Review of Death Loves Veronica “Lucid Dream”

http://www.veronicacampbellofficial.com/

https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/

Going to try something a little new for our review of the latest release of Death Loves Veronica. Katy and I are both big fans but both come from fairly different backgrounds. So we are going to do a duel review. Listening to the songs separately and not discussing. Then posting our thoughts here to feel this album through a couple lenses.

Overall Impressions:

Katy – I really enjoyed this album from beginning to end. The album is dynamic with different feelings associated with every song. Each track had its notable mentions, but a few really resonated with me in a long term way. Spending a bunch of time in my apartment makes me really appreciate albums that keep me wanting more. Death Loves Veronica is an amazing project that creates some of the best music for the timing of my life. This album was exactly what I needed and I’m so grateful it exists. 

 

Ken – I have been waiting for this record for a long time. I’ve been a fan of Veronica’s work for a while and she really took time with this one. It just bleeds soul and internal honesty. I think what left me so struck was how it had a powerful moody synth feel, but the vocals really showed her Texas style. I heard a real rich story teller feel of Dolly Parton or Patsy Cline. It fills a real void in the current scene and I found my mind often getting lost in the narrative of the songs. It has a moderate pace that grinds and builds and really throws a smokey spotlight on the journey and reflection.

 

What did it make us feel? :

Katy – Each song evoked a different kind of feeling, but overall I felt fulfilled. Some of the songs made me smile, others made me think deeply because the music or words felt relatable. I found myself gazing at the wall adjacent thinking of my teen years and how these songs feel just as relatable now as they would have then. 

Ken- I love the way Katy said it was related to her teenage years. For me I kept finding myself dwelling on a more mature voice reflecting on the wounds and lessons of the past carried with us into modern experience. I think it says a lot about a song writer when she can send an emotion and have the same basic concept touch different listeners through different lenses. These songs felt so solitary and sending communication across the world to someone lost. Obviously this hit hard in the modern world.

Blood King:

Katy- This song has layers. Blood King has a spooky vibe from the riff on the organ to the story being dictated vocally. Generally, the song has a very rock and roll feel to it, the kind that makes your feet move and your head bop despite being minimalistic musically. The first time I listened through it, that’s basically what I walked away feeling. Like, “Wow, that was a fun track!” Then I listened to the words closer and realized how incredibly dark the song is. 

Ken – I love the spooky organ on the opening. It really sets up this villainous character . Then the chorus kicks up the drums and torments the protagonist with a spectral voice telling us you can’t escape. Sizzingly buzzy guitars, I love the difference and range between the two vocal styles.

I Came Here For You:

Katy – This song is one of my favorites on the album. I don’t know how to feel when I listen to it. It’s very sexy in one regard, but once again has an overall feeling of creepiness. It’s almost like it’s the standpoint of the predator from Blood King instead of being from the standpoint of the victim. Once again, this song has a rock and roll feel to it that makes you move, but this track has a lot more mischief in its instrumentation. There’s a riff on a bass synth that gives the song more of a feeling or pursuit. The chorus is huge sounding and direct lyrically. Suddenly, you no longer feel like you’re quickly walking down a streetlight lit sidewalk, but in a people filled nightclub.

Ken- Hard agree Katy, this is such a jam. It’s slow and smokey. Those tiny pin prick finger taps crawl on your spine. This really has that sultry sexy soul to the vocals. This is a song of power, stalking, both a fear and admiration. I really heard a story, not of love, but of apprenticeship. I desire to touch danger, not to be with it, but to remake yourself with it’s aspect. That chorus is such a massive hit with the wall of sound on the guitar, but the tempo never increases. It leaves such a striking feeling of being stunned in your tracks.

Alone:

Katy – This is a slower ballad that revolves around lost, love. This is one of the tracks that makes me remember all those messy breakups from when I was younger. “I can’t dance all night without you.” I get that. I feel that. This song has an overall melancholy tone instrumentally with a heartbreaking chorus. Though it is somber, it’s still a pop song, so the synths add a little glee to the mix. Whether it’s the lyrics or the instrumentation, there’s something in this song to cling to and feel some kind of relatable feeling with. 

