As a drummer, The first thing to grab me about RITUALS is the beat. A song can have the tastiest riff in the world. But if there isn’t a tight groove behind it, it’ll still leave me flat. I love how the rhythm drives these songs. While the gain is definitely cranked on the guitars and singer Tim Vester bears an uncanny vocal resemblance to Richard Patrick, this band is hardly some kind of Filter knock-off.
RITUALS hits the ground running and never lifts its foot from the pedal. Industrial elements permeate the recording but never stand in the way of heavy riffs, all while remaining curiously digestible.
The Snowbeasts’ remix of Symptoms takes the listener into dancefloor territory while Static Logic’s Psychotropic remix is the most experimental, as it delves into sound collages and fragmented voice samples. The Witch Eyes remix hits like a punch to the jaw that’ll knock your teeth out.
Best enjoyed at full volume, the visceral edge of these songs appealed to the headbanger in me. There is a metal crossover appeal here, but don’t let that fool you. RITUALS works on more than one level.
Laboratory Experiments is a supergroup of sorts, comprised of members who have bashed around the SoCal dark alternative scene for some years now and bonded by their mutual admiration for each other’s music. Now they join forces to forge a new effort that blends their love of acts like Ladytron, NIN and Oingo Boingo into a unified cohesive sound with a mad scientist aesthetic, all in one debut single.
This one comes on with a sexy slow grind that leads to seductive female vocals with lyrics that challenge machismo. A smattering of electronic chirping keeps the listener engaged, whether they’re aware of it or not. This is a dancefloor jam on par with NIN’s Closer. Subtleties are at work, so don’t expect to get it on the first listen. But that’s okay because this track holds up, even on repeat.
Overlook me, you mistook me – your mistake Can’t put your bullshit insecurities on me I’m not made to please you, to satisfy or fuck you I was made to be me – made to live free in my own skin
And you can’t wear it You can’t have it You can’t even touch it – I’m untouchable, Unstoppable You must be jealous You want to be famous But you are nothing, not a mention without me
You want me to bleed for you? What – you gonna bleed for me? You want me to die for you? Are you really gonna die for me? You gonna hunt me forever like a Final Girl? You gonna hunt me forever like a Final Girl?
Coming from an experimental music background myself, I was quick to appreciate this latest mindbender from Attention fête. “Le critère de Griffith” creates images of walking down a long dark hallway with a sinister unknown waiting at the end. All four tracks on this EP were created solely using improvised treated clarinet sounds. It’s amazing and almost hard to believe that everything heard on these recordings was made without the use of synths or samples of any kind. With “3,6 × 10⁹ Pa”, the longest track at 6:24, the whole thing is delivered with a digestible brevity; a sampling of sounds and textures that stimulate yet mystify.
This Montreuil, France band wears its admiration for, and influence from, British sound art pioneers Coil on its sleeve. The title of “The last five minutes before death” is an obvious nod to Coil’s 1986 sonic tour-de-force Horse Rotorvator.
While not what I would strictly classify as an Ambient recording, the songs seem to hover in mid-air with a presence; like trying to ignore the ghost in the room while it makes the listener’s hairs stand on end.
Fans of the movie (and comic book), The Crow, will appreciate this homage to the original soundtrack, courtesy of Distortion Productions. I’m sure for many of us, as well as many of the featured artists, this film was our first taste of some great and seminal music in our formative years. The songs are treated with reverence, but a definite youthful enthusiasm makes them seem fresh again; namely, Enchepalon’s take on the Joy Division staple, Dead Souls. Cocksure kicks the listener in the teeth with their rendition of The Cure’s Burn. I was amazed at how a band like Caustic could draw such a radical departure from Suicide’s (via Rollins Band) Ghost Rider. This is a fun ride that doesn’t sound like a rehash of 1990s alternative music. It easily stands on its own as well as being an excellent companion piece to the original soundtrack.
