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27 July, 2013

13 Shadows - Descend

13 Shadows - Descend (song review) |self-released, 13 Shadows, 2012| 5/5

13 Shadows is a musical project ran by singer/songwriter, pianist, guitarist and producer Denise Donahue. The New Yorker wrote, arranged and co-produced all the songs on her self-titled debut album released in 2012. Apparently, it is available in 2 versions - with 9 or 10 songs on the tracklist (with "Tangle of Thorns" as a bonus on the longer version) but it depends if you look up Bandcamp or iTunes/Amazon stores. For this review, let’s focus on "Descend".

In the beginning, an excellent mix of a sentimental piano and an organic (wind) instrument will lead you into the song’s atmosphere. The dreamy mood brings an unspoilt mysticism so if you're on the lookout for a background tune for practical purposes, this one may go along well with fantasy themes to illustrate movies, animations, interactive websites as well as audio-books. The song also has an epic feel thanks to its slow tempo and spots of rising tension. Therefore, listening to "Descend" is as pleasurable as watching a calm ocean tide lick the sand off a shore.

The composition is quite flexible, mostly adjusted to the vocals which play a role as major as the piano in the song. Denise’s angelic, crystal clear and peaceful voice immediately attracts the listener’s attention and is definitely her secret weapon. If you like female vocalists who don't growl like Shamaya of Otep but rather bring a more traditional female element into music then you'll definitely love Denise's performance in this track.

The track was labelled as 'gothic' due to its sublime, almost Victorian style. However, some of the effects used for the vocal parts are usually utilized in contemporary pop music, so defining the genre of the song may not be that easy. Regardless of that, it becomes memorable after the very first listening. The repeating phrases "On and on and on I've left these feelings unresolved, On and on and on I kept believing, But I can't repair this broken vow" easily hook into the listener's mind and give "Descend" a big chance at becoming a popular hit.

The song production is of very high quality. It emphasizes the most valuable aspects of the mood, vocals, electronic backgrounds (such as the cold, whistling sound of wind sampled at the end of the track) and piano arrangements.

Undoubtedly, 13 Shadows belong to those DIY bands that should get both the interest and the support of major labels. Denise has done a great job on her own with her music, so increased exposure could improve the album sales while her songs are still fresh.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, July 25th, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

This review on Fabryka Magazine: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=493


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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine
13 Shadows: 13shadows

22 July, 2013

Message To The Machine - interview (2013)

Message To The Machine - interview (2013)

NINa: Your music is labelled as industrial for the most part. Have you ever analyzed why industrial musicians as well as fans are fascinated with heavy industry - machines, factories, repetitions, cycles, loneliness, the cold and the noise? What emotions can be expressed through making industrial or experimental noises?

James Orez: It's funny, when I started making music I had no direction, in terms of genre, for what the overall sound would be. I was very unfamiliar with Industrial music, apart from Nine Inch Nails, and I had only heard of Skinny Puppy. My music taste lies more in the metal genre, you could say. I mean, I am a huge fan of Tool and Deftones. So, after I made a few songs, which were dreadful, a bunch of people were calling it Industrial music. So, I did some research and really delved into the Industrial genre.

Full interview: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=492

Interview conducted by Fabryka Music Magazine

19 July, 2013

Message To The Machine - Self-Inflicted

Message To The Machine - Self-Inflicted |CRL Studios, 2013| 4/5

01. Screamer Number Four, 02. I Am Effigy, 03. Your Eyes My Lies, 04. Pariah, 05. Reclaimher, 06. Your Sex, 07. The Desolate Beat Of Tarquin Pain, 08. My Little Psycho, 09. Edens Laboratory, 10. Patiently We Drown, 11. The Engineer, 12. Demon Creeper


The third album of Message To The Machine that was written, performed, mixed, mastered and produced by British musician James Orez brings a lot of experimental electronica mixed with ambient and industrial tunes. The overall sound is also heavier when compared to the Endlessly Copying Ourselves EP released in 2012.