Ken- That snare is hitting so crisp. Veronica is using a airy and and distant voice in the intro. It really hits with a loveliness. The chorus line of “I can’t dance without you” is powerful and resonates something we have all felt. The forced facing of a memory which stings but also recalls the beauty of that moment. The background glitching static uses a cool sound effect to help add to the narrative. I love how much thought went into the composition of these songs. I am loving how in sync Katy and my take was here. I feel that speaks to how on target this song hits.

Witch:

Katy- “I am the witch, I will destroy you.” This song has me thinking of multiple movie plots that would all be very great and range from horror movies like “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” to a fierce empowerment flick about a woman done taking shit from some dude! Safe to say, this song gets me amped. It has a slower tempo but has huge synths and guitars making it anthemic. 

Ken- I really like the slow mystical groove on this one. Veronica does that wonderful sultry whisper, offset by a call back distorted voice to add broken glass edge. It has this cool LA almost Courtney Love feel, which for me is a huge compliment. I love Katy’s call out of how hard this hits for being a slow song. Use of dynamics to achieve a magical fireball to the face. Just dripping with bad ass feminine energy. This is a total last girl song.

Crushed:

Katy- This song is my favorite on the whole album. It’s so sad! The longing conveyed through this track is so impactful. The synths in the second verse wobble and create that tension and uneasiness, that discomfort… it’s the sounds of how I feel right now. This track also highlights how dynamically ranging this album is. Through most of this album, the songs are driving and poppy whereas this song has an almost lo-fi indie feel. Maybe it’s because most of the song revolves around a simple, but longing-sounding bassline. The things Veronica is saying are so simple and direct that they crush your heart. 

Ken- I knew right away why this was Katy’s favorite. Huge dreamy David Lynch vibes here. Almost a sinister surf shoegaze feel. Great transition at 1:30. The way the layers build here is so effective, just adding one piece at a time to keep the drive doing.

Closing thoughts?

Katy- I highly recommend this album. If you’ve been a follower of Death Loves Veronica, you should be excited. If you’re new to her work, check it out because it’s an incredible range of sound and influence. Death Loves Veronica has always been amazing at telling a story and really selling a scene and I’d debate this is the best landscape of those talents so far. Like I’ve said already, this was exactly what I needed right now. It’s not an album of the same thing over and over.  When the world feels like it’s falling apart, it’s reassuring to know that there’s anything to make it feel any better. Right now, there’s a ton of amazing art and music being made and we’re so incredibly lucky to be able to listen and share it. 

Ken- Hard agree, as someone who is already a fan of her work this album was my favorite so far front to back. It’s all the things she does well, done better. The concepts are direct and narrative. The vocals a slow drink of premium whiskey. More than anything though the way she uses a minimal amount of sounds to layer perfectly to add flesh and blood to the story of her words. I hear a lot of the soul power of a Chelsea Wolfe, with an electronic and intricate design. Doing more with less to tell the story of a journey to the past and back again.

Review of S Y Z Y G Y X “Fading Bodies”

By Katy Knal May

https://syzygy-x.bandcamp.com/album/fading-bodies

Hometown: Washington DC

Label: Cold Transmission/Negative Gain

Members: Luna Blanc and Josh Clark

Fading Bodies is the latest release by the incredibly fun, yet dark electronic, synth-wave, alternative rock group, S Y Z Y G Y X. This album slaps? Did I use that right? I’m not super hip with what the kids say, but this album is fantastic. Basically, it sounds like what a strobe light looks like. The chaos of it all is overwhelming but in an exciting way. Waves of synth smash you in the face until there’s nothing left to do but submit and dance your ass off.

WARNING: THIS ALBUM WILL GIVE YOU GOOSEBUMPS AND IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART….

Fading Bodies is the most terrifyingly fun music I’ve heard all year. It’s electronic, industrial, alternative, and it is chilling. With the electronic genre on lock down, S Y Z Y G Y X adds darkness that is truly eerie and disorienting, but exciting.  Every song has an addicting beat, a ton of texture, and catchy riffs that listeners get hooked on.

