31 posts

Rammstein – Mutter (2001)

Rammstein - Mutter (Cover)Could they possibly out-do ‘Sehnsucht’? Yes, they could. It was apparent from the very first bars of album opener ‘Mein Herz Brennt’, the orchestration slowly uncurling to eventually unleash one of the most jaw-dropping album intros I’ve ever experienced. The military march of ‘Links 2 3 4’ takes things up a gear, leading neatly into the huge, all-encompassing anthemics of ‘Sonne’. The more straightforward (indeed almost radio-friendly!) ‘Ich Will’ then takes us through to the fiery, no-holds-barred tanzmetal blast of ‘Feuer Frei!’. And we’re not even halfway through yet!

The albums centrepiece is the more personal ‘Mutter’, before the enchanting (yet highly disturbing) nursery rhyme-esque ‘Spieluhr’. Track 8, ‘Zwitter’ refers to hermaphrodites, and remains one of the few German songs to make me laugh out loud BEFORE looking up the translation. The obligatory ‘sexual’ track follows in the form of ‘Rein Raus’ before one final surge across the eardrums with ‘Adios’ and the delicate lead-out of ‘Nebel’. Simply put, this album delivers everything Rammstein promised back when they first formed in the mid-1990s, and remains one of the most highly rated albums in the history of this site.

Nightwish – Over The Hill and Far Away (2001)

Nightwish - Over The Hills And Far Away (Cover)This was originally released as a 4-track single in Finland, though both Spinefarm and Drakkar would later reissue it as a 10-track CD (the remaining six song being live tracks). The key song on all versions is of course the title track, a cover of Gary Moore’s ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’, carried off in the band’s explosive style, complete with the usual big chorus, synth solos and the like. There are a couple of new Nightwish compositions on here, ’10th Man Down’ the stronger of the two, with Tapio Wilska’s vocals integrating more effectively with the whole than on the ‘Oceanborn’ tracks to which he contributed.

There’s also a remake of ‘Astral Romance’ from the first album, which largely brings the song up to the bands current standards, mainly thanks to stronger male vocals (this time from Sonata Arctica’s Tony Kakko) and a more extravagant guitar solo at the songs conclusion. The live tracks feature three songs from both ‘Oceanborn’ and ‘Wishmaster’. These recordings are basically strong, although they don’t really deviate all that much from their studio equivalents (although a couple of pyro blasts can be heard at key moments). Since the original single only ever came out in Finland, you’ll probably get and pay for these tracks whether you want them or not. This CD is far from a one-song wonder, of course, but it’s still one of the less essential discs in a comprehensive Nightwish collection.

Fear Factory – Digimortal (2001)

Fear Factory - Digimortal (Cover)Fourth studio effort from Fear Factory, and it sounds a lot like the last two really, complete with all the pummelling cybermetal rhythms and man/machine metaphor. It’s still GOOD, it’s still everything any self-respecting Fear Factory fan could have expected, all things being equal. But all things are not equal, and the opposition, are steaming off into the distance whilst Fear Factory are standing still. The only real difference is increasing evidence of high-frequency electronic squeals, presumably driven by the need for the electronics to be heard over the persistent, driving riffology.

The likes of ‘What Will Become’ and ‘Damaged’ are notable example of good songs that still fail to advance on what came before. It’s still a fine album, though, and the token rap track, ‘Back The Fuck Up’ doesn’t ruin the flow of things. There is one track that does stand out – ‘Invisible Wounds (Dark Bodies)’ – initially sounding like the usual ‘slow’ track before building up to an awesomely intense climax.

Wumpscut – Wreath Of Barbs (2001)

:Wumpscut: - Wreath Of Barbs (2001)Following the disappointment of ‘Boeses Junges Flesich’, ‘Wreath of Barbs’ seems a return to form of sorts for :Wumpscut:. Some of the portentous gloom of early works has returned to the sound, yet a new degree of musical maturity is apparent. The albums songs are for the most part more ‘controlled’ than previous albums, though there’s still plenty of evvvill EBM for those who want it, particularly with the caustic synth stabs and blasphemous lyrics of centrepiece track ‘Christfuck’. The opening duo of ‘Opening The Gates of Hell’ and ‘Deliverance’ also do a fine job in combining hard beats and layered synths.

The most notable track of all, however, is the title track, combing vocodered lyrics, a Led Zep-style beat and a mechanised plucked-string sample, a dark, delirious meisterwerk – hardly related to previous :W: works, but ironically so much better for it. The album isn’t perfect – ‘Dr Thodt’ is a meandering Aleta Welling spoken word track that tries to sound more shocking than it really is, whilst the final run of slower tracks at the end of the album (‘Line of Corpses’, ‘Hate Is Mine’ and ‘Bleed In Silence’) prove to be interesting rather than wilding exciting, although an understated remix of Kirlian Camera’s ‘Eclipse’ proves to be an interesting finale to say the least.

