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Ostara * The Only Solace (cd 2009)

The Only SolaceI heard that the new Ostara would be ‘back to basics’. I heard a few Myspace tracks and was not really convinced. It is the old minimalistic neofolk style. The album as a whole is a bit better than expected. Most songs are the minimalistic neofolk style, some of them are nice, some are just alright. There are a few more poppy songs and some songs have some nice additions in violin (Matt Howden) or other instruments. I guess this cd is for people who long for the days of “Secret Homeland” (not not Strength Through Joy, the ‘wayback machine’ did not go that far). I like those early albums mostly because they were surprising at the time of release, but “The Only Solace” does not bring anything really new and not all songs are great, so… just a nice album I guess.
Links: Ostara, Trisol

Reutoff / Der Blutharsch * Kreuzung 3 (cd 2008)

Kreuzung 3Apparently “Kreuzung” is a “Reutoff and friends” series. Now I am not a big fan of Reutoff, but I do like Der Blutharsch, so I decided to get one of the 700 special cardboard cover cds. The album is only half an hour one one of the two Der Blutharsch tracks is also on the recently released “Everything Is Alright“. Reutoff contributed some Der Blutharsch remixes which results in something like dark ambient, but also a very nice neofolk song. The result is not smashing, but not too bad either.
Links: Reutoff, Der Blutharsch

A Challenge Of Honour * No Way Out (cd 2008 steinklang)

No Way OutWith each new release of ACOH I ask myself whether or not I have to buy it. Most of the older material did not survive the years and most newer material is not too good. I am afraid that for “No Way Out” the same goes. Steinklang says that this release presents a new side of the project “the album would be best described as a pure Neo(Pop)Folk album with many Neoclassical and some Martial elements”. Well, the sound has changed a bit indeed. There seem to be some wave influences and more poppy drumming, but “many neoclassical and some martial elements”? I am afraid that I have to describe the sound and softly poppy and slighly cheesy and however I admire Peter for again leaving the obvious path, his musical taste (or efforts) drift away from mine.
Links: ACOH, Steinklang

Orplid * Greifenherz (cd 2008 auerbach tonträger)

GreifenherzMany years ago it was Orplid that introduced me to the musical style called “neofolk”. Their untitled debut remains the best album in this style with its not too typical sound. Orplid kept making masterpieces and when my interest in neofolk started to wane, Orplid started to change their style. However their albums never blew me away like the debut anymore and I had to get used to them as well, they definately made the better music from the scene. The style of today is hard to describe, but when you know have followed Orplid too, you will not be too surprised by “Greifenherz”. Its sound comes natural after “Sterbender Satyr” (2006), but there are some electric guitars, some darker electronics and a bit more “Barbarossa” atmosphere, but the result is a mostly tranquil album with very nice songs. Just as on the previous album there are some distinctive female vocals that I do not really like and some tracks are not really my taste (yet?), but musically Orplid is a lot better than most bands from the scene. By lack of a better tag, I used “neofolk” for the navigational cabin to put this album in, but “Greifenherz” goes from neofolk, to atmospheric ambient music, rocky tracks, wavy influences to spoken word.
Links: Orplid, Auerbach Tonträger

v/a * OEC 100 (7cd 2008 old europa café)

OEC100For their hundreth release The Old Europa Café label has released a 7-cd compilation with a track of each band and project they have been involved in during the years. However looking around the internet it seems like the bands are featured alphabetically, this is not the case, the cds are ordered somewhat thematically / according to style. “Somewhat” I say, since it is not completely that there are industrial and folk cds, there is some overlap. That is only for the better, the compiler of the cds has a rather good ear for things. In the beginning I had the idea that there are alternally more industrial and more folky cds, but this is not entirely true. The compilation opens with a cd with mostly not too extreme noise, a nice cd. Then follows a cd with more (neo)folky music, but not the too typical sounds of a compilation that I reviewed a few days ago. Then we have cds with power electronics and the extreme, chaotic style that isn’t mine, but also more old industrial things, strange experimental soundscape music and more of an old neofolk cd that I find awfull (Ain Soph, that sort of bands). Having heard the whole thing, my temporary conclusion is that the first cds are the most interesting and towards the end are some cds that I will probably never play. I think that four out of seven cds are enough of my taste to put in the player every now and then, so the “price/quality balance” is not that bad.

We didn’t put limits to the sound stiles, so here you can really hear all the sounds of the Industrial sub-culture featured on OEC !

