L’âme Immortelle

14 posts

L’âme Immortelle – Momente (2012)

L'âme Immortelle – Momente (Cover)For a while, I never thought I’d hear from this project again. Following their misguided move into guitar rock, it had begun to seem as if L’âme Immortelle had descended into terminal decline, with founding members Thomas Rainer and Sonja Kraushofer seemingly more interested in their side-projects than their original band. Their last album, 2008’s ‘Namenlos’ seemed like a self-conscious attempt at recapturing their electronic sound of times past, and for a while, it seemed like the bands ‘immortal soul’, well, wasn’t!

But from out of nowhere, a new album has appeared, and this time it’s clear that they’ve really put some real effort in. The album opens with the spoken-word ‘L’Etang Malo’, a 19th Century text by French poet Theodore de Banville accompanied by melancholy strings, a suitably high-brow precursor to the album itself. Elaborate, poetic compositions such as ‘No Goodbye’ and ‘Wie Tranen Im Regen’ in particular show clear influence from Sonja’s Persephone work, the structural complexity a clear step up from what has come before. Continue reading

L’âme Immortelle – Seelensturm (2003)

L'âme Immortelle - Seelensturm (Cover)A collection of unreleased songs and demo version, mostly from the early years of the band’s existence, though a few recent remixes are also included. It will thus be of interest mainly to those people who wished they’d never moved on from the electro-industrial/darkwave crossover prevalent on their earlier albums. Demo versions of ‘Winter of my Soul’ and ‘Ich Gab Dir Alles’ generally follow the same path as the final album cuts, whilst the unreleased tracks from 1996 are similar their contemporaries on ‘Lieder Die Wie Wunden Bluten’.

The rare tracks ‘Silver Rain’ & ‘Echoes’ are welcome inclusions, as is a piano version of ‘Bitterkeit’, though the lack of the original version of ‘In The Heart of Europe’ is an unfortunate omission. The remixes of ‘Forgive Me’ and ‘Tiefster Winter’ are OK but nothing ground-breaking. As it’s not really a completion of anything musical, it’s not exactly an essential addition to your L’âme Immortelle collection, though collectors will be interested in the limited edition version, contained within a book containing every lyrics and poem written by Thomas Rainer.

L’âme Immortelle – Zweilicht (2002)

L'âme Immortelle - Zweilicht (Cover)Primarily intended a remix offshoot from ‘Dann Habe Ich..’, ‘Zweilicht’ doubles as a record of the tour behind the album, with a CD ROM video featuring both live performances and backstage footage. The remix disc contains a new version of all bar one of the original albums tracks, plus the B-side ‘The Truth Behind’, and is particular interest due to the varied cast of remixer – serial scene rework names Assemblage 23 and Lights of Euphoria appearing alongside less-expected choices Faith and The Muse and The Protagonist as well as power noise acts such as Sonar and MS Gentur. Continue reading

L’âme Immortelle – Auf Deinen Schwingen (2006)

L'âme Immortelle - Auf Deinen Schwingen (Cover)This album is the second L’âme Immortelle to offer a predominantly rock sound (in fact even more so than last time), but unlike ‘Gezeiten’, this direction no longer seems to be a promising new avenue of stylistic development. Recorded with a large number of session musicians, this album indicates that Thomas and Sonja are finally at a loss for fresh ideas. It’s very hard for a bona-fide rock band to achieve greatness with vocalists, a keyboard player and a bunch of hired hands, no matter how competent musicians they might be. It’s a remarkably frustrating album to listen to (and even more so to review) – recognisable as the band named on the CD, but mysteriously doing nothing to so much approach the heights of previous works. Continue reading

L’âme Immortelle – Gezeiten (2004)

L'âme Immortelle - Gezeiten (Cover)L’âme Immortelle finally embrace the full potential of guitar rock, with the results being one of their most dynamic albums in years. It’s not quite as subtle or intricate as earlier works, but it’s an engaging listen nonetheless, with Sonja and Thomas still able to work their magic with a full band line-up, particularly with anthems like ‘5 Jahre’, ‘Stumme Schreie’ and ‘Rain’, all of which manage to transfer the spirit of L’âme Immortelle project to a rock context without letting either the guitar or synth elements dominate.

They also manage to pull off the new style on slower songs ‘Fallen Angel’ and ‘Ohne Dich’, both carried off without any of that unnecessary sentimentality so often heard on such tunes. The only completely electronic track is ‘Kingdom, a synth-poppy piece that seems rather insipid compared with the tracks that surround it. That and a few over-cliche lyrics are the only real flaws in what is otherwise an exciting new direction for what must now be Austria’s No.1 musical export.