Ministry – Greatest Fits (2001)

Ministry - Greatest Fits (Cover)An almost-needed compilation of the best-known Ministry tracks to date (ignoring the first two, long-since disowned albums). The only glaring omissions are ‘Burning Inside’ and ‘The Fall’ (and there would have been space for both on the CD), though the inclusion of ‘So What’ (in a live version admittedly) injects a little variety into proceedings, as the rest of the CD is generally non-stop industrial strength riffology. Getting side-project 1000 Homo DJs hit ‘Supernaut’ is also a bonus.

L’âme Immortelle – Dann Habe Ich Umsonst Gelebt (2001)

L'âme Immortelle -Dann Habe Ich Umsonst Gelebt A concept album built round the story of a terminally ill man awaiting his fast approaching demise, as well as the first L’âme Immortelle output to incorporate live strings and guitars, though the overall feel of the album is otherwise similar to ‘Wenn Der Letzte Schatten Fällt’, with the two lead singles (a L’âme first), the Sonja-sung ‘Judgement’ and the harder, faster ‘Epitaph’ reminiscent of the last album. It’s only after these two songs are out of the way that the revised style is apparent – ‘Rearranging’ reworks ‘Changes’ into a more grandiose, classically-styled piece, whilst ‘Licht und Schatten’ sees a more sedate (but not particularly dynamic) take on the alternating vocal concept they’ve been working with since they first formed.

‘Was Hält mich noch hier?’ sees the first power chord action on a L’âme album, even though their still clearly learning how best to incorporate such sounds into the mix. The later tracks on the album are strong individually, but they don’t seem to hang together well as the concept album which they were part – ‘Forgive Me’ is a reasonable Thomas-sung piece of dark-wave-pop, whilst ‘Leaving’ goes for a simultaneous vocal which fails to really convey the sentiments of a dying man musically even it does so lyrically. It’s only on the final string-based ‘Dead Actors Requiem’ that we feel a genuine sense of loss, with a well-placed ‘live band’ remake of ‘Life Will Never Be The Same Again’ (with LAM’s Sean Brennan on guest vocals) a fitting coda – a strong conclusion to an album that clearly tries hard and succeeds in places, but doesn’t always pull on the heartstrings in the way it clearly wants to.

Killing Miranda – Transgression By Numbers (2001)

Killing Miranda - Transgression By Numbers (Cover)I never worked out what ‘sophomore’ means, but I think it’s a pretentious way of saying ‘2nd’. And since Killing Miranda are not in the slightest bit pretentious (unlike some other gothic bands I know), I’m going to resist the opportunity to call this their ‘sophomore effort’. It’s their second album, damn it, and it’s better than the first one. The guitars sound like they really mean something now, and this time the album doesn’t let up once from start to finish. Continue reading

Depeche Mode – Exciter (2001)

Depeche Mode -Exciter (Cover)Depeche Mode seem to have lost some of their teeth since all their turmoils have been sorted. Martin Gore can still write a decent song and David Gahan has lost none of his singing talent. It’s just all seems a little bit low-key. There’s nothing actually WRONG, for example, with the delicate acoustic guitar and percolating electronics of opening track (and lead single) ‘Dream On’ – it just doesn’t seem to want to impress you.

Most of the rest of the album follows similar lines – the elements are all there, they just don’t gel into something indicative of greatness. ‘The Dead of Night’ is the one exception, a harsh gothic stomper that makes up for some of the rather thin, unmemorable songs that surround it. There is the occasional memorable turn of phrase, a couple of songs (second single ‘I Feel Loved’ and the subtle biblical references of ‘Breathe’) that are at least quite good, but generally the whole album just sounds too pedestrian, making the title sound ironic at the very least.

Assemblage 23 – Failure (2001)

Assemblage 23 - Failure (Cover)It seems strange to me that this ‘future pop’ thing still holds an interest for me (I call it that even if everyone hates to – and no, it’s not a synonym for EBM). There’s many an album held up with maybe one strong single, and lots of substandard recreations of that one same tune, or over-indulgent ‘experiments’ that do little musically or otherwise. Fortunately, quite a few people out there still have that special something that allows them to do a little more than that. Assemblage 23 is one such act. Continue reading

Angels and Agony – Eternity (2001)

Angels and Agony - Eternity (Cover)Compared with it’s European neighbours, The Netherlands hasn’t exactly made that much of a contribution to the minor flood of electronic something-wave bands that have emerged from Europe in the past couple of years (most notably from Germany, Sweden and Norway) and invaded the various dancefloors that might previously had been known as ‘gothic’. Fortunately, they do have one band to call their own – Angels & Agony. Continue reading