Metropolis Records 2003 - The Year in Review


Richard Van Camp

It's been a fabulous year for Metropolis Records -- their best yet! Faith and the Muse, Front Line Assembly, Front 242 and Clan of Xymox put out their best albums so far, and I was introduced to eight new bands and two soundtracks ("Gypsy 83" and "The Hard World") that really made 2003 worth living!

The Hits!

Let's start with Metropolis' newer artists.

ascII Disco - ascII Disco

I was never into electronica before but -- wow! -- what a groovy CD. Hamburg, Germany's Daniele Hole (aka Kat D.D. Rokk) goes all out in this hybrid of acid and indie rock laced with synth pop and tonnes of synthesizers. Katt sounds so horny in "strassen" and "Aldimarkt" that it makes the whole album shine. After all, it takes horniness to make horniness, am I right? "Cool" is superb too. Gotta love those back up singers. This is one album you can put on all day and do chores naked and feel sexy the whole time. Who needs a dance floor? Let Kat bring the club life to you so you can do the bo jangles on your kitchen linoleum to the hypnotizing "Jack your body to the beat!" and "Moi, Je Veux" and you can trance out to "Jetzt", "Photos" or "schanze." If you liked Informatik's "Nymphomatik" (Metropolis Records, 2002) you will love ascII Disco!

Yes, this is the same Kat D.D. Rokk, former guitarist of Slown and current guitarist/keyboardist of the Sci-Fi indie-rock band Venus Vegas, producer of TigerBeat, a sophisticated sex rock act, thus the horniness protozoa I sense behind every track! There's something for everybody within this digital masterpiece.

Pride and Fall - Nephesh

This brilliant debut from Norway's Pride and Fall showcases the brilliant teamwork of Sigve Monsen, Per Waagen and Svien Joar Auglaend Johnsen. Is it electronica? Is it Futurepop? I think it's the very best of everything and this band deserves every success out there. Find out why Metropolis signed them after only hearing the demos. Dazzling, mysterious and hungry, I hope DJ's and music lovers everywhere check out the most imaginative new band out there. Dance or grind to it -- you will soar with this album! Pride and Fall is an awesome band with everything inside them to go right to the top. Fave tracks: "Delusion", "Construct", "The Approach" -- aw heck, I love it all! Most mysterious and fascinating track of the year, though, goes to 'serenade of Dreams."

:wumpscut: - Preferential Legacy & Music for a German Tribe

One man did all this? Rudy Ratzinger is amazing! This double CD is loaded with rarities, old tracks and remixes as well as two new tracks ("All Cried Out" and "Overkill"). I guarantee you"ll hear beats and synths on this album that you"ve never heard (or ever will) anywhere else. The inside jacket of the CD states: "Rudy R. decided to hand over you this archive material as this period of :wumpscut: seems to be too important to neglect. In the original text, here you can find: "Not to be released once again." Well, folks, we live in a very unpleasant age where bad black copies of holy vinyl releases must be got by begging from "greedy for money" collectors on e-bay, etc. - well, this is over now, as far as Preferential Legacy is concerned." So there!

Industrial dance, goth trance, full out rage tracks, dark electronica -- this stunning collection of the very best :wumpscut: has put out is a treasure box for anyone it finds its way to as both CD's have tracks that both stun and awe. Bravo!

Decoded Feedback - Shockwave

Shockwave is perfect title for Decoded Feedback's nuclear assault on the senses. Want the very best Industrial out there? Decoded Feedback is it! What I like about Decoded Feedback is their ability for a full frontal assault ("Pheonix") and their ability to convey beauty and grace with tracks like "Do you See". I keep thinking that "Bondage" and "Democracy"are the recorded thoughts of a black dragon as it soars over the land casting the spell of Fear and bringing heart attacks to the lesser beings below. "The Fruit of Wisdom" could be the soundtrack for the human battle scene between the dragon and just about everybody below dies under wave after brutal wave of attack. The mourners are left to sing "Heaven" but, look out blee-otches!, the Decoded Feedback Black Dragon could smell and sense you, so it circles back, vomiting fire into homes and your eye sockets! I could go on and on with this but I think you'll see that there's no escaping raw emotion listening to this album. It's the soundtrack for a war being fought for your survival!

