Goth

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Mercury's Antennae. Photo Courtesy of the band's Official Facebook page.

                                      Mercury’s Antennae. Photo Courtesy of the band’s Official Facebook page.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

The mid-2010’s have proven to be a very exciting period for Alternative and Indie music. With the Post Punk Revival and Shoegaze Revival in full effect, the lasting influence of these illustrious sub-genres has broken down musical barriers never-before imagined (i.e. the fusing of metal and shoegaze with blackgaze and heavaygaze) and have continued to reach new fans through innovative reinventions that have allowed these sounds to flourish nearly two or three decades after their inception.

That being said, some of the most celebrated musicians of the Shoegaze/Dreampop scene have came together as Mercury’s Antennae!

Originally formed back in 2010, the Projekt Records act consisting of vocalist Dru Delmonico formerly of This Ascension), bassist Cindy  Coulter and multi-instrumentalist Erick Scheid, pull together a healthy combination of whirling Shoegaze guitar, Dreampop atmospheres and a unique ethereal-Goth sensibility reminiscent of This Ascension and classic Projekt acts. After creating a buzz across the West Coast and through the now-thriving Shoegaze Revival scene, Mercury’s Antennae are now ready to hit the studio to lay down their third release.

However, with such a lush and complex sound, it’s almost unfair just to slap any simple label on Mercury’s Antennae, as they really strive to push the boundaries of the music they love. The members weighed in on how they hear these sounds and formulate them into their own unique piece of art.

“I would describe our music as the soundtrack for two lovers in the middle of the ocean,” said Scheid. “Esoteric Shoegaze-Ritual Darkwave and Ambient Electronica with elements of noise, folk and Dreampop. For me personally I always have been drawn to create music that had a sense of space, atmosphere and shifting moods. A sound that is vulnerable, otherworldly, emotional and hopefully thought provoking. It sounds possibly cliché and overused in the adjectives but I guess that’s the truth. And like all artists, what has led me to create music is LIFE itself and all that it is or isn’t… the tension between the light and the dark.”

Delmonico added that the moodiness of bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode helped shape her creative angle.

“Coming of age in Southern California we had two modern rock stations that were pretty big at the time. While I wasn’t exposed to anything super obscure, I started to follow Depeche Mode, The Cure, Ultravox, a lot of so-called New Wave. Then I moved to a small town on the Central Coast where I could only pick up Classic Rock and Top 40. While I liked some of this too I missed the alternative ‘more weird’ stuff and a friend in L.A. would send me mix tapes to keep me up-to-date. I loved the moodiness, the artistic expression, the somewhat hidden aspect, although DM and The Cure both went on to be so big they sold out huge stadiums,” said Delmonico.

Earlier this year, the band released Beneath the Serene, their most sonically developed record to date. The record Beneath the Sereneis full of lush soundscapes and dreamy/ambient textures, yet also includes the somewhat traditional sound structures of popular music.

Beneath The Serene was an exploration into the questioning of all things of Beauty and realizing that Beauty and whatever that definition is, can be illusive and even toxic. Also I was questioning what connection/isolation means to me,” said Scheid.

“Most of the tracks were somewhat in tact by the time I was asked to join the band permanently, although they were largely in demo format,” continued Coulter. “I think as an artist there’s nothing more thrilling than having a blank canvas with which to work to create something that speaks to you and that you want to put out into the world. Erick and Dru have certainly provided me that in inviting me to collaborate with them. Erick has always kind of had the approach of ‘just do what you do.’ I think our arrangement works quite well and am excited at the prospect of making more music together.”

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Despite having an experimental edge sonically, Mercury’s Antennae, and Delmonico in particular, are not afraid to shy away from a good hook to help take a song to a whole new level.

“With Mercury’s Antennae, I feel like drawing out phrases more, repeating more. I think it’s okay to have those ‘pop’ elements, some of the music is genuinely hooky and catchy and it’s great. There have been a couple times with our music though that I have been stumped as to what to do. It’s forced me to sing in new ways and styles that aren’t in my normal comfort zone, which is good for an artist. That’s what happened with the title track Beneath the Serene–nothing was working at all, and it was the last track I had to put vocals to. I’d totally procrastinated ’til the last minute. But somehow something came together and while different  for me vocally, it’s really special,” said Delmonico.

In recent years, bands like True Widow, Nothing and A Place to Bury Strangers have helped bring Shoegaze back onto the scene in a big way. And since 2013, the reformation of genre pioneers like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Lush have only furthered the excitement among fans. However, Mercury’s Antennae, though akin to these movements, are forging their own path regardless of what’s in fashion. Still, they’re happy to see it where it is and believe that there is a real demand for it.

“I don’t feel like Shoegaze ever really went away. But, I think part of it is that the folks that were really into that music back in the day, are a little older now (present company included ;))  and saw those bands when they were popular the first time around. Certainly there’s a desire there now that these bands are reuniting. Couple that with some of the newer Shoegaze bands like The Joy Formidable, Seasurfer, Ringo Deathstarr, Tamaryn, Beach House, and the like, and it’s not too much of a surprise that Shoegaze is getting some new interest from old school fans a and making new ones in the process as well. It’s an exciting time,” said Coulter.

“We are longing to hear music with depth and also with a sense of spaciousness and atmosphere. With all that is changing in this world we desire to hear/witness music that is real and honest again, even if it sounds like clouds in the wind, we all want to be romanticized. At least I do… sonically that is. Shoegaze represents that in lots of ways. Also I think ‘Shoegaze’ music fuses the feminine and masculine in subtle ways and music lovers out there want to embrace that,” added Scheid.