You'll probably notice a specific, hidden duality in most of the songs. It's a result of mixing aggressive, disturbing and noisy arrangements (including vocals) with initially innocent and sweet sounds. Clamorous repetitions are typical for industrial music as they are purposely utilized to mimic either working or broken machines but also heavy industry workers using hammers, drills and other tools. Message To The Machine operates with similar sound effects quite often, giving compositions a noisy vibe. Not only that, James also skilfully utilizes silence as well as dissonances.

"Screamer Number Four" opens with whispers and an arythmic tempo. As the title suggests, you will hear a lot of hard-hitting, hardcore-like vocals yelling the lyrics out, though they are interlaced with infantile voices as well. "I Am Effigy" brings rebellious punk moods mixed with electronic arrangements.
The composition of "Your Eyes My Lies" is based on repetitive arrangements built upon beats and synth driven tunes enriched with alternating aggressive and delicate vocals. Catchy yet complex, the song has the feel of early Nine Inch Nails music. 'Glassy' ringing sounds (as if played on bottles) and irregular beats in a cloud of oneirism characterize "Pariah". Stretched, groaning vocals sound as if James was murmuring a very creepy story to scare you.
"Reclaimher" starts with a quiet vocal part, reminiscent of The Cure songs. Soon after, it's followed by a noisy industrial turmoil in the style of Einstürzende Neubauten. The lyrics are almost declaimed with a voice full of hatred. In addition, you will also hear many cool sound effects and samples within this composition.
"Your Sex" sounds angry but an accented and thus irritating synth leitmotif may be stealing too much of your attention. The song seems to be a bit too long, as well (6:20). A similar remark could be pointed at "My Little Psycho". It's a tad annoying, pushy track which due to numerous repetitions seems to be longer than it actually is (04:11).

"The Desolate Beat Of Tarquin Pain" marks the first of the two ambient tracks on Self-Inflicted, not lacking in industrial flavors. The sound of an irregular heart-beat goes well with buzzy beats and gentle, oriental-ish backgrounds. Sonically rich and full of very well-thought arrangements, it speaks well for James' talent with making experimental ambient music.
The other instrumental song is called "Edens Laboratory". It brings lots of thriller/science-fiction motifs, ripe for use by the movie or video game industry. The dark ambient atmosphere will undoubtedly affect your imagination. In "Patiently We Drown", high quality experimental electronica is characterized by a non-disruptive, pumping tempo and gentle, high tuned piano chords. The vocals sound different here; they are dark and controlled as if you were listening to the famous Vincent Price retelling his eerie experiences.
"The Engineer" does not only include great lyrics (mind the memorable chorus: "I am the only engineer who can rewire"), but also an almost theatrical performance enriched with matching, mechanical music. The atmosphere feels a bit psychotic and delusional.
The closing song, "Demon Creeper", sounds a bit different when compared to the others. The opening, velvety sounding guitars may soothe your senses after the noisy tracklist so far, but the deeper you go into the track, the more of the industrial vibe comes back. You should also pay attention to the excellent mix of levelled guitars and low tuned synths, which comes up when the chorus begins.

James has a good voice (often powered up by filters and effects for the sake of the mechanical mood of his music). He also seems to have good theatrical skills allowing him to perform the songs in an animated way. At times smooth, then unexpectedly rough, he sounds unpredictable and a bit unbalanced on this album. Surely, it's a perfectly planned artistic manifestation and the final result will draw your attention.

These are not easy-listening compositions and will require your brain to focus. According to James, the idea of Self-Inflicted is related to self-doubt and self-loathing due to the reappearance of second-guessing and the fear of losing control (as in "Demon creeper lurking in the darkness, demon creeper trying to control (…) too many words are running through my mind, too many demons are trying to hurt me" /"Demon Creeper"/). Lyrically, the songs speak of frustration arising when false hopes meet sheer reality ("Drowning within our very own lonesome pathetic, apathetic so called lives staring blindly into, mind saturating screens filled with false hope and pre tense" /"Patiently We Drown"/).