L’âme Immortelle – Als Die Liebe Starb (2003)

L'âme Immortelle - Als Die Liebe Starb (2003)This album is devoted to a clearly traumatic collapse of a relationship, every lyric (be they German or English) laced with a feeling of loss, confusion or anger over how and why things went wrong. Shifts in L’âme Immortelle line-up see Hannes leaving the band (contributing to only two songs before his exit) and guitarist Ashley Dayour join. These staff turnover issues do indeed bring changes to the sound, with the guitars more apparent than ever before, the live strings still in evidence, though despite this, the results are solid rather than spectacular.

‘Tiefster Winter’ and ‘Have I Ever?’ are both vintage L’âme Immortelle with the guitars slotting into the mix better than the rather half-hearted attempt on ‘Dann Habe Ich…’. After these, however, the songwriting begins to lose direction – there’s nothing actually wrong with the songs, but only the guitar-heavy ‘Aus den Ruinen’ and the bitchy ‘Betrayal’ do anything other than drift past in a competent but slightly miserable, pedestrian manner. It’s still clear here that the band were seeking a new direction post-Hannes, but this still bears all the hallmarks of a ‘transition’ album, albeit one with just enough good songs to save it from oblivion.

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.

L’âme Immortelle – Wenn der Letzte Schatten Fällt (1999)

L'âme Immortelle - Wenn der Letzte Schatten Fällt (Cover)Astounding third album from L’âme Immortelle. Thomas now sings as well as shouts, and whilst his voice isn’t as subtle and versatile as Sonja’s, it’s still a significant development, as this album starts to see L’âme Immortelle move away from the harsh electro-industrial textures of ‘In Einer Zukunft’ (though they still appear on occasion, their impact enhanced as a result) and introduce some synth-poppier elements to their sound. And the result is a varied, dynamic album which never gets dull.

Following the instrumental opener, the spiralling, dual-vocal ‘Gefallen’ and the Thomas-sung ‘Changes’ begin the proof that this outfit can work their songwriting mastery over an entire album rather than a single stand-out song. And it doesn’t let up – the piano ballad ‘Another Day’, the tense melancholy electro-goth of ‘Stern’ (a personal favourite) and the towering anthem ‘At The End’ all indicative of the extent this band developed since their debut. Darkwave rarely gets much better than this.

L’âme Immortelle – In einer Zukunft aus Tränen und Stahl (1998)

L'âme Immortelle - In einer Zukunft aus Tränen und Stahl (Cover)The presence of a Funker Vogt remix gives a pretty good clue as to how this album differs from the first one – the industrial portion of their sound has been upped substantially compared with the predecessor. Even deceptively gentle tracks like ‘Will You?’ offer merely a fleeting few moments of atmospherics before the crunchy beats and throbbing electronics kick in. It’s clear however that this was not the ultimate direction for the project, Thomas and Hannes proving to be reasonably proficient at producing seething electro-industrial without having the ultimate spark of greatness.

The emotional side of the music isn’t totally lost, however – Sonja’s efforts behind the mic keeping this side of the trio’s sound very much alive. Her performance on ‘Bitterkeit’ is easily the most enduring moment on the album, with her renditions Marston’s ‘To Everlasting Oblivion’ and Housman’s ‘The Immortal Part’ also for the most part successful. The dual-vocal ‘Love Is Lost’ also works better than it’s equivalents on the last album. Generally this album is improvement on the last due to it’s more assured musical direction and a greater proportion of actual songs rather than mere ‘pieces of music’. There was just a little more musical development needed.

L’âme Immortelle – Lieder die wie Wunden Bluten (1997)

L'âme Immortelle - Lieder die wie Wunden Bluten (1997)The first L’âme Immortelle album is generally indicative of what was to come later, with it’s combination of industrial, darkwave and classical elements, even though their potential was not completely realized at the outset. Their first great song ‘Life Will Never Be The Same Again’ is the obvious highlight – a sombre piano ballad with Sonja’s vocals soaring over everything, a genuine case of the right singer finding the right song.

Elsewhere, they explore more industrial territories with songs like ‘Winter of My Soul’, the militant beat of ‘Crimson Skies’ and the anti-war sentiments of ‘Brother Against Brother’, Thomas Rainer adopting a distorted rasp as his chosen vocal style at this stage of his career, with the two contrasting styles meeting in ‘Figure in the Mirror’ and in more disconcerting fashion on ‘Into Thy Gentle Embrace’. The rest of the album is mixed to say the least, with a few listenable but not exceptionally memorable instrumentals and the over-indulgent spoken-word experimentation of the title track.