Mercury's Antennae performing live in 2015. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

Mercury’s Antennae performing live in 2015.    Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

Mercury’s Antennae are part of the unique roster of artists featured on Projekt Records. Owned and operated by Sam Rosenthal, the mastermind behind not only the successful label but the iconic group, Black Tape for a Blue Girl. Delmonico recalled working with Rosenthal going all the back to her days with This Ascension.

“I’ve know Sam for years through This Ascension. Projekt was one of the first distributors we worked with and that was hugely beneficial relationship for us; this was before most people were on the web, which is hard to imagine now. Later, Projekt was also our label when he re-issued TA’s catalog after Tess closed. Sam was the first person I thought of when Erick and I started creating our first album. Happily for us he found it interesting, so released it as well as our latest. He’s been super supportive,” said Delmonico.

Despite having the backing from a great label, the music industry is still in a state of limbo, as distributors are often unsure the of the best platform to market their artists. Often times, it’s up to the artists to utilize unique ways to reach fans such as social media and crowd funding, depending on their individual goals.

Delmonico said that despite this disorder, there are more befits to music fans now than ever before.

“I think the changes in the industry have been a dual-edged sword. There is this wonderful openness and access to music now that is unprecedented. Just this morning I discovered John Fryer (Depeche Mode, Love and Rockets, This Mortal Coil, Nine Inch Nails) has an ongoing music project with various vocalists and musicians called Black Needle Noise, and I can listen to them all instantly on Bandcamp. It’s a great time for music fans,” she said.

She also explained that success in the industry can be achieved through hard work and smart/innovative decisions.

“As creators, bands like us were doing better in terms of financial success in the 90s. I think more artists are going to need to take regular and freelance jobs to continue to make music. There is this expectation now that people shouldn’t t have to buy music. Even good friends of mine think this. I’ve known bands signed to major labels that have trouble keeping their bills paid, but also independent artists who can make their living with a successful blend of touring, merchandising, creativity and some good fortune. It’s very hard though,” finished Delmonico.

Mercury’s Antennae just wrap up a slew of dates on the West Coast and are set to work on new material for their next release. Be sure to check back to their official Facebook page for all updates and live dates.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

VVVV Cover

Artist: Cvttvnmvvth

Album: VVVV

Release Date: 2/12/16

Rating: 9.5/10

Over the past few years, the Northeast Ohio music scene has seen an explosion of Sludge, Doom and Stoner Rock influenced acts attempting to, and often succeeding to, bring raw, gritty heavy rock back to the forefront. But none have dared further, lower, dirtier, eviler and spacier than Youngstown’s Cvttvnmvvth!

Since the release of their 2013 debut, Tough Snake, Cvttvnmvvth have pummeled ear drums with their unique blend of Doom, Space/Psych, Stoner Metal and Post-Punk, with heavy atmospheres reaching as far in Goth as they do into Black Metal. Now, the power trio of gloom are set to release their next monumental output, a cassette tape titled VVVV.

Over the seven tracks that comprise VVVV, Cvttvnmvvth touch base on all the aforementioned styles, piss all over them, and write their own set of rules. The upbeat “Barf Star” opens the tape, setting the tone with a lo-fi, punk slammer of a track, leading into the heavy licks of “Strangle Game.” Along with a DIY aesthetic, the lo-fi production and heavy reverb, especially on the drums, is almost instantly reminiscent of the hey day of the tape-trading Black Metal scene of early 80s acts like Hellhammer and Bathory.

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“Plug Life” is the first track to really slow things down, right down into the dirt! Featuring some Pentagram-esque riffage, the track emphasizes Cvttvnmvvth’s ability to dig deep, while keeping the song grounded and interesting. “Subwolfer” sounds like a long-lost Black Sabbath demo, complete with drummer Kenny Halbert and bassist Eric Tharp holding down a tight, swinging groove over top some deliciously doom-y riffs and almost bluesy vocals courtesy of singer/guitarist Javier. “World Abattoir” continues this vibe before naturally segueing into the spacey, psychedelic doom the concludes VVVV.

“Sex Feast” nods to Candlemass, perhaps if Candlemass had begun in the early 70s, with a very classic doom riff filled with Space Rock flair. Finally, the album concludes on a definite highlight with “Sky Burial.” The epic eight-plus minute track soars high, really high, serving as a well indicator of how Cvttvnmvvth have developed as songwriters.

VVVV has a very genre-bending overall approach, one which says more in seven tracks than most artists do across three albums. Upon listening to VVVV, there’s no doubt that Cvttvnmvvth are both unafraid to take risks, and enjoy pushing the boundaries of which they have set. VVVV is the perfect answer to Tough Snake, the band have not only grown as songwriters, but have set the bar even higher this time around.

Cvttvnmvvth will hold an official release party for VVVV on Feb. 20 at Cedars West End along with Mississippi Gun Club for support.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vh93CQ7ylo&feature=youtu.be

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Chelsea Wolfe

Album: Abyss

Release Date: 8/7/15

Rating: 9.5/10

Chelsea Wolfe is very much unlike any of her contemporary indie singer-songwriters. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Black and Doom Metal, and having a real affinity for the dark, she dares to dabble in areas that not many artists in today’s musical landscape would dare. Therefore, there’s much more than the average “doom and gloom” to Wolfe’s haunting soundscapes and blurred vocals; this being most evident on her latest effort, Abyss.

