66 posts

Rammstein – Reise Reise (2004)

Rammstein - Reise, Reise (Cover)There was a substantial gap between ‘Mutter’ and ‘Reise Reise’, approximately three and a half years. It didn’t come as a surprise, therefore, to find a number of changes to Rammstein’s sound in the process. The lead single ‘Mein Teil’ was ironically the most ‘typical’ of the songs on offer, a thinly-veiled reference to the Armin Meiwes ‘cannibal’ affair. This and the slightly weaker ‘Keine Lust’ are probably as close as this album get to ‘classic’ Rammstein – the remainder offer a number of interesting variations on the traditional tanzmetal template.

‘Amerika’, featuring the bands first English vocals outside of cover versions, is a tell-it-like-it-is statement on modern coca-culture, whilst ‘Moskau’ is an ingenious combination of Rammstein and Russian girlie pop (you have to hear it to believe it). ‘Los’ is a bluesy, acoustic track, which really shouldn’t work, but it does. Also noteworthy are ‘Dalai Lama’ (a modernised take on an old Goethe poem) and ‘Morgenstern’, two of the more musically advanced ‘Stein tracks (though they aren’t as anthemic as some). This plus the slightly turgid ‘Stein Um Stein’ and the overly mellow lead out track ‘Amour’ (which would have worked better if it didn’t take so long to get going) mean this album doesn’t quite rank alongside ‘Sehnsucht’ and ‘Mutter’ in the EOL-Rankings, but the reality was that the band still had to move on, and did so.

Panzer AG – This Is My Battlefield (2004)

Panzer AG - This Is My Battlefield (Cover)This is the second Andy LaPlegua-led Icon of Coil offshoot project, and in fact the third album in a year (following on from ‘The Joy of Gunz’ and ‘Machines Are Us’) on which he has either assembled on his own or at least played a major role on. Despite this, neither is their any feeling that he’s stretching himself thinly, as this war-infused electro-industrial project (yes, another one!) is actually rather impressive. The tracks are generally song-oriented, and whilst the vocals are a good degree harsher than your average Icon of Coil song, neither does Andy indulge in the brand of excessive vocals distortion that’s starting to turn the entire terror EBM genre into a contest to become the least intelligible.

Preceded by the ‘Introduction of the Damned’, the album proper starts with ‘Filth God’, a tumultuous mix of scything rhythms, swirling strings and blasphemous lyrics – everything your 21st Century industrial stomp-head could want from a song. Other early highlights include ‘Battlefield’, which sounds like any other EBM track of the time – until that chorus kicks in, and the almost-IoC like ‘When Death Embrace Me’. ‘Totale Luftherschaft’ is practically power noise, whilst the computer-voiced ‘In Is All In Your Head’ and the breakbeat frenzy of ‘Behind A Gas Mask’ both use guitar to reach very different ends. As with most albums of this type, there are still a few tracks that thump and grind away without achieving much, and the overall concept isn’t exactly original, but despite all this it’s still worthwhile.

Nightwish – Once (2004)

Nightwish - Once (Cover)Following a near-hiatus during 2003, Nightwish return with their fifth studio album. The use of live orchestra, first heard on ‘Century’s Child’ is a concept expanded on here, with the London Session Orchestra appearing on all but two of the albums songs. Marco Hietala also makes more contributions as male vocalist and a number of the individual songs do explore their own musical avenues, though the underlying concept of the band remains the same. This is still symphonic metal set on a grand, fantastic scale. Right from the moment ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’ explodes from your speaker cones with it’s hard rock dynamics and symphonic excesses, it’s clear that the listener is in for a wild ride. Continue reading

Icon Of Coil – Uploaded & Remixed (2004)

Icon Of Coil - Uploaded And Remixed (Cover)With both Seb Komor and Andy LaPlegua busy working on their side-projects, the Icon of Coil flag is kept flying by this remix collection, offering a series of remixes of songs from the first two Icon of Coil albums by a number of relatively high-profile scene names, plus a couple of ‘exclusive’ songs to round the thing off. Impressive as the tracklisting looks, the results prove to be a comparative disappointment. One might have expected Icon of Coil’s songs, which are generally structurally sound but sometimes coming over as rather generic in terms of execution , would lend themselves well to remix treatment. But it wasn’t to be. Continue reading

Icon Of Coil – Machines Are Us (2004)

