52 posts

Rammstein – Rosenrot (2005)

Rammstein - Rosenrot (Cover)A slightly curious Rammstein release – appearing little more than a year after ‘Reise Reise’, it comprises of six tracks that didn’t make it onto their 2004 album, plus five new songs. As a complete album, it thus comes over as being rather ‘bitty’, perhaps their least consistent release to date. There are few moments where we hear a ‘classic’ Rammstein sound, most notably of the pyromaniacal lead single ‘Benzin’ (‘Mann Gegen Mann’ and ‘Zerstoren’ are the other dead-cert rockers), but a great proportion of the album is given over to more atypical variants of the band’s signature sound.

The most obvious standout track is the track ‘Te Quiero Puta!’ (I Love You, Whore), featuring heavy use of trumpet and vocals in Spanish (no, barring the title, I have no idea what they mean), yet the song is oddly catchy in it’s own way. The English/German ‘pop ballad’ ‘Stirb Nicht Vor Mir’ (Don’t Die Before I Do) and the percussion-free closing track ‘Ein Lied’ will annoy many but I personally found they ranked amongst the albums highlights. I did find the remainder of the albums tracks somewhat so-so, however. The likes of ‘Feuer Und Wasser’ and ‘Hilf Mir’ come over as fairly common-or-garden tanzmetal bluster, whilst the other songs, whilst not exactly ‘bad’, really didn’t equal what had came before. This album will therefore remain an oddity in Rammstein’s discography, but there’s just enough material of interest here for me to recommend purchase regardless.

Fear Factory – Transgression (2005)

Fear Factory - Transgression (Cover)Fear Factory release their second post-Dino album, and also their second in as many years. The accompanying DVD gives some clues to the bands intentions when recording this disc, but somehow the stripped-down, back-to-basics approach fails to strike a chord with me in the same manner of ‘Demanufacture’ and ‘Obsolete’. Christian is starting to experiment more with different guitar styles, but the one thing he can’t do as well as Dino is that machine-gun style riff that characterises many of the bands best songs. The full-throttle ‘540,000 Fahrenheit’ and ‘Moment of Impact’ sandwich the album nicely, but ultimately don’t quite equal the bands finest.

The album is actually more successful when then deviate from their usual style. ‘Echo of My Scream’ is a surprisingly successful attempt at a Fear Factory ballad, whilst ‘Supernova’ goes for a more straight-ahead hard-rock sound, with some strong vocals from Burton (both of these songs feature Billy Gould of Faith No More on bass). It’s questionable whether the two cover versions (U2’s ‘I Will Follow’ and Killing Joke’s ‘Millennium’ really work, however), whilst some of the other tracks will appeal to fans of ‘Soul of a New Machine’ (‘Transgression’ is VERY reminiscent of ‘Self-Immolation’). This album will therefore appeal most to those who prefer the rockier side of Fear Factory’s sound (which in reality is the majority of their fanbase) – their industrial/crossover appeal is waning.

Diary of Dreams – MenschFeind (2005)

Diary of Dreams - MenschFeind (Cover)As with ‘Freak Perfume’, ‘Nigeredo’ sees a 7-track appendage released a few months after the main album. Despite bearing a mere seven tracks, there appears to be a conceptual theme of sorts running through many of the songs, particularly frequent references to the number 5 (those into mythology can chew over that one as long as you like, but I’ve got reviews to write). The important thing is that this collection proves to be a somewhat more palatable affair following the excesses of the parent album.

Indeed, the EPs opening (title) track is probably the most confrontational track this project has produced during it’s current creative phase, weighty, metronomically precise percussion, some well placed guitars and the persistent whispers of ‘Menschfeind’ ensure the song is a memorable one. The pulsating electronic of the band’s early 00s era is revisited on ‘Haus Der Stille’ and ‘Triebsand’, whilst ‘Killers’ does the sinister vocal hiss and eerie piano thing better than ‘Rebellion’ ever managed. The overly drawn out ‘Pentaphobia’ is unnecessary, but otherwise this EP stands up well on it’s own. It is by no means rejects from the ‘Nigredo’ sessions.

Diary of Dreams – aLive (2005)

Diary of Drems - aLive (Cover)The first Diary of Dreams live album came largely due to fan demand, and it came at exactly the right time. This disc documents the 2005 ‘Nigredo’ tour, which saw the band replace the drum pads with acoustic drum and also saw Adrian Hates play a second guitar on certain songs, all of which contributes to an increasingly ‘live’ sound from a band that had often been accused of being over-reliant on a backing track when on stage. The versions of songs played here are still for the most part rooted in the original album recordings, but they do enough live to justify issuing a live CD such as this.

Despite the tour’s name, the setlist here features only two songs from ‘Nigredo’ itself, as well as the explosive title track from the subsequent ‘EP’ ‘MenschFeind’ which opens the set. It’s the previous album ‘Freak Perfume’ that features most strongly here, with one track from each of the previous four albums – the crowd-pleasing ‘Chemicals’ sandwiched by ‘Methusalem’ and ‘But The Wind Was Stronger’, two songs rarely featured in DoD setlists in recent years. It’s the two final songs that ultimately stand-out – a extended outro for ‘Traumtänzer’ to allow for an audience sing-along, followed by an piano version of ‘AmoK’ which works better than you might expect, proving the strength of the original song.

