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.
GITANE DEMONE QUARTET: Past The Sun CD Dark Vinyl Records
I never thought I would see anything from this lady drop through my door; indeed I haven’t seen the name for about 22 years since I stopped hanging out in proper Goth clubs. Demone of course hails from Christian Death fame; and the band members that reside with her on this project, are all from similar outfits that make me recoil in horror just thinking about them.
The years however, have been kind to Demone in some respects; and her vocal talents haven’t diminished one jot. Musically though, this is a bit messy, with a muggy production on the guitars and drums; and given the maniacal piano lines, I can’t help but feel this release as a whole, would have just benefitted from Gitane producing songs with that medium alone.
‘Past the Sun’ is no less barking mad, and in a lot of respects, the odd smattering of loopy Jazz influences assist in providing some endurance and are marginally enjoyable; but overall, this is pretty shocking and is about as dreadful as Valor’s Christian Death were (and they were only marginally worse than Rozz Williams’ version if truth be told). If there is still a market for this kind of music, then good on Demone and her cohorts for ploughing away at it, flogging that miserable long dead horse; at least she can still sing.