PALAIS IDEAL: No Signal CD/DL Dark Vinyl
There’s plenty of acts around at the moment who still toy with New Wave and associated sub genre’s, many of them even come from the mainstream; with acts like Editors and White Lies being at the pinnacle of the multi-sellers. As it happens, the former of these two sound more like a sub-standard U2 nowadays, but they’re still an influence on this lot, with regards to their earlier work.
Palais Ideal are decent enough in the music production stakes and the tunes themselves cover and merge a varying degree of influence from Clan of Xymox, Sisters and a touch of Legendary Pink Dots amongst others; and coupled with the bands polished image, you pretty much have them in a nutshell.
Overall, this is a solid affair that misses out in the originality stakes, but that’s not the issue as there’s nothing actually ‘new’ nowadays. The guts of the problem for me are the vocals, which slide out of tune on far too many occasions, denying them that top-drawer status. Couple the fact that when they are kept steady and in key, its only when they blurt out as a monotone Goth drone.
Overall, if you are deeply embedded into the Goth subculture, you’re gonna lap this up. For anyone who ventures further a field but still likes New Wave, then this will still miss the mark somewhat; being too engrained in the ever fading cult from which it has come, where only the ageing big hitters still shine and the newer bands tend to suck.
MIAZMA: s/t CD/DL Dark Vinyl
This is a compilation based on tracks from three previously released albums and 4 further exclusive numbers specifically tailored for this CD. I actually haven’t encountered much of this artist previously, but it didn’t take long to get the gist of what he is trying to achieve with the words “Any SISTERS OF MERCY fans will surely love this album!” being prominent in the press release.
I am sure any hardened European bedded in nails Goth will undoubtedly enjoy this; as much as they loved The Merry Thoughts, or Star Industry, or indeed any other Eldritch wannabe act. Thing is, whilst all of these bands, including Miazma do have a touch of Andrew’s overtones, they have all sounded a tad tacky in their application; and only hit the mark sporadically.
There is an argument that whilst the Sisters don’t produce any more work, then there is a market for those that want to keep the old flames burning. Unfortunately though, they only amount to the ever-dimming embers of what once was; leaving a fog as thick as Eldritch’s live shows.
Don’t get me wrong; Miazma is musically well produced and the songs have a fair bit of weight to them. Whilst being extremely easy on the ear though, I just can’t take it that serious; and if I want to listen to music of this ilk, I will just pull out a classic vinyl of the UK’s finest, from many years ago when it truly mattered. In fact, that’s what I may do right now and relive my youth, avoiding the second-class plagiarism.
FURVUS: Aes Grave CD Dark Vinyl
It’s taken 18 years for Italy’s Furvus to produce a new album; so there is an added pressure for Luigi Maria Mennella to have created something exceptional.
Heavily influenced by bands such as Death In June, Rosa Crux and Elend, as well as other bands of that ilk, it doesn’t take much imagination as to some of the sounds that emanate from ‘Aes Grave’. Although, Mennella does bring his own sense of originality, with the structure of the album played out as reading from scripture, to partner some arcane performance.
As expected, there is a sense of melodrama. Although, for me, it is a little overblown, which in turn makes it a trifle cringe worthy in part. Credit has to be given for a mighty production though, where the echo chamber reverberations work well with Luigi’s strong Italian lyrics, sung with gusto.
I prefer however, the quieter moments on this album, where undercurrents of Dark Ambient are allowed to skulk and stalk the listener to great effect. It is a pity though, that these are just small sound bites in an album that is over concerned with medieval pomposity.
PHALLUS DEI: Black Dawn 2xLP/CD Dark Vinyl
With an extensive musical career behind them and releases stretching back to 1988, you could be forgiven for thinking that a band like this is way past its peak. Far from it, if this new material is anything to go by.
