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October 22, 2004

Elis: Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky

Elis: Dark Clouds in a Perfect SkyCD, Napalm Records 2004

Track list: Der Letzte Tag - Anger - Lost Soul - Perfect Love - Heart in Chains - Die Zeit - Black Angel - Devil Inside You - Rebirth - Are You Missing Me - Ballade

Elis hails from Liechtenstein. Group was formed around vocalist Sabine Dünser, who has a pretty voice and good looks. Their style is basically goth metal, with a twist or two. Sabine sings both in German and English. Unfortunately German is in a minor role, as I much preferred those songs with their lovely darkwave vibe. Still, if one's looking for some goth metal with female vocals, one could do worse than pick Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky. ***

September 01, 2004

Theatres des Vampires: Nightbreed of Macabria

Theatres des Vampires: Nightbreed of MacabriaCD, Blackend 2004

Track list: Welcome to Macabria - A Macabre Banquet - Lady in Black - Angel of Lust - Luciferia - Incubo #1 - Macabria - The Jesters Shadow - The Golden Sin - Carnival Day - Incubo #2 - The Curse of Headless Christ - Mourning Day - The Undertaker & the Crow - The Beginning of the End - La Danse Macabria du Vampire

I don't quite see Blackend as a goth label. Thus, it's no surprise when Theatres des Vampires turns out to be pretty bad... It's something of a hybrid goth metal, but fails as both. The metal parts are worse than average and the goth parts even worse. The vocalists suck and the album's too long, too. There is, indeed, little good in this album. **

August 23, 2004

Lacrimas Profundere: Ave End

Lacrimas Profundere: Ave EndCD, Napalm Records 2004

Track list: One Hope's Evening - Ave End - To Bleed or not to Be - Sarah Lou - Amber Girl - Testified - Astronautumn - Evade - Wake Down - Black - Come, Solitude

Ave End is an example of elegant gothic rock. The emphasis is slightly more on gothic than rock, but the album is still rather groovy. The vocalist lacks uniqueness, but sounds very good nonetheless. The most obvious problem with the album is the lack of really good songs - there are no instantly recognisable hits and that's a shame, because Ave End would've been a five-star album with even one or two good hits. Now the general mood of the album and the generally good quality of the tracks is quite enough of four stars. ****

July 03, 2004

Suruaika: Nekropoli

Suruaika: NekropoliCD, Cyberware Productions 2004

Track list: Jotain kylmää - Uudet kauhut - Syysmorsian - Kun kaikki nukkuvat - Joku valvoo meitä - Hampaat - Uskottomuudesta - Meidän täytyy kuolla - Viisi tuntia - Toinen puoli - Kummitusjuna - Lunta elokuussa

It's been two years since the previous Suruaika album. The wait has been worth the while, because the new album is even better. Suruaika doesn't rely on classic Sisters of Mercy style, but draws from Killing Joke, Bauhaus and the Finnish arch-goths Musta Paraati. Musta Paraati -connection is made even more obvious when the band records - for the first time ever - Musta Paraati track "Toinen puoli", featuring Paraati drummer Ykä. One surprising connection I hear is to early Yö. The result is a very good and fresh album. ****

June 27, 2004

The Wounded: Atlantic

The Wounded: AtlanticCD, Ebony Tears 2004

Track list: Hollow World - 18 Carat Dust - Running on Empty - Day of Joy - Northern Lights - Prelude - Smells Like Teen Spirit - We Are Darker - Atlantic

I thought The Wounded's debut album The Art of Grief was pretty decent. Atlantic is their third go, and they have clearly improved. Atlantic is actually a very good goth rock album, one of the best I've heard recently. the songwriting is excellent, there's a good cover pick and the album just sounds great. Marco van der Velde is also an excellent vocalist with a personal sound. This one's highly recommended for fans of goth rock! ****

April 23, 2004

Cure, The: Disintegration

The Cure: DisintegrationCD, Fiction Records 1989

Track list: Plainsong - Pictures of You - Closedown - Lovesong - Last Dance - Lullaby - Fascination Street - Prayers for Rain - The Same Deep Water as You - Disintegration - Homesick - Untitled

While I'm not quite sure if I agree with the South Park assesment of this album ("Disintegration is the best album ever"), it's certainly one of the best albums The Cure has ever made (my other favourites include Faith, Pornography, Boys Don't Cry and Wish). Good songs and what's best, it's chock full of atmosphere. It is very much what Cure does best, really. Such a shame it took me so long before I finally bought it (but Cure albums have always been surprisingly expensive in Finland, for some reason). *****

April 16, 2004

Dargaard: Rise And Fall

Dargaard: Rise And FallCD, Napalm Records 2004

Track list: Rise and Fall - Bearer of the Flame - Niobe - Takhisis Dance - Winter - Ave Atque Vale - Queen of the Woods - Ancestors of Stone - The Halls of Dargaard (bonus track)

