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[ Zombina & the Skeletones ]
imgHailing from Hollywood, California this duo consists of Statik making the music and kaRIN putting together the lyrics and vocals.  Over the years these two have put together an impressive discography that constantly defies genre boundaries and beckons all the dark-clad folk to enter their crypt.  Both have been involved with music in one way or another since very early in life and so have brought forth their talents and put them to work in this project.  With their long history and the continuation of their music, we can always expect good, solid releases from these two.

The sound that they've managed to form over the years generally falls within a Gothic and Industrial crossover.  While this is not easy to explain or categorize to give the reader an idea, the general feeling from these two genres fits nicely as a description of their music.  Sultry and smooth female vocals gliding through the layered music often laced with trip-hop rhythms or an overall psychadelic feel and sometimes various ethnic backgrounds create the foundation for their style.  But it never ends here, delving into distorted instruments or vocals that make the most iron-clad rivethead sweat, or slipping into the dark recesses of the black-clad gothic domain, it all exists in one form or another.

This group has proven their success and solid foundation and keeps on going strong.  Be sure to check them out.

Counting To Zero - Review

Never slowing down and always going like that Energizer Bunny, kaRIN and Statik have done it again with this new album (I think it's #10 in their career which is awesome). img After their cover album showing off a lot of their influences, it's no surprise that this album is packed with an "all of the above" option when it comes to styles, tempo and so forth. It comes packaged in a jewel case with a nice booklet full of pictures, lyrics and other information (yes a physical CD in a jewel case which is also awesome!). The music spans eleven new tracks done as only Collide can do.

"Bending and Floating" kicks off the album as a sort of introductory track with only a few short lyrics while most of the rest of the track is an instrumental trip. Picture if you will, the beginning of a Doctor Who episode with the Tardis flying through that long wormhole while the theme song plays, now slow that down 50 times, put a slightly distorted trip-hop, mid-tempo sultry mix of vocals and music with a slightly psychadelic twist and you have the portal into Counting To Zero. The tone is set and we drift on into each of the captivating, mind-melting tracks that are extremely hard to describe, but easily recognizable as Collide. Usually the music I love is either the dance-friendly, driving gothic rock, electro-pop and EBM or the soft, ethereal, medieval and neo-classical styles. With the two radio shows, music either fits nicely into one radio show or the other. This album, and the music from Collide in general usually falls somewhere in the middle. Often the tracks are down-tempo or mid-tempo pieces with a slow, sometimes trip-hop style beat, so far fitting well within the ethereal realm, then you throw in the harsh distortion and grinding guitars we usually find on the harder driving pieces and we now have a dilemna, music too harsh to be ethereal and too slow in general to be dance-mix friendly (ok, ok... true goths can dance to anything). Anyway, I digress, because this is a wonderful album (like all previous Collide works), nevertheless, it is still hard to describe and classify, but hopefully the reader will get the picture.

Throughout each album we're presented with a nice dynamic mix of music across the various rhythms, instrument selection and so on, and several pieces stand out as favorites. On this excellent work we get a great selection of fantastic pieces. Right after the intro, "Lucky 13" kicks off which after listening to the album several times while I'm going about my day not listening to other music, this is the one that gets stuck in my head. The groovy beat, catchy loops and lyrics all remain permanently engrained on the psyche. The title track "Counting to Zero" stands out as another of these pieces that has that catchy element from the first listen. On each verse the music is subdued and actually takes on something of a trippy, ethereal approach and then for each chorus the various layers of guitar and additional distortion and loops kick in keeping it all so very much like we've grown to expect from this duo. Really taking it down several notches is "Human" with somber piano throughout, a heavy beat that only kicks in later in the track, and yes, just a small amount of distortion. As the album moves along, one gem after another stands out and shines showing you can mix lush, beauty with harsh noise and on this album "Tears Like Rain" is a perfect example. kaRIN's vocals create something of their own instrument among the many lush layers on this piece while very subtle loops and various instruments kick in as it slowly drifts along. As if on cue to wake the listener up, one of the most driving pieces I've heard this band put together comes out on "Further From Anything". The heavy bass is accented by grinding guitars and moved along quickly by a fast-paced beat, while the vocals seemingly drift along with the rhythm, yet at the same time almost oblivious to the chaotic layers going on in the background.

