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Requiem

Gothic Rock

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Are there any fans of gothic rock out there? With HIM having recently announced their final tour before retirement I felt it would be timely to discuss this genre. 

Two of my favourite bands of all time are The 69 Eyes and HIM, although they're usually considered too questionable for regular metal discussion. 'Love Metal' as a genre doesn't really truck with most of the denim and leather set. 

Albums like 'Devils' and 'Blessed Be' by The 69 Eyes are absolutely classics of dark rock, while the first two HIM albums 'Greatest Lovesongs Vol 666' and 'Razorblade Romance' are for me 10/10 albums. 

Also stuff like the first couple of Lacuna Coil albums and bands like To/Die/For, who are a bit more metal, are some of my favourite releases. 

Any takers? 

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I love goth stuff, but probably not all the same sounds you're into. Sisters Of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim, post-punk stuff like Bauhaus, Joy Division, some industrial like Skinny Puppy and Die Form, Diabolique's "The Black Flower", The Merry Thoughts, Deine Lakaien, a little bit of Siouxsie And The Banshees and Dead Can Dance, 90s Swans, a new band called The Wraith that really nails the sound...

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I love 1980's goth like Bauhaus, Rosetta Stone, Sisters of Mercy too...and (some might dissagree with this) gothic influenced bands like Deathstars! Together with some noughties bands like Dawn of Oblivion. I love listening to goth rock/metal just before I go to slep....otherwise I just cannot relax!

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18 hours ago, deathstorm said:

Req should check out poisoblack they are pretty good

Poisonblack are cool - I've got two or three of their albums. Ville Laihiala from Sentenced is one of my favourite vocalists, but I really really prefer Sentenced to Poisonblack.

I also never really got into the 1980s type of stuff, although some of it i like. 

Another band I really like is Charon. 

Those Finnish bands: HIM, the 69 Eyes, Sentenced, Charon, For My Pain etc are just amazing to me. 

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Jyrki 69 from The 69 Eyes has his debut solo album coming out today called 'Helsinki Vampire'. The first track released 'Bloodlust' is really boring, and this one below sounds like it's taken from the 69 Eyes rejection pile... but I'll still check the album out because I'm sure there'll be some good stuff on there. Right? Right??

 

 

 

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Never was too big of a fan, but I really like some of the HIM/The 69 Eyes songs. I watched HIM live back in 2006 @ EXIT festival in Novi Sad, Serbia. Although I was glad to see them, I had a sense that show wasn't one of their best and Vallo kinda struggled with his voice, he looked like he wasn't feeling too good, maybe he was on something or whatever. But anyway, for the most part, I liked "Love Metal" era, "Buried Alive...", "Funeral of Hearts", "Sacrament", liked some stuff on "Dark Light", wasn't really following too much after that, a couple of songs here and there. As far as The 69 Eyes, I sang some of their songs in a band, I really love "Lost Boys", "Crashing High", really strong, fat hard rock with a gothic edge, very nice kickass music. Sentenced, "No One There", don't know much outside of that but that track was killer.

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5 hours ago, Kristiko said:

Never was too big of a fan, but I really like some of the HIM/The 69 Eyes songs. I watched HIM live back in 2006 @ EXIT festival in Novi Sad, Serbia. Although I was glad to see them, I had a sense that show wasn't one of their best and Vallo kinda struggled with his voice, he looked like he wasn't feeling too good, maybe he was on something or whatever. But anyway, for the most part, I liked "Love Metal" era, "Buried Alive...", "Funeral of Hearts", "Sacrament", liked some stuff on "Dark Light", wasn't really following too much after that, a couple of songs here and there. As far as The 69 Eyes, I sang some of their songs in a band, I really love "Lost Boys", "Crashing High", really strong, fat hard rock with a gothic edge, very nice kickass music. Sentenced, "No One There", don't know much outside of that but that track was killer.

I've seen HIM a couple of times and I can definitely concur with your view about Valo.

