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Gothica * Night Thoughts (cd 2000 cruel moon)

This cd has been anounced by our friends from CMI for a while, comparing this Italian band to Dead Can Dance, Ataraxia and Miranda Sex Garden. Well, “Night Thoughts” is nice, but never does it reach the level of the mentioned bands, nor is Gothica musically comparable. Some songs are indeed somewhat medievalish, others a bit folky, but several songs are pretty gothic and electronic. Actually some songs remind me a bit of the early Impressions of Winter, while others have more an Eastern sound. The vocals are mostly female and Alessandra has a magnificent voice, but I don’t like what she does with it all the time. Also the music isn’t always very good. Also having a cd with a fairly short length (44 min) this doesn’t make a cd of the level that we grew used off from CMI. But… I must say that there are some beautiful violin sounds and a couple of great songs as well.

Forthcoming Fire * In Flammen! (cd 2004 vaws) & Siberian Summer (cdr 2005 vaws)

I only knew Forthcoming Fire for being the pre-Von Thronstahl band. I had half a cd on tape, but was way too late to be able to order any of their albums. Years ago I found their albums on a Russian mp3 site, paid, but presumably illegal. FF makes gothic/wave, but as the band continued, but music became better, more technoish and a bit like what Von Thronstahl would sound like. Especially “Watching Rome Burn” (1999) is a magnificent album. Then there were problems with a major deal for Sony who complained about the politics of the band, the fact that they appeared on “Riefenstahl” and similar compilations and the band was dropped, dismantled and Von Thronstahl was formed. Apparently the band couldn’t just leave it like that and released two cds which I have never been able to buy anywhere (probably because of the label). Actually now that I ran into them on a P2P network, I am glad about that! Both the album and the mcd are boring and nothing like the FF of “Watching Rome Burn”. Slightly gothic of sound and in my opinion rather unimaginable. Oh well, at least I heard them now. u

Forthcoming Fire * Watching Rome Burn (cd 1999 vaws)

I don’t know the whole/exact story of the ‘fall’ of Josef Klumb, but let me start with a few quotes from the Von Thronstahl interview in “Letters From The Nuovo Europae”. “I lost a lot. But I never sold my soul to the highpriests of dust. I lost a big deal with SONY MUSIC as a label mate of MICHAEL JACKSON. For some months I was in the great position to overflow all my enemies, in the position of becoming a rock star but they wanted me to say – sorry for knowing Werner Symanek, sorry for working on Riefenstahl and Thorak CDs, and sorry for all the the fascist believing I had, I want to be a good guy like the antifascists ….But I didn’t and that is how I became the fallen angel, thrown out of the rock-n-roll-heaven in which only “good” rock stars can shine.” And regarding the following line: “VON THRONSTAHL is not my way of revenge – it’s more the way of victory.” it seems most logical to conclude that is was Forthcoming Fire that was supposed to be the big band.
“But is Von Thronstahl the continuation of FF?”, you may ask. No, both bands appear on compilations such as “Thorak” and “Riefenstahl”, so these are two musical expressions of Josef K.
Listening to Forthcoming Fire you can hear a few similarities. Tracks like “Signal & Signs” and “Brennende Himmel” sound quite similar to Von Thronstahl at times. Also there is neo-folk on this cd (“Europa Calling” and “Outside Metropolis”), but the largest part of this cd doesn’t have all that much to do with (dark) folk or even industrial music.
FF has a lot of gothic influences, especially in the manner of singing. Also there is a lot of techno in the music. Especially the technoish tracks sound pretty good, but they are often interrupted by the no-very-good gothic parts. Some songs/parts are even simply horrid in my ears. But it is not only the Von Thronstahl like tracks that I do like, also for example “Open Fire!” and “Ernte Den Sturm” sound quite nice. Overall I am not too impressed by FF though.

Erblast * VI (cd 2000 indigo)

Inspite of the suggestion that the title makes, this is the third cd of Erblast. It appeared that Erblast was the dark side of Oswald Henke, but with “VI” I get the idea that Erblast is more the expression of that which Henke can’t use in his other musical projects (Goethes Erben, Artwork, Zeitgeist). Erblast I was very experimental and not too good. Erblast II was really dark and very good. Especially the stage-performances gave the idea that it was this dark side that Henke wanted to explore with this project. “VI” on the contrary is very melodic, tranquil and romantic. The songs on this cd are mostly built of tranquil orchestral music (violin, piano) and the poetic narrative vocals of Oswald Henke. Therefor I think this cd will be recieved better by Goethes Erben fans than by people who really enjoy Erblast II.
You may wonder what happened to Erblast III, IV and V. Well, Erblast III will probably never be released. The concept of that album deals with drugs and the fact that the corrupt regimes of countries in the middle east are financed by means of drug-transport. One song was enough to proclaim Oswald Henke as enemy of the state by many middle and near eastern countries, so he figured that it was better to not make a whole cd dealing with these ‘sensetive’ subjects available to the public.
Erblast IV and V are still worked upon and will probably released as a double cd some time. But, VI was planned for early 1999, so who knows how long we have to wait for this 2cd. Besides, late 1998 Henke already wondered if anybody would be interested to release an totally un-commercial and instrumental 2cd. Personally I think only the sticker “Oswald Henke ist Erblast” guarantees enough sold copies.
For now we’ll have to do with Erblast VI which is really worth it if you like atmospheric music and especially when you love the voice of Oswald Henke. A warning to close off: don’t be afraid of some experimentalism, even when there’s not too much of that on this newest cd.

