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Sopor Aeternus & the ensemble of shadows * Songs From The Inverted Womb (cd 2001 apocalyptic vision)

This is already the seventh cd by Sopor and the last three came fairly close after eachother. “Songs…” again comes in a box, a normal cd and on vinyl, but the box is not an A5 box like the “Dead Lover’s…” cds, but more one like the “The Smell Of Blood…” cd by The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud (cd box sized) with a seperate booklet and a disc-box-slider like the Ataraxia and Arcana cds on CMI inside.
But to the music. “Songs…” opens with a few terribly sad songs which are more or less in the ‘old’ Sopor vein, a bit medievalish darkwave. As the cd continues the songs become a bit ‘lighter’, more chamber-music-like (as on “Dead Lover’s”), but this time they took the drumkit out of the cellar. Around the end you can hear a couple of brilliant ‘happy’ Soporistic sounds which results in a good feeling at the end of this cd.
However the title explicitly refers to the most ‘famous’ Sopor theme, the lyrics do not deal (much) with transsexuality (“transpersonality”), but more with ‘spiritual matters’ like we have seen on earlier cds as well. Of course also references to the ‘greater Sopor story’ and EA Poe and what also seems to become part of the evolution of this project, the texts become longer and longer.
So once again Anna-Varney received another magnificent album from her Ensemble Of Shadows.

Sopor Aeternus & the ensemble of shadows * Dead Lover’s Sarabande (face two) (cd 2000 apocalyptic vision)

Pretty soon after the previous cd (“Dead Lover’s Sarabande (face one)” (see archive)) comes a new Sopor cd. Again as a normal cd, a box and a double lp, but much more expensive than last time. Musically “face two” is quite similar to “face one”. It is again pretty sad, but it also has a few medieval-sounding and a lighter tones. Visually Varney’s driving to the extremes. On first sight the artwork doesn’t differ that much from the previous album, but when you’re looking through the booklet it’s obvious that the pictures became a bit more extreme again. Face-piercings are more obvious, but mustly striking are the two ‘nude’-pages. The pictures are too vague to see if Varney really lost his genitals, but it doesn’t really look feminine down there either. But, to the music. As said it’s mostly sad. Remarkable is the use of copper. All in there there’s the usual double bass and violin, but also cello, tuba, oboe, trumpet, trombone, bassoon, car anglais, e-guitars and acoustic guitars. However I must say that I haven’t heard the cd really properly when I write this, I think that “face two” isn’t as good as the previous and I prefer the more medieval-sounding cds anyway. Another strange thing on this cd are the lyrics. Sometimes I get the idea that there’re much more lyrics than displayed in the booklet, but there’re also various instrumental tracks. The lyrics that are printed are about loneliness, mortality, love for the dead and some roleplay kind of thing. All in all a good cd, but not as good as other Sopor cds.

Sopor Aeternus & the ensemble of shadows * Dead Lover’s Sarabande (face one) (cd 1999 apocalyptic vision)

Everyone who thinks that Sopor became too cheerfull after the debut, can now obtain Anna-Varney’s saddest album to date. This is the fifth album (plus a mcd) which comes as a double 12″, a box and a normal cd.
As I said, this new album is very sad, but still in the new Sopor vein, not as primitive as the debut.
Is there anyone who never heard Sopor? Well, the music is darkwave (vocals, drumcomputer, basguitar) based on medieval and folky melodies. Vocals are by the andonygous mastermind Anna-Varney and very varying. From warm male to opera-like female vocals, tortured and screaming or whispered. Anyhow, this time there’re a lot of classical influences and there even was a real ‘ensemble’ involved too. Generally speaking, this is a new masterpiece of one of my favorite projects.
Apocalyptic Vision * Ahornweg 19 * 64807 Dieburg * Germany

Sopor Aeternus * Ich Tote Mich Jedesmal (cd 1994/1999 apocalyptic vision)

I suppose this is somewhat of a gesture to all Sopor fans and believe me, there are many of them in Europe. This is the debut cd of Sopor Aeternus which was released in 1994, but there are 7 songs added from the three demos. Many people say that they like the debut, but after this the music became too cheerfull. I particularly like everything after the debut, which I find rather primitive. I don’t think the later albums are very cheerfull either, maybe that’s just a way of looking at it. Anyhow, the demos of this one-(wo)man project were naturally even more primitive than the debut-cd. I bought this one, even though I have the limited first edition of the original cd, just to have it. I think this will be the case for many Sopor freaks in the world. The package is more or less the same as the original, but the interior of the booklet differs a lot. There’re old pictures (lots of grime) and the picture which came with the limited first edition (the only difference from the later version is that picture and a seperate text-sheet) the texts are now also printed in the booklet, in the unreadable calligraphs of Anna-Varney him/her-self.
Generally, I think this is only a must-have for the fans.
Apocalyptic Vision * Ahornweg 19 * 64807 Dieburg * Germany

Rose Rovine E Amanti * Rituale Romanum (cd 2006 cold spring)

I have one of the tracks from this album on some online compilation (I think). For the rest I didn’t know this artist from Rome. Damiano Mercuri has his own, but Italian, style of (neo)folk music. He has very particular vocals that I don’t really like all the time. Also the songs go from awfull (2, 5), to alright (1, 4, 8, 9) , to good (3, 6, 7). There is a Von Thronstahl cover and Josef K. contributed to one track. An alright album, not completely my style, but fortunately not too typical of sound.

