Originally formed in 1999 as an Industrial/Triphop project by Donna Lynch and Steven Archer, Ego Likeness was bound to please as they gained more exposure in the underground music scene. Now they are a solid staple in the North American goth/industrial scene. Their style has evolved somewhat over the years through what was released on their debut album Dragonfly, which they later followed up with Water to the Dead, quickly followed by The Order of the Reptile and in the summer of 2010 with Breedless. They went through various personal struggles, but 2015 finally brought us the powerful album When The Wolves Return. Their style is not meant to fit into one specific genre, and thus spans many of the underground music genres and should please many enthusiasts of the various Gothic related genres of music.
It has been exciting to watch the fame and exposure of this group grow over the past several years from the release of their debut album and growing exposure with each new release and as they've been able to tour more. I think a big break came in the form of being able to release all of their works on Dancing Ferret Discs which gained them more exposure and listeners all over the world. Since Dancing Ferret went defunct, they signed on with Metropolis Records for their subsequent releases and continue to go strong. While Donna and Steven remain the core of the band, they have added other members for live shows for a fuller live band or on various albums. With these lineups they have been able to develop a full and rich sound and have opened up many opportunities to play live on stage.
Donna and Steven are also involved in an experimental side-project called The Trinity Project. Click here to see a review of their 2003 album from this project.
You can hear various tracks from this group on both Gothic Paradise radio shows... so be sure to check them out!
When The Wolves Return - Review
After a fairly long wait, we're finally presented with a new full-length album from this band. They've released a couple of EP's in the meantime since our last review, and we've featured tracks from these on our radio shows, but it's great to have a new full album to enjoy. In today's digital media world, you don't often enjoy the full album, but rather just selections here and there and so it seems they become more and more of a rare thing, so it's a pleasure to have this one spanning a dozen powerful pieces that are easily recognized with the Ego Likeness signature sound.
As with all albums, this one has it's jewels mixed in with a treasure trove of great music. The slightly experimental roots come out early on in "Leave A Light On, Thomas", yet we're launched into the heavy, rocks sounds that has become mmore and more the foundation to this band's style. "Darkness" really comes out strong and is an instant favorite on the album. While sporting a typical rock beat and layered synths with driving guitars, it's melodic and dripping with dark and brooding emotions that Donna's vocals are able to portray, creating a thick and heavy atmosphere that remains through the rest of the album. While the beats keep moving along, as we get to "New Legion" we hit another stellar piece that stands out from the others. Maybe it's the heavier, grinding guitars that really give it a bombastic sound, or maybe it's Donna's heartfelt vocals that present the provocative and thought-provoking lyrics on this track.
The album drives on relentlessly, sometimes broken up slightly with a varied beat or variation in mood, but always driving and intense. As we hit "Crossed" we get a break from the moving, driving beats a bit with a mid-tempo, yet very heavy piece. The mix of guitars and pulsating electronics really keep the fierce intensity on this track going strong with the slower beat. This gives way back to the steady electro-pop rhythms on "Persona Non Grata" released previously on the East EP. This is followed by another previously released selection "Treacherous Thing" appearing on it's self-titled EP. As the album winds down we're presented with a special treat as the finale to the album with the title track "When The Wolves Return". I've always been a fan of their down-tempo, ballad-like pieces and this one is no exception. Though this piece is extremely dark, the brooding emotions are so thick you can feel them emanating from the music as we listen to the eerie piano and ambient background track while Donna's heavily reverberated vocals slowly tell the tale. As if the dark and brooding nature weren't enough, the intensity really builds on this piece with added layer upon layer of dark, symphonic and bombastic elements as the vocals just get more and more sincere, pleading and stronger. After hitting a powerful climax, it all fades out slowly into a dark melancholy and the listener is left breathless, checking for life, a pulse... anything as you feel as if your soul were just sucked out. This is a great ending to another excellent album from these talented artists. If you haven't picked it up yet, you're missing out, what are you waiting for?!
Breedless - Review
It's great to continue to get new music from this band as their creative juices just seem to keep flowing. If you buy the full packaged album it comes with a nice booklet with some photos and artwork along with all of the lyrics and album credits. Packed together with a disc full of a dozen nice tracks, it's a great package worth picking up.