Rewind just five years earlier, Chelsea Wolfe introduced herself and her unique songwriting approaches and dark folk-meets-neo-psychedelia her debut album, 2010’s The Grime and the Glow. However, it wasn’t until her follow-up, 2011’s Apokalypsis, that her droning Goth Rock style began to take shape. She went even further with 2013’s Pain is Beauty, incorporating more synthesizers and electronic textures.

Fans of Goth, Shoegaze, Doom and Black Metal alike began to take notice, although the signature heavy/distorted guitars of said styles were either not present, or set somewhere in the background.

This is certainly not the case for Abyss, Wolfe’s noisiest and heaviest effort yet. Inspired by her own experience with sleep paralysis, the album is truly the soundtrack to a 3 a.m. nightmare. Opening track, “Carrion Flowers,” sets the tone with a terrifying Post-Industrial wall of synth noise that’s enough to give Trent Reznor or Nivek Ogre nightmares! From there, the volume hits 11 with the guitar-heavy “Iron Moon” and “Dragged Out.” The opening trio of songs set the tone for what’s to come, while successfully catching the ears of new and old fans, as it’s not exactly what one might expect from Chelsea Wolfe… until now!

Chelsea Wolfe. Photo courtesy of Instagram.

Chelsea Wolfe. Photo courtesy of Instagram.

From there, the piano driven “Maw” changes the pace sonically, while only descending deeper into Wolfe’s terrifying trip. Tracks like “Grey Days” and “After the Fall” showcase Wolfe’s lyrical ability, creating moods and emotions not unlike a painter’s brush on a canvas. “Crazy Love” and “Survive” nod to earlier material with a Goth-Folk vibe, with “Simple Death” and “Color of Blood” let ambiance take the lead. Finally, the droning “Abyss” closes the record with an eerie detuned piano and haunting string session, placing the listener into Wolfe’s mental state following the series of night terrors.

Don’t let the over-bearing darkness fool you, Abyss is equally beautiful as it is haunting. Chelsea Wolfe has a real raw emotive power to her voice, much in the way of PJ Harvey. She could bring a room to tears, or perfectly erupt into the noise of her band at any given moment, while barely raising her voice. This album is the sound of Chelsea Wolfe in prime, both as a songwriter and an artist who is continually challenging herself, yet successfully remaining true to her roots.

All in all, Abyss is Wolfe’s best work yet. This is a true testament to artistic progress. Standout tracks include “Carrion Flowers,” “Dragged Out,” After the Fall,” “Survive” and “Abyss.” This album is great for new fans. Those who appreciate the work of Curve, Om, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Swans or early Nine Inch Nails and PJ Harvey should find instant appeal.

Chelsea Wolfe will kick off a North American tour alongside Wovenhand on Aug. 27 in Las Vegas. Abyss is out Aug. 7 via Sargent House Records.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cvtvnmvvth performing at Cedars in Youngstown, OH. Left to right: Sam Bowlin, Kenny Halbert and Eric Thrap.

Cvtvnmvvth performing at Cedars in Youngstown, OH. Left to right: Sam Bowlin, Kenny Halbert and Eric Thrap.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

It’s been quite a busy 12 months for Youngstown-based Doom Metal juggernauts, Cvttcnmvvth. Following the release of their debut EP, Toughsnake, in 2013, the band have been hard at work solidifying their lineup and making a splash on the local scene. With explosive performances across the area alongside top-notch acts like Album and Resinaut, as well as a handful of high-profile performances lined up, Cvttvnmvvth have firmly established themselves as the must-see ticket in the area in 2015.

The Raw Alternative recently spoke to the band’s founding members, guitarist Sam (Javier) Bowlin and drummer Kenny Halbert to discuss a number of topics including the band’s creative influences, their thoughts on the local scene, dividing their time between side-project Wild Wings and their upcoming performance opening for Columbus, Ohio Sludge legends Lo-Pan on Jan. 17.

Give us a brief history of the band from it’s formation up to now. Have you been involved with any past projects or worked with anyone previously which led to Cvttvnmvvth? How did the current lineup come together?

Sam: Kenny and I had originally began our musical collaboration when we met in high school, some 20-plus years ago. Ken had rented a practice space out in the middle of a crumbling junkyard on the outskirts of New Springfield, (Ohio) and it was there that we started version 1.0 of Cvttvnmvvth (then spelled Cottonmouth, without all the V’s, those came later). We strived to create unpleasant, virulent music that reflected our grim surroundings. Things eventually fell apart, as things often do, and after high school we went our separate ways for nearly two decades; I headed out east, while Kenny continued his adventures, musical and otherwise, between here and the west coast.  I moved back to Youngstown in 2012 and reconnected with my old friend. It didn’t take long before we found ourselves in a new musical collaboration, the band Railings. Things ran their course with that act, and with some downtime on our hands we had the urge to resurrect our first band, a new version where Ken switched from bass to drums, but with all of the original intentions in place: To create something ugly. We recorded our debut, Toughsnake, in mid 2013.  We tried a few select heads out on bass before Eric Tharp joined up with us in early 2014.

You made a pretty big splash on the scene last year. What are your plans for 2015?

Sam: We plan on recording material for our follow-up, working title Total Possession (Soundtrack to the Blackest of Masses), but Kenny’s not crazy about parentheses in album titles, so we’ll see how that one flies. Also, we will play cool shows and weird out squares.