Melotron - Sternenstaub

Superb! From beginning to end: awesome! Melotron are a force and phenomenon who know what to do to get you to bust a move or two. Now this is Industrial Dance! Just when you think Andy Krueger, Kay Hildebrandt and Edgar Slatnow can't take you any higher in "Folge mir ins Licht", Julia Beyer joins in with the voice of an angel gracing you with German light!

Bunnydrums - PKD/Simulacra

Remember the first time you heard "First and Last and Always" by the Sisters of Mercy or "God's Own Medicine" by the Mission UK or "Pornography" by The Cure or "Brighter than a Thousand Suns" by Killing Joke? Well, listen to this and you"ll feel that awe once again. This is an important band in punk's evolution: dark, edgy, groovy, timeless. Fantastic guitars, lovely beats, awesome vocals and a sound so unforgettable "PKD/Simulacra" -- 19 Bunnydrum tracks, completely remastered -- is an album you can play all day every day for the rest of your life! And check out the production notes: "The original master tapes were used when available, but because of the age and condition of the masters, they had to be baked in a convection oven before being transferred to digital tape." Now how cool is that?

Suicide Commando - Axis of Evil

I don't know if you'd like to rip it up on the dance floor to the chant "Each Year approximately one million people die from suicide" but the first track, "Cause of Death: Suicide", is wicked once it gets going. In fact, once "Axis of Evil" gets going, it doesn't let up! Skinny Puppy and Ministry fans, you will adore Suicide Commando! I love the beats tempered with elegant keyboards and I love Johan Van Roy's voice. Socially anxious and globally critical of US-involvement in anything, Suicide Commando was born to command you!

CEvin Key-The Dragon Experience

If you love Hilt, you will love "The Dragon Experience." Samples, loops and synths that could beckon seizures and beats that dizzy -- there's something very tantric going on here. Completely compelling. Warning: Track 5, "Metamorphosis (theme from The Trial)", releases a nerve agent that will paralyze you wherever you are when you hear it, and "Ambient Fruit (chapter 2)" will help you leave your body to float around and spy on friends, strangers and family;) You were warned, human!

The Soundtracks

Gypsy 83- (Various Artists) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

If the movie is half as good as this wonderful soundtrack, Small Planet Pictures will have a timeless classic on their hands. With three enchanting songs by Claire Voyant, two deep and sexy songs from Karen Black, a brilliant remake of Stevie Nicks' "Talk to Me" by Diva Destruction, The Cure's "Doing the Unstuck" and Bauhaus' "severance" as well as Velvet Acid Christ, Apoptygma Berzerk, Magenta, Mechanical Cabaret and Sara Rue putting in some of their finest work, this is a "must have" for any serious compilation or motion picture soundtrack lover. Claire Voyant, by the way, OWNS this soundtrack. Wow! Victoria Lloyd -- what a voice! I cannot wait to hear more from her and her crew: Chris Ross and Ben Fargen. Definitely a band to watch and listen out for!

The Hard World - Music by David Thrussell

Sexy, elegant and raunchy, this is a lovely soundtrack described by Martin Connor, The Hard World's film's editor, as "one of the most classy and effective scores in Australian cinema." I agree. Sometimes it's very Pink Panther'ish in its approach; sometimes it's very Twin Peaks'ish, but it's always down-and-dirty-spine-tingly. I just have to see this movie!

Metropolis Royalty:

Front Line Assembly - ManiAcal

When I received this ep, I thought, "What! Three songs only? What's the point?" but with two remixes of "Maniacal" at 7:23 seconds and 7:42 for the "repercussion mix" and "Anti" at 7:57, these three songs blew me away. This is a must have for any FLA fan, DJ or anyone trying to find a new Industrial dance mix. FLA have been around since '86 and this little beauty made me want to listen to everything they"ve ever done! Not bad for an ep, eh?

Front 242 - Pulse

"Pulse" features twenty tracks from the fathers of Electric Body Music! They can do it fast (all five tracks of "seQ666" and "Matrix"); they can do it slow ("Triple X Girlfriend" and "Beyond the Scale of Comprehension"); and they can do it deep ("Together" and "song"). What's truly sweet, though, about the Front 242 of 2003 is they've also done their homework and are trying new techniques. Check out "No More No More", "Never Lost" and "One." "Pulse" is also the best-written album I've heard from Front 242. The lyrics are so personal many of the songs are love letters. This album is unlike anything I"ve ever heard from Front 242, and it's wicked. You"re gonna rock, raise your devil horns and trance out. "Pulse" is astonishing…

Clan of Xymox - Farewell

If you love your Goth electric I suggest you check out "Farewell." The two years between "Notes from the Underground" and their 2003 release have paid off in spades. (Case in Point: "Notes from the Underground" only had two tracks that I loved: "Into Her Web" and "something Wrong"). The Clan have been around since 1984 but they've finally put out an album I can put on all day and adore every second of every track. Nina Simic and Mojca Zugna takes this album to places the band has never been before with superb key work that"ll make your artery blood sing and maybe go backwards!