The first time I saw the band they were great and Valo was amazing, the second time he was so skinny and I thought he was definitely on some sort of drug as he really wasn't engaged. At one point he stopped a song after a few seconds and admonished the drummer before making them all start again. He also left the stage in the middle of the set to have a "break" which was really weird. He asked the crowd and they all said "No" and he just said, "Actually yes" and just walked off. All very odd. The ego was huge. 

Awesome to see another fan of The 69 Eyes! As for Sentenced, if you haven't heard their last two albums in their entirety ('The Cold White Light' and 'The Funeral Album') make sure you do! Much more 'metal' than HIM and The 69 Eyes. 

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I listen to many goth rock, post-punk and deathrock bands as well as many bands peripherally associated with those scenes.   

Christian Death, London After Midnight, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Radio Werewolf, Fear Cult, Suspiria, Sopor Aeternus, Bauhaus, The Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim etc. 

 

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On 19/09/2017 at 8:13 PM, Vampyrique said:

@Requiem I'm surprised you don't listen to more of the traditional goth stuff. It would seem to me to be up your alley. 

Time to resurrect this thread's undead corpse. Couldn't find the whole episode but here is a clip of something I saw many years ago: 

 

Finally watched this - oh man that's great. Really funny stuff. 

I've never been a big traditional goth music fan, but to be honest I probably need to do a bit more research. I find it generally a little underdone. I know bands like HIM and the 69 Eyes are the descendents of those old bands, but yeah those bands never really gelled with me. 

Ville Valo once described the sound of HIM to be a mix between Black Sabbath and Roy Orbison, and I think that's a great description. What an amazing band HIM were in their prime. The 'Greatest Lovesongs Vol 666' through to 'Love Metal' were brilliant albums. 

Requiem's Ranking of HIM Albums from Least Best to Best

8. Tears on Tape (2013)

The final album before they pulled the plug, this is cool but disappointing and you can tell their hearts weren't in it. 13 tracks but 4 are short instrumentals/experiments, meaning the whole thing just scrapes into 40 minutes long. Probably the coolest thing about this album are the tape sound effects at the start and end. It's good but not exactly a grand finale to their career. 

7. Dark Light (2005)

This was a huge seller in the US and propelled the band into stardom, but it's pretty tame. It's so commercial. The first half is great, with 'Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly' and 'Killing Loneliness' being HIM classics, but there's a lot of filler here. It's a pleasant listen but oh so tame. 

6. Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights (2001)

Their third album was easily the worst of the classic era. It's a bit more acoustic based and the songs never really take off. 'Heartache Every Moment' and 'Pretending' are great songs. 

5. Venus Doom (2007)

This is their doomiest album with big Sabbath riffs and long songs. The title track is brilliant. This is a ballsy album and coming after their commercial hit I'm pretty impressed that they didn't try to follow by going even more US radio friendly - they went back to Sabbath. Killer. 

4. Love Metal (2003)

A classic album. Great title, amazing use of the heartagram for the cover art (the first album not to feature Valo on the cover), and top songs like 'Buried Alive by Love' and 'The Funeral of Hearts'. This is awesome. Damn Valo was a sexy man around this period too. 

3. Screamworks - Love and Theory in Practice (2010)

I just love this album. For me it's easily the best of the recent batch and just so catchy and awesome. I love the production and songs like 'In Venere Veritas', which is an entire song about pussy, and is just glorious. A fabulous album. 

2. Greatest Lovesongs Vol 666 (1997)

The debut is a classic. Dark rock songs of love and death including the original version of 'Your Sweet 666', 'For You' and the epic 'When Love and Death Embrace'. HIM really came from nowhere with this album. They were basically playing gothic rock/metal except with unabashed love lyrics and all sorts of affectations that are very un-metal. Really courageous and really cool. 

1. Razorblade Romance (2000)

This is a 10/10 album for me. The re-recordings of 'Your Sweet 666' and the Chris Isaac cover 'Wicked Game' are brilliant, and every song here is a gothic ode to romance. The production is improved from the previous album but their connection to death and darkness is still in place. This is one of those rare albums where all 12 songs (of the UK version which is the best) are top class. There's not a single weak note. It's all brilliant highlights. 

