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Sanatorium Altrosa
Sanatorium Altrosa
Price: £17.96

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remix Album - Sadness into Celebration, 1 Dec 2010
This review is from: Sanatorium Altrosa (Audio CD)
The music composed by Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows is unique, artistic, beautiful and ugly all at once.

The creative force is Anna-Varney Cantodea (previously known only as Varney), who uses music to express her feelings stemming from decades of depression, despair and lonlieness. She is reclusive, and speaks of most humans causing her fear and disgust to be in the presence of. The 'Emsemble of Shadows' refers to a group of spirits that appear to her in dreams and visions, inspiring her to make music.

The style of music is generally described as darkwave, though it has a distinctive 'renaissance' sound using woodwind instruments, pipe organs, brass and bells.

This is a remix album of 'Les Fleurs du Mal' and consists mainly of instrumental versions. Normally, such an album is something that would just be bought by fans, however 'Sanatorium Altrosa' has a much wider appeal that the original collection of tracks.

This is because there is much less of the shrieking vocals and disturbing lyrics (although there are some) that are an acquired taste. The instrumentals are beautiful and without the lyrics they become something quite different - no longer sounding like songs of sadness, but of celebration. In der Palastra and Consider This are particularly notable.

The sleeve artwork, like all Sopor Aeternus releases is stunning too. I would recommend this album equally to fans of Sopor Aeternus and newcomers, those who have 'Les Fleurs du Mal' and those who do not - it is a treat.

Gorgoroth-Black Mass Krakow 2004 Limited Edition [2008] [DVD]
Gorgoroth-Black Mass Krakow 2004 Limited Edition [2008] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gorgoroth
Price: £19.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A piece of Gorgoroth history..., 28 Nov 2010
This is the long awaited video capture of the infamous and controversial Krakow show of 2004 - the show had the band under investigation for possible breach of polish law and for offending religious feelings.

Featuring pyrotechnics, live naked models on crucifixes, and sheep's heads on spikes this show was designed to shock and to give the anti-christian message that Gorgoroth are known for. However the band have always maintained that the organisers were warned of what to expect, and that no one was harmed by their hand including the sheep which were bought from a butchers shop.

The footage on this dvd is excellent quality, and gives the viewer a real feel for the gig. The concert is shown in full.

Extras on the dvd include more live footage from a Leipzig concert, biography, discography, photo gallery, and some excellent desktop images.

This limited edition comes in an attractive tin, much nicer than the ordinary packaging.

The only downside to this product is it's a bit expensive, but still I think a must have for fans - it is part of Gorgoroth history, and due to lineup changes that have occurred since, it is a live show that will not be seen again.

IV: The Eerie Cold
IV: The Eerie Cold
Price: £9.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A musical diary of a frantic depressive, 28 Nov 2010
This review is from: IV: The Eerie Cold (Audio CD)
Not to be confused by the also popular Norwegian band called Shining, famous for their `Black Jazz'.

Shining were the first band I heard being referred to as 'suicidal black metal' as opposed to the more commonly used 'depressive black metal'. As the genre attribution would suggest, the ethos of the band is masochistic in nature, and the art that it creates stems from Kvarforth's own misanthropy, schizophrenia, drug-taking and self harm.

`The Eerie Cold' is the first album by Shining where they exhibit their own unique sound. There are glimpses of what we see here in their previous works, and there is a definite sense of development through the albums.

From Kvarforth's 2 and half minute rant/death wish to fans that acts as an introduction for this album, anyone would think he didn't want this album to sell. But its all part of his self-destruct personna that seems surplus to requirements for some, whilst sells records to others.

Musically, this album on the whole perhaps has a faster pace than you would expect from a 'suicidal' band, but I think it paints an accurate picture of the more frantic and angst-ridden form that depression and despair can take along with the haunting moods that pre-empt and follow.

