Ego Likeness: When the Wolves Return

Band: Ego Likeness

Album: When the Wolves Return

Label: Metropolis Records

Members: Donna Lynch- Vocals/Words/Piano/Synths::
Steven Archer- Guitar/Vocals/Synths/Drums/Programming::
Mike K. Johnson- Drums::
Mindcage Rick- Drums::

So once again I am stepping outside the box and trying something different by reviewing an album that came out in July 2015. I have been keeping these reviews generally to new albums but while waiting for their newest release I will take some time to discuss the glory of Baltimore’s greatest dark couple. . I actually love discovering a band in reverse, finding the new album first then working my way back through the catalog and watch in reverse as they evolve. Makes me feel like Merlin. For me the album When the Wolves Return really highlighted what was possible when you bring a true partnership into your music. Often when I hear modern darkwave electronica I tend to pull apart all of the different elements and feel them at different times. It’s almost impossible to do with Ego Likeness. Donna Lynch and Steven Archer are in such total lockstep in their music. It really has no seams or edges. Every song is a twisting snake of smoke. Or in this case a wolf pack circling you in a clearing. Mike Johnson who I am convinced may be the only drummer left in goth music because it seems he is playing in about 73 bands and touring with them all. (Potential cloning experiment) is so sought after for a reason. Simply he is consistently outstanding in his style and ability to place subtle touches along with electronic elements. For as electronic as this music is with flavors of Switchblade Symphony, Rasputina, Dead Can Dance or Skinny Puppy both the music and Donna’s dynamic vocals have such an organic flavor. This is a rock band with a bleeding heart in it’s mouth, that just happens to be played over a grinding jerky machine cacophony. This album in particular holds such rawness, I don’t know exactly what was happening in their lives at this juncture but you can really feel a lot of it was splayed open and held up raw to the listener.

Donna has a vocal style that to me is all about dynamics. Her lows are growls and chants. Her highs are lovely and revealing. She is a true bard, you can hear the contents of her lyrics are just as important to her as the way she sings them. “I am blessed, I am cursed, never sacred, never worse” Steven is a painter both on the canvas and on the keyboard. A bard needs a stage and this album has such fierce driving drumbeats and rising falling cascades of synth sound. Needles of bright guitar burn and twist but never overshadow. Those pounding drumbeats are the beating heart of every song and the story is told in every tempo and range. I know I am getting a little gushy on this one, even for me. I have really been digging deep on this album lately in preparation for going to see their show this weekend but also because it is a turbulent moment in time for me and this album is a tempest of processing emotion.

Standout Tracks:

Leave a Light on Thomas – The album opens with this sky splitter. It’s a tiny echo whisper from Donna. While Steven smashes together giant symbols of sound. Tiny dancing melody notes. I also love the effect of Donna’s electric sounding echo voice. I’m not sure who Thomas is but I love this pleading call for him to have faith in this dark moment. This song is pure emotion and waves.

Darkness – I love this track on it’s own. It has another medium tempo but with an almost fantasy feel of hero’s traveling a a bleak and dangerous land. The music edges forward and uses large brass sounding warmth. Then the electric Guitars crash a call to battle “I’ll call them in to cast you out” Another band I have reviewed and love 11 Grams do a remix of this song which is one of my favorite polar opposite remixes. Truly a ying and yang when heard back to back yet it is still one voice.

When the Wolves Return – Holy shit what a heart wrenching ballad. “There is nothing to forgive, it’s the price you pay to live” This one really can make me a little misty. Swelling, giant, synth pads of loss and regret. Then at 3:30 the drums start marching to a sound of triumph! The music builds to a fevered crescendo. I hate to be such a nerd but hearing this song reminds me of the first time I read the Return of the King and you realize the boats are full of ghost soldiers repaying a debt. Sorry Spoiler alert. It’s pure majesty and triumph.

This album is a must own. This band is a must see live and I am giddy with anticipation for the chance this weekend. If you don’t know this record you need to grab hold of it by both ears and cling to it tightly.

Go Fight : Tokyo Sexwale

Band: Go Fight

Album: Tokyo Sexwale

Label: Go Station

Jim Marcus; Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Synths, Noise 
Daniel Evans: Bass, Guitar, Synths, Noise 
Vince McAley: Drums, Percussion, Noise 
Mission Marcus: Bass, Guitar, Noise 

Produced, Mixed and Mastered at: Go Station

So I am excited for this review of Go Fight’s album “Tokyo Sexwale”. As a young angry man in the early 90s I never had a punk rock phase to express that feeling. Instead I found Industrial music as that outlet. I heard Pretty Hate Machine at 14 and I was all in. Most of what Industrial music came to mean to me was an expression of that angst I felt at the world. I went to a show around 1995 to see two bands Sister Machine Gun and Die Warzau. It really left me changed in my mindset that this music I loved full of drum machines and thick remixed heavy metal guitar was possible of so much more range in emotion and tone. Fast forward 24 years and I am listening to Pat Allen’s radio program when he plays a song called Chemical by Go Fight. That feeling was back, Pat used the wonderful term “fundustrial” but what really struck me was that same feeling of serious concepts carried with a beautiful pop energy. Then I learned of the connection between Die Warzau and Go Fight. While I danced my tail off around my bedroom I was transported back those 25 years by this fresh searing explosion of sound.

This album is all crisp sexy motion, covered in a layer of technicolor slime, and spun through a cement mixer. Jim Marcus has one of those unique and captivating voices that leads you in rhythmic chants mixed in with beautiful call and answer melodies. The songs keep building and driving pulling and pushing you around the dance floor. I don’t know if anyone in the business is writing better drum loops and fills in heavy dance music. These lyrics are anything but pop fluff. These are heady, often political, very in your face real challenges that are such a wonderful contradiction to the hot club feel of the music. This is music inspiration. Full of fight and life. Full of hope and energy. Evans and Marcus do a masterful job of laying bass, guitar, and tapestry to the vocals without overshadowing. They are the fire that fuels this engine. My only regrets about this album are that I didn’t find it sooner.

Standout tracks:

Chemical – I’ll start with this because it was my introduction to Go Fight but also because this song is a total jam. It starts with Marcus doing a sexy spoken chant describing the strange and complicated world of modern dating in technology. It’s so tongue and cheek but speaks to a relevant issue that touches on real emotion. Also the hook on the chorus is impossible not to sing along to. I challenge anyone to hear this song and not go running for the nearest dance floor.

Another Fucking Love Song – This one is another single but that crunchy guitar riff and Jim’s blues driven cadence sung with such venom and drive. Again they are really taking on a serious feeling that faces our culture and wrapping it in a golden industrial disco wrapper.

Queer the World – Great title! This bass line is coming at you right off the bat and sways you while the guitar cuts. Telling a series of stories in concrete terms before leading up to that deep chant of Queer the World. It makes me want to join the revolution right now.

Overall this album is one I can’t believe I found so late in 2018. It is so full of everything I love about music and fired from a glorious bright colored cannon of progressive ideals and themes I related to. It also makes me want to dig through my old cds to find Die Warzau. Seriously this record belongs on every modern dance mix in the world. I love every aspect of it. Got buy it!