludes, followed by “Leveled” which introduces a complex and disorienting rhythm, vocals in Leeb’s signature theatrical whisper, a vastly arrayed synthetic soundscape and a delicate bridge of light sounds.

“Killing Grounds” starts with a menacingly rapid, galloping rhythm, brings in distant, undecipherable vocals, and then intermittently slows to a very danceable march.
“Blood” starts out with growling synthesized noise, and then features Leeb’s full-throated singing alternating with the hissing, hostile cries that are the familiar voice of FLA. “Deadened” has a traditional industrial feel, is moderately paced, containing distorted voices, some interesting lyrics and melodious hooks. “Ghosts” starts with a weighty, menacing, slow pace then switches from minor to a major chords for most of the track, gliding back into minor key solemnity as soothing strings intervene to provide short term relief. It would be impossible to sit still while listening to these compelling anthems.

Echogenetic,” the title track, begins with a misleadingly pleasant, pizzicato string opening, followed by harsh electronic distorted human and instrumental voices and a dragging rhythm that would actually be too slow to dance to.
“Exhale” returns to the signature FLA style, with Bill Leeb vocals and a mesmerizing cadence that will compel listeners to get up and dance. Imagine dancers alternating between frantic, robotic moves and zombie-like catatonia during the erratic beat and rapidly shifting scenario of “Prototype”.

“Exo” recalls classic FLA, sure to please industrial nostalgia buffs. Finally, “Heartquake” closes the album with computer-generated voices (a la Laurie Anderson) in a rondo of dialogue with Leeb’s natural growl.

Aspiring young rockers tend to study the guitar or drums less nowadays, favoring all the electronic, computer-generated and synthetic means of producing music. FLA has a generation-sized head start in that direction. This album, completely guitar-free, demonstrates their total mastery of the new and future genre of techno-industrial music.

Skinny Puppy new CD “hanDover”

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music,Reviews — doktorjohn November 23, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

Skinny Puppy/ hanDover/SPV
By Doktor John

This is the 11th complete album by the preeminent electro-industrial group, Skinny Puppy, and is comes across as an unfortunate mellowing-down of the style of this usually boisterous, eccentric band. SP has a tradition of naming their songs with puns and neologisms. Thus we find tracks with names such as like Ovirt and Cullorblind, but I wouldnt suggest you try to find the hidden meanings.

Overall the album is a languid collection of plodding, mournful tracks with reduced rhythm complexity, slowed cadences and toned-down lyrics when compared with the established SP oeuvre. There is conspicuous absence of the delightful and puzzling sound-samples from movies and TV that used to add an element of uniqueness and artistry to SP’s prior albums.

Most of the songs tend to trip along never approaching a climax. Tracks three and four would actually make great backgrounds for falling asleep. Occasionally the rhythm breaks into a light gallop or even a rapid-fire pace. Beats in the track“Point” take the form of recurring electronica derived from video games or perhaps Star Wars weaponry, the effect of which is sadly cheesy.

Dont get me wrong. Theres much in hanDover that has SP’s signature sound. Vyrisus, by far the best track on the album, revives a familiar SP musical device, starting with an eerie, high-pitched note that hangs, drone-like, suspended over a complex and hypnotic rhythm, then is laced with Ogre’s vocals which alternate between a growl and a harsh whisper. But the next track, “Village” morphs into a clone of something by My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult with its driving drum-machine beat. HanDover concludes with “NoiseX” over seven tedious minutes of chaotic sounds having neither a rhythm nor a melody. Many of SP’s better albums traditionally include just such a wastebasket track with leftover noise.

The formula for the album seems to have been to put Ogre’s (Ohgr’s) solo work into a blender with the recent album Mythmaker. This album unfortunately has no breakout special hit single, no powerful or explosive track. There is no delicious melody worked into an industrial soundscape as can to be heard in bygone masterpieces such as “Warlock,” “Addiction” or “Killing Game.” But it is good, serviceable if somewhat mediocre industrial music still bearing the SP flavor, and it is, at the very least, acceptable to the fan base. I have no idea, however, why they would go to the trouble of producing hanDover.

