Richard Van Camp
2004 is off to a gorgeous start for Metropolis Records with ten new Spring releases. Front Line Assembly has put out their best album yet and it's hard not to fall in love with four of Metropolis' Spring releases because of the lead singers' voices. Frontmen J. Machon of Lights of Euphoria, Ted Phelps of Imperative Reaction, Frank Spinath of Seabound, and Icon of Coil's Andy La Plegua's all have the voices of demigods taking their bands to international levels. I was also surprised at how danceable all four of these bands are. At the same time, there's a new wargod on the horizon heavily armed for aggro-electro. All hail, Dismantled! Beside Dismantled - and no stranger to Metropolis' arsenal--strides :Wumpscut: strafing anything that moves or had a face with the unholy fire of Bonepeeler!
If you want to be touched deeply by darkness, check out a new black heart stealing light from the sky: YelworC.
In Strict Confidence has put out an industrial goth album that's pretty good but it's their back up singers, Nadine Stelzer and Antje Schulz, who make "Holy" holy!
The only album of the ten I was sent by Metropolis that didn't grab me was Velvet Acid Christ's collection of singles "Between the Eyes Volume 1."
Interestingly, there's a recurring theme in both Icon of Coil, In Strict Confidence, :Wumpscut: and Dismantled's work, and it's preparing for all out war.
Let's start with four exciting new voices from the Electro pop and Electronic genres:
Relentless with dance hits, Ted Phelps has a voice that could blush the shell from a turtle. "Faded into One" is heart stopping with the energy and grace. The album reaches its utmost elegance with its last two tracks: "Alone" and "The Distance." I can't stop listening to these two songs! This is a brilliant album and there's something on here for every listener.
Fans of Electronic ranging from Ikon to Depeche Mode will adore Lights of Euphoria. With J. Machon's vocals and Torben Schmidt's instrumentals, this album is nonstop groove-it-up-party! Want to dance? Check it out! There's no time to brood or pause. Once this album gets going, you're up and rocking! Ron Harris from VNV Nation even does vocals on "Consequence (Face Yourself)" so how cool is that?
This is an album you can put on all day and never get bored of. Frank Spinath's voice takes on many forms and all of them move your blood where it needs to go! Need a dance hit to pack the floor? Check out "Go International" and read the cheekiest lyrics I've read since the Pet Shop Boys! As for a love song everyone needs to hear, check out "Watching over you." Wow!
Great programming, by the way, from Martin Vorboot. Check out "Icarus" for a great tune that will delight even Pride and Fall fans. The band states: "Take your time to discover us. We won't disappoint you. We took our time to put the music, the thoughts, and the emotions together to create the songs you are now able to hear. They are yours now. But you will have to listen. Only if you open yourself up to it, you'll discover all the facets we have to offer." I am happy to say they are completely right!
Don't be fooled by the cover, this is a great dance album. If you love Front Line Assembly or Front 242, you'll love "Machines are Us." With Grinding beats and Andy La Plegua's bad boy growl, you'll head to the nearest dance floor on instinct alone! Check out three awesome dance anthems: "Existence in Progress", the gothic "transfer: complete", and "dead enough for life" and "pursuit" and "release the frequency/afterwards." Oh heck, just check out the whole album!
Fans of Front 242, Icon of Coil and Front Line Assembly fans who need a new band to believe in should check out In Strict Confidence's "Holy." Hailing from Horchst--near Frankfurt--Dennis Ostermann, Jorg Schelte and Stefan Vesper honour the Industrial goth genre, but it's the women they sing with who take "Holy" to a new level that's both elegant and engaging. Check out the backup vocals of Nadine Stelzer in "Closing Eyes" and "The Darkest Corridors" - now that's a voice! Where's Nadine's band? Also, check out Antje Schulz singing "Sleepless" and "Emergency." A voice from heaven! Where's her band? The women featured on "Holy" steal the spotlight from Dennis Ostermann every time they sing and it's too bad In Strict Confidence didn't use Nadine Stelzer and Antje Schulz more.
Holy's a great album because of the guest vocalists, that incredible and majestic instrumental "Alpha Centauri", and those Nunsploitation pics throughout the packaging don't hurt either. Don't get me wrong: Dennis Ostermann does a great job but the band is far more powerful when the women sing with or without him.