 

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Found the full episode albeit low quality if anyone wants to see.

"...jesus Grish, you really blew it with that vampire bollocks" lol

"...so yes...I developed an interest in the pagan deity He With No Name..." lol, that look on his face is just priceless (as he looks around to see if anyone is buying his bullshit)

http://www.veoh.com/watch/v405073StCtCFCE 

 

@Requiem Razorblade Romance is definitely my favourite HIM album. I need to buy the original edition that has the song One Last Time. Why on earth did they take this song off for the other editions? Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 is also an excellent album and the song The Beginning of the End is among their best. I have to admit HIM kinda lost me when they went in a more radio friendly direction. I thought they became a parody of their former selves and very hit and miss at times. 

Some cool songs: Siouxsie and the Banshees team up with Danny Elfman for Batman Returns soundtrack as well as the very elegant London After Midnight, club-friendly Suspiria and the opening track from The Cure's dreamy, beautiful album Disintegration. 

 

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And who could forget the poetic genius of Rozz Williams with the artsy deathrock band Christian Death...

The luxury of tears. What a crescendo!  

 

Later on Rozz went in a more glam rock direction on the brilliant album The Path of Sorrows: 

And the very touching song Flowers, RIP: 

 

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@Vampyrique. I gave all of these a listen, and while I've heard bits and pieces before, I really think this sort of material is only something I'd countenance if I was actually hanging out with people who were fans of this sort of music over a bottle of wine or two. I guess I find it cool in a certain way, but also a little thin or something, like an itch that needs scratching. I also find a bit of it a little corny, which for a man of my tastes is obviously a case of throwing stones in glass houses. 

The gothic rock I like is more this sort of thing: 

 

 

And their classic: 

 

 

And another band of morose Finns, Charon: 

 

 

And Tiamat's gothic period. Because Vampyrique, it's about time we get out and vote for love: 
 

 

And are you a fan of 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley? Love's as good as soma: 

 

 

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@Requiem Is it that you prefer it to be more rock influenced than post-punk influenced? Heavier guitars than jangly reverb? Do you like Floodland or Vision Thing by The Sisters of Mercy? 

I'll admit that I've never liked The 69 Eyes but I'm not overly familiar with them beyond a handful of songs. I had a couple of friends who really liked them but I always thought they came off as disingenuous to me. Like a product aimed at goth girls; Pete Steele fronting The Sisters of Mercy with a strong hair metal vibe. Didn't they write lyrics about Brandon Lee? I like The Crow but that's a bit too sub-culturally cliche for me! I never got into Charon either. They kind of remind me of earlier HIM but without that special something, perhaps HIM's flamboyance?  

I'm definitely a fan of Tiamat though. Clouds and The Astral Sleep were my favourites of theirs for years but now I'm not sure which are now. It took me a while to come around to liking their later stuff, ironically.  

I've read Brave New World once before many years ago but I need to read it again someday as I only vaguely remember the concept and details, and that it was a very bleak world without hope. I read 1984 right after and preferred Orwell's dystopian vision. I think it had more charm to it and I liked the fact that it simultaneously felt very archaic and yet futuristic. Doubleplusgood! 

 

On a side note: Marilyn Manson's new album is probably the best he's done since '03. It's very Bauhausian on a couple of songs, one song reminds me of Bela Lugosi's Dead. Not a perfect album by any means but album of the year for me!

 

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2 hours ago, Vampyrique said:

@Requiem Is it that you prefer it to be more rock influenced than post-punk influenced? Heavier guitars than jangly reverb? Do you like Floodland or Vision Thing by The Sisters of Mercy? 

I'll admit that I've never liked The 69 Eyes but I'm not overly familiar with them beyond a handful of songs. I had a couple of friends who really liked them but I always thought they came off as disingenuous to me. Like a product aimed at goth girls; Pete Steele fronting The Sisters of Mercy with a strong hair metal vibe. Didn't they write lyrics about Brandon Lee? I like The Crow but that's a bit too sub-culturally cliche for me! I never got into Charon either. They kind of remind me of earlier HIM but without that special something, perhaps HIM's flamboyance?  

