"To prevent conception when having intercourse, the male wears a
"Chastity - the most unnatural of the sexual perversions."
Aldous Huxley, "Eyeless in Gaza"
(don't know why I put two quotes there, but what the heck)
MUSIC REVIEWS - CDS
by Richard Karsmakers
Quite a bit of time has come and gone since ST NEWS Volume 10
Issue 1. If you read the end bit of the scroller you'll know why.
The bad thing of a lot of time coming and going is that some
articles are rather less current and up-to-date as perhaps they
should have been. Well, I gave up trying to be completely up-to-
date just before the summer of 1989, which marked the start of a
2-or-3-times-a-year occurrence of this magazine (7 issues in one
year, such as in 1988, seem now ungraspable). Anyway, this rather
longer production process also has an obvious advantage. What
with ST NEWS offering music/film/book reviews of late, it means
that there is more stuff heard/seen/listened to, which in this
particular article leads to the biggest music review segment so
far. That's why it had to be split in three, for starters, with
the CDs in two columns and the EPs/CD-singles in a separate file,
I found some work so I could afford to buy a few CDs again, and
also I have received some review samples from various companies,
new to which are Earache (thanks Dan!) and Neat (thanks Garry and
David!). There is also pretty much variety this time. I think
there might just be something for everybody here, although those
with heavier interests will get more than others, of course.
ANATHEMA - THE SILENT ENIGMA (PEACEVILLE)
Anathema's "Serenades" doomed the world and gave it a treasure
of serious doom metal. Songs like "Lovelorn Rhapsody" and "Sweet
Tears" will forever echoe through the halls of doom metal. A
brilliant album, truly, and after a very long wait - and a delay
of well over a year - Anathema have produced their second full-
length album by the name of "The Silent Enigma".
Singer Darren parted with the others after the "Pentecost III"
EP. Vinnie Cavanaugh now plays guitars as well as taking care of
the vocals, and he does so in a most commendable way. The music
now seems less doom-laden and less involved with the occult.
Anathema really seem to have matured. And is this good?
Yes, I think I'd have to agree that it is. Although the dazzling
creative and atmospheric heights of "Serenades" are never quite
reached, "The Silent Enigma" has some beautifully haunting doom
songs and deep lyrics about inamoratos and that kind of thing.
Vinnie has a good death metal voice, and the music still sounds
sad and beautiful (though not quite like "Under a Veil (of Black
Lace)"). There's a song called "Nocturnal Emissions" that shows
this band has a good sense of humour. You won't be disappointed
when you're an Anathema fan buying this album, even though they
have taken a slightly different musical direction.
AT THE GATES - SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL (EARACHE)
At The Gates' "Terminal Spirit Disease" quickly launched itself
into my personal fave CDs of 1994 when it got released around the
summer of that year. "Slaughter of the Soul", their new CD
that was released last October, has done very much the same.
Offering more new tracks and time than ever before, the CD even
has a theme - "suicide". Because there wasn't a lyric sheet with
the promo, I'll just have to take the press release on its word
as far as that is concerned.
What matters most to me is the music. And this is just like
"Terminal Spirit Disease", only different. I mean, they are still
in the same vein - heavy riffing and throat-killing vocals - but
the songs are refreshingly new. Most of the tracks are quite
melodic which, combined with the ruthless speed and aggression,
appeals to me a lot.
I don't have a favourite song so far. I mean, all songs have
their own appeal, right up to "The Flames of the End" with which
the CD closes off, which is heavily keyboard-oriented and
eeriely beautiful. "Cold" is an interesting track insofar that it
has King Diamond's And LaRocque on a guest guitar solo (and an
unusually melodic one at that, unusual for At The Gates anyway).
The only negative thing about the CD is that, despite it
offering more minutes of new material than ever, is still rather
short with its 35 minutes or so. I wouldn't have minded had they
waited another six months and then done a 60 minute album. All in
all, this means it's an excellent CD that, however, simply isn't
worth the usual price of 40 Dutch guilders. Wait until it's a bit
cheaper (if ever it will be).
Hmm...I guess the Dutch side of me is rearing its ugly head
(what with the Dutch being notoriously stingy and all)...
CATHEDRAL - THE CARNIVAL BIZARRE (EARACHE)
Cathedral have done it again: They have released an album that
is both very heavy, very groovy, slightly experimental and a tad
injected with the feeling of the sixties: Flares, hippies, and
peace and love and stuff.