Kenny: What do you think about the title? When you set a precedent like that it brings a lot of crazies out of the woodwork…plus, with the clandestine nature of these affairs, it’s hard to know for sure if it’s really the “blackest.” Someone will have to come up with a Scoville Unit-type ranking system, or something.

What’s your take on the current local scene right now? What do you like most about it? How can it improve?

Sam: I see both good and bad in the local scene. There’s a seeming trend of “acoustic” nights, which doesn’t do much for me personally, but it must be popular because you get so much of it around here. I like a bit of a spectacle if I’m going to see a band, I want something loud and different and if it can catch me off my guard then I’m into it. If I wanted to be bored and content I’d sit at home watching Criminal Minds reruns. If I know I’m going to have my mind blown, I’m much more likely to leave the house.

Kenny: It’s reflective of itself. If people start more relevant bands, there will be a scene with more bands that are relevant. If people want to go to art shows they can go support those things, and then there will be a boon there. Organic food stuff trading will be on the rise.

How can fans, and other musicians perhaps, benefit from getting out and diving into the local scene?

Sam: Well, it’s certainly something to do in a city where you don’t always have a ton of options for entertainment that doesn’t involve something illegal or immoral. Sometimes seeing a terrible band can be just a fulfilling as seeing one that rages, depending on your mood. Apathy tends to be the general consensus about town, which pairs well with the blight and despair, and while you might not have the ability to make someone care, at the very least you can try and make them uncomfortable.

Kenny: While watching a band, if you’re thinking, “This band is shit,” start a band. It might sound like a pile of shit, but it will be yours.

What’s your opinion of the current state of the music industry? Do you think it’s easier or more difficult to reach a mass audience? Are tactics like U2 giving away their entire album for free a good thing, or a sign of the end of old business model? How do you distribute your music?

Sam: There might as well not even be a music industry. There’s no money in putting out challenging or innovative music on a grand scale like it may have been in days past. Everything is subject to entropy, and when dinosaurs like U2 attempt such marketing schemes, one realizes the whole business model is dead on the table. Bono can afford to give his work away for free because he’s already made millions from the machine. It’s become a prerequisite that one distributes music in some digital format; there’s no escaping it. But it sure helps to get your work out there to a growing populace who may not own a CD player or tape deck or turntable.

Kenny: The music industry is a pile of shit. And Bono got paid for that. So did Thom Yorke. And don’t get me started on this new $1,000 Neil Young Walkman—what shit. We distribute at shows, online, and through physical distributors.

There seems to be a strong resurgence in the Doom/Stoner/Sludge scene. How does Cvttvnmvvth fit into that? What sets you apart?

Sam: Doom Metal has always seemed to work in odd cycles of obscurity and relevance. It’s a genre I have been a fan of since childhood, whether it was coveting my older brother’s Black Sabbath records, or going out and discovering bands like Saint Vitus and Candlemass as a teenager. For me, the best doom has a deep emotional resonance, which I hope translates in Cvttvnmvvth, whether it be abject desolation or world-weary pessimism. What sets us apart, I think, is approaching the material with a wider palate of ideas and approximations in regards to sounding the way we want, rather than a pastiche of our influences, which is hardly interesting.

Kenny: I don’t necessarily agree. It’s always around. If there was a recent peak, the peak happened a while back when Josh Homme was hanging out with Anthony Bourdain, nationally anyway. Metal itself is always there, but the various sub-genre flavors that are in vogue at the time change. But if any bands are into tube amplification and fuzz and a “give ‘em hell” attitude, we can fit in. No wimps. What sets us aside is that we have never set out to sound like _____________, nor set any rules governing the shaping of our sound. Although it should be noted Javier would probably play every song solo on the organ if left to his own devices. We try to encourage him away from “the Devil’s Showtunes”.

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Songs like “Hideous Witness,” although heavy, seem to maintain a strange balance between Goth and psychedelic rock. Elaborate on your sound as much as you can (or are willing to). Why do you think it is important to show diversity and stand out?

Sam: Gothic and psychedelic music are a definite influence on our work, almost as much as punk or metal in the mix. I like thick, lumbering sounds; anything that comes across as suffocating or oppressive pleases me. At the end of the day, standing out or seeming diverse isn’t as important as it is to tweak some sort of emotional reaction out of the listener, even if its discomfort or disgust.

Kenny: The “psychedelic” part must come from Stoner Rock. The “Goth” part comes to Javier late at night after teasing his hair, while drinking iced tea and playing Bananagrams by the glow of a space heater.

What kinds of artists are you listening to currently? Have they or will they influence your sound? Any influences that fans may not expect?

Sam: I listen to a lot of older metal, stuff like Hellhammer, Bathory, and Beherit, 70’s hard rock, a lot of contemporary black metal; I’m pretty obsessive over certain region and era specific styles and genres of metal, but I fancy quite a bit of the 80’s gothic and post-punk racket as well. I think everything one likes ends up an influence, whether or not the influence is immediately apparent.

Kenny: Mainliner, Rakta, Coneheads, EYEHATEGOD, Greenleaf, Horn Of The Rhino. Absolutely. I love Steely Dan.

You have a pretty high-profile gig with Lo-Pan coming up; are you guys excited to be opening for them? Do you think having them perform in Youngstown is good for the local scene? 