A bit of criticism at the end. Some of the lyrics were seemingly written before the music, thus they were adjusted to the musical arrangements. The final result is that the lyrics sound stretched in a few spots ("Demon Creeper", "My Little Psycho").
Secondary, the drum machine sounds too automatic, loud, stiff and basically maintains the same depth in most of the tracks. However, while the beat may hurt you in "Screamer Number Four", "I Am Effigy", "Reclaimher", "The Engineer" or specifically in "My Little Psycho", it works in "Your Eyes My Lies" and "Your Sex" very well.

It'd be great to see a live performance of Message To The Machine if it included a screenplay, unique outfits, maybe some masks and make up too, as known for instance from Nivek Ogre's (Skinny Puppy) shows. Self-Inflicted is a great album to buy if you dig experimental industrial music with screamy vocals and brooding moods.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, July 19th, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)



You may also like: Message To The Machine - Endlessly Copying Ourselves EP review.

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

18 July, 2013

UN-reason - interview


Check out this interview with UN-reason band at http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=491

Excerpt:

NINa: Is it more enjoyable when things one desires are difficult to obtain and hold? Does frustration stir up creativity?
Elio: You must work to get good results and when the results come and are good you feel gratified. Instant gratification is fleeting and it is, as the word itself suggests, very short lived. If you work hard to obtain something eventually you will also have built some strong foundation to start working on something else afterwards. The harder you work, the more skills you acquire and the more daring your future projects may become.


Conducted by Fabryka Music Magazine

15 July, 2013

UN-reason - UN-reason

UN-reason - UN-reason |Patetico Recordings, 2012| 5/5

1. A Place Of Truth, 2. Blinks, 3. Run Back, 4. Under, 5. Too Deep, 6. Twisted Metal, 7. Kids Hurting Kids, 8. Our Special Way, 9. Open, 10. This Is Not My Fear, 11. Waves


UN-reason hails from Savona, Italy and was founded in 2010. This relatively new project was formed by experienced musicians who were previously involved in such bands as Twenty One Crows, Pushkins, Fallen Tears, F.E.M. or The Sense.

Their eponymous debut album mastered by Reza Udhin (Inertia, Killing Joke) brings 11 songs - a mix of post-rock, post-punk and industrial. The compositions sound emotional and touching. Extremely well elaborated, lyrical arrangements are built upon harmonious tunes with peaceful moments found throughout the release. The overall mood on UN-reason is based on non-invasive contrasts.

If you study the lyrics a bit closer, you'll also find out that there's a bit of frustration due to disappointment, unwanted changes and unrealized needs usually referring to one's love life. Elio Isaia (voice, guitars) with Jacques Pedretti (a guest song writer) wrote poetical lyrics that match the music very well. Various figurative expressions speak almost as visually as paintings (for instance: "I stole her love and melt it, and buried it on the Moon, I bathed at night in her cool blue room" /"Run Back"/).
Elio's voice is instantly recognizable, which is always beneficial for a singer. It's rather high-pitched (between tenor and baritone) and makes a good match with the music. Elio fits within all the songs and never goes out of tune. He also occasionally uses voice effects, adding a rough industrial overlay to songs such as "Blinks", "This Is Not My Fear" and "Kids Hurting Kids".

The musicians express their know-how by tuning in through truly skillful, cooperative play. Jon Griffin (guitar) places accents or puts up noisy walls of sound wherever it's necessary ("A Place of Truth", "Under") while Jan Maio (synths, virtual orchestra, guitar) builds intriguing sonic backgrounds ("A Place Of Truth", "Blinks", "Kids Hurting Kids", "Open").
The rhythm section adds a refined vibe to the compositions. The bass (Giorgio Bormida - guitar, bass, piano) sounds range from murky, quite characteristic for gothic rock ("Blinks", "This Is Not My Fear", "Waves") to warm ("Twisted Metal"). The drums played by Lorenzo Bartolini feel just right and work really well with the bass. The interplay between both instruments really shines in more emotional tunes like "Run Back", "Our Special Way", "Too Deep", or "Waves". As a side note, the drums in "Open" were manned by a renown guest from the scene - Martin Atkins (PIL, Killing Joke, Nine Inch Nails, Pigface).

