82 posts

Panzer AG – Your World Is Burning (2006)

Panzer AG - Your World Is Burning (Cover)This second album from the Panzer AG project doesn’t only indicate Andy LaPlegua’s rate of work (his fourth album from a solo project in as many years) but also a willingness to experiment. Stepping back from the war-inspired EBM, we instead witness sound closer to the more electronic works of NIN and Marilyn Manson – the most accessible face of industrial rock finally attempted by a predominantly electronic musician. Guitars DO feature, but are no means the dominant instrument. Violins feature on four tracks (including the otherwise Combichrist-esque album closer ‘When I Am You’), and there’s also an operatic moment on ‘Mother’, which was probably unexpected by most.

It’s therefore a valid attempt at the style, but if it has a flaw, is that some of the songs sound rather ‘gimmicky’ – ‘Aenimal’ features an overly-cheesy cheerleader-style spelling of ‘F-U-C-K-H-E-A-D’, whilst ‘Tip The Dancer’ is a catchy but shallow tribute to strip clubs. The album is still very enjoyable to actually listen to, though – ‘Machinegun GoGo’ and ‘Crash N Burn’ prove to be the most successful attempts at the sub-gothic electro-rock forming this albums core, ‘Among The Few’ and ‘Not Too Late’ are reasonable enough slow tracks, and the album as a whole proves to be an enjoyable listen, even if it’s clear that Andy LaPlegua still often takes the ‘easy route’ when it comes to coming up with hooks.

Rob Zombie – Educated Horses (2006)

Rob Zombie - Educated Horses (Cover)Rob took a few years out after ‘The Sinister Urge’ to work on horror movies, but the arrival of ‘Educated Horses’ marks his return, and with it comes a significant switch in style. The industrial groove metal of recent years has been stripped down – for the first time in over a decade, Rob Zombie fronts an album that actually sounds like a band playing rather than an extravagantly-dressed studio production. I’m not saying one approach is better than the other, but it is something the more recent converts to Rob Zombie’s wicked world need should be aware of. The trashy horror aesthetic is still there, of course, providing enough continuity between albums to leave the music recognisable for what it is.

There are a couple of riff-heavy songs that echo of the more recent Zombie sound, such as ‘American Witch’ and ‘Let It All Bleed Out’, almost, but not quite as good as the Dragula’s of the world. Elsewhere we get tracks like ‘Foxy Foxy’, a slightly silly but vaguely catchy attempt at producing a Zombie-style pop single. There’s also slower, more vehement rock with ’17 Year Locust’ (which incorporates a sitar solo, of all things) and ‘The Lords of Salem’, a more acoustic moment in ‘Death As It All’ and a rather confused song called ‘Ride’. As the whole, the album is an enjoyable enough romp, nothing really deep or meaningful going on and quite short with only nine full songs, but best enjoyed in it’s own rights, a B-movie rock album, scarcely likely to attract a headline billing but nonetheless with it’s own charms.

Yanni – Live! The Concert Event (2006)

Yanni - Live! The Concert Event (Cover)This is Yanni’s third live album, featuring a concert recorded in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas in 2003. The man who effectively started out as a solo keyboardist plays live with a sizable entourage, a multi-cultural band and orchestral section accompanying the man and his keyboard rack. Recording such a massive show is no easy task, but with the aid of digital technology, the resulting album ranks as one of the most polished, professional sounding live albums I’ve ever heard. The individual character of each instrument is captured, which in a mix this complex is some achievement.

Whilst the show was intended as a promotion for the ‘Ethnicity’ album, the setlist offers a sample from right across Yanni’s career, with early material such as ‘Keys To Imagination’ reworked to best utilise the many and varied musicians on stages. A decent variety of styles are present within the set – everything from the orchestrally-enhanced arpeggio of ‘Standing In Motion’, through romantic piano on ‘Enchantment’ and ‘Until The Last Moment’, right up to cultural crossover extravaganzas like ‘Rainmaker’ and showy virtuosity on ‘Playtime’. Particularly impressive is ‘The Storm’, a conversion of ‘Summer’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the 18th Century standard made fit for the ‘contemporary instrumental’ genre which, when all is said and done, best describes the genre to which Yanni’s music belongs (the term ‘new age’ is indicative of something he left behind years ago). The quality of the recording and the range of styles on offer would certainly make this a fine introduction to his work, though as a document of the tour, doubtlessly his existing fanbase will snap it up too.

XPQ-21 – Alive (2006)

XPQ-21 - Alive (Cover)XPQ-21 return after a lengthy break with a revised line-up and new label. The success of ‘White and Alive’ and ‘Beautiful’ in club earned the band a following amongst the ‘future pop’ contingent, a genre definition which cannot in any way contain the scope of Jeyênne’s creativity. Interestingly, the two aforementioned hits actually feature on this album in only very slightly reworked form, which presumably is more down to a desire to save them from the black hole of deletion than as an attempt to cling onto past works. The increased use of guitars and live drums (without, I might add, becoming a full blown rock band) sees a new lease of life for the XPQ-21 project. Continue reading

Wumpscut – Cannibal Anthem (2006)

:Wumpscut: - Cannibal Anthem (Cover)Three studio albums in as many years seems to indicate a little desperation on Rudy’s part – he’s looking for a direction that suits him and doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark (I may have enjoyed ‘Evoke’, but many others did not). This disc sees a slight move back from the ‘clean’ textures of the last album, though neither is it really a return to the apocalyptic industrial behemoth of earlier works. One other thing worth noting is that the albums vocals are predominantly in German – even more so than on ‘Boeses Junges Fleisch’ (the only other album to be based around Rudy’s native tongue). It simply isn’t clear whereabouts in the :Wumpscut: sonic spectrum this thing is intended to lie.

