15 posts

Rammstein – Sehnsucht (1997)

Rammstein - Sehnsucht (Cover) If ‘Herzeleid’ was where Rammstein developed their ‘sound’ then Sehnsuch was where they exploited it to it’s fullest potential. Whilst it’s not dissimilar to it’s predecessor, the general feeling is that each song is that much stronger and more musically advance, with each band member playing more competently than before. The ‘sexual’ nature of Rammstein’s music is also more obvious – songs such as ‘Bestrafte Mich’ (‘Punish Me’) and ‘Bück Dich’ (‘Bend Over’) mean exactly what you think they mean, whilst ‘Spiel Mit Mir’ and ‘Küss mich (Fellfrosch)’ refer to incest and oral sex respectively.

The real hit to emerge from this album was ‘Du Hast’ – by Rammstein standards it’s a relatively simple song (though even this number has a cleverly-disguised dual meaning), but the catchy refrain and razor-sharp execution ensured it would become an industrial metal standard. Despite the success of this song, however, the favourite amongst many fans (including myself) was ‘Engel’ – the heavenly chorus (sung by female singer Bobolina) and angelic subject manner thrown into sharp contrast by the song’s fierce tanzmetal base. It’s the crowning moment one of the most consistently strong industrial/metal albums I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire.

Nightwish – Angels Fall First (1997)

Nightwish - Angels Fall First (Cover)The first Nightwish album was originally released in two different versions, including a limited edition of 500 with a slightly different tracklisting, although most editions available now contain ‘A Return To The Sea’ from that version, with ‘Once Upon A Troubadour’ available elsewhere. No matter what version you hear, it’s still clear that whilst Nightwish’s innate talent is apparent in places, they simply haven’t yet quite got to grips with getting the best out of their instruments and voices at this stage. The only track which truly gets the best out of all contributing members is the opening number ‘Elvenpath’, where Tuomas and Emppu’s virtuosity is contained neatly within the confines of a rock song, with Tarja’s operatic tones singing of some Tolkeinesque fantasy over the top.

The majority of the album’s other songs deliver a workmanlike but hardly jaw-dropping form of symphonic power metal, with some relatively weak vocals from Tuomas highlighting the need for a male vocalist who could at least match Tarja in the majesty stakes. There are a few songs which indicate Nightwish’s innate versatility, including the largely acoustic ‘Angels Fall First’ and the predominantly keyboard-driven ‘Nymphomaniac Fantasia’, as well as the four-part ‘Lappi’ suite, although none of them qualify as true examples of this band’s ultimate capability.

Fear Factory – Remanufacture (1997)

Fear Factory - Remanufacture (Cover)Finally! A remix album that lives up to the expectations of its parent. Rhys Fulber handles the bulk of the remixing duties, and comes up with the goods almost every time. From the savage electronically-enhanced reworks of ‘Demanufacture’ and ‘Self-Bias Resistor’ to the darker, more minimal takes on ‘Pisschrist’ and ‘Bound for Forgiveness’ – two remixes that may be criticised for leaving too little of the original song intact, but they stand up well on their own.

He’s not the only remixer to have a go Junkie XL, Kingsize and DJ Dano offer even more extreme interpretations of the other Demanufacture tracks. In particular, the Fear Factory-gone-hardcore remix ‘T1000’, a rework of ‘Hunter-Killer’? works a treat. Easily one of the best remix albums out there – capturing the spirit of the original songs whilst adding a new flavour to all of them.

Diary of Dreams – Bird Without Wings (1997)

Diary Of Dreams - Bird Without Wings (Cover)‘Others Cry For Help, Like It Would Change Anything’, sings Adrian Hates at the start of the eight-minute plus album opener ‘Stimulation’, an awesomely expansive track that sets the scene for the strongest Diary of Dreams album so far. It’s the most guitar-heavy of the three albums to date, but also makes more use of electronic elements, both in terms of bassline and melody. Or to put it more succinctly, this album simply has more of everything. Continue reading

Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy (1997)

Aphex Twin - Come To Daddy (Cover)The first full vocal release of Richard D.James, following on from the occasional twisted voices appearing on the likes of ‘Milkman’, ‘Beetles’ and ‘To Cure A Weakling Child’. James has taken the chance to expose himself as the evil-looking, innanely-grinning nutcase that he is, rather than the rather anonymous public image we’ve seen so far. Pasting his face onto the bodies of schoolgirls on the cover proves the point. This man is making himself an image, and it’s not looking nice at all. Continue reading

Wumpscut – Dried Blood Of Gommorah (1997)

:Wumpscut: - Dried Blood Of Gomorrha (Cover)This is a compilation of the EP’s ‘Dried Blood’ and ‘Gommorah’. Both are long since deleted, so if you hear any of these tracks these days, it’s likely to be on here. The songs on this collection all date back to the mid-90s and for the most part showcase the hardest, harshest sides of the :Wumpscut: sound. The undoubted highlight is the ‘French texture’ version of ‘Black Death’, the definitive version of one of the great early Ratzinger creations, delicate spoken-word sections, each of them building slowly up to an almightly climax, with an hellish guitar sample and relentless drumming combining to form one of the most intense sections of any industrial track I have heard.