There are certain movies that change you, that leave an impression. This was The Crow for me in high school. To take the aesthetic and darkness of living outside the culture around me, and make that cool. If only for a moment. Add to that the setting of Detroit where I fled the suburbs on weekends to act out my misspent youth. Although Brandon Lee and his tragic story was an antihero I was drawn to. The real star character of this film was the soundtrack. A tape that lived in my cars tape deck playing over and over driving down Woodward Ave, seeing the passing street lamps, the mystery moisture rising from sewer caps. This soundtrack was an essential building block of who I was. Here Jim has brought together another team of amazing modern artists to fuse new life in the nostalgic images that still hold strong today. I will discuss a few of the 14 wonderful tracks each bringing their own take on a movie that revitalized a subculture.
Cocksure – Chicago Industrial legends Chris Connelly and Jason Novak take on The Cure “Burn“. A song so powerful and image-stirring that Robert Smith can’t remember writing it. Which I think says more about how many great songs The Cure have. Recently I saw Stabbing Westward play a cover of burn at Cold Waves. This version took a much different direction of electronic explosion. Connelly has a range to rival Smith’s and gives a cracking emotional delivery. A powerful beginning to the narrative.
Go Fight – Another Chicago industrial pioneer Jim Marcus takes on the slippery opium fueled slither of Stone Temple Pilots “Big Empty” . Marcus cuts through the haze of the original to season with sharper edges and gritty streets. I loved the clarity he brought with his voice and forceful drum strikes of this bright and cutting interpretation.
Null Device – Madison WI EDM artists Null Device did one of my underrated sneaky favorite tracks on this all star soundtrack “Color Me Once” by Violent Femmes. This ended up being my favorite cover of the many strong offerings. A bold shift from the original haunted folk alternative twang. Shattering strong drum beats and sweeping dynamic changes. Eric’s voice drips with anger and honey, contrasted by the harmonies of Jill Sheridan. I love that he keeps Gordo’s cadence while giving rich and beautiful tone. Sky splitting guitar solo to bring the action to a head. This one hit me hard in all the feels.
Panic Lift – Next up a New Jersey band I owe an apology to. I have criminally under covered them in spite of every time they cross my radar saying this is absolutely astounding I should listen to this all the time. James Frances and company had the unenviable task of taking on Helmet‘s “Milktoast“. Page Hamilton has a special place for me in being an artist who got placed between punk and grunge yet was one of the more complex progressive musicians of his time. So it was going to take a lot to impress me. I was duly impressed. Helmet has such an organic sound and the buzzing rippling electronic energy captured that constantly shifting time and chanting rhythm. I love the spinning siren effect. Softening the edges without decreasing the danger.
Leaether StripRed Lokust and Tragic Impulse – Jim Semonik (Distortion Records) who made this compilation possible teamed up with Claus Larson (Leatherstrip) and Pittsburgh’s Tragic Impulse to sonically assault the My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult song “After the Flesh“. So much happening in this rapid fire stinging whip lash electronic sensory explosion. Wonderful use of electronic drum sounds to create a small club punk rock tone. FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
ego likeness – Our dear friends Donna and Steven from Baltimore’s Ego Likeness added a dreamy mist sway version of Medicine‘s “Time Baby II“. Donna’s voice is warm and wispy cutting to the front more than the original and adding a nice resonance. The music holds that same bouncing tone from the bottom of a K hole. I expected nothing less, it’s Donna and Steven.
Jim does it again, fusing that place between my youth and the bands I love today. Just like the original soundtrack, this album is a great way to touch base with some of the hottest acts in the modern scene while playing your favorite scenes from the past.
This LA-based Witch House project brings a sense of foreboding and doom that is strangely welcome. The distant, ghostly vocals on this minimal track inspire childhood memories of favorite horror movies. It gave me the creeps in the best possible way. Their sound has a touch of lo-fi, which suits the vibe of this track well. Harsh bursts of synth seem to attack from every direction while the jarring beat keeps the listener off-balance. Ideal for walking through graveyards on foggy nights.