In a word: Uninspired
Rating: B-
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Mark Sinnis – The Undertaker In My Rearview Mirror

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music,Reviews — doktorjohn August 24, 2011 @ 12:02 am

The following review was published in the paper edition as well as the online edition of The Aquarian

Mark Sinnis – The Undertaker In My Rearview Mirror

Frontman for Cemetery & Western band Ninth House, Mark Sinnis has released a new album that contains some updated, acoustic and mellow versions of previously recorded Ninth House favorites, countrified even further with honkey tonk piano and acoustic and slide guitars. Sinnis continues expounding obsession with the many ways that the concept of death informs and shapes our viewpoints and our lives.

The title track is new, melodious narrative, partly spoken, partly sung in old-school country style, relates the morbid ruminations of someone who spends a lot of time behind the wheel and features a slide guitar that creates an eerie feeling to accompany his thoughts. Included are covers like “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and re-interpretations of other artists’ works as well as of his own previously recorded songs. A fabulous example is “Fifty Odd Hours,” which is a re-write of the great antique “Sixteen Tons,” a 50s classic by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Both “Death Song” —borrowed from the repertoire of Sinnis’ first band, the Apostates—- and the newly composed sequel, “Departed” are performed as duets featuring the exquisitely sweet voice of frequent collaborator Randi Russo who has the effect of emotionally charging Sinnis’s rich, deep vocals to previously unattained heights.

Sinnis never fails to bring up the traditional theme of the ill consequences as well as the consolations derived from booze, so the thirteenth track closes the album with “I’ll Have Another Drink of Whiskey,” a bar-room style sing-along.
Mark Sinnis has once again released an polished and highly listenable collection of new, old and re-interpreted folk rock featuring his polished dark baritone, fine arrangements, delicious melodies and thoughtful lyrics reflecting his profound love of American roots music.

Peter Murphy – Ninth

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music,Reviews — doktorjohn August 23, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

The following is an album review that appears in the current issue of The Aquarian

Peter Murphy/ Ninth

On Nettwerk Records
By Doktor John

When the seminal Gothic rock band Bauhaus broke up in 1983, the founding members went off in different directions. Frontman Peter Murphy went solo and produced three albums, Deep, Holy Smoke and Cascade that, while more melodious, represented a continuation of the dark tradition on which the original band was founded. Numerous singles from those albums went on to become mainstays of gothic-industrial and underground clubs. But it has been sixteen years since Cascade, he has relocated to Turkey, and all he has produced musically have been the forgettable Unshattered; Dust, an incongruous probe into Near Eastern mysticism; some greatest hits collections; and a reunion album with Bauhaus. Now with Ninth, however, he has at last resurrected the richly vocal, emotionally moving style that renders his supporters delirious with enthusiasm.

The opening track, “I Spit Roses,” has the enigmatic poetry and complex, layered rhythms that characterized all of his best works. “Seesaw Sway” is one of the best cuts on the album and restores Murphy to the top tier of dark rock, utilizing his broad vocal range. All Murphy’s albums have at least one tender-hearted ballad, and on Ninth that would be “Crème de la Crème” which begins with velvety vocals and a simplified one-hand piano accompaniment but surges to a passionate, symphonic crescendo.

“Velocity Bird” is in true rock’n’roll style and Murphy’s lyrics pose a poetic riddle of the kind that only he concocts. “Uneven & Brittle” features power chord guitar riffs and menacing vocals, but contains a soft-spoken narrative in its middle. “Peace to Each” sounds like vintage Bauhaus with discordant singing over a driving rhythm.