Overall the basic dance-friendly, moving electro-goth style remains the focus and foundation for this album with "Sirens and Satellites" setting the mood and pace for the album as a whole. While all of their albums delve into the mystical and mythical elements, this album really seems to have a solid base of this content. The musical style, lyrical content and Donna's excellent vocals create a perfect package for fans of these musical styles. While the driving beats continue on through "Breedless" and "Inferno", it's really great to hear something with a slight trip-hop rhythm to it underneath the layers of guitars and electronics on "Now Until Forever". These pieces that break slightly from the status quo on this album stand out a bit and have become favorites of mine. After the onslaught of "The Devils In The Chemical" we're brought to the dark and thought-provoking ballad "Song for Samael". This piece brings out subtle dark ambient music as a backdrop while Donna's beautiful vocals lay out the lamentation that this song becomes.
As the album drives on "South" becomes another of these pieces that breaks the mold slightly, slowly moving along and building finally near the end to a full climax with the grinding guitars and solid beats. This darker mood continues on in "The Lowest Place On Earth" and continues to build the album up with another diverse piece. While there are many great pieces that continue to be enjoyable, as the music and album moves along, "The Queen Of All Things Taken" stands out as another favorite toward the end of the album. After moving through several somewhat diverse pieces, this piece continues on with another emotional onslaught of great music layered with guitars, somber and subtle electronics and diverse beats all allowing Donna to sing her siren song for another great masterpiece. However, like many albums before, it's the finale to the album that becomes yet another favorite, somber, dreamy piece. "Thirty-Year War" fits this mold perfectly and brings this album to a close in majestic, yet beautiful style. And there we have another great album that I think people should really enjoy and add to their collection of solid albums from Ego Likeness.
Order of the Reptile - Review
I've become something of an enthusiast of this band over the years ever since the release of their debut album Dragonfly on their own label Angelfall Studios. It took such a long time for their follow-up album to be released that I was actually pleasantly surprised with the news of the release of this album relatively soon. So we now have the disc available and it's presented with eleven tracks, most of which are moving and somewhat homogenous with slight variation. We also have a special treat with a multimedia track of the video of "Aviary". Having just recently watched the Hitchcock classic movie Birds, I felt this was a perfect song and video to go with the mood after see that classic movie.
The album kicks right off with "Weave" which presents a short intro and then jumps right into the moving beats and resonating guitars providing the backdrop for Donna's smooth vocals. This really becomes the foundation of the album as most tracks from "Burn Witch Burn", "Smothered", "Save Your Serpent", "Severine" and "Seventy-Nine" all follow this pattern of a sort of electro beat mixed with some gothic elements, and driving guitars. I would mostly draw a comparison with the latest works from The Cruxshadows with this mix of the electro beat and guitars forming the overall style of the music.
While all of these standard tracks are great and fans of related bands will enjoy all of these pieces, it's also nice to have some great variety in the form of "Aviary" with it's spooky, slower mid-tempo style and the more ethereal folk piece "Seventy-Nine" and their awesome cover of "Afterhours", an old, rarely heard Sisters of Mercy song. A favorite of mine is the moving piece "The Foolish Man Who Has No Home", which deviates from the other up-beat tracks on the album for a nice diversion.
This wraps up the album and once again this band has made some improvements and some changes. I would love a few more of the captivating ethereal folk pieces, but what we're presented is another great work. Be sure to check out the album and pick up their full discography.
Water to the Dead - Review
It has been a seemingly long wait for this new album to finally come out. After the excellent music presented in Dragonfly, those of us who have really enjoyed this debut work have been waiting anxiously for something else to follow. Now that I have it in my hands and often in my CD player, I am convinced they have continued to progress and liven their sound with their full lineup and new experience.
I could probably refer readers to the review of the debut album and pretty much sum up my feelings for this work. The subtle combination of a moving beat, a bit of gothic rock, industrial and synths all blend together for a rich and full sound. Donna's vocals are often slightly distorted adding a bit of an edge to each song. Steve contributes his vocals on "Above the Soil" and backup on "The Breach" for a deeper sound on each of these. The pace on the first 7 tracks remains upbeat and dance-friendly. I have several favorites among these, "Water to the Dead" is one that really moves you and very fast. But among these I really enjoy "Isabel" as it slowly flows with Donna's smooth vocals and gradually builds into a powerful crescendo.