Droning guitars are savage in their approach on opening track, ‘Slewed’. Industrial clatters and Dark Ambient fill out the backdrop of a cavernous production that adds to the brutality. In stark contrast, the Darkwave synths of ‘Starman’ provide their own drones, doubling up in a loop with organic instrumentation. The resulting hypnosis, becomes all the more peculiar once the Jazz lunacy of saxophones, blare out unexpectedly, providing a visceral, apocalyptical backdrop to the proceedings. If anything this was reminiscent of some areas of SWANS’, ‘The Seer’. Great stuff.
The threatening atmospherics of ‘Zauberwald’ provide genuine tension; as layered instrumentation build into a huge monolith of sound, with only the whisperings of lunacy and distortion for company.
With the spacious ambient of ‘Krieger’ providing the only break in the proceedings; it’s worthy of note that this still also manages to belt the listener with hammer-like doom precision, leading up to the guitar noise of the end game that is ‘Stigmata’, that provides its own horrors.
In parts, ‘Black Dawn’ is heavier than a sack of spanners. The true genius lies in Phallus Dei’s attention to harmony amongst a sea of aural bloodshed; providing an intricately layered slab of an album that is as impressive as it is destructive. It could just be the best new album I have heard this year.
IKON: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends LP/CD Dark Vinyl
This is a re-issue of this Melbourne based bands’ 2014 album of the same name, with some added bonus tracks; no matter though, as I didn’t hear it the first time around.
I have heard a few tracks by this Australian four-piece over the years, but they never really hit the mark for me. Whilst banding about terminology such as ‘Post-Punk’ and artists such as Joy Division; simply put, they sound just like a Gothic Rock band, plain and simple, nothing more, with more in common with the Bolshoi than anyone else; with the exception that Tanner & Co deserved more acclaim than the cards they were actually dealt.
Whilst knowing their instruments and having a key sense of verse, chorus, verse, alongside a web of spangle driven guitars; Ikon never really set me alight, even when I was a lot younger and appreciated clubs that smelled of patchouli oil and clove cigarettes.
I am still sure they have a massive following and part of me can see why. They do everything they do well; but have always been a band that plays by the numbers, with nothing really special to latch onto; and in 2017, they bring even less to the table of any relevance.
GENDER TROUBLE: Chokehair CD Dark Vinyl Records
There is an irony in a label called Dark Vinyl actually releasing CD’s; no matter I guess. As it happens, there is much on here to digest amongst the 2 very lengthy tracks on offer.
What R. Loren and Faith Malimba have created; is a white noise foundation with techno and trance infused pads and beats over the top. Occasionally there are vocal elements that interweave with the blister effect along the way.
I have one minor gripe. When I pressed the CD and heard the clinical dance over the harsh noise wall I figured there was a fault with the disc and skipped to track two; and after I was confronted with the same it was only after a bit of investigation, that I realised this was intentional. Whilst I will give kudos for the original approach, it doesn’t detract from the fact that the constant fuzz, sits a little too high in the mix.
All qualms aside, ‘Chokehair’ is actually a quite enjoyable piece of work once your ears become accustomed to the formula. Taking me back to underground dimly lit clubs, the music itself is grimy and dirty enough to launch it a great distance from the mainstream; and as a press and play one stop listen, it is a thoroughly enjoyable affair, given the time and space it deserves. Dare I say it, mixing the two genres works damn well; and I can only imagine this would be nothing short of a riot live on stage.
BLACKHOUSE: Live in Leipzig LP/CD Dark Vinyl Records
Recorded at the infamous Wave Gotik Treffen in Germany 2015, this long staying Power Electronics act have always caused minor confusion amongst fans, regarding their overt Christian views being vented through a genre; that to be fair, usually is a tad more brutal lyrically.
Luckily, for someone such as myself (I am not a fan of religion, or indeed the converted ranting about it), musically this is right up my street, where the visceral squelches of sound and reverb drown out what is actually being said; leaving me to enjoy the noise and intricacies that only the very well adept can create in this genre. Blackhouse are indeed one of them.
I have actually never been a fan of live albums, but with PE it doesn’t make a difference in most instances; as the music always sounds instant and live by its very nature. Long-term fans will find much on here to appreciate, with this effectively being a best of compilation release. Those new to the project wouldn’t go far wrong in picking this up as an introduction.