"The Ethereal Mirror", their previous album, was perhaps a bit
too experimental at times. Well, this has been solved on "The
Carnival Bizarre". Although still not rusty or anything,
experimentation has been kept more to a minimum and the sixties
injection is less blatant.
I guess "heavy" is the most apparent thing in these songs. The
average song length is about six minutes, in which riff is hurled
upon riff, until it really seems a bit like a modern-day Black
Sabbath, only still with the inspiration they lost somewhere in
the seventies. Lee Dorrian is an excellent singer for the band,
and guitarist Jennings just seems to be a bottomless pit filled
with heavy yet uncannily groovy riffs. The rest of the band
rather perfectly complement them.
What it basically comes down to is that "The Carnival Bizarre"
is in the same vein as "The Ethereal Mirror" but just less
freaky and more, well, solid. A worthy sequel.
Last but not least the artwork needs to be mentioned. Once
folded out, you have on your hands probably the most beautiful
and surreal artwork ever released with a CD as far as I know.
It's one of those drawings where you can look for hours and still
discover something new. If the music had been bad, you'd have to
buy it just for the artwork, I think. But with the music being
good, too, I don't see any reason - besides possible lack of
finances - not to pelt out to the record store and get your hands
on it soon.
CRONOS - VENOM (NEAT RECORDS)
Cronos is the ex-bassist of legendary black/doom/death metal
pioneers Venom, we all know that. In 1987 or 1988 or thereabouts
he left the band to form AOR (Adult-Oriented-Rock) band Cronos
and released "Dancing in the Fire". Nothing much was heard from
him, actually, and I don't think the album was ever much of a
success. Nevertheless, somewhere along the line Cronos also
released "Rock'n'Roll Disease". Never even knew of that, and I am
quite a fan of the man.
With the release of the Neat Metal label, Neat Records have
released a new Cronos album in November. It bears the confusing
title, "Venom". It is basically a collection of songs from the
first two solo albums as well as some tracks that will eventually
appear on the 1996 third Cronos album, "Triumvirate". To top it
off, a handful of old Venom tracks are covered, too.
"Dancing in the Fire" is represented by "Vampyr" (one of my
fave Cronos tracks, I think), "Painkiller" (a song with a sing-
along chorus that I don't like too much), "Fantasia" and "At War
With Satan" (a Venom song covered on that album, in a 5+ minute
version); "Rock'n'Roll Disease" has outtakes in the form of
"Superpower" (enthusiastic drumming, really short song), "Lost &
Found" and "Messages of War". The new "Triumvirate" tracks are
"Know Evil", "Babylon" (a really interesting track) and "Ye of
Little Faith". Venom tracks are "In League with Satan" (which is
a kinda crap version, with only the lyrics similar), "Fire" (off
"Calm Before the Storm", a really underrated album), "1000 Days
in Sodom", "7 Gates of Hell", "Don't Burn the Witch / In Nominae
Satanas" and "Satanachist".
If you don't have the earlier solo albums, it's a really
interesting release. Nonetheless, production still seems a bit
stuck in the eighties. Some of the songs are actually quite
excellent, on the contrary to rumours that abound about all post-
Venom Cronos material. Listening to all this stuff, especially
the Venom covers, I feel that indeed Venom may have been the most
cult pioneer of heavy metal of all times.
A fine album, though probably of appeal only to those into Venom
and/or Cronos, I'm afraid.
DEEP PURPLE - ON THE THE WINGS OF A RUSSIAN FOXBAT (CONNOISSEUR)
Connoisseur have in recent years released quite a few very
interesting Deep Purple releases. From the cult "Gemini Suite"
and the collectable "Ritchie Blackmore Rock Profiles I & II" to
more readily digestable items such as the double CD "In the
Absence of Pink" (from the Deep Purple Mk II reunion tour, quite
excellent!) and this new one, "On the Wings of a Russian Foxbat".
What we have here is a beautifully designed double CD set
featuring a complete concert from the American Deep Purple Mk IV
tour that lasted from January to March 1976. Yes, that's Tommy
Bolin on guitar instead of Ritchie Blackmore. And the beautiful
design relates to the sleeve notes. Simon "Deep Purple
Appreciation Society Director" Robinson has been let loose again
and has written the usual excellent liner notes.
The sleeve notes mention that "Last Concert in Japan" was
recorded on a night when Tommy had injected so much heroine that
his arm was numb. When reading it you really get to feel
melancholic and I'm afraid it negatively affected the way I
listened to the music. Although Paice positively rocks throughout
every single song, the rest of the band really didn't make too
much of a deep impression on me. And Coverdale sounded really
tired during the in-between song announcements.
