Jonathan Hill Dot EU

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Mortiis The Grudge Review

General Information:

Artist: Mortiis
Album: The Grudge
Genre(s): Industrial Rock
Subgenres(s): N/A
Released: 2004
Length: 47 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Earache Records

Track List:

01. Broken Skin
02. Way Too Wicked
03. The Grudge
04. Decadent & Desperate
05. The Worst in Me
06. Gibber
07. Twist the Knife
08. The Loneliest Thing
09. Le Petit Cochon Sordide
10. Asthma

Mortiis The Grudge Cover

Mortiis The Grudge Cover

Mortiis The Grudge Review

The Grudge is the 7th studio album by Norwegian artist Mortiis. It is the first album in the “Era 3” period of his career and is notable for being the album on which Mortiis evolved from a solo project to a full band as well as continuing the aggressive musical trajectory, which started out as long dark ambient songs before turning into angst-ridden synthpop and now industrial rock for the latest incarnation.

For a few seconds at the start of Broken Skin, the first song on The Grudge, you could easily be fooled into thinking that the use of synthesisers indicates a continuation of the synthpop sound found on The Smell of Rain. This is until short and sharp static bursts are injected to the mix and after a brief lull in the build-up Mortiis releases a long digitised scream with an assortment of synthesised noise before arriving at the first angst-ridden verse. This contrasts heavily with the chorus which softens up to ambient soundscaping with even-tempered singing over layered. While making use of the typical loud/quiet dynamic in rapid succession is certainly nothing new, what makes it impressive is how the two seemingly contradictory genres are woven together without making the listener think that they’re out of place.

Decadent & Desperate blends dance rhythms with heavily distorted guitars that explode into life with Mortiis shouting grotty lyrics that echo the songs title to make it one of the most intense moments on The Grudge. On the other hand The Loneliest Thing is almost a sort of industrial rock ballad that describes a woman stealing Gods light “to make her dark night turn in to day” before going into more antitheistic lyrics that touch on the absence of God when her refers to the light at the end of the song and says “and now she throws it away/when God has nothing to say/her God, she threw him away/he never had much to say.”

Fans of “Era 1” Mortiis will be pleased to know that The Grudge does in fact feature a short 2 and a half minute ambient song called Asthma at the end of the album that will entrance the listener quickly. It rounds off the experience in an unexpected but welcome way but it doesn’t necessarily have the same scope as the old dark ambient material Mortiis produced (mostly due to the short length which will leave you wanting more or playing it on repeat) and the more keen listeners will hear distorted voices and noises subtly planted in the background but it is easy to overlook them if you’re not paying attention.

The compositions cut out the excessive moments found on The Smell of Rain which makes The Grudge a more concise experience and Mortiis comes across as a much more confident singer and has expanded his range and style by quite a margin in 3 years. He also no longer relies on backing singers nearly as much although Louise Marie Degnzman Pedersen shares the bridge on The Grudge and has a much calmer presence when put next to Mortiis.

With The Grudge Mortiis will once again catch long-time fans off guard as his musical path progresses through different genres. He will have undoubtedly worked his way into a new niche audience of industrial rock fans at the same time and this album will certainly whet the appetite for future releases.

Performers:

Mortiis: Vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, programming
Levi Gawron: Guitars
Asmund Sveinunggard: Guitars
Leo Troy: Drums, percussion

Additional Performers:

Vegard Blomberg: Acoustic guitars, keyboards, programming
Endre Tonnesen: Bass on 1, 5, 7, 8 and 10
Magnus Abelsen: Bass on 9
Joe Gibber: Keyboards, programming
Louise Marie Degnzman Pedersen, Stephan Groth: Backing vocals

External Links:

Mortiis on Wikipedia
The Grudge on Wikipedia

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Mortiis The Smell of Rain Review

General Information:

Artist: Mortiis
Album: The Smell of Rain
Genre(s): Electronic
Subgenres(s): Synthpop
Released: 2001
Length: 51 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Earache Records

Track List:

01. Scar Trek/Parasite God
02. Flux/Mental Maelstrom
03. Spirit in a Vacuum
04. Monolith
05. You Put a Hex on Me
06. Everyone Leaves
07. Marshland
08. Antimental
09. Smell the Witch

Mortiis The Smell of Rain Cover

Mortiis The Smell of Rain Cover

Mortiis The Smell of Rain Review

The Smell of Rain is the 6th studio album by Norwegian solo artist Mortiis. This also marks the first and only entry of “Era 2” Mortiis in which he makes an unexpected transition from dark ambient music to synthpop.

This is also the first album wherein Mortiis assumes the role as lead vocalist and while he doesn’t possess the same vocal range or confidence that comes along further into his career, it’s not enough to outright dismiss his performance either. He also enlists additional vocalists including Sarah Jezebel Deva, of Cradle of Filth and Therion fame, for dramatic choral and solo arrangements that are laced together with straightforward distorted guitar work.