My favorite songs are "Our Special Way", for the gentle "guitar versus bass" arrangements (as known from the 80s Bauhaus or New Model Army songs); "Run Back", which could be the main theme of a movie; and "Blinks", thanks to its edgy industrial rock vibe.

All tracks on UN-reason album are memorable through their verses and choruses, but also little dirty (and a little dreamy) guitar vibes coloured with bits of sampling. Regardless of the typical chorus/verse repetitions there’s little to no boredom to be found on this album.

When it comes to the album concept, it aims in bringing back the interest in true creativity and inspiration, against the global trends, slowly drowning the world in rather nonspiritual ideas and populist consumerism for the last two decades. It's also about the importance of freedom - leaving the system and mass behind and becoming a unique human being integrated with and expressing one’s own soul again. As articulated in "Kids Hurting Kids": "We have been plugged, we've been drugged at home, our life is a box, a prison we pay, only when I close my eyes this distance is gone".

The band’s comprehensive and well designed official website should encourage you to visit often. Make sure you follow the band on their active social profiles. Moreover, if you like visual arts, you should pay attention to Giorgio's personal website presenting his dark designs. And don’t forget that he also remixed a few tracks for known industrial bands such as Pigface and 16volt.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, July 15th, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)



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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

04 July, 2013

SLOWtheIMPACT - Pleasantly Amused

SLOWtheIMPACT - Pleasantly Amused (song review) |self-released, ...and Those We've Left Behind, 2012| 4/5

SLOWtheIMPACT began as a solo project of Steve Cockayne (guitar, vocals) in Portland, OR in 2007. Presently, the band is a quintet - the line-up includes Amy Smith (keyboard/back vocals), Zach Barnum (bass/vocals), Brad Buttram (guitar) and Mark Matocha (drums).
The newly released "Pleasantly Amused" track comes from their 3rd album entitled ...and Those We've Left Behind. It starts off with vocals and bass bringing about the flavour of old school goth music (for instance The Cure).

As for the main theme, "Pleasantly Amused" is a love song. The lyrics talk about missing a partner when spending time away from one another and the desire to meet again. The band shows a lot of experience in handling the subject matter of saving or improving a relationship under such duress. This song may work really well for teenagers and 20-something couples who most often fall into a turbulent love life head-first.

Musically, from the very beginning, the bass builds a solid but dynamic core of the track, enriched with drums and keyboards later on. The bass line sounds simple and quite typical for 80s goth rock music. "Pleasantly Amused" doesn't bring along any dramatic moods, though your ear may detect a bit of impatience or even anxiety. A balanced share of instrumental parts, including peaceful guitars together with lightly accented drums make the whole a rather ear-friendly composition. Repeating arrangements and vocals easy enough to sing along work really well for the track, giving it a strong hit potential. The musicians play their parts very well and Steve's neat voice matches the overall mood of the song. Everything falls into place without stirring unexpected controversies within the song. Furthermore, it’s evident that considerable production, mixing and mastering skill were employed to polish the track, something that’s usually a problem for many self-sufficient bands.

Still, aside all this alternative-pop-rock compositional correctness, "Pleasantly Amused" lacks a bit more of an original approach, a touch of spirit to drag and shake the listener. Since a lot of listeners prefer a familiar sounding vibe, it should not be a big problem in terms of the band's success, though.
The song is as easy-listening as memorable, and one can definitely imagine "Pleasantly Amused" in movie trailers, commercials or popular radio playlists. The length of the track (almost 4 minutes) and its easy to adapt structure (thanks to repetitions) perfectly supports such purposes.