The album starts to wind down with the appropriately named piece "Slow Down", but not dropping off completely yet we're given one last treat on the album with "Letting Go" featuring all the seemingly impossible mix of styles we love Collide for. With that we wrap up another stellar album that is a great addition to their large discography and for anyone's music collection.

Rating: 4.5/5

These Eyes Before - Review

We've always known this duo to have tons of talent and creativity as portrayed through each release. img With this one we're treated with their brilliant talents covering a broad range of classics that illustrate their own diverse influences as well as their unique way of bringing them all together into one cohesive, intriguing and captivating style on each new album they release. Featuring ten classic tracks spanning the years of classic, psychadelic and modern rock, this disc is packed with treats for any fan of Collide or any of these popular tracks they cover.

I think it's always interesting to hear what artists will pay tribute to. It's no doubt that we have a long history of influential talent to choose from over the years and I can't imagine a more fitting selection for this band based on their overall styles for their own work. Thus it's no surprise that the album is sandwiched between two excellent pieces from Pink Floyd, starting with "Breathe" as one of the classics from this band, it's perfectly done as kaRIN's vocals lend that perfect air of melancholy while Statik's music give it the angst and edge of the classic track. This provides the perfect introduction as we move into the rest of the spellbinding album.

Their choice of tracks is excellent and their performance is even better with the stellar electronic touches on such classics as "Come Together", or the soft, yet driving edge to "Rock On". Entirely appropriate is the inclusion of one of the more alternative tracks from Depeche Mode in "I Feel You" which Statik renders with that perfect grinding edge, which also comes out well in "Creep" providing that harsh backdrop for kaRIN's sultry vocals. Of course no tribute to good music would be complete without "Space Oddity" from the master of unique talent David Bowie himself. To say that we have an excellent cover on this album is an understatement. The original unique character of this song is portrayed through the dreamy vocals and spatialized effects in the programming and performance of this piece by this talented duo. Staying true to many of the tracks is illustrated perfectly with the inclusion of a marching band on the classic track "Tusk" from Fleetwood Mac. I think it would be appropriate to say that these two had way too much fun making this album and it really comes through in each excellent performance. At this point the album ends in much the same way it began, it wraps up with another classic introverted piece from Pink Floyd in "Comfortably Numb". The production of this piece is excellent and sounds remarkably as if it's just an original piece from the band, and thus lends itself well to be covered by them in their own unique captivating style.

There you have it, ten excellent tracks, a love affair of classic music that has formed much of the foundation of our own favorite genres and even much of our popular music today. Once again, this is a highly recommended work from this band, as are all of their albums. Here's a complete list of covers..

  1. Pink Floyd - Breathe
  2. The Moody Blues - Nights In White Satin
  3. The Beatles - Come Together
  4. Radiohead - Creep
  5. David Essex - Rock On
  6. Depeche Mode - I Feel You
  7. David Bowie - Space Oddity
  8. Chris Isaak - Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing
  9. Fleetwood Mac - Tusk
  10. Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb

Rating: 5/5

Two Headed Monster - Review

There is just no slowing down with this duo as the ideas just seem to flow and almost year after year we're presented with great new material. img This latest work has the band putting together some of their best material to date crossing many genre boundaries and remaining as true to their sound as ever. With ten powerful yet smooth tracks on this disc, it is packed with a booklet of lyrics, cool pics of both members as well as tons of other info.

We start out slow and heavy with "Tongue Tied & Twisted" with some excellent grinding guitar and kaRIN's vocals softening the edge and bringing it all in for a smooth texture. We leave this slow, grooving beat for something a little more intense with an upbeat rhythm. This piece, aptly named "Chaotic" really pours on the intensity through a mix of distorted electronics and guitars through each chorus. These first two piece remain something of the anchor for this album and have quickly become new favorites from this group. However, there's still plenty of great material as we grind on through the other remaining pieces.

After a fun romp through "A Little Too Much" we're brought into a somewhat downtempo piece with dark, brooding piano to start off "Pure Bliss". This slowly builds as guitar and somber percussion join, but by the time we hit the chorus hang on to your seat as the distortion and intensity kicks in once again. Then as suddenly as it began, we're left once again with the somber, smooth sounds and rhythm moving slowly along to vanish once again amidst the chaos one last time before fading off nicely. As the album moves one we drift through more of these up and down intense pieces such as the deftly slow "Silently Creeping" with intense choruses and soft and somber verses in between.