Sam: We are very delighted to be opening for Lo-Pan. It’s a great opportunity to expose our work to music fans who may have not had the pleasure to see our live show or hear our music before. I left Ohio in the mid-90’s so I missed the halcyon days of the Nyabinghi when heavier bands made Youngstown a regular stop on their touring circuits, but if the stories are to be believed, there are people who reside in our fair city who enjoy aggressive music but might not be aware that there are still bands who play in that style. We’ll see how the 17th goes. At the very minimum, we’ll have a good time and get to watch those guys devastate.

Kenny: Yes, I hope people come to the show. If not, that can become a bummer, and then what’s the point? A lot of those “glory dayz” memories people have about Nya, Cedar’s, Penguin Pub, etc., were often shows attended by eight people. The numbers in attendance swell as time passes. But that’s all gone now, so why not come out now and make some fantastic memories you can embellish later? And create something new instead of trying to become what things were. And you’ll be able to say you saw us “back in the day” when we were young; like, in our 30’s.

What’s in store for future recordings/releases? How can fans get a hold of your music?

Sam: We plan on doing some recording at some point this year. Ken and I split our time between Cvttvnmvvth and our other band, Wild Wings, so amidst playing out with both bands we’ll eventually get some work done in the Animal Dojo and have something new to offer before the year’s over. Expect more songs about sex and death. We have work by both bands available on our website www.lionscarerecordings.com as well as our Bandcamp page, cvttvnmvvth.bandcamp.com.

Marilyn Manson circa 1994.

Marilyn Manson circa 1994.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Editor)

During the summer of 1994, music was in a curious place.

Grunge was on life support, Hip-Hop and R&B were starting to take over the radio waves and Industrial music was just beginning to take the world by storm.

While Nine Inch Nails and Ministry were leading the way, unbeknownst to most, there was a little known band from Florida well on their way to turning the world upside down.

Ironically it was Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor who would turn this musician loose on the unsuspecting public.

The band, Marilyn Manson, the album: Portrait of an American Family.

Twenty years ago this month (July 19) the album hit store shelves all while the band was opening for NIN, Hole and the Jim Rose Circus.

Manson and his band of freaks, Daisy Berkowitz (Guitar), Madonna Wayne “Pogo” Gacy (Keyboards), Twiggy Ramirez (bass) and Sara Lee Lucas (drums), soon became notorious for their live act full of violence and unpredictability.

Whether it was Mr. Manson cutting himself on stage or Pogo’s odd stage behavior the band was considered controversial right out of the gate, as was their names (First name, after an iconic female sex symbol and last name after an iconic serial killer) and first album.

Portrait of an American Family, produced by Trent Reznor at various locations including the infamous Tate house in California, kicked off with a twisted rendition of a classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory line.

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“Prelude (The Family Trip)” features Manson rambling the famous boat ride lines from Willy Wonka overtop of samples and distortion, but it was the next song that truly introduced us to Marilyn Manson.

The opening lines to “Cake and Sodomy,” much like the rest of the song, were a big fuck you to pretty much everything.

“I am the God of fuck,” Manson, calmly proclaims.

The chorus, “White trash get down on your knees, time for cake and sodomy” though catchy, was an obvious stab at redneck America. Specifically those in the Midwest that Mr. Manson grew up around in Canton, Ohio.

“Lunchbox” was next up, a tale about a child being bullied, then the child turning to violence as a weapon of retaliation.

It was also an acknowledgment to all of the Manson fans, A.K.A. the “Spooky Kids” who would carry lunchboxes to his shows when the band was relatively unknown and still playing in Florida.

The next two tracks, “Organ Grinder” and “Cyclops” are gritty, hard hitting and disturbing.

Upon first listen, “Organ Grinder” is shocking with its lyrical content, dealing with everything from penis envy to self-loathing.

“Cyclops” is a straightforward rocker that is the perfect prelude to perhaps the albums catchiest song, “Dope Hat.”

The songs guitar riff, bass line and drums, along with Manson’s hypnotic vocals, are enough to send you into a trance, as the beat is sure to be stuck in your head for hours.

The music video, the third single off of the album, fits the song perfectly as you follow Manson and his band mates through a twisted, perverted boat ride straight out of Willy Wonka.

Track number seven is a brutal number that features a surreal/nightmarish video.

“Get Your Gunn,” which was the albums first single, takes a stab at pro-lifers and right-wing religious fanatics alike.

Ironic lyrics such as, “The housewife I will beat/the pro-life I will kill, what you won’t do I will” help spearhead Manson’s message of hypocritical, white trash American’s.

During the breakdown of the song, voices are heard in the background and a gunshot is fired, adding more to the shock value is the fact it was real, as it was an excerpt from Budd Dwyer’s ill-fated press conference in 1987. (Don’t know who Budd Dwyer is? Google the video.)

The song “Wrapped in Plastic” (a personal favorite) followed. Manson got the name of the song from the popular TV series “Twin Peaks.”

One of the first scenes from the pilot episode shows a character that finds the shows (dead) star, to which he proclaims, “She’s dead, wrapped in plastic.”

The series was a personal favorite of Manson’s and he uses several samples from the show in this song about how, from the outside, many family’s appear to have the All-American, white picket fence lifestyle, but it’s what happens inside of the home that tells the real story.

“Dogma” and “Sweet Tooth” follow before the three-headed monster of “Snake Eyes and Sissies”, “My Monkey” and “Misery Machine” hits.

“Snake Eyes and Sissies” was originally intended to be the first single, but it was never released.

