Hailing from Germany, this very popular took the Industrial dance floors and scene by storm with their highly acclaimed releases from their very first albums. First were a number of demo and local dj releases, then the popular Snuff EP and their debut album Stronghold. This group originally started in 1996 and currently consists of members Carsten Jacek (vocals and lyrics) and Thomas "tom" Lesczenski (music and backing vocals) and Francesco 'Frank' D'Angelo (Keyboards). Over the next few years the group would solidify their base with the current lineup and start writing some great music. The club hit "Snuff Machinery" came about over the next three years and the fame of this hit spread across the country, but they still did not have a solid record deal and album. Over the next couple of years they signed with the famed Zoth Ommog label, but faced more frustration with the dissolution of the same that year. Finally after appearing in concert with XPQ-21 as supporting act for VNV Nation, they attracted the attention of many labels. They ended up signing with Accession Records and in early 2002 they released the famed Snuff EP. This release launched them into the global Industrial club scene and they are well on their way to a promising musical career if they keep up what they have accomplished so far.
The band continues to create more music and they have released a number of other maxi-Cds and in 2005 we were finally presented with their sophomore album Coded Message:12. This would be followed up in 2007 with their work bestie:mensch , 2009 with Rot and following the same pattern of two year releases Icon:Koru appeared in 2011. And so their career marches on as they continue to produce their unique and powerful style of EBM/Industrial music.
Those that have heard the popular club track "Snuff Machinery" are well aware of the solid Industrial dance music that this group is able to produce. With solid rhythms and excellent synth loops they bring out the very best of the EBM, Industrial and Synthpop genres and combine them into dark, melodic danceable music. Like many groups of the same genres their lyrics focus on various social issues as they try to deal with these day-to-day questions and problems. SITD stands for Shadows in the Dark, and like their name would suggest, they follow this dark, emotional style. The music is captivating and forceful in portraying these sentiments and messages as it all comes together for an enjoyable sound that rivetheads all over the world will love. Be sure to catch selections on the Gothic Paradise Club radio show.
Ikon:Koru - Review
Right on schedule after a two-year wait, we were presented with this latest album in 2011. Never slowing down and sticking with their tried and true style of crunching beats and styles spanning EBM, Industrial and driving Synthpop, this album features eleven captivating pieces that should make any fan happy. For the most part the structure and content is predictable which can be a good thing, allowing the fans to know what to expect to a certain extent, yet they have created all new tracks here, unique in their own light, yet holding true to that style we've grown to enjoy over the years.
The album starts off with dark, ambient introduction that slowly builds with pulsating synths and percussion, creating a nice intro and segue to the powerful piece "Code:Red". As one of the many tracks on this album that stands out as a real masterpiece, layered with the heavy mix of dark electronics and beats with a nice melodic symphonic background all providing the tapestry for the heavy, slightly distorted or angry-sounding vocals. Others that stand out amongst the crowd include "State of Tyranny" with the very fast-paced beat and the socially anchored lyrics driven to the heart with the intense vocals and driving music. This gives way to the melodic, driving synthpop piece "Beacon of Hope". As with other albums we get the occasional switch in vocal styles and on this one it's accompanied by a hyper-intense piece with swooshing synths, driving beats and heavy electronics after a long building sequence for the final track spanning nearly seven minutes.
At this point we reach sort of a mid-way point and the album moves along with a couple of heavy german tracks in "Atemlos" and "Dystopie" before presenting us with a heavy instrumental piece "Dark Defender" laced with elements of drum n' bass and power noise. As the album starts to wind down "Sonic Barrier" stands out a bit from the others with a very somber, slowly building piece with the clear, melodic vocals. After about halfway through the track everything kicks in for another stellar masterpiece in layered electronics, driving dance-friendly beats for an excellent electro-pop piece dripping with emotion and sentimental lyrics matched by the vocals. This brings us to the closing piece which is another instrumental with a mix of dark piano, layers of various synthesized strings and other electronics for a nice ending to another great album from this band.
I think overall it's predictable, yet with each track bringing a unique new selection to this band's catalog of excellent music, there's definitely plenty to choose from here to enjoy. Listened to in it's entirety in sequence also brings about the perfect moods and feelings that I think the band took the time to construct and is best experienced as a whole, yet various tracks stand well on their own and should be familiar to Gothic Paradise listeners.