Listen to the magic in "Cold Damp Day". If this isn't the ultimate electro-goth love song, I don"t know what is. Ronny Mooring's voice reaches new levels of intimacy in "One More Time", "Courageous" and "Losing My Head." With Mojca Zugna and Rob Vonk backing him up on vocals, and Rui Ramos' mastery over drums and supersonic percussion, there's no stopping the Clan of Xymox now.

"skindeep" is perhaps the band's most intriguing of any track of theirs that I've heard and Clan of Xymox proves with "Farewell" that they are one of goth's most versatile and dedicated bands. Twenty years of going strong and they're only getting better. Bravo!

Faith and the Muse - The Burning Season

"The Burning Season" is the fourth and best studio album from one of the trailbreakers in goth. The lyrics are exquisite, and the additional programming and treatments by Chad Blinman take the band to a new level never reached before. Every track takes the band to a new level of grandeur that succeeds beautifully, making Faith and the Muse goth royalty forever. As well, Monica Richard goes all out with her voice and reaches new notes I've never heard before, especially in "Visions". Talk about getting the tingles every time I hear it! She's dreamy in "Boudiccea" and "In the Amber Room", intimate in "The Burning Season", jazzy in "Gone to Ground" and she rocks out in "sredni Vashtar" and the "Relic Song." Of any project Faith and the Muse have ever done, "The Burning Season" is Monica's finest and clearest vocal performance yet. The same goes for William Faith. He's left the spoken word poetry behind and comes through with one of Faith and the Muse's most incredible songs ever: "Failure to Thrive." Hypnotic and disarming, it'll haunt you for years after you hear it. Get ready for "The Burning Season" -- Faith and the Muse's most fully realized album yet!

I hope everyone who reads this checks it out -- especially anyone who misses Siousxie and the Banshees. "The Burning Season" is magnificent. By the way, if you haven't heard Faith and the Muse's remake of "Running up that Hill" off their "Vera Causa", you have not lived!

For my other reviews of Faith and the Muse's other albums, please check out: Faith and the Muse

The Misses

Velvet Acid Christ - Hex Angel: Utopia-Dystopia

If it were a crime to sound exactly like Skinny Puppy, Velvet Acid Christ's Bryan Erickson would serve twenty years to life! The only thing pretty about this album is "Eva". Wow! Now that's where Velvet Acid Christ should be heading because it's original and gorgeous. The rest? Heard it before ten years ago!

Wolfsheim - Casting Shadows

"Casting Shadows" is a heartbreaking example of a band with the wrong producers. "Care for you", "Approaching Lightspeed" and "Wundervoll" are lovely. Peter Hepner has a voice that can lead you anywhere, but why does he sound so bored in "Everyone Who Casts a Shadow"? "I Won"t Believe", "Underneath the Veil" and "This is for Love" could have been so much more if Marcus Reinhardt would have picked up the pace earlier in every song! I yawned through "Kein Zuruck" and rolled my eyes through "And I…" ("It's like it's meant to be…" -- Whatever!). The million-dollar question with Wolfsheim is why are they holding back? Peter's got the voice. Marcus has the musical talent -- just listen to him unleash in "Time" and "Approaching Lightspeed", so why do I feel like someone is holding a gun to both their heads going, "If you let the world know how brilliant you are, you're going to get it!" This leads me to blame the producers. "Casting Shadows" was produced by Andreas Herbig and co-produced by Oliver Pinelli. This is a bad mix. I challenge Wolfsheim to work with new producers the next time they hit the studio and get out of the current fog they're in. Casting Shadows? Wolfsheim, I almost saw what you could have been.


Funker Vogt- Revivor:

Didn"t like it. Couldn"t make it through a single track. It's being marketed as Industrial Dance? Really? Who would want to dance to this?

Haujobb - Vertical Theory:

New singer needed as all the songs sound the same after -- oh -- song two…

For more information, check out: the Metropolis Records website

© 2003 Richard Van Camp
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