One can see why it was a strong contender with its undeniably catchy bass line and Berkowitz grungy guitar riff.

One of the oddest tracks is “My Monkey” but it surprisingly works well.

The verse features Manson’s voice being transformed into a child like enigma, before blasting off into his gritty, sarcastic vocals during the chorus.

Lastly the masterpiece ends with “Misery Machine” a song the band regularly closed with during concerts.

The track is pure mayhem as every instrument seems to be in overdrive and ready to explode at any given moment until the song suddenly slows down into a slow, heavy groove toward the end.

That’s when Manson’s voice joins the instruments in becoming slow, but heavy at the same time, before blasting through the intense ending that eventually leads into a sample of a phone call received from an angry parent of a Manson fan.

Though this album was only a prelude to the controversy that was to come with subsequent albums, this may be Mr. Manson’s finest effort, especially lyrically.

Many of the albums references are still relevant today as we live in a world full of hypocrites and self-righteous people.

Little did the world know, in 1994, that this was just the start and that two years later Marilyn Manson would become the most hated person and band in the entire world…

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Godflesh

Artist: Godflesh

Album: Decline and Fall

Release Date: 6/2/14

Rating: 9/10

Many of the down-tuned, guttural vocal bands that dominated the scene of the late 90’s, owe their entire career, and then some, to Godflesh. The pioneering industrial metal act, led by mastermind guitarist and vocalist, Justin Broadrick, burst onto the scene in around 1990, just as the industrial sound as it came to be was reaching it’s creative peak. Whereas acts like Ministry and KMFDM where fusing sampled drum loops with thrash metal guitar riffs, Godflesh choose a similar path, only using slowed down, low-tuned doom and sludge metal style riffs.

Their innovative style, an entire song or a good portion of a song revolving around a repeating heavy riffs and mechanical grove, proved to be a huge influence on nu metal acts like KoRn and Coal Chamber several years later. With successful albums such as Streetcleaner, Pure, and Songs of Love and Hate, Godflesh also helped push future industrial acts like Fear Factory and Static-X in a more metal-dominated direction.

After retiring Godflesh for nearly a decade and striking out with the more indie/shoegaze project Jesu, Broadrick resurrected the band four years ago and now returns with a new EP.

Decline and Fall is the Godflesh fans have been yearning for. It represents a refreshed, mature and even more angry unit, with the energy and passion of a new act on their debut release. The EP kicks off with the single “Ringer,” a slamming industrial-sludge grinder that boldly sets the tone. From there, the ferocious “Dogbite” and the droningly melodic “Playing with Fire” return Godflesh to their heyday, but with an even darker and heavier take. Finally, the closing track, “Decline and Fall,” shows Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green hitting a creative high.

The best thing about Decline and Fall is that it sounds like an industrial metal from the genre’s heyday without feeling dated. Perhaps Godflesh was always a few steps ahead of their time, and only to be imitated, and in some cases ripped off, by acts who would achieve far more mainstream success. Still, if anything, Decline and Fall boldly proves that Godflesh are, and always have been innovators and originators.

The only flaw is that the EP ends abruptly. It rises, nearly climaxes, but drops. However, despite the tease of an EP, a full-length is scheduled for the Fall of this year. In the meantime, fans from back in the day, as well as fans of industrial and the growing sludge and doom scenes will appreciate Decline and Fall, as it is truly a return to their gloomy glory!

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Incentive. Photo courtesy of the official Facebook page.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Magnificent talent lurks from every crack and corner of Northeast Ohio. Many can be seen slugging it out for dominance in local clubs and bars. Yet some fly under the radar, spreading like a disease around you before finally creeping out at the last possible second, and altering your idea entirely of what the scene is, can and should be.

Such is the case for Incentive. Hiding along the shadows of the Canton, Ohio music scene, Incentive is a self-produced, self-released one-man post-industrial act. The music is comprised of distorted and contorted electronic noise, with hints of melody laid throughout. Similar to the likes of Coil and Cabaret Voltaire, Incentive utilizes the blatant noise and atmospherics of classic industrial, with hints of Post-Punk, Goth, IDM, Noise, and Witch house for a classic yet contemporary electro-industrial sound.

The man behind Incentive, James Osborne, said his musical influences’ roots lie across all plains of the electronic spectrum.

“In high school I listened to quite a bit of Japanese Noise, the old stuff from the Boredoms before they turned into more of a Kraut Rock-type group. I was also into industrial music a lot too, stuff like KMFDM and some of the works from Killing Joke,” said Osborne.

However, he said his perspective of the industrial genre is based more in imagery and ideas than a one particular sound.

“I think the best way to describe industrial music is not necessarily trying to categorize it by its sound, but by its mindset as well. When you look at a lot of early-80’s industrial videos and such, they all have very similar imagery. That sort of weird post-dystopian imagery and wastelands. I think it’s about trying to show the reality of industrialization, and now this post-industrialization that we’re living in,” said Osborne.

Incentive began making noise in 2003, experimenting with limitless boundaries of the process of creating machine-based music, with an indication of a broken human soul subtly strung throughout. By 2009, Incentive had compiled enough material for a debut release, No Justice, No Peace. Since then, he has released an album’s worth of music consecutively each year. Three of the more recent albums, Cyberpunk Age, Ascension of Isaiah and Prospect St., are available for purchase at Incentive’s official Bandcamp page.

Currently, Incentive is hard at work on yet another album, which is nearing completion.