Rot - Review
Never slowing down, this band continues strong releasing great new music every couple of years. In this standard edition release of the album we have eleven apocalyptic industrial tracks. The deluxe edition comes with a bonus disc with seven other tracks that would basicly be the Rot EP with various remixes of "Rot" and a couple of other pieces.
For fans of this band everything on this album will be somewhat familiar as the same solid style that was first established over a decade ago remains prominent on this disc. From beginning to end we're bombarded with an onslaught of dark pulsating synths and heavy percussion, even in the slow beginnings of "The Insanity of Normality" the elements are present as we build up to the first club-friendly piece "Catharsis (Heal Me)". There's plenty of this foot-stomping, body wrything music on this album with their heavy, trademark sound with harsh vocals layered over the top. A few pieces that immediately jumped out at me was the aforementioned piece "Catharsis (Heal Me)", but it's hard to beat the title track "Rot V1.0" with it's heavy beats and driving electronics. The instrumental piece "Pride" is another stellar mix of dynamic electronics with layer upon layer of synth moody, dark synth loops and driving beats. "Redemption" jumped out at me with it's introductory onslaught of pulsating sounds, but that's just the icing on the cake as this piece really moves once we get past the initial introduction. This is also one of the few tracks that appears per album where they set aside the harshness for melodic clear vocals. This is always an added bonus for those that enjoy this cleaner approach. While the entire album is really great, the final track on the album is the last piece that realy stands out, and is another that features these clear vocals. It lacks the pounding beats and is amost a downtempo ballad, but the rhythm is still fairly fast-paced through the use of the throbbing electronics for a great finale to the album.
In summary this is another stellar album that continues to make this band one of the great electronic bands of the new millenium. For fans of the heavy, pounding beats and layered electronics, this is definitely a perfect addition to any collection.
bestie:mensch - Review
This awesome german electro-pop band is back with another excellent album. They continue on their tried and true tradition that has developed over the years and resulted in the culmination of this, their latest work. Sporting eleven solid, heavy-hitting electro-pop tracks, this album is sure to be another collector's item among the hundreds of poor imitation releases that we're bombarded with every day.
As has been proven with their previous works, this is not just another EBM, Industrial crossover group, this band takes their talents and puts it to work and does things well. "Herbsterwachen" kicks off this album and shows how their solid sound remains solid as it slowly builds with electronics, a driving, heavy beat and bassline along with a mix of the heavy, raspy vocals mixed with another melodic tenor voice. This latter vocal style has been present at times in previous albums, but it seems to come out more on this album making this a clear choice for synthpop music enthusiasts, though it still remains very emotionally charged and moody, with heavy industrial influences for fans of this heavier musical style.
As with each of their previous works I can listen to the entire album over and over again and just find more and more jewels and elements to enjoy. The mix of german and english vocals makes it a nice mix for a national and international audience. The lyrical content remains thought-provoking and serious with the emotions shining through the mix of vocal styles, layered electronics and driven home with the pulsating rhythms and pounding beats. Though it is somewhat moody in nature, it all remains uplifting and fun with the dance-friendly beat and excellent musical compositions.
It's hard to highlight favorites on an album where every track remains solid and stellar, but a few have stood out a bit from the others in one way or another. The first couple of pieces "Herbsterwachen" and "Stammhein" are excellent in their mid-tempo, heavily layered synth structured approach. But the downtempo piece "Telepathic" breaks the mold and keeps things interesting. However, the standout highlight to the album has to be "Kreuzgang" with it's heavy beats and moving, dance-friendly pace with the vocals that include the album title as a sort of anthem call. In similar style "Direction:North" is very moody and touching with vocoded vocals over a solid foundation of electronics. There are several downtempo pieces that many fans will enjoy, I found them as a nice interlude from the pounding rhythms of many of the other pieces.
As originally pointed out, this is another great work that fans will really enjoy. I know for me it's a definite collectors piece that will be enjoyed for many years to come.
coded message:12 - Review
With a short break after their album Stronghold, this talented band is back again with another stellar work. The press release mentions that the title Coded Message:12 is not only the title, but the theme of this album as they explore the "significance of the number 12". The album contains twelve tracks of haunting electronic anthems that explore various issues and just present an excellent variety of EBM/Industrial music.