For example, ‘Wir Warten’ is reminiscent of the :Wumspcut: of days past, pummelling kick drums and scything electronic the most intense thing Rudy’s produced this side of the millenium, even if the actual song is not a great one. Lead single ‘Jesus Antichristus’ is a reasonable dark dance number, despite the horribly cliched title, whilst the title track (sung in another mysterious language) features primitive synth bleeps and some delicate guitar parts. The latter half of the album is slightly weaker, thought the penultimate track ‘Hunger’ works well in a similar fashion to the female-vocal tracks from ‘Evoke’. At the end of the day, ‘Cannibal Anthem’ is just another :W: album – not the best one by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly enough to keep the fans happy. It’s just a pity that the ‘Wow’ factor is somewhat absent.

Velvet Acid Christ – Lust For Blood (2006)

Velvet Acid Christ - Lust For Blood (Cover)That straight-edge vegan Bryan Erickson might be getting just a little self-righteous with his online rantings, but at least this latest release sees something of a return to form musically, following the confused ‘Hex Angel’. It also sees the return of ‘real’ instruments – namely drums, guitars and bass, in addition to all the synths. Whilst there are some uptempo electronic tracks, a return to the openly danceable sounds of ‘Fun With Knives’ still seems some way off. The album opener ‘Wound’ (also lead single) may be relatively formulaic by VAC standards, but it sets the tone nicely for ‘Parasite’. A drum loop where all barring the kick are blasts of noise, offset against clean vocals (yep, no distorted savagery for once) and sombre, classically-inspired melodies. Continue reading

Unheilig – Moderne Zeiten (2006)

Unheilig - Moderne Zeiten (Cover)Der Graf’s darkwave rock project returns with it’s fourth album, an album which is very similar to its predecessor ‘Zelluloid’, the artwork conforming to Unheilig’s ‘house style’ and the music more or less following suit. It’s the usual mix of gruff German vocals, power chords (with the odd acoustic moment thrown in), electronic rhythms, strings and enchanting melodies. There’s a fair mix of Rammstein-esque rock anthems (‘Luftschiff’ and ‘Horizont’), EBMish dance tracks (‘Ich Will Alles’, ‘Helden’ and ‘Menschenherz’) and slower, ballad-style tracks (‘Astronaut’ and ‘Mein Herz’), all done the way only Der Graf can. Continue reading

Trauma Pet – You Cannot Feel This (2006)

Trauma Pet - You Cannot Feel This (Cover)‘You Cannot Feel This’, they say. And they’re right. I can’t. Despite a valid underlying concept and a line-up boasting at least some musical talent, Trauma Pet fall some way short of the mark with this debut effort. Attempting a combination of ethereal female vocals, low-key electronics and, on some tracks, textured guitars, the resulting music amounts to less than the sum of it’s parts. It’s hard to truly put one’s finger on the root of the problem, but some rather flat-sounding basslines and drum loops don’t help – in fact, the whole production sounds rather thin and demo-ish.

They do suceeed at times – ‘Puppet’ progresses nicely and could have been a great song had it been given a more ‘fullsome’ treatment. There are also a few moments (especially in the middle part of the album) that remind me of certain Diary of Dreams recordings (even if the actual songs don’t). Elie’s vocals are perfectly listenable, but I really don’t think the songs really allow us to hear her at her best. Pete Boyd’s guitar is often a welcome addition (especially on ‘Affinity’ and ‘Rain’), but doesn’t always feel like it’s 100% integrated to every song in which it features. Taken as a whole, this album seems to resemble a cake taken out of the oven too early – a mix that could have become something truly delicious proves only to be something that is only just palatable.

Tool – 10,000 Days (2006)

Tool - 10,000 DaysA five year gap since ‘Lateralus’ and America’s most esoteric of rockers return in typically idiosyncratic style. The custom packaging (complete with enclosed lenses for viewing the trippy inlay) is the first reminder that Tool are not your ordinary rock band. Then you actually listen to the thing. ‘Vicarious’ is the opener, Maynard James Keenan’s attack on the American tendency to derive entertainment from atrocities beamed to TV sets from afar, a song that rocks surprisingly hard for a composition that can’t really decide on a time signature. Tool are back, and don’t we know it! Continue reading

This Morn’Omina – Les Passages Jumeaux (2006)

This Morn'Omina - Les Passages Jumeaux (Cover)Following the diversion of ‘The Drake Equation’ EP and other projects, Mika Goedrijk returns with the middle part of his ‘Nyan’ Trilogy. As with the first part, the album is comprised of two CDs, here designated ‘Le 25ième Degré’ (CD1) and ‘Le 33ième Degré’ (CD2). The most significant advancement the project has made is the recruitment of percussionist ‘Sal-Ocin’ as a full member (he had previously played in live shows and guested on a track on the previous album). This thus sees the final true integration of tabla beats with programmed industrial rhythms – the key appeal of the TMO sound. Continue reading