Luna’s vocals are haunting and the synth lines are cosmic. Josh’s beats and synth lines bring it all together.  Their ability to work together is utterly cosmic, hints their band name. When I mentioned waves of synth smashing you in the face, I mean, like, the entire ocean swallowing you whole.  Don’t let the fluid feel fool you though, whether it be drums or synth, there will be saw waves there that cut like a knife reminding you that you’re alive! Even after listening to all fifteen tracks, I was left wanting more.

Some favorite tracks

Die Like A Rockstar – This song starts out like an 80’s rocker with a pulsating synth and addicting beat.  In this track, Luna’s breathy vocals are clear as she talks about a sexy “rockstar”.   At first, you think this is going to be some typical pop-rock, synth-wave song, but then a creepy synth line happens right before unpredictable changes in melody. These dynamics keep you engaged the entire time in its complexities.

Times Are Hard for Dreamers– This song starts out with a synth line that sends chills down my spine every time.  I love this track because as soon as everything kicks in, it’s like a vintage video game soundtrack.  It’s so exciting! Whenever there’s a rest on the drums, I get a swelling feeling in my chest waiting for the bass to drop. This track also uses roto toms and I kind of lose my shit every time I hear them.  

Pins and Needles– Immediately, this song cuts you to pieces with synthesizer and bass. This song is probably my favorite song to awkwardly dance to on the whole album. It’s fast with a lot of twists and turns that are unpredictable, tense, and otherwise emotionally evocative. It creates the perfect amount of tension to lead into the final track, Fury, which relieves all that built-up tension almost immediately. 

I’m a huge fan of synth-driven music, so this album was right down my alley. Beyond being a banger of an album with song after song of incredible music that’s easy to dance to, this album takes the capabilities of synthesizers to the next level. I really enjoyed this entire album from beginning to end.  If you like bands like NIN, Eurythmics, Synergy, Kraftwerk, or generally like anything which is amazing and features top-notch synth work, you have check this out.

Review of ELZ and the Cult: Psychodrama

Review by Ivan Delint

Band: ELZ and the Cult

Album: Psychodrama

Label: Ampirik Records

Members: ELZ

Eylul Deniz on synths

Efe Akincioglu on the bass

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ELZANDTHECULT/about/?ref=page_internal

https://elzandthecult.bandcamp.com/album/psychodrama-cold-transmission-edition

I walked into this review not knowing what I was really getting into, I heard a little bit from Ken, whom only said “try this one, I think you’ll really like this”. I dug it and I said sure why not. Was I in for a SURPRISE!

I like to dive into my reviews without knowing ANYTHING about the artist, as I listen to their music I hope that they invoke a sense of wonder from me, wonder that’ll ultimately will lead me to become obsessive with knowing everything I can about them. With ELZ, It was that but in a different way, I didn’t expect myself to hold off on knowing more about them, until after the listening. I found myself so lost in their sound and only their sound that I didn’t want any other information to possibly ruin that experience for me.

Here is my journey through ‘PSYCHODRAMA’ :

Invention of Faith – Faith is a recurring word in this album, as stated before I didn’t know much about ELZ and the Cult during this listen and as I write this I really wish I had lyric book of sorts to decipher what this space journey of delicious horror was all about. Great opening track, very Mass Effect, very Muse (if you’ve heard their new album you’ll know what I mean), very She Wants Revenge.

Faith in Me -A sort of continuation from the intro track, this cyber-punk/cyber-goth, vampires in a Ridley Scott space film sound is just a perfect kind of dark. The chorus is lovely. “I have lost faith in me”… preach!

Cold War – ELZ and the Cult, keeping with the persistence of that bass synth, moves more into an aggressive industrial beat with track two. The dirty vocals that become prominent throughout the ‘PSYCHODRAMA’ make their first appearance here. The track maintains a steady darkness while still being dance floor friendly, a nice mix that’ll fit any gothic DJ’s playlists. Goth Pop indeed.

