15 posts

Rammstein – Live Aus Berlin (1999)

Rammstein - Live Aus Berlin (Cover)A live recording of a show from Rammstein’s ‘Sehnsucht’ era. As the album only covers two albums, it isn’t much use as a compilation of any kind, though it does demonstrate that the ‘Stein works in the raw, live arena. Extended versions of ‘Bück Dich’ and ‘Engel’ and the non-album rarity ‘Wilder Wein’ are the key musican attractions here, though one cannot truly appreciate a Rammstein show without the visuals. Luckily, it’s also out on DVD..…

Fictional – Fictitious(+) (1999)

Fictional - Fictitious (1999)Fictional is in many respects a continuation of Gerrit Thomas’ Ravenous project, though there’s also a heavy influence from his work in Funker Vogt. It’s in many respects the point where the two projects meet, featuring vocals sung rather than shouted or otherwise distorted, but with the throbbing EBM rhythms giving the whole album a solid backbone. The ex-Ravenous vocalist Tim Fockenbrook provides vocals on two songs – ‘Dream of God’ and ‘Blue Lights’, both of which are amongst the albums highlights, ‘Blue Lights’ in particular an unbelievably catchy piece of melancholy synth-pop, with one of the most memorable refrains in the whole genre (the (+) version of this album released on Metropolis also includes a live version of these two songs). Gerrit Thomas provides the rest of the vocals himself, and whilst he’s not the most accomplished singer, his Germanic monotone is at least a fitting match for his own trademark pulsating electronic undercurrent.

The lyrics are once again penned by Kai Schmidt (who also writes most of the Funker Vogt lyrics), though there’s thankfully a little more stylistic variety, with songs criticising the mass media (The System), capital punishment (Hangman) and, despite the obvious Vogt influence, no songs about soldiers (what a relief!). There’s also a surprisingly accomplished, almost ethereal synth-instrumental in the form of ‘Your Dream’ and a big, portentous piano number ‘Future’ seeing the album to a close. The limitations of the project are still plain for all to see, but somehow the synth-poppy spirit of the project means one is able to enjoy these songs for what they are rather than complain about what they are not.

Diary of Dreams – Moments Of Bloom (1999)

Diary of Dreams - Moments Of Bloom (Cover)The first Diary of Dreams compilation sums the most prominent ‘Moments of Bloom’ from the first four albums, but Adrian Hates was seemingly unwilling to put out an album without getting his hands dirty and has duly reworked two tracks from each album as well as providing four previously unreleased tracks. Whilst most DoD fans pick their own favourites, the tracks chosen for this collection seem like a sensible enough cross-section of the band’s work for date, featuring their two out-and-out anthems (Ex-ile and Retaliation) along with their most notable ‘epics’ (such as End of Flowers and But The Wind Was Stronger). Continue reading

Wumpscut – Boeses Junges Fleisch/Evil Young Flesh (1999)

:Wumpscut: - Boeses Junges Fleisch (Cover)The fourth full-length :Wumpscut: album (ignoring, for a moment, all the miscellanies) sees some changes in the overall sound of the project. The majority of the songs are in German this time, with only the occasional section in English. There also seems to be more willingness to experiment in terms of structure. Either that or Rudy got completely lost whilst putting this thing together – it’s hard to say. The mix of hard industrial rhythms and equally hard electronics (with slightly less of the funereal gloom heard on some earlier tracks) seems good in theory, but in reality the whole album sounds like a complete mess. There are highlights – ‘Ich Will Dich’ may sample from a porn movie (and it’s a pretty, erm, ‘graphic’ sample – double-fucking, anyone?) but it’s one of the few tracks that manages to grab your attention and then proceed to progress anywhere.

The only other successful tracks are the industrial headrush ‘Flucht’, the instrumental ‘Draussen’ (incorporating a violin solo to great effect.) and ‘Sag Es Jetzt’, the duet with Lilli Stankowski cleverly balanced. The remainder of the CD seems to thrash about, making a lot of noise, but never really achieving anything of worth. The jerky, confused opener ‘Wolf’ leads straight into lead single ‘Totmacher’, whose plucked string sample initially make it sound like it might develop special, but the unimaginative chorus (‘Tot! Tot! Ich Macht Dich Tot!’) kills off any hope the listener may harbour. The instrumental ‘Hexentanz’ is unremittingly dull, whilst ‘Vergib Mir’ is all stop-start and no real punch. The remaining songs, whilst fractionally more listenable than these two, are nothing really special, resulting in a patchy album overall, something with can only be described as a disappointment.