I'm definitely a fan of Tiamat though. Clouds and The Astral Sleep were my favourites of theirs for years but now I'm not sure which are now. It took me a while to come around to liking their later stuff, ironically.  

I've read Brave New World once before many years ago but I need to read it again someday as I only vaguely remember the concept and details, and that it was a very bleak world without hope. I read 1984 right after and preferred Orwell's dystopian vision. I think it had more charm to it and I liked the fact that it simultaneously felt very archaic and yet futuristic. Doubleplusgood! 

 

On a side note: Marilyn Manson's new album is probably the best he's done since '03. It's very Bauhausian on a couple of songs, one song reminds me of Bela Lugosi's Dead. Not a perfect album by any means but album of the year for me!

 

I definitely prefer heavy guitars to jangling reverb. Any day of the week. 

I love The 69 Eyes and have all of their Helsinki Vampire era albums. They're coming up to nearly 20 years in that style, so I'll call them genuine now, even though they definitely did move into that image for their first album 'Blessed Be'. But rather than just make it up, I think they actually found themselves, because 'Blessed Be' is arguably their best album and just filled with excellent songs. 

The song 'Brandon Lee' (which is on 'Blessed Be' by the way) is a classic and a lot of fun. The band often name-checks cultural references and movies (I deliberately posted 'I Know What you Did Last Summer' and 'Lost Boys' - obviously movies - to show you). 98% of their songs aren't cultural references though. For someone as clearly into things most others would consider corny (vampires, Cradle etc), I'm surprised at your Brandon Lee perspective. The song isn't strictly about Brandon Lee/The Crow by the way, it's about the circular nature of life: "Just like the moon does, we rise and shine and fall..." 

The 'Brave New World' reference was in regards to the Tiamat song about soma. The chorus is actually the soma verse from Huxley's book. Huxley fans get an extra kick out of it. 

Marilyn Manson... I've got a great MM memory from the 90s but I can't say I've really been keeping up with him. Album of the year you say! That's a huge call! I'll put it on the list to check out. At some stage...

I would kill to see the inside of your cavern/castle/coven. I can only imagine the decorations therein. 

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2 hours ago, Requiem said:

I definitely prefer heavy guitars to jangling reverb. Any day of the week. 

I love The 69 Eyes and have all of their Helsinki Vampire era albums. They're coming up to nearly 20 years in that style, so I'll call them genuine now, even though they definitely did move into that image for their first album 'Blessed Be'. But rather than just make it up, I think they actually found themselves, because 'Blessed Be' is arguably their best album and just filled with excellent songs. 

The song 'Brandon Lee' (which is on 'Blessed Be' by the way) is a classic and a lot of fun. The band often name-checks cultural references and movies (I deliberately posted 'I Know What you Did Last Summer' and 'Lost Boys' - obviously movies - to show you). 98% of their songs aren't cultural references though. For someone as clearly into things most others would consider corny (vampires, Cradle etc), I'm surprised at your Brandon Lee perspective. The song isn't strictly about Brandon Lee/The Crow by the way, it's about the circular nature of life: "Just like the moon does, we rise and shine and fall..." 

The 'Brave New World' reference was in regards to the Tiamat song about soma. The chorus is actually the soma verse from Huxley's book. Huxley fans get an extra kick out of it. 

Marilyn Manson... I've got a great MM memory from the 90s but I can't say I've really been keeping up with him. Album of the year you say! That's a huge call! I'll put it on the list to check out. At some stage...

I would kill to see the inside of your cavern/castle/coven. I can only imagine the decorations therein. 

I figured as much. I tend to side with jangly guitars, and synth wherever possible! 

To be honest, I don't know much about The 69 Eyes other than what I have heard from them so I'm not really offering any in-depth criticism. But they never did much for me and I thought they were too derivative of other bands and of stereotypes from within goth scenes so much that I wasn't sure if they were a parody band or not. That's why the Brandon Lee title stood out to me in a bad way although I never read the lyrics. Aside from the videos you posted, the last time I heard anything from them was about ten years ago. At least with say Type O Negative, they clearly had a sense of humour and had carved out their own niche. I'm alright with a band making the odd ode but I have a tendency to wince when I hear something that sounds too much like worship of The Sisters of Mercy, Type O Negative, Fields of the Nephilim and the like because it's all too common that those bands get plagiarized so that's probably a part of it. Maybe I'll give them another chance some day. 