Nova * Utopica Musa (cd 2001 cruel moon)

I don’t know what it is. Did Cold Meat get overexcited by the success of the Italian Ataraxia that they started searching for more Italian ‘medieval’ bands for their sublabel Cruel Moon? I already wasn’t too happy with the “Night Thoughts” cd of Gothica (2000), but this Nova cd really is far below the level that we may expect from Cold Meat. “Utopica Musa” contains some gothic sounds (electronic music with some guitar) with female vocals which are in the best moments alright. Totally unexciting and really nothing for Cold Meat. Also the booklet is very primitive, which seems to become a Cold Meat trading mark……..

Mirabilis * s/t * (7″ 2003 the fossil dungeon)

If all went as planned, this 7″ was released on 31/12/03 and after this 7″ a cd has already been released on Middle Pillar. This very nicely packed 7″ has three completely vocal songs and one with some electronic instrumention. As you may expect from the bandname and the cover of the 7″, the sound is medieval and are fairly nice.

Lupercalia * Soehrimnir (cd 2000 world serpent)

I have known this band for quite some time, because one of the members found my email address somewhere and keeps sending me newsletters. I didn’t hear their music before a few months ago when they played live in Utrecht (NL). This was a pretty good show from a magnificent violin-player (m), a wonderfull guitar-player (m), a beautiful singer with a dito voice (f) and some electronics for backup.
On this cd (which is their second by the way) the band consists of only the violin and guitar player and there a no female vocals like on stage. The music is also more traditionally folky than the medieval music that they played live, but there still are some medieval elements to be found on the cd. “Soehrimnir” is mostly pretty tranquil and even though quite alright, not really like what I remember from a few months ago. There is a bit too much focus on the electronic elements as well in my opinion, sometimes even sounding pretty silly.
I heard that Lupercalia is already working on their third album, so I hope that this singer really became a member and that they will focus on the real instruments.

Lore of Asmoday * Signs Of Life ‘1989 – 1999’ (cd-r 1999 asrai music)

There’re things really unfair in the music-biz, even underground. The German band Lore of Asmoday has existed for 10 years now. The demos they released can’t be counted on two hands. There’ve been cd-r’s, lots of live performances and still the band is without a record-label. Now you may say: don’t they just make horrible music? NO! They make brilliant music!! I really don’t understand why they never were picked up by a label. After an interview in the German goth mag Gothic Grimoire and a couple of contributions to compilations, things finally seemed to start rolling, but now -one year later- the band still has no label on it’s side. It’s even that bad, that they’ve decided to release one more cd-r themselves and if this turns out blank again, the band will quit. Now that would be a shame!
The music of Lore of Asmoday is pretty original. It’s a mixture between gothic, darkwave, ritual and a bit industrial and electro. It all sounds pretty folky and the use of a didgeridoo gives an extra twist to the music. On “Signs Of Life” you’ll get 14 live-songs recorded during their existence. Very rhythmical music in a triballic vein, nice folky wave and texts in German and English makes the music of LoA caressing your ears. There’s quite a lot of electric guitar on this cd too, which makes the sound more gothic.
I really hope that LoA will be picked up by a label pretty soon. Otherwise the scene will lose a really good band, the most under-estimated band in the scene, I guess.

Leakh * The Wreckoning (cd 2000 prophecy productions)

I can almost tell what some of you must be thinking: “Prophecy… Sententia… a new neo-folk band that I don’t know?”. Well, I got to know Prophecy as a label that releases both metal and neo-folk, but the promos that I received through Battle Helm made me have to adjust this idea. Leakh is definitely neither of these two.
I never heard of the band and the booklet doesn’t give me much to go on. The band consists of Jimmy S. Coven and Johan Tjust and used to be known as “Coven”. The sound the band produces is pretty hard to describe. There are extremely emotional vocals, lots of acoustic guitar, but also electric. The music is rather simple, but very effective to create a desperate mood in combination with the vocals. There is pretty peculiar guitar-playing that reminds a bit of Dream Into Dust at times. The mood does as well now and then. Because of the vocals, also reminiscences of the Shadow Project’s “From The Heart” come to my mind. The vocals are sometimes quite typical gothic ‘grave’ vocals. At other times they are screamed, mourned or sung in a tortured manner. In a way I think it is safe to say that this is American gothic music, but not too typical. I like this pretty much, so this is a good strike from the German Prophecy label.