Wolfsheim – Spectators (1999)

Wolfsheim - Spectators (Cover)Wolfsheim had a fair bit of history behind them by the time this album came out. They were already big news on the German alternative circuit, and were making inroads into the goth subcultures in other countries, their polished synth-pop melancholia very much emerging as the sound de jour in the numerous dark corners of Europe’s gothic/industrial clubland. This disc was to offer whatever proof was still needed that Wolfsheim were very much here to stay as scene frontrunners. Continue reading

VNV Nation – Empires (2000)

VNV Nation - Empires (Cover)The quality of production has improved, the tone of the songwriting slightly tweaked and the number of actual songs increased. This is the central reference point for both VNV Nation and the future pop genre. This disc offers such hits as ‘Kingdom’ (one of their best ‘percussive’ tracks), ‘Standing’ (the first truly ‘positive’ VNV song), the more EBMish ‘Legion’ and the ladies favourite ‘Darkangel’ (don’t ask me why, OK?).

We also get ‘Rubicon’, a song shaded with an overbearing inevitability and an interesting contrast to the out-and-out dancefloor hits. The only downsides are the slightly messy ‘Fragments’ (the only real salute to VNV’s industrial roots) and the slightly confused ‘orchestrated’ song ‘Distant’ occupying the middle portion of the album. These two tracks (plus the inclusion of the not-quite-finished-yet ‘Saviour’) keep this album from my own all-time greats list, but it’s still the one essential purchase in the ever-growning VNV backcatalogue.

Underworld – Beaucoup Fish (1999)

Underworld - Beaucoup FIsh (Cover)Whilst the bulk of this Underworld section has been in place since 1999, it’s still taken me an age to get this review down in HTML form. Not buying the album until a full year after it’s release may partially explain the delay, but the fact that it took well over another year to listen to the album all the way through, thus allowing me to write about it, is probably the real reason. And why did it take me so long? Because, dear readers, this album is boring. Continue reading

Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile (1999)

Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile (Cover)The long-awaited follow-up to ‘The Downward Spiral’ took fully five years to appear, though fans were rewarded for their patience with a double album with 23 tracks in total, including several instrumentals. The album starts strongly – the first disc (Left) offers vintage NIN moments in the form of opener ‘Somewhat Damaged’, the all-dominating power chords of ‘The Day The World Went Away’, the redemptive fury of ‘We’re In This Together’, the gentle descent of ‘Even Deeper’ or the desolate beauty of concluding number ‘The Great Below’.

It’s when we get to the second disc (Right) that things lose their way slightly – the individual songs are generally strong, with ‘Into The Void’, ‘Where Is Everybody’ and the ‘beating the nu-metallers at their own game’ ‘Starfuckers Inc.’ the best. However, the instrumentals plus a couple of weaker songs lead to the second disc being a less satisfying listen than the first, the messy ‘The Big Come Down’ knocking the life out of the album three tracks shy of the end. That said, there’s still more than enough good material on here to justify purchase, but you can’t help thinking that a little culling would have made one hell of an 80-minute single album.

Nine (The) – Native Anger (1999)

The Nine - Native Anger (Cover)This is the debut album from the then-two piece synth-pop act ‘The Nine’. Quintessentially English, this duo spent performed much of this albums promotion hovering around the bottom of industrial/electro-goth bills, supporting the likes of Attrition, Mesh and the reformed Sigue Sigue Sputnik. It’s the sort of place you usually find two-piece Depeche Mode wannabes. Except these two soon transcended the empty-floored opening slots and any accusations of blatantly copying 80s new wave chart-toppers. And how did they manage this feat? Fancy stage show? Guest appearance from David Gahan? Continue reading

Ministry – Dark Side Of The Spoon (1999)

Ministry - Dark Side Of The Spoon (Cover)This album was three years in the making, and is at least slight improvement on it’s predecessor. It’s still nothing special compared with Ministry’s early work, but at least the big riffs sound purposeful once more, most notably on the track ‘Bad Blood’, well known for it’s appearance on the Matrix soundtrack. ‘Supermaniac Soul’ also shows some teeth, though suffers from thin production, making it a song best enjoyed live.

The slow tracks also manage to carry a little bit of atmosphere this time, though they don’t leave any lasting impression, with ‘Whip And Chain’ in particular sounding confused and directionless. It’s almost as if they realise the mistakes they made on ‘Filth Pig’, but are being too self-conscious in terms of solving the problem.