As we near the end of the album "Head Spin" is an awesome piece with some great, heavy and pulsating electronics and a beat that keeps things moving a little more and is almost fun and happy, in a dark and brooding sort of way. As we drift through the title track and "Shifting" we're finally left with "Utopia" which is another favorite and a great way to wrap up the album. This piece is dreamy and intense, once again going through an intense chorus with distorted grinding guitar, but more on the level something along the line of shoegazer and so it still remains quite dreamy and ethereal.

That wraps up another great work from this band and it should really please fans both old and new as they create new music while maintaining their true sound perfectly.

Rating: 4.5/5

Like The Hunted DVD - Review

For a band that was pretty much strictly a studio project up until late 2004, they have really taken a jump and done a lot with their live lineup and live work.  This DVD is just the next logical bold step from this band in their adventure into the live scene. img What we have here is a real gem for fans of this band.  Even with their live performances, they've still only done a handful including a west coast tour and a few other performances, so in reality it's still a rather small group of people that have actually seen them live.  This DVD gives us all a chance to see a little bit more behind the scenes, their live show and some excellent videos.

The music from this band speaks for itself and for further information I'll refer the reader to the other reviews here on the music and the individual albums.  So we'll delve into the live performance and the features on this DVD for a bit here.  The stage presence of the live band is awesome, featuring live drums, kaRIN's captivating form, live guitars and as always, Statik sitting in the background kind of keeping everything together and providing all of the experimental electronic sounds.  Everyone performs well and lends their own talents so well to the stage performance.  This DVD captures this live performance very well providing multiple camera angles, nice shots of the audience and all of th performers.  This really ends up being one of the better live video shoots that I've seen, providing some up-close views as well as capturing the entire stage at once and really making the listener feel as if you're right there on the front row of the live show.  And while I would have loved to have been there in person, it's so convenient to watch it in the comfort of your own living room with the sound adjusted to your own preference.

Apart from the excellent live performance from this group with their concert at The El Rey venue, the DVD also contains a gold mine of other features.  These features include an excellent video interview in a couple of parts and different locations with Statik and kaRIN.  The interview gives the viewer not only some insight into how this duo pulls their music together, but also gives you a good look at them off the stage and out of the spotlight, especially when Statik finally loosens up and starts to actually talk in the latter part of the interviews.  The features include a huge photo gallery that plays in a slideshow with their music playing in the background featuring live and studio photos throughout their career.  The real treat for me had to be the actual bonus music videos including two versions of "Razor Sharp", the fun and strange video "Son of a Preacher Man", and "Euphoria", as well as a couple of bonus live videos and acoustic performances and videos "Modify" and "Deep".

That pretty much sums up the DVD in a nutshell.  I've spent hours going over this material, watching the live performance, digging through the photos, watching the music videos and interviews and know that I'll be able to spend hours more enjoying the material here.   Fans of this band absolutely have to pick up this DVD.

Rating: 4.5/5

Live At The El Rey - Review

What more of an introduction to this album can I give than what I have said about their DVD released at the same time.  It was a big step for this studio project to step out, find live performers and convert their music into something that a six-piece live group could play. img Through their respective talents and work they have pulled it off and this is their first live album released.  It features live performances from tracks throughout their entire career including a nice hour-long set spanning fifteen tracks.  This disc also includes a bonus track which is the "video edit" version of their recently popular piece "Euphoria".

When you listen to their studio albums, the listener is often lulled into a sweet sense of euphoria through the downtempo tracks that vary between this euphoric sense and the onslaught of electronics and guitars.  One thing that comes out of their live performance is a lot more energy, more grinding guitars and percussion.  At times this can really be over-the-top, which is great for an energy boost, especially while there in person, but I found the crashing cymbals at times began to wear on me while listening to the album, because the listener isn't always in a position where the adrenaline is pumping and you want to be right on the front row.  However, through all of this, kaRIN's vocals remain solid, strong and clear as if she were still right in the studio recording them.  Of course you're not going to get a lot of the vocal processing that goes on in the studio albums, but the overall mood is still there very solid and steady.

The track selection for their live playlist is an excellent choice of tracks including many of their popular tracks and featuring many of the more upbeat pieces.  Of course it just wouldn't be complete without "Razor Sharp", "Crushed", "Slither Thing", "Wings of Steel", their awesome cover of "White Rabbit" and the fun piece "The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum".  Their performance of this last track is awesome and is a great way to wind down the show, but it just wouldn't be complete without their finale "Euphoria", and so they close the show with this piece and once again we have another great work to enjoy for a long time to come.