En Velours Noir * Else (mcd 2000 beyond…prod)

I don’t know why this name sounds so familiar. I didn’t have anything of this Italian band, the label is a metallabel of which I only know the names of a handfull of bands. What En Velours Noir do on a metallabel is a good question, but I suppose the bandmembers also play in metalbands or so. “Else” doesn’t contain anything like metal though. It’s more like minimal modern classical with some gothic and dark ambient touches and magnificent tenor vocals. The music is quite simple and not always truly enjoyable, but these vocals make up everything. The only band that I can think off with some resemblances is the German Artwork. I like this quite a bit and I wonder what the future bring for this band.

Engelsstaub * Anderswelt (cd 1999 4 dimensions)

It’s been silent a long time around this German band. Engelsstaub released their debut-cd in 1993 on their own Apollyon label. “Malleus Maleficarum” contains a brillant piece of dark folk. Not too long after that came the second cd “Ignis Fatuus: Irrlichter” which was more romantic of nature. In 1995 we were graced with a split 10″ with another brilliant band, the Italian Ataraxia. This was actually the last really new release of Engelsstaub. In 1997 they re-released their legendary -and long sold out- 7″ “Unholy” together with new remixes on a mcd with the same title as the 7″. After this release the band became less “mysterious” and it turned out that the people in this band were the same people who run the Apollyon label.Various compilation contributions seemed to show a different direction for Engelsstaub. This feeling is partially confirmed by “Anderwelt”.
The music is less folky and more atmospheric. It didn’t turn out in the darkwave-way that I feared for. However I prefer the old style of Engelsstaub, this cd is still pretty damn good. It’s much more orchestral than before and there’s more room for the female vocals.
This cd comes in a normal box and a “super jewel box”, which is twice as big as a normal jewel case and looks very nice. What you may not guess from the cover, the inside of the booklet looks really nice too.
Fans may feel a bit disappointed at first, but certainly those who like atmospheric music, should have a listen to this cd.

Chirleison * A Whisper (cd 2004 fossil dungeon)

Like Mirabilis, the sound of Chirleison is gothic/medieval. Not gothic like Mephisto Walz (who also have a cd out on Fossil Dungeon), but gothic like the sound of 500 years ago. Chirleison makes smooth music with female singing, medievalish and some electronic sounds. I think this will appear to people who like the “heavenly voices” kind of music, however the sound of Chirleison is not entirely like that. A nice cd, but also this one is only 35 minutes.

Butterfly Messiah * Priestess (cd 2002 the fossil dungeon)

This is definately the most gothic cd I have reviewed in a long long time. What? Did I say gothic? Yeawell let’s say it is the label. Butterfly Messiah is a band from the USA that released it’s first fulllength on a new American label. Their sound is some gothic kind of synth-/electropop with male and female vocals. I really hate it, so I won’t make this review too long. I think the sound of the band reminds of of l’Âme Immortelle a bit and I wonder if this label will get Butterfly Messiah to the right audience. I will send my copy to a more suitable reviewer then, maybe that will help.

Autumn Tears * promotional sampler compilation (cd 2001 dark symphonies)

This is the first time that I get a promotional sampler to introduce a band. This is a cd that will not be for sale, but which is meant to make me advice you to buy the albums of Autumn Tears. Therefor tracks are included from all three albums and the mcd.
What Dark Symphonies probably didn’t know, is that I have known Autumn Tears for several years. I ‘even’ own their debut album “The Garden Of Crystalline Dreams: Love Poems For Dying Children… Act 2” from 1996. The reason that you never read about Autumn Tears in these pages is that I do think the music is good, but I don’t like it enough to play it very often, or buy it.
What I already knew, and what becomes quite clear on this promo sampler, is that Autumn Tears started quite atmospherically with quite some medieval influences, but that they work towards a more orchestral and at times neo-classical approach. But especially the great female vocals still give a medieval atmosphere to the music, also in the newer songs.
And listening to this promo cd I come to the same conclusion as listening to the cd that I already had: the music is very nice and at times beautiful, but after a song of four I have heard enough of it.
Still this American band deserves the attention that it gets in the gothic scene and if you like atmospheric and orchestral music with medieval influences, you might want to give this band a try. There are three “Love Poems” (2, 1 and 3) and between 1 and 3 a mcd called “Absolution”. Everything is available from Dark Symphonies in the States and well-obtainable in Europe as well. The cds are always packed very luxery by the way.

Ataraxia * Mon Seul Désir (cd 2002 cruel moon)

However I still love their music I wasn’t planning on buying this cd. I have over 10 albums of this band and even though every single one is pretty good to very good it becomes a bit too much and I don’t play them very often anymore either. But a while ago I saw the band live for the I-don’t-know-how-many time and naturally they were great which brought doubt back to my mind, so in the end I did get a copy.
“Mon Seul Désir” is a medievalish album and very short (42 min). Most songs are nice, but overall this cd isn’t as great as other albums of this band. Maybe I should make a list of which five albums you buy best?