The introduction presents Adrian Hates of Diary of Dreams doing spoken word against a backdrop of haunting synths as the "Curtain Raiser". This gives way to "Brand Of Cain" launching us right into the emotional, harsh vocals and layered tapestries of dance-friendly beats setting the pace and driving the multi-tiered electronics and synths. "Richtfest" is the first single from this album (on Accession Records) and is aptly chosen with it's solid beats and powerful elements.
After hearing just these three tracks I knew that the band had picked up just where they left off with Stronghold and were presenting us a continuation of their excellent music. The themes vary slightly from track to track and alternate somewhat between german and english lyrics. All of this mixes well as the moods and tempo also shift throughout including the mid-tempo, but solid track "Upstairs" or the excellent instrumental dance track "Plastination City" with various spoken word samples throughout.
There are plenty of dancefloor tracks on the album, but it's obvious that is not the ultimate goal of this album. As each selection suggests through the lyrics, there is a message to be presented in the music. Each listener can hear and interpret for themselves as each word is driven into the soul with each pounding beat and melancholy melody.
It's hard to pick a favorite track from this album. Nothing really stands out like the club hit "Snuff Machinery", but each selection is monumental in it's own way. The overal backbone of this band is the powerful way they can make music speak behind and in addition to the thoughtful lyrics. As each synth, bassline, pounding beat and melodic element bomes together it forms a meaningful and often beautiful, but mostly forceful canvas and backdrop for the final message and goal of the music. "Relief" stands out as Tom takes the vocal lead with crisp and clear vocals for a change which is excellent. This piece has become something of a favorite after listening to the album several times. "Ascension" delves back into the harsher style with Carsten back with his distorted vocals, but backed by the same powerful music. This wraps up the album as we drift into "The Final Curtain" with Adrian Hates once again lending his deep voice for the spoken word piece to finalize the album.
Once again, this band has produced an excellent album and while I enjoy this and their previous works, I look forward to what more they will present us with!
Stronghold - Review
With the release of the Snuff EP I was immediately captivated by this group and was left longing for more. It has been over a year since that release and I finally have the long-awaited album Stronghold in my CD player. With the EP being one of my favorite maxi/EPs ever released, this album had a lot to live up to. I've listened to it over and over again several times and I still haven't been let down. So for fans of Industrial dance music, look out, this is the one you've been waiting for!
"Epitome" starts it all off with vocoded spoken robotic vocals repeating "a yell of rage and suddenly all hell broke loose" with the slowly pulsating music flowing and building up to what is one of the best albums of the year. "Laughingstock" builds on the solid distorted industrial percussion as a foundation as the frustrated and thoughtful lyrics are belted out through emotionally distorted vocals. This is the second single from this album and is well-deserved with its structure and the message as we continue face problems like occurred in Columbine. The music and lyrics continue pounding out the message from "Lebensborn" focusing on the horrendous Lebensborn centers where children were transferred to be "germanized" and most were finally exterminated.
While each of these tracks are catchy and the emotional lyrics portray the message well coupled with the pounding beats and synthesizers pulsating, there are a few highlights that are obvious favorites for me. Most of these come later on in the album with the album version of "Snuff Machinery" being a real favorite of mine. For those familiar with the Snuff EP this version builds up slowly as the melancholy synths flow and give way to the catchy rhythm and loops of this track. Another favorite of mine on this album is the awesome track "Rose-Coloured Skies". This phenomenal piece of work keeps the solid Industrial/EBM musical foundation but the distorted vocals give way to clear melodic vocals layered with feeling and strong emotion that really portray this track in such a way that is extremely mesmerizing and enjoyable. "Hurt" is another track that was included on the Snuff EP and here we're presented with the exclusive album version which is quite a bit different in overall structure from the EP version. Still maintaining that solid base we loved on the EP, there is a lot more of an intro and melodic structures added to this version making it so much more enjoyable.
The rest of the album is great with each track deserving special mention, but in the interest of space and time I'll let each listener form their own opinion as I hope that any fan of great Industrial dance music will go right out and pick up this album. It's well worth it!
European Label: Accession Records
North American Label: Metropolis Records