Ever hear of the band OperaNoire? They did a video, a cover of David Bowie's Heroes. Serious or not, they're just too cringeworthy for me! 

 

But I suppose for me it's all in delivery. Vampires can be interpreted in many different ways but I've never thought Cradle of Filth were cheesy or corny with the way they addressed (overused) themes like vampires because I thought it was done tastefully like in gothic literature. 

I remember what Soma is but don't remember the novel Brave New World as much I'd want to so I didn't make the direct connection with the lyrics. But I can appreciate where you're coming from there because Manson once sang "a rebel from the waist down" clearly a nod to 1984. I like Manson's new album mostly because it's better than his recent stuff, but it isn't anywhere close to as good as his incredible run in the 90s. 

Maybe I can take some pics and PM you. My place still needs some revamping. 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Vampyrique said:

I figured as much. I tend to side with jangly guitars, and synth wherever possible! 

To be honest, I don't know much about The 69 Eyes other than what I have heard from them so I'm not really offering any in-depth criticism. But they never did much for me and I thought they were too derivative of other bands and of stereotypes from within goth scenes so much that I wasn't sure if they were a parody band or not. That's why the Brandon Lee title stood out to me in a bad way although I never read the lyrics. Aside from the videos you posted, the last time I heard anything from them was about ten years ago. At least with say Type O Negative, they clearly had a sense of humour and had carved out their own niche. I'm alright with a band making the odd ode but I have a tendency to wince when I hear something that sounds too much like worship of The Sisters of Mercy, Type O Negative, Fields of the Nephilim and the like because it's all too common that those bands get plagiarized so that's probably a part of it. Maybe I'll give them another chance some day. 

Ever hear of the band OperaNoire? They did a video, a cover of David Bowie's Heroes. Serious or not, they're just too cringeworthy for me! 

 

But I suppose for me it's all in delivery. Vampires can be interpreted in many different ways but I've never thought Cradle of Filth were cheesy or corny with the way they addressed (overused) themes like vampires because I thought it was done tastefully like in gothic literature. 

I remember what Soma is but don't remember the novel Brave New World as much I'd want to so I didn't make the direct connection with the lyrics. But I can appreciate where you're coming from there because Manson once sang "a rebel from the waist down" clearly a nod to 1984. I like Manson's new album mostly because it's better than his recent stuff, but it isn't anywhere close to as good as his incredible run in the 90s. 

Maybe I can take some pics and PM you. My place still needs some revamping. 

 

Do it! 

Well you and I don’t think Cradle are corny because we are fans of this crazy stuff. I just thought it was funny that you’re happy with forests whispering our names but when a song is titled after a real person you cry ‘cringeworthy!’ 

The reality is that I don’t actually know a single other human being who likes The 69 Eyes, either in real life or online, yet I’ve been to their Melbourne show with 800 other people. I’m doomed to walk the earth alone in this respect! :( 

Also I loved your ‘revamping’ pun. Don’t think I didn’t see that.

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1 hour ago, Requiem said:

Do it! 

Well you and I don’t think Cradle are corny because we are fans of this crazy stuff. I just thought it was funny that you’re happy with forests whispering our names but when a song is titled after a real person you cry ‘cringeworthy!’ 

The reality is that I don’t actually know a single other human being who likes The 69 Eyes, either in real life or online, yet I’ve been to their Melbourne show with 800 other people. I’m doomed to walk the earth alone in this respect! :( 

Also I loved your ‘revamping’ pun. Don’t think I didn’t see that.

You might be right... Maybe I'm living in a bubble. Didn't Cradle release an album called Cornography? I think it came in the form of canned Allender (if that doesn't best describe his lack of inspiration)...creamed by Mark Newby corn-on-the-Cobson. But enough vampunnery for now.  