Once we get past these up-beat songs, we drift into the dreamy world of the last four, which have quickly become my favorites on the album. "Axis" provides the turning point and sets the pace for these final masterpieces. "Traveling Son" moves along slowly but builds into a powerful ballad with crashing cymbols and grinding guitars providing the backdrop for the powerful vocals belting out the lyrics with full emotion and feeling. This leaves the listener almost drained, yet yearning for more and "Wolves" provides that final kick. A simple, but beauitful piano loop and slight electronic soundscapes are the canvas for Donna's gut-wrenching vocals that slice through the air. I am at a loss for words to explain how much I enjoy this piece, you just have to hear it to believe it's utterly simple beauty. This leads us to the wonderful grand finale of this album "Wayfaring Stranger" which is a traditional southern folk hymn. We're left again with Donna's beautiful rendition of this song, remaining true to the original feeling and intent, something very precious and enjoyable to be taken to heart.
I don't know how to sum this up anymore than just to say "good job" to this wonderful group. The music remains creative and brings out the great talents and potential of this group. Maybe they'll be closer to perfection on the next release, this one comes close and really shows the progression and maturity of this group as they've grown and come together so well.
Dragonfly - Review
When presented with an album to review like this one, you're always faced with the problem of how to describe it to the readers in such a way that they can catch the vision of the sound contained therein, and then, give an objective opinion on the music, vocals, lyrics and production. This album presents no easy task, with its vast range of styles combined with raw talent.
We're presented in this album with a large combination of varying styles, all pretty much summed up in a broad "Electro-Goth" genre which spans a bit of Industrial, Triphop, Gothic and Darkwave styles. Taking the best bits of each genre and making a sort of melodic conglomeration. This all begins with a short spoken word piece melded with various industrial sounds in the background in the track "a different kind of loss". Even though the rest of the album is all musically oriented, this track seems to set the stage in the depths of the music that is presented on the rest of the disc.
There are a few tracks that really stand out as excellent works on this album. The first includes "hydra" which is simplistic in nature, a simple electro-pop beat, but with the combination of male vocals on the lyrics and female vocals in the background, it certainly adds some depth to the sound. The next track and probably my favorite on this album is "second skin". This features the dominant female vocals with layered female vocals, distant, faded drums and a nice beat. Of all the tracks I would say this is the most club friendly with the nice paced-beat, bits of guitar and excellent style. Another of my favorite tracks that is more of a down-tempo track is "too many empty nests" which ventures into the Ethereal Goth arena.
But don't let my subjective opinion on these tracks imply that any of the other tracks are less appealing. With so many styles to choose from, it's obvious that people will appreciate the various other tracks as much or more. One of the most powerful triphop tracks that I've heard for awhile, yet staying within the Gothic arena is "The Ocean Beside Us". And that's not the only one, this album is packed with rare goodies. So, get out and track down this album.. buy it directly from the artist and put money in their pocket to be able to keep releasing more music. Another thing to note here is that while the studio work is done mostly by this duo, their live show includes quite a few more band members, so if you have a chance to see them live, don't miss it... I know I look forward to it.
The Trinity Project - The Subtle Movements of the Entropy Engine - Review
The Trinity Project is a side-project for Steven, Donna Lynch and Justin "Dingo" Sabe, members of Ego Likeness. This album is the follow up to the 1999 self-titled debut album. It combines elements of drum-n-bass, dark ambient noise, spoken word and darkwave elements all together to form an interesting collage of musical talent.
The album starts out with the 20-minute long title track wich is a collage of just about every style of music that I feature on Gothic Paradise. This may sound strange, but it all blends together so well that it really is an enjoyable piece of experimental music. It begins with a bit of ambient music that ebbs and flows that gives way eventually to samples of spoken word and dark ambient noise which then builds up to an instrumental industrial piece laced with other elements of drum-n-bass. These elements all blend and extend throughout the entire track up until the final minutes as it finally fades and ends.
The rest of the album is a combination of spoken word pieces like "50 Degrees Longitude 85 Degrees Lattitude" and songs that are a bit less experimental, like the very enjoyable "The World Below" which almost follows suit perfectly with Ego Likeness material. Every range in between is exhibited in the various tracks, around 4-5 minutes each with various experimental elements in them.
The overall quality of the album is very nice. This isn't for your casual Electro-Goth/Industrial listener, you have to have a taste for the experimental styles to enjoy this album. But if you do, then you'll appreciate the uniqueness involved in the spoken word, drum-n-bass and various musical elements. D. Lynch's vocals add a nice touch to several tracks.
I've included selections from this album on my Gothic Paradise Ethereal show where they seem to fit best. If you enjoy experimental music, spoken word and various instrumentals, then you'll enjoy this album. I give it a really good rating for it's broad range of music and styles, nice production and overall quality.
The Trinity Project: www.thetrinityproject.org
Label: Metropolis Records