Engelsstaub have been around for quite a while, but unfortunately they are not heard of very much here in the USA. This is definitely a shame, because this group has an excellent talent and style that crosses the borders of Gothic and Ethereal music into another realm. The band originally formed in 1992 out of the remains of Les Fleurs Du Mal which included much of the same lineup. Often with themes of Angels, devils and various things spiritual and supernatural, Mark Hoffman (founder) brings us into a wonderful realm of music and imagination. Accompanied often by the beautiful female vocals of Silke and Janusz's harsh polish vocals, each song spans centuries of beautiful music to bring the listener into their world.
They have six full-length albums out including a re-issue of Ignis Fatuus: Irrlichter with all new recordings, along with a couple of other eps and special works appearing on one with Ataraxia. We recommend all works they have out, as they all feature very good music crossing various genre boundaries. They have been able to impress with many songs from each of their great albums through their long history. They have had a permanent place on the Gothic Paradise radio shows, so hopefully more and more people are becoming familiar with this excellent group.
Nachtwärts - Review
It's been another very long wait for some good, new material from this band. We did have the re-issue of their Ignis Fatuus: Irrlichter album which is a definite favorite for us here. But here we have all new material, building on their mix of classic goth, neo-classical, ethereal and some of the newer electronic styles they've been infusing into their music lately. Spanning nine solid tracks, we get about 45 minutes of great new music.
After highly anticipating what would be included on this release, I have to say I was not disappointed. Most of the tracks are built on the foundation of favorite pieces from the past two decades from the slightly classic, goth sound, to the more modern mix of layered electronics. The best mix of medieval, modern and neo-classical appears on several pieces, including "Deep Inside" and "Nocturnal Conversation". Building also on these styles and adding a modern twist and even something of a dance-friendly beat, but still being firmly rooted in the styles of the famous "Victim of Love" track, is a new classic in the form of "Intempesta" which kicks off right after the excellent introductory track "Carpe Noctem".
Other favorites include the hauntingly dark and beautiful "Lullaby", also featuring all of the aforementioned favorite mix instruments, classic and modern electronics, a slow and somber beat and Silke's dreamy vocals. "Momento Mori" follows along seemlessly, moving along slowly again in that haunting fashion. And that brings us to the self-titled track, the finale to the album "Nachtwaerts". Serving as an outro or ending to the album, it winds it all down nicely with the somber mix of dreamy, yet dark musical styles for a nice ending to a great album.
Overall this is a great album. It's great to hear the classic styles that we've grown to love remain alive and strong on this disc. A couple of more pieces would have been nice for a little more to enjoy, but at least we have something after such a long wait.
Akashic Recordings - Review
After over three years of waiting, we're presented with something new from this excellent group. This newest work comes in the form of highlights from the past, including works with Les Fleurs Du Mal, present, including some of the newer music not released on their albums and future, including some previously unreleased material. I really like the concept behind this album because it goes beyond a "best of" and just presents us with various compilation appearances and different mixes of some of their great tracks. Being a great long-time fan of this group, this album is a real treat for me.
With some text explaining a little bit about each track, the listener can gain some insight into the history and origination of each song. The album starts off with "Kissed By God" which is a slightly different mix of the version included on the debut album Malleus Maleficarum. This is also one of the popular moving tracks from that same album and this version has that same moving rhythm and dark tone. "Hell On Earth" is an excellent dark instrumental with various cello and percussion that make it an excellent ritualistic-type track. Also included along this same style and concept are "Untitled", "Our Father" and a reprise-style version of "Hell On Earth" with "Earth In Hell". "Alone" takes the group into a classic gothic rock sound with excellent guitars and a nice beat. "The Return" continues on in that popular style that made the band so famous with their hit "Victim of Love". This excellent medieval, dark-folk style is probably when the group is at their best.
Every song from this album is a highlight for me, but it's a special treat that they included their cover of "Mothers of the Disappeared" with a slightly more electronic sound than we're used to from this mostly dark folk, medieval and gothic-oriented band. But going way beyond that is the best highlight on this album, their excellent cover of the synthpop classic by Visage, and my favorite song from this classic group "The Damned Don't Cry". The original version is great synthpop that went way beyond their time back when it was released, but the cover on this album goes way beyond what I ever expected in a powerful synthpop style that is totally unexpected from Engelsstaub. I highly commend them for their efforts in wonderfully pulling off this great cover.
I can go on for quite a while about this album. Everything included on it is great from their classic sound all the way up through their newest tracks that are just excellent. Go out and get this album!