I don't think The 69 Eyes are on the cringeworthy level. I said OperaNoire was for being about as fresh as a necrophile's bride-to-be. I mean, is that a discount bin clone of Marilyn Manson miming to the voice an Italian counterfeit Pete Steele? But either one is still leagues better than those horrid EBM bands that ruined everything. 

Aside from a few popular bands, it's very hard to find anyone who likes this kind of music... 

 

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26 minutes ago, Vampyrique said:

You might be right... Maybe I'm living in a bubble. Didn't Cradle release an album called Cornography? I think it came in the form of canned Allender...creamed by Mark Newby corn-on-the-Cobson. But enough vampunnery for now.  

I don't think The 69 Eyes are on the cringeworthy level. I said OperaNoire was for being about as fresh as a necrophile's bride-to-be. Is that Marilyn Manson with Pete Steele's voice with a slightly Italian intonation? But either one is still leagues better than those horrid EBM bands that ruined everything! 

Aside from a few popular bands, it's very hard to find anyone who likes this kind of music... 

 

I'm sorry to corner you, but your cornucopia of corn jokes just aren't popping. 

That Operanoire video is an abomination. 

Speaking of The 69 Eyes: I treat my CDs like tender infants, but my copy of their 'Back in Blood' album (great album!) was accidentally smashed in my car a few years ago. A freak accident. Anyway, I purchased another copy, only for the casing to become warped and misshaped due to some other reason. So two copies of the same album, both damaged. What are the odds of that? Very bizarre if you ask me. 

 

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32 minutes ago, Requiem said:

I'm sorry to corner you, but your cornucopia of corn jokes just aren't popping. 

That Operanoire video is an abomination. 

Speaking of The 69 Eyes: I treat my CDs like tender infants, but my copy of their 'Back in Blood' album (great album!) was accidentally smashed in my car a few years ago. A freak accident. Anyway, I purchased another copy, only for the casing to become warped and misshaped due to some other reason. So two copies of the same album, both damaged. What are the odds of that? Very bizarre if you ask me. 

 

Hah, a-maizing. 

That's interesting, maybe it wasn't meant to be? Or maybe third time's a charm? I think I recall encountering a similar phenomenon but I forget which album it was and under what circumstance. hmm...

 

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6 hours ago, Requiem said:

I'm sorry to corner you, but your cornucopia of corn jokes just aren't popping. 

That Operanoire video is an abomination. 

Speaking of The 69 Eyes: I treat my CDs like tender infants, but my copy of their 'Back in Blood' album (great album!) was accidentally smashed in my car a few years ago. A freak accident. Anyway, I purchased another copy, only for the casing to become warped and misshaped due to some other reason. So two copies of the same album, both damaged. What are the odds of that? Very bizarre if you ask me. 

 

It's the price you pay for what you did to that poor copy of Dead Again, you Philistine.

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9 hours ago, FatherAlabaster said:

It's the price you pay for what you did to that poor copy of Dead Again, you Philistine.

This wins 'unexpectedly hilarious call of the month'. 

Also, I was doing the planet a service by banishing that album to the land of wind and ghosts. It brought great dishonour upon us all. Cursed was the property that held it; yea, and cursed were we who listened to its ignoble complaints. Peter Steele says "I don't want to be me". Well, Pete, "I don't want to listen to you being you" when you write songs like that. 

Edit: Apart from realising that 'I Don't Want to be Me' isn't even on this album, I feel like I still mildly just owned Peter Steele. 

But yes, my 69 Eyes bad luck is profound. 

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Speaking of live HIM, their DVD called ‘Digital Versatile Doom’ which was recorded during the ‘Venus Doom’ tour is one of my favourite live releases. It’s a fabulous concert DVD.

It was back when Valo was still smoking cigarettes on stage too (if memory serves), which is very old school but somehow quite cool in this politically correct era. 

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I wonder how many here have heard of Kukl?

This was the first goth/post punk band that I ever saw live and they have been one of my favorites ever since. But all most everytime I mention them, I just get a blank stare.