“The album I’m working on right now, I’ve been working on since August. And I’d say it’s about 75 percent complete right now,” said Osborne.

Music is not the only trade Osborne has mastered. He has also launched the successful independent record label, Dystopiaq Records. Along with Incentive’s entire discography, Dystopiaq, which operates under and Creative Commons License, has released records from various experimental electronic bedroom artists, as well as a number of compilations featuring bedroom artists from around the globe. The label, which was founded in 2009, was designed to release and promote “products that put wrinkles in your brain.”

The label’s official Facebook indicates:

“Dystopiaq releases consistently unique and interesting cuts from the around the world. We primarily focus on a wide range of electronic music, but we have no issues with other styles.”

Osborne said Dystopiaq will continue to seek out and release distinctive talent, from whatever corner of the world it may lie.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Gary-Numan-Splinter

Artist: Gary Numan

Album: Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)

Release Date: 10/15/13

Rating: 4.8/5

For some, Gary Numan was a mere one-hit wonder amongst a vast crop of early 80’s synth-pop nostalgia. His lone pop hit, “Cars,” has become a staple of 80’s compilations albums, and rightfully so! He kicked the door open for a whole slew of new wave and synth-pop acts in the early days of MTV. However, not as many are aware that he’s been consistently making influential and groundbreaking music for 30 years and counting.

What Numan lacks in chart toppers, he more than makes up for in a strong discography and a prominent presence amongst underground electronic and alternative music. Originally a punk rocker, Numan went solo in the early 80’s and took his love for Kraftwerk and Berlin-era Bowie to the next level, inventing his own brand of electronic, synth-heavy proto-industrial. After the success of “Cars,” Numan continuing making challenging electronic music. His influence has spread far a wide, being covered by the likes of Hole, Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters, as well as acts like Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and Fear Factory citing Numan as a key influence.

Over the years, Numan’s music had grown darker and moodier. By the 90’s he was keeping in touch with the industrial scene, as well as making a splash among the Goth and darkwave scenes. In recent years, Numan’s music has grown increasing aggressive, adapting heavily distorted guitars to compliment the equally distorted pulsing synths.

This sound is most notable on his latest release, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind). It kicks off with the heavy riffing “I Am Dust” featuring Nine Inch Nails axeman Robin Finck. The industrial rock powerhouse continues on “Here in the Black” and “Everything Comes Down to This,” creating a wall of noise, laden with driving beats, throbbing synths and mean riffs. The title track “Splinter” stops for a more atmospheric and brooding vibe, while the piano-driven “Lost” provides a dark and moody, heavy NIN-like build. Unsurprisingly, this track also features Finck on guitar.

More head bumping and booty shaking noise takes control from there with the KMFDM-like “Love Hurt Bleed” where Numan growls “everything bleeds” repeatedly. Dance club banger Goth anthems “A Shadow Falls on Me” and “We’re the Unforgiven” continue the assault, finally climaxing with the melancholy closing track, “My Last Day.”

Splinter is, in many ways, the album industrial fans have been waiting for. It’s dark, moody and heavy, but not in the bland and redundant detuned, double-bass metal attack that dominates most so-called industrial. It harks back to golden age of industrial, from 1988-95, before the genre splint into either more metal or techno directions.

Most of the tracks on Splinter are key listens, with hardly a falter throughout the album. Certainly the tracks “I Am Dust,” “Everything Comes Down to This” and “A Shadow Falls on Me” will catch the listener by storm. But it would be foolish to count out the more atmospheric tracks like “Lost,” “Splinter” and “My Last Day,” where although the aggression is more subtle, it’s a slower yet ultimately harder punch.

If Numan continues to make music this hard-hitting and this good, hits or not, he’ll continue to remain relevant for another 30 years.

Shoegaze act Catherine Wheel circa 1993. Photo courtesy of MTV.com.

Shoegaze act Catherine Wheel circa 1993. Photo courtesy of MTV.com.

By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

The early development of the Shoegaze genre lies somewhere in the post-punk haze of the 80’s. Gothic/Ethereal artists such as Cocteau Twins and The Jesus and Mary Chain began to fuse elements from uncategorized and/or “art” rock acts like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur, Jr. The name itself evolved because artists, namely guitarists, where using a lot of effects on their guitars through the use of various pedals and stomp boxes and they seemed to be “gazing at their shoes” during performances.

Though many of the genre’s predecessors often used a lot of layering or effects in their music via multi-tracking, in live situations they were more sparse. Live performances from Shoegaze artists differed in many instances because they rarely changed the arrangement or the effects, although the layering was done in a more ethereal or blurred out way to begin with on the records, it was a bit easier to cope with live. Moreover, live versions were even more exaggerated because of this. Shoegaze greats Ride and Catherine Wheel are prime examples of this practice.

By the 90’s, a sister sub-genre called Dreampop surfaced with artists such as Slowdive and Lush. Their music featured the noise of Shoegaze, however was a bit more poppy and melodic. Even Brit Rock/Pop bands like The Stone Roses also experimented with many of the budding trademark sounds with their single, “I Wanna Be Adored” in 1991.

However, 1991 was the year that the first significant stride was made in Shoegaze. One of the first acts to be described as both Dreampop and Shoegaze, the influential My Bloody Valentine, combined airy female vocals and guitarist Kevin Shields’ distinctive sonic wall of guitar noise. In fact, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless had a great impact on many guitarists in the 90’s, not just in Shoegaze, but Alternative in its broadest sense. Billy Corgan and James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins are notable followers.