It should be also noted that SLOWtheIMPACT seems to be doing a good promotional job for their new, independently released album. They have an interestingly designed official website and frequently updated social profiles, which you should definitely visit. The song is available for purchase from the majority of popular digital distributors and the band also offers various merchandise in their own store.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, July 4th, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

01 July, 2013

Johnny Marples - The Nu Signs EP

Johnny Marples - The Nu Signs EP |self-released, 2013| 4/5

01. The Nu Signs, 02. Parasite (No Balls), 03. We R 1, 04. Shut The Fuck Up, 05. Of Murder And You


If you haven't heard about Johnny Marples yet, it's time to look into his music as there's something heavy awaiting your attention.
This project was founded in Germany in 2008. Musically, it has been inspired by one of the last few significant music genres meaning Nu metal. Moreover, its founder used to be a drummer in various metalcore and deathcore bands before he decided to start recording his own music as Johnny Marples. The Nu Signs which was released in April 2013 is his debut.

The intro for "The Nu Signs" song may sound quiet but it's only an innocent pass into a massive mix of low tuned crunchy guitar riffs and haunting soundscapes. Guitars and drums in "Parasite" build the overall rhythm which is thankfully neither static nor too repetitive. The choruses bring a bit of a melody but they are kept on a heavy level, regardless. "We R 1" sounds fiery with a dark heavy background enhanced with highly pitched lead riffs. "Shut The Fuck Up" brings psychedelic guitar riffs, repetitive choruses, oppressive moods and loads of weight you won't be able to ignore, assuming you like metal music.
The final song "Of Murder And You" initially sounds somewhat lighter thanks to the lead riff but rest assured - the track remains as aggressive and relentless as others on the tracklist. The ending will show you how it may feel inside an overburdened head.

All the compositions are quite short but sound solid. They are rather loosely based on the traditional verse-chorus-verse concept, as if Johnny Marples didn't like routine. There's raw power which will touch those of you who have a revolting spirit and love for hardcore music. Songs are structured in a complex and knotty way, so they require responsive ears and brains. This music needs 100% of your attention. Johnny Marples doesn’t try to fit into melodic nu metal compositions, but instead brings anger, aggression and dominance known from death metal or hardcore. The transitions between the songs are smooth enough to allow for easy progression.

On The Nu Signs EP you’ll find frank, straightforward lyrics with an aggressive attitude. The band questions and examines the weak points in many topics such as the music scene, abusive friendship, alienation, misunderstandings or sexual frustrations. There's a definite call for change, for seeing things as they are and for switching one's perspective. In addition, the lyrics are spiced up with a lot of cussing but we're talking about metal music here, so you should know what to expect.

As for the downsides, the lead singer may consider using his whole vocal range to a larger extent, which could allow him to improve his performance, as it would shift listeners' attention towards his truly powerful songs. He has a good voice, matching any heavy genres and his screams and growls are well executed. However, he drops the tune when a part of the song requires singing slowly with tonal changes (e.g. in "Parasite" or "Of Murder And You"). Neglectful spoken vocals is a method utilized in nu metal music but it’s a problem for many male singers (as well as for women attempting to switch smoothly to lower tones).

When you deeply study various discographies you may notice the first releases of many bands usually sound powerful, energetic, but they’re still rough. Quite often, they bring many new ideas and earn an 'iconic' status, eventually. In some cases, many bands are not satisfied with their debuts due to technical reasons. The Nu Signs EP is a release that opens many possibilities for Johnny Marples. Honestly, it's sometime hard to believe there's only one man behind the project. Not only did he compose the songs, play all the instruments, write the lyrics and do the vocals, but he also mixed, mastered and produced the entire EP on his own. What the band needs now is the support of true fans. Are you willing to be one of them?

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, July 1st, 2013. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)



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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine