Ten Random Reviews and Artless Critiques

WumpscutEvoke (Metropolis Records)

Even if I seriously hate typing things like “the king is back” and fanboyish drivel like that, Wumpscut’s full-length follow-up to the March extended single “Blondi” truly is a royal homecoming for Rudy Ratzinger and certain to be excitedly welcomed by darkwave/industrial fans. The devastatingly heavy synth layers are complex and many, comparable in recent memory only to Skinny Puppy’s 2004 “The Greater Wrong of the Right”; in other words, with the possible exception of Combichrist’s latest, techno – and axiomatically this humble hack – hasn’t had it this good in over a year. If you’ve not heard of Wumpscut, their (ie Ratzinger’s) history goes way back to 1991 when as a lad he gave up DJing in favor of making his own horror-techno sounds. The tradition continues here with leadoff track “Maiden”, a waltz-time spook-story with the whacky Jane singing the part of a serial killer’s nubile victim cursing her killer from the grave. “Churist Churist” is a 4-barrel darkwave cruiser featuring Ratzinger’s whisper-snarling over frightful EBM grooves that conjure images of Satan lead-footing a ‘70 Chevelle. “Blondi” carryover tracks “Don’t Go” and “Rush” extend the haunted house atmospherics, while the remaining surplus – a few hard-floor instrumentals and several great tracks (“Evoke”, “Obsessio”) – is much less filler than a fine set of “I think we can squeeze these in there too.” Required listening. metropolis-records.com

OctaviaWinter Enclosure (Candlelight Records)

Offering surprisingly good all-female goth-metal from Norway, these gloomy hotties not only drop-kick My Dying Bride’s duff in the music department but the singer schools Amy Lee as if she were a one-tonsiled rookie. If you think “Candlemass meets Evanescence” sounds interesting, this is a no-brainer. octavia.nu

BacklashLodestar EP (WTII Records)

Top-drawer futurepop with masterful songwriting and plenty of intricate depth to the programming. Backlash dodges the bubblegum bullet by creating lush soundscapes within the choruses, and having a Phil Oakey (Human League) soundalike handling the vocals only furthers their forward-thinking cause. EP includes four mixes of “Lodestar” (the “P Remix” being the best by far) and three other monstrously tuneful songs all adamantly worth investigation. Great stuff here. wtiirecords.com

LosaThe Perfect Moment (Metal Blade Records)

Drummer: “Hey, singer! You sound too much like a puma! Nu-thrash metal is fierce and crazy, like tigers!”

Bassist: “Yeah, maaan. At least go for a cougar.”

Singer: “You mean like this? KrrrAAAAAAAAOOOWWWww!”

Guitarist: “In-TENSE! Allow me to wank out some random pointless 64th notes in deft accompaniment!”

Guitar: “WankadankaWEEEEE”

Singer: “You rule!”

Guitarist: “Nono, YOU rule!” metalblade.com

VNV NationMatter+Form (Metropolis Records)

As with Wumpscut, we have here another veteran of the industrial wars in the person of Ronan Harris, and a glimpse into the very future of popular music in the form of this incredible, haunting album. Dance-club instrumental EBM makes up more than half of “Matter+Form”, but the six songs which do have vocals more than make up for any sparsity thereof. Harris’s voice is Julian Cope on Psychedelic Furs juice, which works perfectly within the very high aims of the concepts. Not for nothing, but the tunes “Arena” (think U2 meets Coldplay) and “Endless Skies” (too gorgeous for comparison) truly deserve hit-singledom – there are plenty of rock legends lounging in babe-decorated swimming pools who never wrote anything near this good. Oh, and the production would make Prince hit the books again. These guys will be at Axis in Boston on June 12th, and I’ll sure be there. metropolis-records.com

Nihilist1987-1989 (Threeman Recordings)

Shows you what a disgusting state metal is in when newly minted re-release demos from the late 80s blow away 90 percent of what’s current. Inspired by such thrash-loons as Crumbsuckers and Agnostic Front, the very short-lived Nihilist released a bunch of Bathory/Celtic Frost-like demos (recycled here) which pushed the black/death metal envelope and became the foundation for today’s Entombed. A fine opportunity to relive the early days of overseas snail-mail tape-trading and no MP3s – and let’s not forget the cheesy minimalist scuzz-monster cover art, which beats the present day’s still-life bloody freaks any day. threeman.net

HighbinderAll the Way to Hell (Sin Klub Records)

The initial straight-dope metal tracks of this punk/NWOBHM hybrid business aspire to Papa Roachdom but end up indeed competing with more advanced classic stuff (ex. Iron Maiden’s first album) until the album quickly degenerates before your very ears into party-core with heavy doses of Black Flag. highbinder.com

The Blue BloodsDeath of a Salesman (I Scream Records)

Retro-punk pure as the driven snow with a more heavy edge than typical Buzzcocks clones; the Blue Bloods offer here 17 tracks of well-produced and hooky Ramones-ish slamdance well worth a listen or five. There are plenty of punk rock bands slumming around Boston, of course, but few as deserving of whatever success punks care about much more than these zoids. iscreamrecords.com

BalatonizerOcclused in Ottusity (This Dark Reign/Devil Doll Records)

You know how weird crap comes in threes, like you buy a hamster, and then you hear that your friend can’t come out to party because there’s a funeral for his sister’s hamster, and then you hear on the news that some old duffer died from a hamster bite? I’ll assume you do so that I can relate my shocked amazement after watching first the movie Hannibal, in which a disfigured guy gets attacked by pigs, then being exposed to an episode of Deadwood in which a corpse was fed to pigs, and finally this: hummingbird metal fronted by what sounds like a low-squealing pig. As if that isn’t enough (and of course it is), the CD cover involves a cartoon scene of the band being eaten by swine. Just what Americans needed, another thing to panic about: more than likely you’ll soon bear witness to Republicans diverting media attention away from the Neocon Nazi filibuster battles and calling for moratoria on the dangers of ax-wielding farm animals as you chew your BLT in front of Elizabeth Vargas’s corn-fed megaboobs. devildollrecords.com

Molly HatchetWarriors of the Rainbow Bridge (SPV Records)

We’ll stick for the moment here to the subject of red-staters and farm animals. Molly Hatchet’s new singer is Phil MCormack, and although purists may miss the Marvin Martian nasal tones of deceased frontman Danny Joe Brown they’ll be certain to admire McCormack’s booze-and-Harleys Gregg Allman nicking. As you’d expect, the bulk of the album is comprised of (sometimes inspired) killer riffing about drunkenness, traveling in buses and drunken, traveling groupies, the best of which can be found on “Moonlight Dancing On the Bayou” and “Flames Are Burning”. The obligato extra-long Southern-rock guitar jam lives on “Rainbow Bridge”, a tribute to Bobby Ingram’s recently departed wife. With the Top Ten now dominated by bands old enough to be your granddad, this is sure to be a smash with fans looking for 70s-style hard-boogie. Release date is 5/24/05. spvusa.com

Eric is always seeking new underground bands to review. Email him at ericsaeger@mindspring.com

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