This is a sure thing and it would be utterly impossible if everybody would love everything on this “mammoth compilation”, but I guess that for people who like the better stuff from the scene, there will be plenty to enjoy on “The Old Europa Café”.

v/a * Steinklang Industries IV (cd 2008 steinklang)

Steinklang IVThose of you who follow these pages will already know that I find the musical current called “neofolk” has been in a downwards spiral for quite a few years. There was an interesting thing when some bands started to experiment with poppy sounds, but after a short trend, also these poppy influences have already been removed. Judging the second half of the fourth Steinklang label compilation, “neofolk” is back to its minimalistic, unimaginable and boring sound. Unfortunately it seems that also kindred musical currents seem to have been infected by the virus of dullness, since the “industrial / noise / electronic” tracks of the first half of this cd are pretty boring as well. Besides a few good moments, this new compilation is an awfull compilation, a downwards trail since number II (I don’t have the first). There are a whole bunch of bands that I didn’t know or that I only knew by name, but this obviously was for the better. So now I wonder: does this compilation represent the poor state of the scene or is it another omen that I am growing away from it?

Death In June * The Rule Of Thirds (cd 2008 ner)

Amazing how this man can keep making the same music for such a long time. I do have a couple of DIJ albums, but by far not all. I decided to have a listen to this new album and all I can think is: “Well, another Death In June album.” The music remains minimalistic neofolk with just Douglas P. on guitar and vocals and on the background sound and voice samples. The songs are not boring, but the sound is too much the same for me.
Just another DI6 album, that is all I can make of it…

v/a * …Where Tattered Clouds Are Stranding (2cd 2008 the eastern front)

The Eastern Front has released a very nice double cd compilation with a whole range of famous bands on the first cd, most of them not from their own label. Cd 1 (“Grief”) has bands such as the resurrected Belborn, Cold Fusion, Cawatana, Kammer Sieben and Horologium and includes a cooperation between H.E.R.R. and Von Tronstahl. Most tracks are bombastic and militant, sometimes more orchestral, sometimes more neofolky and in most cases quite enjoyable. The second cd (“Birth of Psyche”) has mostly more minimalistic and ambient tracks from Artefactum, Rose Rovine, Shining Vril, Bisclaveret and a range of projects that are new to me. This cd surely isn’t bad, but less interesting than the first cd, but the projects Wach and Sitra Ahra offer a nice surprise. Both cds have a running time of well over an hour, so you get what you pay for! The simple but very nice booklet looks good, like we get used to from this label and also the limited amount of 1000 copies goes for this compilation. I noticed that it is available from about every descent mailorder, so it shouldn’t be too hard to lay your hands on a copy.
Link: The Eastern Front

Rome * Masse Mensch Material (cd 2008 cold meat industry)

Strange actually, this cd could be listened in full and bought digitally on the CMI website a couple of weeks before the actual release. I have looked forward for this new album. I love this project from Luxemburg, but I don’t play his cds too often because they are rather melancholic. The latter is a little less present on “MMM”, but the sound doesn’t differ all that much from the earlier releases. Rome makes music somewhere between neofolk and military pop and has thick ‘wavy’ influences. Especially the tracks in the beginning sound even more “gothic” than we got used to and the music may not (allways) ‘grab me’ as much as on the previous albums, but the songs are again very well structured and layered and all known elements are again present. “MMM” is again a very good album with perhaps the only minor point that it remains a bit too much in the sound that we all know by now. That is hardly a reason not to buy this album though, because it is a lot better than almost anything coming from that corner of our scene nowadays.
Links: Rome, Cold Meat Industry

Golgatha * Tales Of Transgression And Sacrifice (cd 2007 cold meat industry)

I didn’t really know this band when I saw them at last year’s Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig. They sounded to me like a rather typical new band from the scene, mixing different styles (neofolk, industrial, martial, orchestral). The show wasn’t too great and I never really tried to get their music. Also I didn’t know that this band was signed on CMI. This is no longer really a guarantee that a release is good, but I have to admit that it does still is an argument for me to try an album. So I skipped the first four releases and got myself “Tales Of Transgression And Sacrifice”. The album opens with ambient, continues with neofolk, ritualistic industrial and atmospheric music. It is not bad at all, but it seems to not ‘work’ for me. Maybe I have to get used to the style, but the harder tracks sound quite nice already, they remember a little of Parca Pace. I think I have to play the album a few times more, at the moment my conclusion is: good try, not bad, not great.
Links: :Golgatha:, Cold Meat Industry