The torch was in a way, carried most authentically to British band, Catherine Wheel. Shoegaze became full circle and the trademark sound was “nailed” by them in 1993 with their second record, Chrome. This is arguably the cornerstone record in this genre with its dreamy and catchy melodies sung with Gilmour-esque soothing ethereal vocals and sonically lush (but often still aggressive) guitars and concepts which vary throughout. This record is also one of the most unsung and overlooked recordings of the 90’s in general due to the quick shift in focus to the rise (and fall) of Grunge.

However, not all was forgotten. Catherine Wheel went on throughout the 00’s, inspiring new fans of other genres to not only go back and listen to their old records, but discover My Bloody Valentine’s, Loveless too, and draw from a perhaps small collection of Shoegaze records. Even more so, the quality that spanned Smashing Pumpkins’ range of influences, as well as successful English Alternative/Rock acts such as Radiohead and Pulp, had therefore inspired yet another Brit Rock Revival.

In the Shoegaze lineage, little known but amazing American artists such as Starflyer 59 (often referred to as a Space Rock band) and Hum plugged away through the 90’s. In more recent years, the independent two-piece act, Have a Nice Life, emerged with one of the greatest Shoegaze mixtures ever, especially on their debut album, Deathconsciousness. The presence of Dreampop-y melodic hooks, spacey textures and even darker undertones, hark back to the beginning of this genre’s early Post-Punk/Goth influences. (Refer to some of the artists mentioned in last month’s Gothic Rock article).

In addition to the previous Picks of the Week, which I used introduce this origins of this genre I now include for your enjoyment:

Catherine Wheel – Black Metallic. From recommended album, Ferment. 1993

Starflyer 59 – Hazel Would. from recommended album, Silver. 1994

Hum – Stars. From recommended album, You’d Prefer an Astronaut. 1995

Have a Nice Life – Bloodhail. From recommended album, Deathconsciousness. 2008

Ian Curtis of Joy Division.

Ian Curtis of Joy Division.

By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)

The often misunderstood (or mystified) Goth genre has roots in the darker and/or unexplored Glam Rock and of the course early modern European historical definition. While many rock journalists have cited Jim Morrison the first Gothic Rock singer with his low, intriguing baritone vocals and previously unexplored lyrical themes which were often disturbing both psychologically and artistically in the 60’s, The Velvet Underground achieved the complete backdrop instrumentally and via arrangement including stylistic contributions.

Lou Reed, singer/songwriter, along with Sterling Morrison, the explorative guitarist and velvet-voiced songstress, Nico probably had more in common with darker art rock of their day but this is in fact why they were astounding as an ensemble to the genre’s infancy.

Into the 70’s, Nick Cave and The Birthday Party continued to travel the uncharted territories with his own brand of improv and perceived madness. And while Ian Curtis of Joy Division did much of the same, he examined personal and rugged emotion, no matter the sort. The depressed Goth myth can begin here unfortunately.

Obvious Jim Morrison influences in lower vocal register were apparent, staggered lyric-focused melodies (like Reed’s) were also highlighted. But instrumentally, The Birthday Party and Joy Division embodied not only the “sound” but also arrangement which as again revamped but with a focus on bottom register as a whole (i.e. bass guitar and other instruments which include a lasher/velvety bottom end or even guitars with deeper timbre). These elements were explored and solidified. The style and name of the genre was being defined.

In September of 1979, Tony Wilson, journalist and host of the British show, So It Goes, used the term Gothic to define Joy Division’s stark and eerie style.

“Dancing music with Gothic overtones.” he explained.

By the time contemporaries such as the longstanding Sisters of Mercy which spanned, and spawned many other subgenres such as Goth-Industrial and Goth Metal. Eventually, contemporaries such as Souxsie and the Banshees and The Cure added their elements and developed their more otherworldly, ethereal take on the genre lyrically and instrumentally. Often sporting an odd mash up of the darker corners of the Glam Rock movement and a sort of Post-Punk irony, the aforementioned acts delivered and stamped Goth Rock into the psyches of any sub or sub sub-genre.

While some sub-genres are often thought of when many people nowadays think of “Goth,” there is no substitute for the root and its purposes; examining universal dark themes (not evil, but dark).

Dark is defined in the Free Dictionary as “Lacking or having very little light: a dark corner. b. Lacking brightness: a dark day. 2. Reflecting only a small fraction of incident light.” Such is the very definition of Goth in ANY medium dating back to Medieval and Renaissance visual art and architecture.

While acts such as Bauhaus are often praised and many worthy modern Goth acts (especially Industrial acts) such as ThouShaltNot are overlooked, modern dark ambient and ethereal examples especially from the Projekt Records label are strongest overall “GOTHS.” Acts such as Black Tape for a Blue Girl, This Ascension and Unto Ashes, as well as the solo projects from Mortiis from the Black Metal band, Emperor, own this era of the genre and have kept it strong and genuine since the 90’s via label owner and musician, Sam Rosenthal.

In addition to my “Picks of the Week” which spanned a proto- Goth to 80’s Goth timeline, I also offer for your consideration the aforementioned classic acts and the following modern often overlooked examples of the best of the genre. Enjoy! And do try and pick up or legally download these independent artists’ records.

Black Tape for a Blue Girl – Across a Thousand Blades

This Ascension – Mysterium

ThouShaltNot – Without Faith