And yes, the front woman is exactly who you think it is...a young Björk.

 

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      The fact is that this is one of the most heartfelt records I have listened to in quite a while.  I have more than once found myself stood stock still, completely captivated by the atmospheric beauty of what I have heard on this record.  The album opens up with "The Shepherd" a track which starts with a rendering of the Christopher Marlowe poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and this is an indication of what you are in for as a listener.  There's not one bit of BM on this record and it doesn't need any in any way, shape or form.  "The Hallowing of Heirdom" is more folk than anything even remotely resembling metal.  Imagine if Fleet Foxes dropped the irritation of that constant "hippy" vibe and showed some actual capable instrumentation also and you are loosely on the right track.

       


      There's variety to it which is as unexpected as it is welcome and it means you never get bored despite the record clocking in at 55 mins plus.  Over 12 tracks you are actually taken on a journey that stays with you long afterwards, which is what all good journeys should do, be memorable for all the right reasons.  But don't get me wrong, it isn't OTT on the emotion front, that's not the strength on display here.  No, this is one of the most balanced releases in my recent memory.  It's like a picture album where the first picture is given to you (that cover) and then it takes over your head with numerous captures of the very essence of the land itself.  You can smell the pine of the trees, the earthy tones of the fields and almost feel the breeze on your face even though you are sat in your front room with all the windows and doors shut.

      As usual with Winterfylleth there's a theme of the old ways being lost, the album title itself harking back to the importance of "heirdom" as we all exist with clear ties back to people stretching far back into history but seem to rarely give that much thought.   "The Hallowing of Heirdom" seems a fitting tribute to the ways of yore regardless.

      5/5
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    • I invite you to come with me to a time before 2008. It may surprise you to learn that at this point, Circle II Circle was actually a pretty damn good band. They did eventually become prog Godsmack, as history will record with bitter regret chronicling the storied tale of Savatage. For now, however, let’s make like boomers and complain about how things used to be better.

      Burden of Truth sounds like sentimentalism, at times. It feels rather like Skid Row filtered through Phantom of the Opera, in that characteristically Trans-Siberian Orchestra fashion. The difference, though, is that Circle II Circle crank the technicality and bite of their music significantly higher than TSO’s comfortable bombast. It’s certainly a little saccharine, but performed with such conviction and talent as to make that nearly irrelevant.

      Zak Stevens’ voice is vital to this whole undertaking. His overbored bass resonates unstoppably through every song, an unmistakably mature vocal delivery that dignifies even the album’s most banal emotional turns (“How can we learn to live as one…” “I walked by the church and saw the children, and the world through their eyes…”). Moreover, it is very identifiably American, and that’s the biggest selling point of this album. It’s worth noting he layers very nicely with his backing vocalists. The “The Black” and title track have particularly good harmonizing.

      One might be tempted to snicker at some of these lyrics and the melodies. How antiquated the notion of melodic music without dizzying rhythmic changes or production magic out the ass. Yet, the sheer power behind it all is impossible to deny. The piano line on “Heal Me” would be insufferable if it didn’t drag you in immediately. Despite the sugar content, Burden of Truth is largely fat-free. It doesn’t fall victim to most metal tropes, including the prevalence of vibrato. It’s endearing too, in a sort of Andie McDowell in Five Weddings and a Funeral kind of way, or perhaps of Joy Davidson in Shadowlands – very American.

      The opening to Revelations? Badass. The crunchy riffs of A Matter of Time? Some slick shit. The entirety of Evermore? One of the most masterfully tight, pointed pieces of prog metal out there that still pounds away at the ears like a cannon blast. If you wanted an aspirational American soundtrack, this is it. Songs for an endearing everyman with more behind his ears than you might guess.
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    • Ministry "AmeriKKKant"
      No matter how much you dislike Donald Trump, Ministry's overt and constant attack on his administration doesn't mean that "AmeriKKKant" is actually a good album.  I mean it isn't entirely a terrible album either but you will struggle to remember of of it after even a couple of listens, beyond the endless stream of frankly confusing and almost barrage like snippets of Trump audio bites that is, they are the only really memorable part.