Wumpscut – Evoke (2005)

:Wumpscut: - Evoke (Cover)‘Evoke’ sees :Wumpscut: move even further towards a softer, slower sound, something previously hinted at on ‘Bone Peeler’. This may disappoint those wishing a return to the hard industrial days of hold, but luckily this is also an improvement on the previous album. This time, Rudy actually seems comfortable with the stripped-down, less confrontational style he has seemingly adopted (the clean artwork, featuring only a mysterious creature known as ‘Blondi’, reflects the musical differences as well as anything else). A number of the songs, including Maiden, Hold and Don’t Go, feature lead or joint-lead female vocals – sung rather than the more traditional spoken-word approach, which is heard once on the closing tracks ‘Obsessi?’. ‘Don’t Go’ also sees Rudy ease of the vocal distortion a bit – a welcome diversion from his usual electronically-hardened gravel. Continue reading

VNV Nation – Matter + Form (2005)

VNV Nation - Matter + Form (Cover)With a very large number of European bands focusing their attention on the hugely successful ‘Empires’ and ‘FuturePerfect’, VNV Nation throw the entire scene a curveball with their fifth album, switching to a more traditional analogue sound. The new approach is successful in places – ‘Chrome’ and ‘Entropy’ providing us with two punchy, hard-edged anthems, which ‘Perpetual’ and ‘Homeward’ demonstrate the subtler side of this new sound (though both songs are still easily upbeat enough for club play).

A couple of the songs are a little anonymous, however. ‘Endless Skies’ seems to want you to like it, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark lyrically, whilst ‘Arena’ is listenable but relatively pedestrian. More importantly, there are five instrumentals, none of which really grab you as much as some of their predecessors . ‘Intro’ merely prefaces ‘Chrome’, ‘Colours of Rain’ the usual classical diversion (and not one of their best), whilst ‘Strata’, ‘Interceptor’ and ‘Lightwave’ are all uptempo hard techno/trance styled instrumentals, with the psytrance-tinged ‘Lightwave’ the best of the three. It’s therefore an interesting rather than wilding exciting release for VNV, which a probably-necessary change in musical direction – it just looks like it’ll take time before it’s fully realised.

Psychophile – Vodka Milk (2005)

Psychophile - Vodka Milk (Cover)Psychophile have spent most of the last few years provoking some rather extreme opinions in the UK scene. The critical response to their 2003 album ‘Transition’ was generally positive, and I seem to be in a minority in thinking that it could have been significantly better than it actually was. They’ve got a fairly sizeable fanbase, too, and make regular live appearances around the country. At the same time however, I’ve heard a number of not-so-appreciative comments about them, usually sprinkled liberally around LiveJournal or mouthed during drunken conversations between sets at shows. Maybe they don’t like Lucy’s vocal style? Maybe they don’t care for Smogo’s economy-grade guitar? Maybe they don’t like The Mog? (I can’t see what’s dislikeable about a papier-mache cat, but you know what some people are like). Continue reading

Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth (2005)

Nine Inch Nails - With TeethIt was more than five years since the last NIN album, time which Trent Reznor used to exorcise some personal demons and get back to writing songs. Yes, songs. Not odd pieces of music. Not esoteric concept albums. And that’s where this album differs from ‘The Fragile’ and ‘The Downward Spiral’. Unfortunately, only a few of the thirteen songs on this album really live up to past glories. The rest vary from ‘Good but not great’ to ‘forgettable’.

There are strengths – ‘You Know What You Are?’ is a fierce burst of Ministry-style industrial metal fury, ‘The Hand That Feeds’ is a surprisingly accessible industrial rock hit, whilst the closing duo of ‘Beside You In Time’ and ‘Right Where It Belongs’ highlight NIN’s more delicate touch. The problem lies with the rather aimless, noisy rock heard on ‘The Collector’ and the title track, with some of the other songs just idling past. The album still bears many of Trent Reznor’s trademark production techniques and lyrical devices, but the magic seems to have gone.

Neon Zoo – Heaven Sin (2005)

This is the debut album from scene newcomers Neon Zoo. They formed as recently as 2004, yet have already managed to record their debut album and manage a respectable number of live performances in the process, including a slot at the Whitby Gothic Weekend in November 2004. The album was produced by Mike Uwins, better known for his work with Manuskipt, the UK’s top (and probably only) gothic boy-band, so much so that virtually everyone I know ignores his surname and refers to him almost exclusively as ‘Mike from Manuskript’. All of this thus begs the question – are Neon Zoo a goth band? For that matter, what exactly IS a goth band? And does it matter? Continue reading

Mortiis – The Grudge (2005)

Mortiis - The Grudge (Cover)He might have risen to (in)fame in Emperor, and might well have earned a cult following during his early solo career writing ‘dark dungeon music’. And then of course was the hard-edged synth-pop of ‘The Smell of Rain’ back in 2001, which earned our Norwegian friend a following from the more conventional rock, goth and industrial audiences. But let’s face it, it’s that giant prosthetic hooter that he’s best known for. But were here to discuss music, not theatrics, so lets take a look at Mortiis’ long-awaited follow-up to ‘The Smell of Rain’. Continue reading