Dargaard's gloomy ambient atmospherics leave me cold, for some reason. In it's genre the album is pretty good: the atmosphere is strong and the arrangements mighty and epic. However, the vocalist Elisabeth Toriser's voice is too weak in my opinion, especially when contrasted with the mighty background. Also, the album is rather boring. It makes a good background, but it's not interesting enough to listen to. Fans of the genre will probably appreciate this more than I do. **

April 14, 2004

Fall of the Leafe: Volvere

Fall of the Leafe: VolvereCD, Rage of Achilles 2004

Track list: A Waiting Room Snap - If Mirrors Leave Men in Crumbs - Enemy Simulator - Pillar of the Sun - Song from the Second Floor - More Like a Situation - Hell's Silence - Big Ol' Fat Rain Inside - Security Locks Are Good - Guilt Threat - Cut the Smoke

Volvere is already the fourth album of this Finnish group. I have never heard of them, perhaps because their earlier albums were published by somewhat small-ish labels. It's a shame, if they were as good as this one. Volvere is an impressive album. Their style is basically metal or heavy rock, with gloomy gothic rock tones. Their vocalist has a curious style, which I like and which brings lots of flavor for this album. If you're into goth metal, check this out, it's worth it. ****

April 13, 2004

Closterkeller: Nero

Closterkeller: NeroCD, Metal Mind 2004

Track list: Watching as You Drown - Fight Club - As I Glide - Like Rain Against Stone - Queen - He Comes when the Night Falls - Nero - Mirage - No Matter What Will Be - Amber - Sin - Have You Seen

Closterkeller is apparently the most popular goth band in Poland. Unfortunately, I'm not impressed. The band leader, a striking figure called Anja Orthodox certainly looks good, but unfortunately her personal (read: bad) way of singing leaves me cold. It's a shame, because the song material isn't completely useless. With a somewhat better vocalist, Nero could be a pretty good album. **

April 12, 2004

Chalice: Augmented

Chalice: AugmentedCD, Modern Invasion 2004

Track list: Liaising Pandora - Neuron - Winter in the Desert Sky - Portrait - Child of the Matador - Static - A Semblance of Sanity

Chalice is a goth metal band from Australia. I suppose Australia isn't gloomy enough, because I'm not impressed. First of all, goth metal with female vocals is a tricky genre - there's good competition. Augmented falls short from such masterpieces as Theatre of Tragedy's Aegis, for example. Their vocalist is rather unimpressive, her sound just isn't personal enough. That's not the only problem - the songs are rather bland, too. It's pity, but as it is, Augmented is a boring album. Fans of the genre will hear little new or interesting on it. **

February 07, 2004

Kemet: The Night Before

Kemet: The Night BeforeCD, Thundering Records 2004

Track list: Emilie's Broken Heart - Sister Sorrow - Short Term God - One Chance Left - Valuable Things - The Lucid Song (Embers of Dawn part II) - Suicide Me - Orchids for Kids

I don't know why, but I don't know many French singers who sing in English and do it well. Kemet's vocalist is no different. Their music is some kind of goth metal (dark sensual metal is what the label calls it), which leaves me a bit cold even though I like goth and metal. One major reason is the weak vocals. Put Ville Valo in charge and it would be fine. The songs are also slightly bland, with some exceptions ("Sister Sorrow", for one, is a pretty good track). Nice, but bland. **

December 17, 2003

Fields of the Nephilim: The Nephilim

Fields of the Nephilim: The NephilimCD, Beggars Banquet 1988

Track list: Endemoniada - The Watchman - Phobia - Moonchild - Chord of Souls - Shiva - Celebrate - Love Under Will - Last Exit for the Lost

Thanks to Secret Santa, I finally got this album. I actually consider it one of the most essential goth albums ever, so it's a real shame I haven't bought it before. The Nephilim presents us the band in it's prime, weaving their subtle elegance with a great style and atmosphere. The album sounds hazy, but that's just part of it's attraction. Carl McCoy shines on the vocals and the songs are just brilliant (the final three, Phobia, Moonchild, The Watchman...). This is a must-buy for goth fans. *****

July 29, 2003

Suruaika: Syksy saapuu

Suruaika: Syksy saapuuCD-R, Muovi 111 2002

Track list: Syksy saapuu (single-versio) - Suljettu osasto - Hautajaiset ruusutarhassa - Avointen hautojen päivä

This single is taken from the Avointen hautojen päivä album. The single version doesn't differ much from the original - it's still a good track. Rest of the songs are less impressive, but not bad. "Hautajaiset ruusutarhassa" is perhaps the best of the bunch. A decent single, especially for those who liked the album. ***

