Archive for Goth

Album Review – Lacuna Coil “Broken Crown Halo” 2014

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2014 by Lightning Slim

broken_crown_halo  After the somewhat-misunderstood pop stylings of The Shallow Life and the near-perfect synthesis of that with their core competencies in Dark Adrenaline, Lacuna Coil wisely decide not to try to top themselves, and so take a trip down memory lane instead. Broken Crown Halo is a more direct descendant of earlier records like Comalies or Karmacode, containing all the elements for which the band is known; the duet vocals, the oddly-admirable tenacious loyalty to the nu-metal bass guitar sound, the lush instrumentation. They’ve been working hard to expand their core sound for years now, so I think a momentary retreat and regroup has no shame in it at all.

You pretty much know what you’re getting here. If you’re a fan of the band, rejoice. It’s not broken so it didn’t get fixed, and Cristina Scabbia’s Instagram account remains as fetching as ever. 7.5 out of 10

Album Review – Hanzel und Gretyl “Born to be Heiled” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by Lightning Slim


images  Hanzel und Gretyl have never really been on my list of bands for whom “the best is yet to come”, so it was a pleasant surprise when Born to be Heiled dropped – because it’s a killer record.

HuG like the following (in no particular order): Leather, Industrial, Thrash, Iron Crosses, Pentagrams, Boots, Military Chic, Fascist Iconography, Motorcycles, Wagner, Sci-Fi, Goth, Germany, Beer. Listening to one of their records is like the entire inventory of your local head shop /Hot Topic was loaded into a blunderbuss and shot onto a mixing board. Born to be Heiled is no exception, and may be their best effort yet.

We begin with “Hanzel und Gretyl Für Immer”, an appropriate and expected piece of Teutonic clank, before things amp up into disco thump with “Unterstützung 87”, the best Rob Zombie song he never wrote. From there, the band mines several influences, including mid-period Ministry, newer Slayer-style Ministry, the Revolting Cocks, and (of course) Rammstein. The record is capped off with “More German than German”, a cheeky Fischerspoonerism that represents the very best of where HuG can take you.

By understanding the inherent limitations of the genre, and not claiming to be mad geniuses who have the potential to lose their edge, Hanzel und Gretyl have, in Born to be Heiled, put together their most compulsive listening experience yet. Zehr Gut! 8.5 out of 10

Album Review – In This Moment “Blood” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, FourFiveSix with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  OK, admit it. If you’re anything like me, you admire In This Moment and want them to succeed. But ever since Beautiful Tragedy came out you’ve been waiting for the sell-out.  The Dream arrived with its surprising pop influences, but worked on its own terms. Then, A Star-Crossed Wasteland merged the previous two styles with skill and taste, so everything was still going swimmingly.

The run ends here. Blood is the Hot Topic nu-metal album we were all terrified ITM would eventually make. It marks the turning point when the lush photo shoots and the idea of the band became more important than the music.

I know Maria Brink is definitely a feminist of some kind, as I’ve seen her mop the floor with sexist hecklers in live performances. So, as a modern woman, Brink has the right to portray, play up and undercut her sexuality  as she sees fit. That’s the most generous argument I could find to explain the following lyrical atavisms:

“I’m a dirty dirty girl I want it filthy”

“Make me feel like a god, adrenaline and sex, Adrenalize me”

“I wanna feel you all from deep within, swayin back and forth all night, let me see you move your bodies”

Not all the lyrics are this bad. But these are all from different songs, meaning there’s a lot of B. Spears-ism to go around.

Sound-wise, producer Kevin Churko uses a couple of different angles of attack here, neither of them involving him keeping his hands off the songs, and neither of them solid ideas. Some of the tracks use an 80’s Ozzy, power ballad heft that brings to mind Black Label Society trying to play a Coheed and Cambria album. Others bear the mark of a shiny, scattered, trendy electronic interference so choppy that I was scanning the liner notes to make sure Skrillex wasn’t hiding in there somewhere. All of it adds up to the most overproduced record I’ve heard in some time. It’s a damn shame, because Brink is giving her most nuanced performance to date, showing vocal chops that can adapt to any situation but aren’t attached to anything lasting. Blood just doesn’t have the songs; there’s no “Great Divide”, no “The Promise” and most definitely no “Beautiful Tragedy” here.

Pretty but empty, and heart-breaking in the wrong way. 5 out of 10

Deals & Steals: Century Media Lady Madness

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Grasping at straws for any linking factors here; I really just let my mind run wild on Second Spin. Wait, four of the records have female singers and are on Century Media records. That’ll make a great title, right?