`Nagonting Ar Fauligt Fel' and `Claws of Perdition' are stand-out tracks for me, though there isn't a poor one on the album. If you can get past the hype and inevitable press attention surrounding Shining, there is some real talent and skilful portrayal of negative human emotion, and `The Eerie Cold' is an excellent example.

Join My Cult
Join My Cult
by James Curcio
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unhinged!, 27 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Join My Cult (Paperback)
This book is intentionally dizzying and confusing.

It follows groups of young people in their hallucinogen-fuelled spiritual and political quests. Curcio's writing style can be likened to that of William Burroughs in that the language used, alongside rapidly switching viewpoints, tenses and timelines makes the plot difficult to follow. There is a constant question as to who the characters are in relation to each other, and whether some of them even exist as seperate people.

I am a fan of the experimental in books, and enjoy any author who is able to sculpt language to make the listener feel a particular way - even if that feeling is confusion, psychedelia or unnerved. That's why I enjoyed 'Join My Cult' - it is an experiment in technique.

I recommend this book to fans of Burroughs, Timothy Leary or Robert Anton Wilson. But if you are looking for an easy, light-hearted read, with no mind tricks, this book is not the one.

The Work Which Transforms God
The Work Which Transforms God
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £11.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential!, 27 Nov 2010
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This is the first album by Blut Aus Nord I heard, and the best. I bought it, along with 'MoRT' and 'Odinist' from hearing just two tracks - 'Procession of the Dead Clowns' and 'The Howling of God'. These two tracks clicked with me instantly, and when I bought the album I was far from disappointed.

Blut Aus Nord have a unique and unmistakable sound. Their music is disjointed and distorted, wobbly and heady. A collection of harsh, sinister sounds at varying speeds. Their lyrics are not published (aside from Memoria Vetusta I) - I like to think that this is because the voice is used as an instrument, and it is its contribution to the overall feel that is most important.

'The Work Which Transforms God' is without a doubt the best of Blut Aus Nord's work, and is a regular feature in 'essential metal albums' lists. It is also the first of their albums to move away from their more traditional black metal roots, towards a dark spiritual exploration through experimental sound.

Every track here is beautiful but ugly, manufactured but spiritual, urban but otherworldly. The pace and volume varies from track to track, adding to the disorientating effect. This album will take you somewhere new - albeit a dark, haunting, and decaying place.

'The Work Which Transfroms God' is an absolute masterpiece - even if you never listen to anything else by this band, listen to this.

Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Structured Non-Conformity, 27 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Odinist (Audio CD)
After dark experimental album 'MoRT' (which was not so unanimously well received as masterpiece 'The Work Which Transforms God'), 'Odinist' is a slight step back towards the more traditional black metal sounds of Blut Aus Nord's early days.

I think this an album often skipped over as it does not quite conform to either the atmospheric experimentational approach or the traditional black metal approach that the band are known for. But it does deserve attention in its own right as a portrayal of dark spirituality. The secondary title is 'The destruction of reason through illumination'.

Blut Aus Nord have maintained their ability to create a disjointed whirlpool of darkness, but have adjusted the focus to make something that has more structure and as such is more accessible than their previous release. There is more melody in the guitars, more consistency with the drums and (a little) more clarity with the vocals.

'Odinist' is probably the most accessible of the tracks on here and could act as a gateway for anyone who is new to Blut Aus Nord and is an outstanding piece.

On the whole, this is not Blut Aus Nord's greatest acheivement, but it should not be dismissed.

Price: £7.37

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Their Darkest Album, 27 Nov 2010
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This review is from: MoRT (Audio CD)
This the darkest, most eerie of Blut Aus Nord's releases, their sound at its most distorted. It sits on the experimental, avant-garde, industrial side of their catalogue along with 'The Work Which Transforms God' and 'Thematic Emanation of archtypal Multiplicity'.