One of the absolute gems of the album is “The Prince & Old Lady Shade” that will find its place among the best and most beloved songs he has ever sung for its mesmerizing beat, layered arrangement and virtuoso vocals.

“Memory Go” and “Never Fall Out” are fine, listenable and danceable without being standouts on their own merits. “Secret Silk Society” is the pitch-black, atonal and creepy finale in the early Bauhaus spirit that Peter Murphy carries on.

Ninth is vintage Peter Murphy and will more than satisfy his ardent fans who have been waiting for an album of this quality.

Rating: A
In a word: Consummate

New Album by Social Distortion

Filed under: Recorded Music,Reviews — doktorjohn February 12, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

Social Distortion/ Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes/ Epitaph

By Doktor John

This newest album by the resurgent ‘80s “punktry” group Social Distortion comes in two versions, regular and deluxe, the former containing eleven and the latter 14 songs.

Times and styles change, and bands themselves evolve. Frontman Mike Ness has forged a solo career of late, and this album reflects his delving heavily into what he calls “roots” music, mostly good ol’ country and western with an added element of blues.

A lightening-fast, two minute instrumental overture titled “Road Zombie” starts the set with twangy guitar showmanship followed by bluesy, autobiographical “California (Hustle and Flow).”

“Gimme the Sweet and Low,” “Diamond In the Rough” and “Far Side of Nowhere” are each in the melodious country-rock style into which Ness lately crosses over.

“Machine Gun Blues” rises to a symphonic level, with retro-themed lyrics and a cinematic narrative. “Bakersfield” is a six-minute magnum opus in the form of a lament for a faraway gal containing a Johnny Cash-style, spoken-word confession of obsessive desire for her company.

“Alone and Forsaken” is a minor-key, dark Gothic poem in the “cemetery-and-western” mode that is just beneath the surface of much of Ness’s works.

“Can’t Take It With You,” a clichéd piece of pseudo-gospel nonsense, far below the musical standards of the group, should not have been included in this album. Otherwise the rest are great retrospective of the rockabilly lifestyle — utterly sincere, with equal doses of regret, honesty and the personal tenacity characteristic of Ness’s late, autobiographical works.

Rating A

In a word: True to form

The Night’s Last Tomorrow

Filed under: Recorded Music — doktorjohn June 19, 2010 @ 12:33 am

CD Review
The Night’s Last Tomorrow
Mark Sinnis

This is the third CD released by the frontman for Cemetery-and-Western band, Ninth House, and it is rich with both new material and mature, acoustic reinterpretations of older songs, often featuring brave and innovative instrumentation to accompany Mark’s bitter-sweet, chocolatey vocals. Some songs have appeared on Sinnis’s two prior solo albums and Ninth House recordings. Mark hasn’t dropped his unwavering focus on death and how awareness of it causes us to see life’s experiences in a certain light.

The opening track, “The Night’s Last Tomorrow” epitomizes this concept, and reaches heights of languid sadness thanks to the moody lap-steel guitar of bluesman, Lenny Molotov.

“15 Miles to Hell’s Gate” has a more frustrated, angry tone, whereas “Your Past May Come Back” is surprisingly upbeat and showcases Marks’s amazing, mellifluous vocals.

The “western” in “Cemetery-and-Western” is evident in “Fallible Friend.” My own particular favorite, “Follow the Line” is a dark, Ninth House treatise about suicidal-drunkenness that is incredibly melodious, even in this relatively light, accordion-accompanied version.

Other tracks include new originals as well as acoustic tributes to the Sisters of Mercy, stripped down versions of songs by Sinnis’s old band, The Apostates, pieces with names like “Skeletons” and “Scars,” plus a New Orleans-flavored Louie Armstrong cover and Billy Holiday’s “Gloomy Sunday.” The album ends appropriately with a country gospel death-march.

Sinnis’s style is a blending of folk-rock and traditional country, western, gospel and blues that is sure to please as well as fascinate music lovers of every stripe..

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