Scar Trek/Parasite God addresses contempt for God as Mortiis decries peoples willingness to “…sacrifice themselves/to the locust master, to the one that drowned the world” while saying “yet they crucify me,” presumably for having a simple difference of opinion on theological concerns. Many of the lyrics in other songs revolve around themes of alienation and angst while the final song, Smell the Witch, is more fantasy themed and less detailed in its narrative by comparison.

This is then followed by a two-part song found in Flux/Mental Maelstrom and Spirit in a Vacuum, which adds up to nearly 12 minutes between them, showing that Mortiis hasn’t lost his penchant for longer compositions in their entirety just yet. The long durations of many songs found on The Smell of Rain is also a point of contention due to the fact that they simply don’t need to be as long as they are and a more refined approach would have gone a long way in streamlining the overall presentation of the album.

Monolith breaks the synthpop framework for a dramatic piano and percussion driven number that brings the distorted guitar to the forefront for the bridge of the song and Everyone Leaves is a depressing synth-driven ballad that shows Mortiis at his most defeated as he describes the futility of loss found in the refrain in which he states “everyone leaves. In the end. Everything dies. In the end. It doesn’t matter how hard you hold on.” The build-up in the last minute of the latter song is merciful after around 6 minutes of mope but this song is easily the most stretched out.

Thankfully Mortiis bounces back from Everyone Leaves, particularly on Antimental and Smell the Witch. Both songs feature a cello and violin combined with the synthpop sound Mortiis has crafted but they are far more dramatic and intense than the other songs found on this album. The ending of the final track (Smell the Witch) is sudden but fitting and it will leave you with a good impression of The Smell of Rain, which will have undoubtedly alienated plenty of long-time Mortiis fans on its release but it is an important step in his musical evolution.

Performers:

Mortiis: Lead vocal, keyboards, synthesizers, synth programming, drum programming
Martina Binder: Additional lead vocal
Sarah Jezebel Deva: Vocal harmonies, soprano vocals
Mika Lindberg, “Raptor”, Suvi-Tuulia Virtanen: Alto vocals
Chris A: Guitars
Alzahr: Bass
Staffan Wieslander, Asa Anveden: Cello
Cecilia Lindgren, Johanna Wetter: Violin
Frederik Bergstrom: Tympani, percussion

External Links:

Mortiis Homepage
Mortiis on Wikipedia
The Smell of Rain on Wikipedia

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Deftones Gore Review

General Information:

Artist: Deftones
Album: Gore
Genre(s): Rock
Subgenres(s): Experimental Rock
Released: 2016
Length: 48 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Reprise Records

Track List:

01. Prayers/Triangles
02. Acid Hologram
03. Doomed User
04. Geometric Headdress
05. Hearts/Wires
06. Pittura Infamante
07. Xenon
08. (L)MIRL
09. Gore
10. Phantom Bride
11. Rubicon

Deftones Gore Cover

Deftones Gore Cover

Deftones Gore Review

Gore is the 8th studio album by American rock band Deftones. As the band has evolved and implemented new sounds into their repertoire over the years it is self-evident with Gore that they’re still cutting into new territory. This has largely been caused by the conflicts within the band over what direction they should move in and somehow both camps got their way through an amalgamation of post hardcore, post rock, shoegaze and sludge metal in different measures. Some of these genres do already overlap in other musical circles but Deftones have managed to combine them in an entirely new way that most easily placed Gore under the large umbrella genre of experimental rock.

The use of the pop format is still present in many places but there is also a two part song found in Pittura Infamante, meaning “infamous painting” in Italian, and Xenon. This format also works to their advantage by being able to experiment sonically while still appealing to a wide audience.

Chino Moreno’s voice is at times heavily distorted to sound like high pitched radio garble so his lyrics aren’t always easy to recognise, with many of them being cryptic enough to be interpreted in many ways depending on the listener, but he also clings onto his distinct singing voice elsewhere when he isn’t breaking into a shouting frenzy elsewhere.

There are some parallels to be found with their 2006 album, Saturday Night Wrist, in terms of subdued musical elements although the flirtation with trip hop found there and with White Pony (2000) are nowhere to be heard. The opening song, Prayers/Triangles, kicks off Gore with familiar feedback noise from Saturday Night Wrist’s opening song, Hole in the Earth, but instead of launching into a meaty guitar riff it dissolves to introduce the subdued moods that are littered throughout Gore. (L)MIRL follows on much in the same way whereas the title track is much less streamlined and evolves into a massive sludge metal plod towards the end.

There is certainly no hugger-mugger from the variety of influences that have crept into the melting pot that is Gore because everything from the internal conflicts of the bands has managed to be turned into an unexpected advantage rather than a hindrance. How far the pendulum swings from this point on is yet to be seen but if Gore is any indication to go by then Deftones will continue to innovate.