All prices $US, and I paid $7.99 shipping.

Lacuna Coil – Comalies and Karmacode $7.99 apiece. Just filling in some back catalogue for one of my current favourites. These are from the Waldemar Sorychta years.

The Agonist – Lullabies for the Dormant Mind $9.99 and Once Only Imagined (free with promotion). Featuring Quebec’s premiere girly-screamo band! Weird how In This Moment have already done Heavy MTL and The Agonist haven’t, but happily that’s being rectified this year.

Cemetary – Sweetest Tragedies (free with promotion). Nice best-of compilation from a band with an eerily similar career trajectory to Sentenced.

Excessive Force – Gentle Death Remastered $7.99. The original Gentle Death had the dubious distinction of being one of the worst recorded albums from a band I liked. Fixed now!

Metallica – S&M $11.99. Because in a post-Lulu world I needed to think of better times.

And, going for a lovely $8.99, submitted without comment:


Album Review – Lacuna Coil “Dark Adrenaline” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Fans turned off by 2009’s radio-rock effort The Shallow Life will find Lacuna Coil more appropriately po-faced and grim on Dark Adrenaline, which takes the spirit of brevity and focus from that previous record and adds heaviness throughout.

Opener “Trip the Darkness” provides goth with bounce, Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro confidently commanding proceedings with rockstar moxie. Indeed, the whole album successfully blends the dark with the catchy. Scabbia in particular does solid work on “Intoxicated” and “Fire”, the latter a short, Jim Morrison-like mantra destined to cling to the listener’s ear long afterward. Ferro is also an authoritative presence, his accent (previously an issue for some) distinctive without being comical. The much-ballyhooed cover of REM’s “Losing My Religion” neither slavishly apes the original nor butchers it with unnecessary modification, ending up a fitting tribute to a song that really couldn’t get more goth to begin with.

Obligatory mention of Scabbia’s female-ness: Women in hard music have long fought an uphill battle to be taken seriously, often proving their own worst enemy by succumbing to the temptation to trade on image* or celebrate the female voice by stuffing releases with vocal trickery. Dark Adrenaline displays a workmanlike dedication to task that eschews this flashiness and delivers form and function together in a satisfying ride. Highly recommended. 8 out of 10

*The Shallow Life was in part a parody of this very phenomenon, at least visually. It backfired when many found the music itself to be a bit too on-the-nose.

Album Review – Evanescence “Evanescence” 2011

Posted in Album Reviews, FourFiveSix with tags , , , , , on February 9, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Evanescence, whose name really just constitutes a shorter way of saying “Amy Lee and the Whoevers”, continue to have difficulty recapturing the spirit of Fallen.* Evanescence the record (and aren’t we all a bit suspicious of mid-career self-titles?) plods down the predictable path of ponderous goth rock, a bland concoction of Lilith Fair and nu-metal that’s hard to screw up but even harder to bring to life, so to speak. I want to like this, and I’m not slapping it with a Do Not Buy, but I’m having difficulty finding anything memorable in the risk-free material.

Evanescence, band and album, aren’t horrible, but both do a piss-poor job of justifying their own existence, basically only succeeding at A) extending the lifespan of a fancy Latin word that most folks didn’t know before, and B) acting as a radio-injected gateway drug for bands like Lacuna Coil, who are doing this sort of thing so much better. 5.5 out of 10

*Of course, Lee’s former bandmates haven’t done well on their own, either.

Deals & Steals – All Roads Lead to Metal

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  All over the place this time around – I really just wanted to fill up the order because I’d been looking for the Overkill so long, so I took a few chances. All prices $US, shipping $6.99.

Nomeansno – All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt $7.99. NMN is never a bad choice. Sometimes, it’s perfect.

Overkill – Under the Influence $7.99. OK’s punk/glam phase – a neat transitional record.

Cradle of Filth – Lovecraft & Witch Hearts $7.99. I got this compilation because I admire CoF’s balls-out weirdness but I can’t be arsed to pick up the whole discography.

Evanescence – Evanescence $8.99. Because I’m a masochist.

Wonder Woman $3.20 and Batman: Gotham Knight $5.10 – DC Animated selections. Because my discount coupon only worked on movies. Also, Keri Russel as Diana? I thought it was Samson who lost power with a haircut.

And the big deal:

  Lair of the Minotaur – War Metal Battle Master $6.99. Whoa. Is it Stoner Metal? Stoners aren’t this blood thirsty.

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