Growing Pains -Wake up! The gunshot New Order-esque drum intro coming at you from a very very dark chord progression should keep you on your feet. The vocals maintain the grime, the style however moves into a Lebanonn Hannover with Russian Utro behind the mic area. I’m loving it. This song is ready for International goth floors. Dj’s, remix this, GET AT THIS.

Die Once More – With ‘Die Once More’ ELZ and the Cult give us a break. A brief of a lull in the aggression. (As if one could say that about this album). The entire release is very industrial and literally any track could be mixed/remixed into a club banger. Creating an accessible album like that is really difficult.

Last Family Supper – The intro here is something out of a 90’s cyberpunk video game and the album, when it decides to chill, is really just sci-fi/horror space ambient suspense music. Prepping us for something killer, no doubt. The vocals once again evoke a Lebanon Hannover vibe while the drums beat like a march. The lead synth keeping it all a touch away from depressing and into real of wonder and excitement. ELZ and the Cult spoke about dying once more and again and again in ‘Die Once More’ but here he speaks about not giving up, he cannot die, he will not die and he doesn’t know why. This person is conflicted and all this conflict is fighting a cold war within his heart and mind. ELZ is the fallout. This soul is burning hot and bright within the darkness that it expresses. My favorite track thus far.

We Never Met – Moving deeper into the record, ‘We Never Met’ gives us joyful, maybe hopeful, feelings and honestly everything about this album just bleeds a sense of happy sadness. I call that life. The vocals are now touching a The Horrors vibe, something I hadn’t thought about the first couple of listens. This is a really cool track that flowed and evolved beautifully. I feel that ELZ and the Cult got the bangers that they thought everyone would like out of the way and are now exposing their true self. This is what i wanted all along and I love it. If you’ve made it this far, they reward you and it’s that journey that we as the listeners must make and upon catharsis we land a very important connection with the artist. We are no longer just listening to ELZ and the Cult, we are now experiencing ELZ and the Cult.

Dreams in Their Darkest Moments – (Interlude) Interludes are amazing, they can do so much to an album in such a short amount of time. Refresh your pallets, friends. I feel a sense of movie soundtrack from this. This band not only makes banger club hits but can, and I’d put money on this, easily find themselves soundtracking the next block buster sci-fi/cyber noir.

Gremlins – Excellent transition into Gremlins, seamless. This song gets me moving, the lyrical melody is also great. I wish for more clarity in the voice, less grime, nevertheless he’s hitting all the right spots. This track is also the best example we have of EZL and the Cults melodic range.


Manipulation – Cool drum work on track ten. It seems that every song has some new sound, tone, synth sound in it. Keeps for very interesting listening the most minimal song in the album, for sure.

The Witching Hour -We are now at song eleven and I must say the beat behind this, easily the most danceable song on this record. “In the witching hour the monsters come to play” So damn good. I have to be honest here, I started listening to ‘Psychodrama’ early in the morning here in Los Angeles. I had a nice cold dark brew. ELZ and the Cult, during the process of listening, have helped me upgrade from a dark roast coffee to a Dark Seas Mission Brewery Imperial Stout, ready to keep the death dance party going. Thanks!?

Dystopian Prayer – NIN all the way, with a tad of Vazquez’s The Soft Moon in it, the most different and experimental of all the tracks in my opinion. ‘Dystopian Prayer’ is a nice “near the finish line” song showing us what this project is capable of and perhaps what is yet to come.

Funeral of Queen Mary -Everything about this says the end. Finish line. Operatic! A Clockwork Orange! It’s epic and it’s majestic. Dark, evocative, dark pop at it’s finest. ’Psychodrama’ was a hell of an experience.

Overall this album was a powerful and diverse journey., in the way a film maker creates a story with a variety of shots and perspective ELZ and the Cult have created a musical journey that takes accessible dark pop and combines it with the challenge of raw emotion and dark sensual beauty.. It’s a broken roller coaster traversing a shattered futuristic city.. It builds, it fills, and it does not disapoint.. You need a ticket for this ride.

Post word by Ken Magerman