The set was recorded at Long Beach Arena, February 27th 1976,
with two tracks off a Springfield, Massachusetts gig (January
26th). These were included to show how excellent the band were at
Long Beach in comparison with Springfield. Well, they don't sound
too much worse than they do in Long Beach as far as I'm
concerned, but, hey, it gives you two versions of "Smoke on the
Water" and "Highway Star". Er...Tommy does screw up seriously
occasionally - what can you possibly do wrong on the main "Smoke
on the Water" riff?!
"On the Wings of a Russian Foxbat" features quite a few songs
not on "Last Concert", of course, what with it being over twice
as long. There are "Getting Tighter" (with a really groovy bit
towards the end), "Lazy", "The Grind", "This Time Around" (a
really groovy song, one of the finest on this release),
"Stormbringer" and "Going Down", for example. One of these - I
believe "The Grind" - might be off Tommy Bolin's solo album,
"Teaser". Some of the songs are quite long and have some solos in
them, which is the Deep Purple way. Although they sometimes tend
to lose track a bit, it's pretty good.
Although the liner notes had probably intended to slag off "Last
Concert in Japan" (what with the numb arm and that), really I
have to say that some of the songs on that release are better
than the ones on "Foxbat". "Lady Luck" and "Love Child", for
starters, are superior to the Long Beach ones. And "You Keep on
Movin'" and "Soldier of Fortune" weren't played in Long Beach at
all. I think, really, true Deep Purple fans ought to have both
albums. Although neither of them come close to Deep Purple with
Ritchie Blackmore in it, I think they both have their merits.
It still beats me why people can be satisfied by Tommy Bolin. He
plays even more sloppy than Ritchie did during the last couple of
years he spent in the reunited Mk II, and uses way too much wah-
wah. And I don't really like Glenn Hughes' vocals, either.
Why buy this album, then? For starters it's cheap. You pay the
price of a single CD for a double CD set. The liner notes are
excellent, the mix is good and, well, there are quite a few
moments on the discs that will really have you rocking. It's just
not a top priority CD. I myself bought it to get above a certain
amount of money when ordering it through the mail so I would be
eligible for a discount.
It's not too bad, anyway, and it certainly rocks.
DISMEMBER - MASSIVE KILLING CAPACITY (NUCLEAR BLAST)
I am not going to say much about this CD, for I only heard it a
few times and I don't even have it (financial low, so I just
borrowed it). But it's guaranteed to please those who like
Entombed's second CD, "Clandestine". The vocalist sounds exactly
the same and the music is quite similar, too. It's not too
original but quite brutal. You could do worse than check it out,
especially if you're into the semi-early Entombed stuff.
DREAM THEATER - TRAGEDY & COMEDY
"All the world I'd give to you...all the world"
Mike Portnoy, Dream Theater, "A Change of Seasons"
(the original version)
Remember "The Dance of Eternity", the bootleg double CD that I
mentioned in the previous issue of ST NEWS (or maybe the one
before that)? It was the definite "Images and Words" tour CD,
featuring most of the "Images and Words" songs as well as a host
of tunes not featured on regular (commercial) CDs such as "To
Live Forever", "Eve" and the magnificent 20-minute epic "A Change
of Seasons". Sound quality was brilliant (close to commercial)
and, well, it was Dream Theater at its very best. I played it to
death during the time when Karin was in Bristol, and especially
during "A Change of Seasons" I still feel a kind of catharsis
running through my body, when sadness and happiness melt into
something entirely new and beautiful.
At BosPop Festival (see elsewhere in this issue) there were
various people selling bootleg (and other) CDs so I checked out
whether perhaps there'd be another version of this New York
concert. I knew there were a few other bootleg CDs that featured
exactly the same set, so that was what I was looking for.
Within fifteen minutes of our having arrived at the festival
site I was the proud owner of "Tragedy" and "Comedy", two Dream
Theater bootleg CDs that correspond exactly with the "The Dance
of Eternity" double CD. I was happy as a child. Now I finally had
the hallowed CD. And it might be my imagination or is the sound
quality on these two CDs even one or two slight notches better?
If you're a Dream Theater fan there is simply no way you could
possibly be disappointed by purchasing these CDs. Not a chance.
It's the definite concert with all the best stuff (including
"Ytsejam", "Learning to Live", "Another Day", "Metropolis" and
"The Killing Hand" as well as some more stuff), still with Kevin
Moore on the keys. Get it or be a rectangular object!