MoRT which (apart from meaning 'death' in French) is an acronym of 'Metamorphosis of Realistic Theories', and as such it challenges the listener's preconceptions of musical structure. It is uncomfortable and disjointed. The guitars have a wobbly, backwards sound that give a disorientating feeling, whilst sinister whispers and chants haunt the listener between moments of emptiness.

This album does not seem to be popular amongst those who prefer Blut Aus Nord's Memoria Vetusta releases (which are more connected to traditional black metal), so it seems the experimental aspect of the band is not for everyone. I look at it like modern art - an obscure form that hits on the right wavelength for some people, and for others is disgusting or pointless. Either way, it's thought provoking.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2012 4:27 PM GMT

Von Rov Shelter
Von Rov Shelter
Price: £8.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Strangely addictive, 27 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Von Rov Shelter (Audio CD)
'Von Rev Shelter' has the same bizarre and sinister mesh of classical instrumentals with slow paced avant garde black metal that 'Skrekk Lich Kunstler' had, that characterizes Slagmaur. It is however more developed, more polished and more listenable. (And, although irrelevant to the review, the artwork is better!)

The first time, maybe even the first couple of times, I listened to this album I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. It has a confusing, intriguing aound. This, coupled with its hypnotic quality and its short play length (around 30 minutes) means it demands repeated listening.

'Klokker Tramp' is arguably the most accessible track on the album, but it was 'Drako Gigant' that first hooked me in with its backwards but forwards, fast but slow feel. And now I can't get enough of the whole album.

General Gribbsphiiser, who is Slagmaur, has very little to do with the media. However he described in one rare interview that his intention is to make eerie horror music that is technically beautiful using knowledge gained from years of classical music study. I think he acheives this on his latest collection and I think 'Von Rev Shelter' will help Slagmaur to find a larger audience.

Thematic Emanation of Archetypal Multiplicity
Thematic Emanation of Archetypal Multiplicity
Price: £7.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 27 Nov 2010
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I'm not a frequent user of the word 'awesome' by any measure. But when I heard this, it was the only word that really seemed to suit.

This is the atmospheric industrial avant-garde side to Blut Aus Nord as opposed to their more traditional black metal approach on the Memoria Vetusta releases. 2003's 'The Work Which Transforms God' was a difficult album to follow, but this EP does it perfectly. So much so, it was also released as a two-disc set with its forefather suggesting it could be listened to as a companion.

The tracks sit together as one here, and there isn't so much of the quiet/loud interface from the previous collection. It is slower paced and is instrumental but for a small amount of spoken word.

I strongly recommend listening to 'Thamatic Emnation...' as one piece, with a decent set of headphones or surround sound. Dark, brooding, beautiful, ugly, mystical; it invokes feelings of otherworldlieness and urban decay - in fact the cover's artwork is a very appropriate visual description of its sound.

If you are a fan of dark atmospheric, even if you have not warmed to the rest of the Blut Aus Nord catalogue, I am convinced you will find something awesome about this.

Beat the Reaper: A Novel
Beat the Reaper: A Novel
by Josh Bazell
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Judge it by its cover!, 27 Nov 2010
The inside of this book's cover is filled with succinct portrayals of Bazell's writing style. At first this made me think it was going for the hard sell, but once I got into it found that descriptions such as 'outrageous, genuinely entertaining', 'house meets sopranos and scrubs' and 'fast, fun and furious' are absolutely on the mark.

(Speaking of the cover, I have seen this edition available in yellow, red and blue cover. There doesn't seem to be any difference in which you choose though.)

I bought this book to read on a 9 hour flight. It is easy to read, with no difficult-to-get-your-head-round concepts (unless you count the outrageous way in which the main character seems to operate), fast paced and fun. It grabs you right away, makes you keep turning the pages, laugh out loud, feel astonished, and depending on your disposition maybe just a little bit nauseous...

It was perfect for what I wanted, and for anyone wanting an entertaining 'holiday' read.

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