Performers:

Abe Cunningham: Drums
Stephen Carpenter: Guitar
Frank Delgado: Samples, keyboards
Chino Moreno: Vocals, guitar
Sergio Vega: Bass
Jerry Cantrell: Additional guitars (track 10)

External Links:

Deftones Homepage
Deftones on Wikipedia
Gore on Wikipedia

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Leaether Strip Civil Disobedience Review

General Information:

Artist: Leaether Strip
Album: Civil Disobedience
Genre(s): Electronic
Subgenres(s): Electronic Body Music (EBM)
Released: 2008
Length: 69 minutes (CD 1), 72 minutes (CD 2)
Language(s): English, German
Label(s): Alfa Matrix

Track List (CD 1):

01. Civil Disobedience
02. The Damaged People
03. When Blood Runs Dark
04. Bite Until You Taste Blood
05. Jagtvej 69
06. Going Nowhere
07. I Said I’m Sorry
08. Pissing on My Territory
09. It Hurts Doesn’t It
10. One Day
11. The Devil’s Daughter

Track List (CD 2):

01. A Whore for Jesus
02. I Wear Black on the Inside
03. Machineries of Joy (Die Krupps Cover)
04. Snakebite
05. Soul Collector
06. Could Ya, Did Ya
07. In the Arms of a Demon
08. One More Reason
09. The Cradle of Death
10. Stains
11. The Evil in Putin’s Eyes

Leaether Strip Civil Disobedience Cover

Leaether Strip Civil Disobedience Cover

Leaether Strip Civil Disobedience Review

Civil Disobedience is the 11th studio album (and second double album) by Danish Electronic Body Music (EBM) artist Leaether Strip. Claus Larsen, the sole architect behind Leaether Strip, guarantees two things with Civil Disobedience with the first being a tour-de-force in aggressive dance music paired with subversive lyrics that paint a grim reality.

This is noteworthy early on with The Damaged People, wherein Claus Larsen lists off vignettes of suffering ranging from “the village idiot who made us laugh/until he raped a girl behind the bike shed” to “the dead man on the second floor/no one noticed he was gone until the smell came” and “the gay teenager killing himself/because his parents told him what the world does to faggots”. The last of those could possibly be a reference to his teenage years in which he was in danger of taking his life*.

On the first CD Claus Larsen’s voice ranges from confrontational snarls and shouts to outraged cries of distress (on Going Nowhere in particular) but on the second CD he often sounds more even tempered by comparison. The distorted vocal effects are still implemented across Civil Disobedience in varying degrees to compliment the militant attitude of the music. Some songs also contain voice samples to introduce a lyrical theme with The Cradle of Death, from the second CD, being the most explicit as it is presumably a recording of a soldier or journalist who recalls seeing “scores of people who had been killed, women who had been gang-raped” to “men who had been castrated and been left to bleed to death” … “those are things that we would see nearly every day”.

On the surface you could accuse Claus Larsen of using mere shock value to grab some attention but at the same time it’s entirely possible that this is the result of someone venting his own frustrations with the troubled world he observes. On the politically conscious title track he observes that “politicians use unfair tactics/to scare the people with convenient lies/they want two sides to go against each other/to make us pick the side they want” and Jagtvej 69 addresses the riots in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2007 following the closure and demolition of the Ungdomshuset (The Youth House).

Tired and true loud/soft dynamics with a heavier industrial music influence are used to up the aggressive ante on this song. Starting with a sample of protesters shouting and chanting, the soft piano motif poignantly overlaps them only to be cut down by caustic industrial stylings before it abruptly stops for a haunting solo vocal performance with only soft crackling noises of a fire to create a tense yet sombre atmosphere. The electronic elements are also present in other parts of the song and when they’re used subtly alongside the piano the end result is unquestionably one of Civil Disobedience’s finest moments.

Could Ya, Did Ya is an electro-industrial flavoured song that brings the electric guitar to the forefront and begins with a sarcastic sit-com skit whereas Stains takes a rather gothic twist with an organ arrangement that goes on for a good 3 minutes before the thumping dance beats reappear. There is also a cover of Machineries of Joy, originally by Die Krupps, on the second CD that is sung in both English and German but doesn’t forgo the awkward moaning sounds and manages to be about 2 minutes longer than the original. This leads right into the second guarantee of the Civil Disobedience album: the unholy length of each CD.

The running time of the first CD is 69 minutes and the second is 72 minutes. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that on average each song is nearly 6.5 minutes long so not only will each CD test your patience, there is also the practical question of having the time to be able to sit down and listen to either half properly.

These are some obvious negatives that could have easily been addressed by releasing each CD as a separate album or by shortening some of the songs because the likes of Pissing on My Territory is the shortest song on the album (4 minutes and 43 seconds compared to several that are between 6 and 8 minutes) yet it has some of the most replay value for this very reason.

While Civil Disobedience can feel stretched out on both halves of the album, it shouldn’t diminish the positive qualities found in the dark lyricism that is melded with the spirit of punk rock, particularly in the vocal department, and aggressive dance music because it is a powerful combination that deserves a larger spotlight.

Performers:

Claus Larsen: Singer, songwriter, performer

External Links:

Leaether Strip Homepage
Leaether Strip on Wikipedia
Civil Disobedience on Wikipedia

* http://www.phxgoth.com/leaether-strip-interview/ “I was a troubled gay teen on the closet, in danger of taking my own life”.