One of the recurring themes in Rudy Ratzinger's work is outrage: outrage at the state of things today on all levels and outrage at what we've inherited as spirits in human form. These songs are burning prayers for humanity and they're laced with murderous intent. Incredible! Check out the brilliant instrumental "Your last salute" and the war chant in "The March of the Dead" as well as the sad melody of "Rise Again" and take heed, underling, to the unveiled threat in "Final Warning"!
The most surprising track on the album is "And Life Goes On" because it empowers the listener with "It's up to you now." I didn't think Rudy had any hope left in him especially after the most diabolical song :Wumpscut:'s put out yet: "In the Peace of Night." I won't even repeat the lyrics but they're as grim as it gets …
Dismantled's "Postnuclear" is the most surprisingly genius album in Metropolis' spring line up. At times, it's brilliant and punishing and I wondered if "Armed and Ready" is what the T3's listen to on their way to battle. When I was least expecting it, the album turned gentle and nurturing ("The Swarm", "Exit" - listen to that piano work in there - and "From the Coma-Swept Ruins"). There's even two dance hits here: "A Shallow Light" and "Essence." This album is so great I found myself chewing my nails and reading the lyrics as I listened to each song.
Check out these lyrics for Enforcer:
|Nuclear||past all these|
|Surface probe||sworn perimeters|
|scanning for||and besides|
|life signs||all the wars|
|all either dead||were just cheap|
|or praying for||breeding contests|
|the next impact||and unearthed, their ripped jaws still screamed|
If you want a taste of the major theme throughout the album check out these lyrics:
Awoke to find the sky below a swollen ground as it all lifted up
I heard no voices in the storm and even as they overburned
I've never felt more alive
They built me well against this dawn until
they led me through their righteous armoured gears
and as they grinded on I realized that I've swallowed whole
the corpse of my belief …
At times brutal to the ears, at times medicine for the soul, frontman Gary Zon is the next Trent Reznor. For a sophomore release, Dismantled's Post Nuclear has taken "aggro-electro" to a whole new level. Bravo, Gary!
My only complaint of the album is the inside art is far more powerful than what made it to the cover. Is there any way Metropolis can change this?
Dark, mysterious, profane, Trinity is Peter Delvin's diabolical diary and it's downright eerie. At times, I was overwhelmed with hopelessness. At others, I felt lost and alone. I wonder if this is the music the Cenobites listen to on the elevator from Hell on their way up to earth to shred souls. Want to be touched by the darkness? Check out "Trinity." What's harrowing is that this is part one of a trilogy based upon Dante's "Divine Comedy" so get ready for even more darkness coming humanity's way!
Fans of Front Line Assembly will be pleased to know that one of FLA's original members, Rhys Fulber (formerly of Fear Factory, Conjour One) has joined forces with Bill Leeb once again to produce the best full length Front Line Assembly album in a long time: "Civilization." The time apart between Rhys and Bill was great because by song three, "Fragmented", you can tell that FLA wants this album to be unlike any other so far.
Front Line Assembly tries so many new techniques on the album: the tweaks, pianos, elegant programming and the harmonies of the songs are the best work I've heard from FLA in years. The background vocals by the mystical Leah Randi (in "Maniacal," "Fragmented" and "Vanished") were the masterstroke of the album as a whole and my only complaint is that they should have used her more! I think she's there in "Transmitter" (Come Together) but it doesn't say in the liner notes. I hope it is!
There's a patience here from The Assembly that I've not heard before. You can feel it in every song. The band definitely took their time with each song and it shows. This is the fourteenth release from Frontline Assembly with Metropolis Records and both are only getting better at everything they do. What a magical album!
I'm going to pass on Velvet Acid Christ's Between the Eyes Volume 1 because there's way too much sampling going on for me to get into the majority of the songs. Talk about overkill! Imagine trying to really get into an album but cranking the radio and the TV at the same time. That's what it felt like the whole album. Note to Bryan Erickson: is it a song, or is it audiodiarrhea?
I do love what Velvet Acid Christ is capable of: "Decypher" is magic, "Dial 8" is okay, Fans of Skinny Puppy will adore "So Much." I loved it! But those are the only songs not bogged down with sampling and 2.5 songs do not make an album worth it for me. Bryan states in the sleeve notes that he wants to make video game music and it's so apparent that's what he needs to do because if you fast forward through 11 of the 13 songs it all sounds the same after a while. Bravo on "So Much" and "Decypher" though. Those songs are what I'm interested in because they're unique and layered with emotion. That's the Velvet Acid Christ that piques my interest.
For more information, check out: the Metropolis Records website