And for those who already have all the studio versions by now:
Getting "Comedy" is worth it just for the "PLEASE DON'T GO!"
section in "A Change of Seasons" that, strangely, never made it
onto the studio version. It's best, really, to have both.
DREAM THEATER - ACOUSTIC DREAMS
A really interesting Dream Theater bootleg was acquired by me
not too long ago (for the source, read the Rush "Cygnus" review,
below): "Acoustic Dreams". Because it's not just a single concert
put on CD, I think it's best to review the tracks sortof in a
The first couple of tracks were allegedly recorded for Dutch
radio in February of this year, when they were here for
performances at the Utrecht Vredenburg venue. The recording
quality of these tracks is of true commercial standard.
"Another Day". OK, musically, but I really don't like James
Labrie's vocals. A bit too high and improvised.
"Lifting Shadows off a Dream". Great considering it's an
unplugged song, with groovy bass. Particularly the bit where the
congas get thrown in is really nice.
"Wait for Sleep". Cleverly played, including all the keyboard
segments transcribed onto the acoustic guitar by John Petrucci.
"The Silent Man". Is pretty similar to the one on the "Awake"
CD, only more unplugged. With John on background vocals.
"Long Island Expressway". On the Ytsejam mailing list, people
recognise "Lie" in this song and, indeed, it is allegedly based
on that. I don't. It just sounds hellishly groovy, with virtuoso
acoustic guitar work. I just James would know when the STFU. His
"whooah"s and "yeeaaaahh"s add nothing whatsoever to the song.
"Tears". A song by Rush, acoustically covered. Well done, of
course, but the weak bit is James again, who sometimes fails to
go to the higher notes as cleanly as Geddy Lee (of Rush) used to.
It's not for nothing that Rush no longer play this song, for
Geddy can't do it either anymore. Still, it's not quite as bad as
him singing Tori Amos' "Winter".
This following track is acoustic, but sounds different and is of
good though slightly less quality than the ones before. Haven't
got a clue where it was recorded.
"O Holy Night". They used to do this in the ancient days, with
old singer Charlie Dominici. It's pretty OK, but doesn't get me
going. James does some really nice singing on this, especially
when his volume goes up a bit. Basically this is just an acoustic
guitar version of the Christmas song, differently arranged.
The following two tracks are electric extras on the CD, of which
can be said that the first was recorded at January 29th 1995, at
a Bruce Dickinson Party gig.
"Perfect Strangers". Almost the same version as that on the "A
Change of Seasons" EP. The most important difference is that
Bruce Dickinson does the vocals - and quite well, too - and that
the song is a bit heavier. The latter may seem incredible when
you know how heavy the "A Change of Seasons" EP sounds, but I
guess it's done by the better snare drum and the dirtier guitar
sound. The sound quality is ever so slightly less than
"Six O'Clock". Wow, you can hear the cymbals a lot better on
this one, and suddenly it seems so much more excellent what Mike
Portnoy does. This is basically the same as the album version,
but with the samples not yet thrown in. Apparently it was a
session kind of thing (demo?). I wonder who played the keys,
Kevin or Derek. Sounds a bit like Derek to me.
"Caught in a Web". This sounds almost 1:1 like the CD version.
Cool but, well, it kindof eludes me why it's here. We all know
Dream Theater does stuff live that is much similar to the
The bonus tracks come last. These were recorded at Mulcahy's
pub, October '94. The sound quality of these is quite less, most
notably because the audience has the rude indecency to talk right
through the great stuff happening on stage.
"Voices". A small segment of the song, played acoustically.
Luckily it fades out at 1'25" when some guy starts to whistle
"Bad". A cover from U2. Acoustic, too. No computerised shit,
just a guitar and some acoustic percussion. Really quite cool,
but that audience...hold me or I'm gonna kill someone.
The sound quality, with the exception of that on the last two
"bonus" tracks, is exceptional. Most of it might just as well
have been on a commercial album, and the rest only slightly less
so. James LaBrie takes himself a bit too serious sometimes,
though, when doing things acoustically. John Petrucci, however,
is somewhere high in a realm of class where but few others can
This is a brilliant CD, with really good artwork, too (the girl
from "Images and Words" lying on the bed of the cover of that
album, enjoying music on an oddly shaped walkman).
FERGUSIN, KEVIN - STRAD TO STRAT (DEBONE MUSIC)
Had I not discovered Yngwie Malmsteen in 1986 or thereabouts,
causing me to dump my ambitions of ever becoming the world's
best guitar player, Kevin Ferguson's "Strad to Strat" would have
had a much similar effect when I received it 9 years later, at
the end of October 1995.