Icon Of Coil - Machines Are Us (Cover)‘Machines Are Us’, the third Icon of Coil album is for the most part a continuation of the sound they developed on the last two, but with fourteen tracks instead of the usual ten, they’ve had to diversify a little to survive, even this is still for the most part out-and-out future pop. Andy LaPlegua offers a more strident vocal stance on a couple of tracks, including opening track ‘Remove/Replace’ and lead single ‘Android’, whose jarring chorus really shows the teeth behind IoC’s ‘weiberelectro’ smile. ‘Mono:Overload’ also tries to sound harsh and discordant, but it’s a confused mess that simply takes too long to achieve anything. Continue reading

Fear Factory – Archetype (2004)

Fear Factory - ArchetypeFear Factory reformed with a revised line-up. A shift of lyrical focus away from the future toward the present had the potential to take the band forward, but they’re at a loss for fresh ideas musically – opening duo ‘Slave Labor’ and ‘Cyberwaste’ just blast past without leaving a mark, lacking the structural focus that made many of this bands finest songs cut deeper and harder than their competitors, whilst the later stage of the album is especially in want of some fresh musical direction.

Every now and again they show a hint of their past glories. ‘Bite The Hand That Bleeds’ is amongst the band’s better slow songs, whilst the title track features some of Burton’s best harmonies to date. The album is otherwise fairly standard FF fare, though the soaring chorus of ‘Undercurrent’ shows more willingness to varying guitar styles than elsewhere. They do attempt a Nirvana cover at the end (‘School’), but the styles of the two bands aren’t particularly compatible. All in all, it’s a bit of a let-down, clearly the work of a band undergoing a not-entirely comfortable transition.

Diary of Dreams – Dream Collector (2004)

Diary of Dreams - Dream Collector (Cover)This album was released as a limited edition on the South African Alter Ego label, and thus was difficult to obtain elsewhere. It is an almost-but-not-quite-complete collection of loose leaf pages from the Diary of Dreams itself, compiling tracks from compilations, limited editions and elsewhere. The remixes and alternate version vary from the impressive (Upgrade 03 of Exile opening with descending piano intro which leads neatly into the song itself) to the reasonable (the ‘extended’ version of O’Brother Sleep) through to the unnecessary, with three very minor reworks of songs from ‘One of 18 Angels’. Yes, they’re great songs, but they seem to be ‘token’ reworks, teaching the listener nothing new. Continue reading

Diary of Dreams – Nigredo (2004)

Diary of Dreams - Nigredo (Cover)‘Nigredo’ sees a further stylistic shift for Diary of Dreams. With guitarist Gaun:A now working alongside Adrian Hates, this latest opus is concept album of sorts, based around a semi-fictitious Icelandic mythology. The sleeve notes provide a few clues as to the background behind the piece, although it may prove to be heavy going for all but the most devoted fans. In terms of music development, there has been a slight shift away from the blatantly danceable rhythms heard on the last few albums, moving back towards the poetically desolate keyboard atmospherics of early works. Continue reading

Wumpscut – Bone Peeler (2004)

:Wumpscut: - Bone Peeler (Cover)The first ‘proper’ :Wumpscut: album in four years was eagerly awaited but in many respects is something of a disappointment. It’s better that ‘Boeses Junges Fleisch’ in some respects, as it offers a more detailed production and less of a ‘sprawling’ feel. Unfortunately, it’s also rather boring to listen to. Having overplayed his hand several times in the past, the balance has now been thrown too far the other way. The songs on this album simply don’t have any impact. Take, for instance, the opening track ‘Crown of Thorns’ – the delicate synth chime giving way to the distorted beat and visceral vocals would traditionally make a fine :Wumpscut: track, but somehow it never really takes off. Continue reading

Winterkälte – Disturbance (2004)

Winterkälte - Disturbance (Cover)The last full-length album from Winterkälte was ‘Drum’n’noise’ in 1999. Whilst that album might have had praise heaped upon it from all corners of the (and let’s face it, it is) highly elitist industrial community, it was a bit of a sprawl in places. There were, after all, only seven tracks on the CD, one of them two parts of the same thing. But what does it matter – the concept was there, and now it seems Winterkälte have the style down to a fine art. Like all previous albums, their track titles make references to anti-globalisation and environmentally friendly sentiments, though it isn’t clear whether they are in any way intended to be representative of the music. Continue reading