      It isn't really an industrial metal album either.  It sound s more like a nu-metal band got sealed into a steel drum with their instruments and got rolled down a big hill.  It doesn't come across as particular caustic or aggressive though, just a bit of a racket made in a Republican nightmare.  

      Not long into the record the message you are constantly force-fed just gets bloating.  There's no rescue or reprise from it as the pace of the album is so inconsistent and frankly repetitive you have nothing else of worth to focus on as a distraction.  I mean you can be really angry and pissed off and still transfer it to audio without being boring (Body Count "Bloodlust" is a great recent example of this).

      Even if Donald Trump is listening, the message of this record is that it is too mediocre a response to the true horror of his administration.  The facepalm on the cover of the album is unfortuantely all too indicative of the quality of the record itself.

      2 horns out 5
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    • Judas Priest "Firepower"
       


      When I was 14 I witnessed the video on Raw Power TV to the title track from Judas Priest's "Painkiller" album.  "Painkiller" blew me the fuck away!  I mean, what was not to love?  Thunderous drums, a mix of gruff and shrill vocal antics and duelling lead guitars.  I went straight out that afternoon and bought the album on blasted it for consecutive days for the next 3 months.  All in all, not a bad gateway album to the band. 

      The real draw of "Painkiller" was the memorability of the experience was that one run through the record left seared scorch marks across your brain.  For years after I could run through the entire album in my head note for note.  "Firepower" is exactly the same.  A mere 24 hours after it coming into my life and I can sing along with the lyrics, air guitar to near note perfection and bash my fingers bloody to the drums on my desktop.  It's full of anthemic choruses and simple yet effective hooks that just pull you in.

      Try and not headbang to any of the opening six tracks, if you can achieve it you are almost certainly dead inside.  Try not to make ridiculous gurning faces to any of the lead work on here and again if you succeed, check your pulse!  Sad though it maybe that Glenn has confirmed his Parkinson's is now progressed enough to stop him from touring there is no doubt that he can exchange blows, pound for pound with Faulkner and barely break a sweat.

      There's no point doing a track by track description here, if you have read the review to this point you'll get the idea.  Criticisms?  It is too long, by about 2 or maybe 3 tracks.  However, you can easily suffer the dips in the quality here and there as you are rarely away from some truly great music.  It does get a little samey at times too but that's forgivable to me as nobody is looking to reinvent any wheels here this may cause issue with the longevity of the record though for me.  Right now though I love it, I fucking love it.

      5/5
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    • Portal "ION"
      One of my favourite urban myths is that you will go blind if you masterbate too much you will go blind.  Listening to Portal might make you go blind as you ears frantically take resource from your brain that was needed for mundane tasks such as vision and bladder control as they try to cope with the relentless auditory assault of "ION", however pulling your pud won't affect your eyesight boys.  Science bit over, on with the review.

      "ION" seems instantly more refined than previous outings.  Don't get me wrong here, there's no slick production values been applied and there isn't any venture into clean vocals for example.  It just seems that this time around things are more calculated.  "Phreqs" is like being attacked by a swarm of wasps, as chaotic as it seems there's some well thought out structure to the attack to maximise the impact.  One of the only criticisms I could draw against Portal of old was that sometimes the mental factor was up over 11 and things did tend to get lost.  "Vexovoid" remedied this a lot with its more "Horror" approach and "ION" seems to take that on a notch further combining dark alchemy and atmospheres perfectly.  The build of "Crone" for example is full of creeping dread and menace, finally arriving and proving to be as ghastly as I had hoped it would.

      For all the scientific intimation of the cover things are still more on the experimental as opposed to technical side of death metal.  There's still that pit of the stomach sensation of being dragged into some fathomless void by the spiralling darkness of those fucking guitars and the taunting evil of those drums - they are not just about all out assault folks.  The layers do genuinely seem to be being applied with more structure this time around and the instrumentation is used better than ever to produce real atmosphere.  Favourite release of 2018 so far.

      5 horns out 5

       
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