"Strad to Strat" (for the non-initiated, this means "from
Stradivarius violin to Fender Stratocaster electric guitar")
offers over an hour of, frankly, stunning electric guitar
versions of classic violin pieces from up to 3 centuries ago,
baroque to romantic. Vivaldi, Sarasate, Bach and Wieniawski are
featured, along with the almost inevitable likes of Paganini and
Rimsky-Korsakov (with "Flight of the Bumblebee"). I say
"inevitable" because Paganini is always quoted by Yngwie
Malmsteen as his main influence, and "Flight of the Bumblebee"
has been done before by people like Jennifer Batten and Joey
Although thoroughly classical as a whole (or maybe because of
it), it has to be said that some of the pieces on the CD are not
at all fit for the casual listener. The "Cadenza" segment of the
Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1, for example, is best appreciated
when you know what it takes to do this stuff on a guitar instead
of a violin. Man, I feel my left fingers cramp spasmodically at
the sheer thought of what they'd have to go through to do this.
The amazing thing is that Kevin taught himself guitar technique
from books, only later taking up classes from Tom Grant's jazz
guitarist, Dan Balmer. The album was recorded 'live' with a synth
orchestra, straight onto DAT and with no editing afterwards.
Erm...hats off, please. Apparently, some of the compositions on
this album have been transcribed rather more precisely than any
earlier attempts to far, especially where the highest octaves
used to be transcribed on lower octaves. The technical
implications, my not being a musical theory expert, pass me by,
but it surely sounds impressive.
For those who really appreciate guitar craftsmanship and music
of a firmly neoclassical style, "Strad to Strat" is the best no-
holds-barred album that ever came to my attention. Yngwie
sometimes does neat classical stuff, but when I heard "Strad to
Strat" I couldn't envision him playing this too. Not without
extensive practising, anyway.
Although I sometimes get the impression that the original
classical pieces were chosen not for the way they sound but for
the effective display of the chops needed to play them, fact is
that the album is completely incredible despite a slightly dodgy
(sloppy?) production. Some of the pieces that I recognised
(Vivaldi, for example), come across powerful and jawdroppingly
virtuoso. It's an album that any parent who is tired of their
son's endless guitar practising should give for his birthday to
effectively cause any further ambitions to cease instantly (then
again, in such cases the kid might simply stop washing his hair,
move to Seattle and form a grunge band). And, of course, you
should get it for yourself if you're a guitar afficionado.
I can't wait until this guy releases some of his own
compositions, with drummer and all (if ever he does). And if he
ever does a world tour I'll give just about anything to sit front
For order details, please refer to the "Music News" section of
this issue of ST NEWS. For album cover art and sound clips, check
GATHERING, THE - MANDYLION (CENTURY MEDIA)
The Dutch band The Gathering have changed musical styles with
each album. With their rather excellent debut album, "Always...",
they had in their midst vocalist Bart Smits who grunted in a most
heartfelt manner. He made the band into a rather excellent doom
metal outfit. With their follow-up album, "Almost A Dance",
singer Bart Smit had been replaced. Gone was the grunt and
seriously doomy atmosphere, and hello to the days that were a bit
like, well, hippy-dom (hippidom?) in the seventies. I had already
written off the band around that time, until somewhat later -
recently - someone let me listen to their third album,
"Mandylion". The 'new' singer had been replaced. As a matter of
fact, they now featured female vocals exclusively, by Anneke van
Giersbergen. Although the lyrics as such don't make too much
sense, her voice carries the band into an entirely new era. I do
respect this band, for they still have the energy to come back
after the ghastly failure of their second album. Although
"Mandylion" is not at all like the doom metal present on
"Always..." it does contain eight moody songs, totalling to over
50 minutes, with beautiful female vocals and haunting melodies.
Not too heavy, mind you, but lacking the dread hippy image that
marked their previous album.
The Gathering have returned to the forefront of Dutch heavy
music. Well-produced, "Mandylion" is an album of such quality
that it rather justifies the hype that swept over the Dutch music
magazines in recent months. The first song, "Strange Machines",
immediately strikes home the atmospheric sensation I like so
I really think there should be more heavy metal bands with
female vocalists. The contrast is just too beautiful to be
ignored. It's really a kind of magic, yes, quite beautiful magic.
On a last note, it suddenly struck me, in a really weird way I
guess, that the melodic vocal style is a bit like that of Mark
King (yes, of Level 42).
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.