Rating: 4/5

Vortex - Review

After the successful release of their previous album we're presented with the latest work from this unique group.  This is an exciting release for die-hard fans of this group.  imgIncluded in this work are two CDs packed full of great music contributed by these talented artists and many guest remixers.

The first disc is the most diverse and inclusive of the two.  This includes more exclusive tracks as well as several remixes of previous popular releases.  The "Emirian Mix" by Charlie Clouser of "Euphoria" kicks off this disc with the smooth, down-beat music backed by grinding guitars and deep, moving bass.  The layers and depth of the music on this remix go so well with Karin's smooth vocals, really adding new depth and style to this already excellent track.  This is a perfect way to start off this album with many more excellent works to follow with 26 tracks included in all.  Remixes on this disc delve into the dark and moody trip-hop styles that are typical of the original style of many songs by this group including the "Dull Mix" of "Razor Sharp" by Wade Allen and the "Amish Rake Fight Mix" by Mike Fisher of "Slither Thing".  These and many others really bring out the smooth and groovy feeling that the trip-hop genre is made of.  Others dig deep into the grinding elements of metal and heavy rhythm guitars while others drift into the EBM/Industrial realm slightly.  Each mix included on this disc is highly commendable.

Besides these remixes, there are a few cover tracks that are a nice treat.  The first is the fast-paced and hard-hitting track "Feed Me To The Lions" by Adam and the Ants.  The next is the fun song "The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum" by Fun Boy 3.  And the other more exclusive track is Collide's remix of "Predator" by the popular industrial group Front Line Assembly.

The next disc has some good remixes but it becomes a bit more repetative and I feel the remixes weren't quite as good as those included on the first disc.  However, each of these are still commendable in many ways.  Some for the unique spin they took on the original tracks and other for the way they were able to maintain the original style with a slight spin-off in the remixes.  Also, there are only seven unique tracks out of the thirteen, with the others as repeat remixes, many appearing on the first disc.

My favorite is the remarkable cover version of "Haunted" originally by Love and Rockets.  I really enjoy the smooth twist they've put on the music coupled with Karin's vocals.  And they stay true to the original in so many ways that it just makes the cover that much more enjoyable.

Once again this stellar group have managed to pull off something really great with the help of all of the guest remixers.  I highly commend both Collide for the original songs, the covers and their own remixes as well as those remixes done by the guests.  If you've ever enjoyed anything by Collide this would be the perfect album to buy whether you're a new fan or old.

Rating: 4/5

Some Kind of Strange - Review

After a break of three years since Chasing the Ghost, we're presented with yet another solid work from this duo.  As the name of the album might suggest, they manage to bend and distort boundaries even more with imgSome Kind of Strange music on this release.

From the first soft and dreamy notes, you might think you were about to listen to a steady dose of dreamy trip hop.  But then the guitars kick in on this track, and as it is aptly titled, you are almost Crushed under the pressure of the intense feeling that's portrayed in this track.  This sets the mood that permeates this album, quite slow or mid-tempo as powerful percussion, grinding guitars and the smooth vocals permeate and cut through all of the distortion like a sharp sword.  Euphoria kicks off as another dreamy track that slowly builds with layered electronics and subdued percussion.  This holds true to its style and I would say the majority of the album stays more with this subtle trip-hop sound.  But you can count on plenty of industrial loops and guitar riffs on just about each song to keep up the intensity.

As with previous releases you can count on plenty of power in each track, they really stick with a slower tempo.  There really isn't anything here that really stands out as a powerful club track, except as appropriate during the slower sets.  From the steady beat of "Somewhere" to the sultry "Slither Thing", the trip hop element is the solid piece that you can find throughout the album.  Everything else drifts in and out, moving back and forth from one style to another.  So while there is variety, it never picks up to the faster beat that club-goers might enjoy.  But this is great for listening to at other times, and I think the listener has to realize while there are general distortion and industrial elements, they are more of a downbeat style.

Along with the solid material that this duo provides us, they also have a number of prominent guest musicians.  Just to name a couple, many will recognize cEvin Key (Skinny Puppy) doing live drums on "Euphoria" and Danny Carey (Tool) playing live drums on "Somewhere".

I highly recommend this among fans of trip hop and those that enjoy generally downbeat music with a bit of an edge to it.  There is plenty of edge on this album!

Rating: 4/5

Website: www.collide.net
Label: Noiseplus Music

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