July 08, 2003

Suruaika: Todellisuus 666 -demot

Suruaika: Todellisuus 666 -demotCD-r, Muovi 111 2003

Track list: Hautajaiset ruusutarhassa - Kun valat rikotaan - Pauliina palvoo Saatanaa - Mustan ympyrän keskipisteessä - Haudan syleilyyn, versio 1 - Ensikosketus spektrofiliaan - Itsemurha - Haudan syleilyyn, versio 2 - Älä menetä toivoa - Viimeinen tie - Matteus ristillä - Lihan läpi kirkkauteen - Boh - Kirottu talo - Uskonpuute

When I heard Plastic Passion is releasing the Todellisuus 666 (now known as Suruaika) demos on CD, I knew I had to get them. I don't have the tapes; I only have the "Pauliina palvoo Saatanaa"/"Viimeinen tie" -single. Well... First thing to know: don't expect quality. The music sounds rather bad. The vinyl single sounds much better than most of these songs. But that's really a minor problem. The songs itself vary from curious to fairly good. The CD is highly recommended for the hard core fans of Suruaika and goth rock. Others should probably focus their energies on something else... ***

June 25, 2003

Shadowsphere, The: Es lässt sich nicht spielen

The Shadowsphere: Es lässt sich nicht spielenCD-R, Goat Perversion 2003

Track list: Little Phantom - Pain - A Fable - Autumn

The Shadowsphere is a Finnish goth rock band and this is their first demo. They were kind enough to send a copy to me for a review. I think Shadowsphere is promising, but needs some work. Their music is rather faithful to the genre cliches and there needs to be well done to stand out. Currently that is not the case. The biggest problem right now is the vocals. They are sung very low and it doesn't sound good. It sounds a bit forced, and the muddy sound of the album doesn't make it better. With better vocals this would be much better already. Then just better songs and Shadowsphere would be ready to hit the goth scene. *** (on a demo scale)

January 25, 2003

ShamRain: Pieces

ShamRain: PiecesCD, Utu Music 2002

Track list: Fail - Pieces - Funeral - Nothing

Goth isn't the best label for ShamRain. I still chose it rather than rock, because there's something definitely gothic in ShamRain's emotional melancholy. Their music (lots of atmospheric keyboards, eerie guitars) is fairly subtle and stays in the background, giving room for the vocals. That's a good move, because their singer Taurus is one of their best parts. Biggest negative side is perhaps a lack of originality - even though I can't really say they are a copy of some other band, the music sounds like I've heard it all before. Still, even though it's not unique, it's well done. ****

August 16, 2002

Swans: Various Failures

Swans: Various Failures2xCD, Young God Records 1998

Track list: Miracle of Love - Black Eyed Dog - The Golden Boy that Was Swallowed by the Sea - (-) - I Remember Who You Are - Her - No Cruel Angel - When She Breathes - Why Are We Alive? - The Child's Right - (-) - The Other Side of the World - Song for Dead Time (mg version) - Love Will Save You - Blind - Unfortunate Lie (instrumental version) - Was He Alive? - Failure - Identity - Can't Find My Way Home - Trust Me - Better Than You - Love Will Tear Us Apart (j. version) - Will We Survive? - Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes - God Damn the Sun - Eyes of Nature - You Know Everything - Song for Dead Time (j. version) - Picture of Maryanne - Amnesia - Dream Dream - Please Remember Me - New Mind (acoustic)

My only regret about this album is not finding it, say, five years ago. Back then I would've been even more impressed by it, if that's possible. The feeling is close to listening to Joy Division's Heart and Soul box for the first time. Oh-my-god-this-is-good! If you like your music heavy as lead (but not heavy as in heavy metal) and black as the night, here you go. The songs are atmospheric, beautiful and gloomy. Best comparison I can draw is to the House of Usher, who have similar melodies in their songs. Also, the double cd might be a bit expensive, but contains over 150 minutes of aural candy worth every cent you pay. *****

June 13, 2002

Suruaika: Avointen hautojen päivä

Suruaika: Avointen hautojen päiväCD, Plastic Passion 2002

Track list: Syvemmälle - Yksin - Haudan syleilyyn - Tuhat valkoista yötä - Syksy saapuu - Suruaika - Spiraali - Käärme kuiskaa - Miksi uhrasit rakkautemme? - Patricida

Suruaika ("Time of sadness") has finally released their debut album. I bought it despite the somewhat poor review it got and I must say I wasn't disappointed. Judged objectively, the songs are perhaps bit silly and definitely old-fashioned, in a bad 80's way. I still can't help enjoying. Some songs can be taken more seriously, for example the opening track, which borrows heavily from Pornography-era The Cure, is a quite fine song. In the other hand, there are tracks like "Syksy saapuu", which fall definitely to the camp department, they are simply too bad to be taken seriously. The album balances between being tongue-in-cheek and serious, you can take it either way. It's your call, I can enjoy it both ways. ***

Six Months Later:
You'll have to be able to laugh at yourself if you want to like this album. But I can - and that's why I think I just might give it an extra star. It's, strangely, at the same time a quite a good goth album and still very humorous music. There aren't many albums that can do both this well. ****