The albums continues to spit bile and hatred through the no-nonsense beat-blasts of ‘In The Night’ and an early version of ‘Dying Culture’. The album does eventually ease off to provide at least a hint of Rudy’s more ‘subtle’ side, such as the funereal ‘Crucified Division’ and the ever-so-slightly melodic ‘Turns Off Pain’. There are still signs of songwriting immaturity, however – some the lyrics are often quite simplistic, especially ‘Funeral Diner’ and ‘Body Parts, whilst some of the other tracks lack the dynamic mastery of ‘Black Death’, hammering away relentlessly without colour or variation. It’s still an important :Wumpscut:, a collection of two rare EPs that cover what many long-time fans consider to be :Wumpscut:’s definitive era, even if it’s patchier in terms of quality than his studio albums of the time.

Wumpscut – Born Again (1997)

:Wumpscut: - Born Again (Cover)This is in many respects a remix collection for ‘Embryodead’, collecting a number of alternate versions of the albums tracks from various sources, adding a couple of previously unreleased tracks and a few other oddities for good measure. It’s worth noting that most of the mixes present are done in-house by Rudy, with usual suspects like B-Ton-K and Haujobb proving the rest. Despite the relatively strong source material, the results are somewhat disappointing – ‘Embryodead’ was a relatively cohesive album by :W: standards and it loses much of this power when shuffled around like this. The bulk of the remixes seem to sit in the ‘OK but not as good as the original’ camp, many of them sounding rather ‘forced’.

Some mixes are interesting, such as the attempts to add dance beats to ‘Womb’ and ‘Angel’, although these songs lose some of their ‘spirit’ in the process, whilst some mixes (such as the ‘Embryodead’ reworks) seems intent on removing everything that was good about the original. The two new tracks are good enough, ‘Wumpsex’ a straightforward noisebeat romp, whilst ‘Man’s Complete Idiot’ does the ‘slow and ominous’ thing Rudy’s done umpteen times before. All considered, the album’s only real selling point is the ‘distant’ vocals version of ‘Thorns’ (not an ‘Embryodead’ track, but never mind that now), Rudy’s duet with Fabienne D. meshing perfectly with the original tune, a rare opportunity to hear the voice of :Wumpscut: undistorted. It’s just a pity it couldn’t be accompanied by some stronger tracks than what’s on offer here.

Wumpscut – Embryodead (1997)

:Wumpscut: - Embryodead (Cover)An album dedicated to “stillborn foetus wise enough to die in their mothers womb”, no less. Despite any recommendations I may give, this album nonetheless needs to be accompanied by a health warning, as this is the most depressing, most harrowing, god-awful slice of misery from the Ratzinger camp to date. The gloom starts steadily with ‘Golgotha’, the story of the Crucifixion told with the oppressive beats and funereal keyboard combo that Rudy does so well, before things step up a gear for ‘Embryodead’, one of the most violent, inhumane industrial tracks ever recorded, a direct attack against the futility of human life itself.

As the album draws on, we get the usual mix of harsh industrial dance and dark electronics, with the highlights being the eardrum-splitting ‘War’ (possibly the most intense :W: track to date?) and the creeping doom of ‘Is It You?’, conjuring horror-movie style imagery to chilling effect. Other tracks of note include ‘Womb’, a sickening ‘voice from the womb’ bringing a whole new viewpoint to the abortion debate, and of course ‘Angel’, a delicate number, the soaring strings and subtle motif offering the albums one moment of redemption. The rest is unremittingly dissonant – yet it still dovetails together well, moreso than any previous :Wumpscut: album, and the few weak tracks (‘Pest’ is the only really pointless one) don’t interrupt the flow. Recommending to anyone who, having read this, think they can still stomach it. Expectant mothers need not apply…..

Prodigy (The) – The Fat Of The Land (1997)

The Prodigy - The Fat Of The Land (Cover)Liam Howlett kept us waiting for this album. We’d already had two singles. There was the infamous ‘Firestarter’, giving the band all the bad press they needed to send them from stardom to super-stardom, and the dark, abrasive ‘Breathe’, which savagely squeezed the very last of the rave-oriented ‘feel-good’ factor out of the Prodigy sound. Now contemplate a whole album of tracks like that, and it’s small wonder that anticipation was reaching fever pitch. Finally, almost a year and a half after ‘Firestarter’ blasted it’s way onto the scene, the accompanying album hit the shelves and flew off them at an unprecedented rate of knots. Continue reading

NON – God & Beast (1997)

NON - God & BeastBoyd Rice doesn’t exactly stand still. On top of the Abraxas foundation, the Circle of Nine and all his guest appearances on various apoclyptic folk/experiemental industrial type project, he finds more than a little time to devote to his own musical pursuits, under his own name, but also under the alias of NON. Best known for his experimental noise work, Boyd has also indulged in a myriad other sounds, adding vocals, drums and pipe organs to the noise template on live album ‘In The Shadow of the Sword’, whilst his ‘Boyd Rice’ titled works skew off in more directions than I have space to describe here. Continue reading