It’s Where I Am

So, I have written about music a lot. If people ask what sort of music I like I answer: metal. It’s the easiest answer and everyone pretty much understands what it means. I wrote about my descent into metal here. Something strange happened since I saw Rammstein at Wembley Arena in February 2010. My music tastes shifted after seeing Combichrist. I wrote about that here as it distressed me somewhat.

Now, to give you a taste you can listen to the music here:

There’s plenty of stuff here that I know and quite a bit I don’t. It’s all good by association. It makes me happy, smile and want to dance. It’s new and different.

M’era Luna 2015

Smith and I travelled to Germany to a music festival over the summer. We searched many festivals to find the right one for price, distance and bands, although that wasn’t the order of the criteria. We settled on M’era Luna, a gothic/industrial festival that takes place on an old British Army Air Corps airfield near the town of Hildesheim, just south of Hanover.

On the Friday we traversed the channel via a train that carries cars [just imagine! a train that can carry cars! UNDER the sea! We humans are ingenious!] and headed to Germany. We used just a Sat Nav device, neither of us had a proper map. France, Belgium and the Netherlands were all pretty boring and we longed for some hills or vague scenery. The world kept track of our journey via twitter.

The route took us on the ring roads of two large towns and the traffic slowed a lot around them, hindering our progress! Once in Germany we travelled fast on the autobahn although we did have a detour around the northern edges of Dortmund as the sat-nav didn’t quite warn about a lane change on a slip road in time and then the next junction was closed. Dortmund looked like the edges of any town.

The temperature was hitting 32 Celsius along the way and finally we arrived at the airport near Hildesheim. 500 miles, 1 tank of diesel and plenty of snacks and LOTs of music.

We only just managed to find somewhere to put up the tent. There wasn’t a great deal of space left in any of the campsite. Our spot was furthest as could be from the main festival area, but reasonable close to toilets and leaving on the Sunday.

That evening we wandered the festival area, drank some alcohol already purchased from a service station and went to the disco hangar. There was some pretty good music played and it was good fun.

After a good sleep we awoke to find that the air bed had stayed up and was really comfortable. We both went about our routines to get ready to leave our tent area. I needed to satisfy my caffeine addiction and stave off withdrawal symptoms by finding more caffeine to ingest. Just as we were getting dressed Andy managed to puncture the airbed. It slowly deflated. We found a repair kit and tried to stick on a patch. We would have to wait 6 hours before we knew whether it had worked.

I found coffee. I also found some food. The weather for the Saturday was meant to be slightly overcast with a chance of rain showers. It had rained quite heavily in the early morning but the ground was so dry from the scorching summer that it didn’t really create any puddles or mud. Shortly after the sun had arisen the whole place was dry. Once we were ready we headed to the festival area to check out the shops, food places and mediaeval village (with food places and shops). It was also a good chance to see how the arena and hanger were set up so we knew where toilets, drink entrances, exits etc.

There now follows a list of bands we saw with comments about them if I can remember them. It is a good few months since the festival while writing this, unlike my detailed descriptions about Download.

  • Nachtgeschrei
  • Versengeld (with person playing the hurdy gurdy and another on bag pipes)
  • Speilbann
  • Coppellius (who played some Maiden covers in the style of mediaeval rock)
  • The Other
  • Frozen Plasma (half of this band is Reaper which is good, but Frozen Plasma were a bit dull)
  • Lord of the Lost
  • L’ame Immortal
  • Aesthetic Perfection (3rd or 4th time seeing these and they were awesome)
  • In Strict Confidence (surprisingly ok even with a female singer)
  • Blut Engel (just no)
  • X-RX this band replaced Suicide Commando who had to pull out of the weekend. They were good and I liked it, but left to see . . . .
  • Rob Zombie who just blew the competition away and was professionally brilliant.

Sunday started with the search for caffeine and then food. The air bed did not stay inflated and so the night was reasonably uncomfortable. We had decided we would probably leave M’era Luna that evening and then drive as far as we could home before kipping in the car. The bands on Sunday were:

  • Private Pact (a bad goth, stand still, band)
  • Schwarzer Engel getting better, quite thrash, goth and heavy.
  • Unzucht were just a great band with heavy thrash riffs and a great guitarist.
  • Dope Stars Inc. were good but looked as though they had just come from the 80s!
  • Tying Tiffany was the surprise of the weekend. They started slow and boring but from the third song onwards it was full of energy and heavy. Just a great find for the summer.
  • Assemblage 23 dull. very dull.
  • Rotersand a great band, a great show and really put previous band to shame. I loved it.
  • Nachtmahr were slightly disappointing. It’s hard to pin point this. Their music is very good. But live, they just didn’t capture the mood. It was almost boring, even with two women acting out a fetish scene it was dull. Can’t quite figure it out.
  • Nightwish we said we would stay for two songs but managed just a half of one song. We then drove towards the UK.

A strange thing about the German crowds is that if you had your spot to watch from everyone stayed in that spot. No-one moved when a band appeared. There was no crush at the front. Andy and I were in the second row for a number of bands on the Sunday and there was room to dance, moved around and no crush. This was actually refreshing and pleasant. It made the weekend a much more enjoyable event that had there been the UK crush.

It was easy to leave the festival as the final band hadn’t finished. The roads were clear and we made fast progress across Germany and then the Netherlands. We agreed between us that we would stop at the first rest area we found after midnight. It was fascinating to see how the landscape changed from central Germany to the low lands. Flat and straight is pretty much every road after Germany. We stopped at some services about 1km before the Belgian border. I think we slept ok.

The Monday we woke, I found caffeine and then we drove towards Calais. We arrived at the tunnel way before we were due but we paid some extra money to be on an earlier train. This was worth it as it meant I got home before my family left for other things.

The excitement of the weekend continued to the Monday evening as Combichrist played the O2 Islington thing.

Everybody Hates You – Darkside – Combichrist

This album is an accompaniment to Everybody Hates You. I first listened to this while having a jog and I can warn you it’s not music to run to. It’s quite quiet and probably almost trance, if I had to guess at what trance is.

It is my current belief that Andy LaPlegua messes around with composing all the time and when he has enough material he adds it to an accompanying album. There’s another darkside album out there which is a bit more upbeat.

Now, dating music this is not but it is pretty good anyway.

Rock Identity

For practically all my life I have been a fan of heavy metal. See this communication about my descent into metal.

For me the 80s were filled with early flirtations with pop, from Madonna to Frankie Goes To Hollywood and then into Heavy Metal and Rock. I love Iron Maiden and AD/DC following on from Bon Jovi and Def Leppard in 1987. Come the very late 80s and early 90s I descend into thrash with Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. I see these bands regularly along with new British metal bands such as Wolfsbane and The Almighty.

During university I don’t really expand my musical tastes a great deal. My major discovery (via Smith) is Senser and their cross-over political rock and rap. This sustains me for a few more years along with Alice In Chains.

My music buying diminishes as I start my career and I don’t really get into new bands for a few years. I don’t have a network of friends who can inform me of new things and I don’t live in London. I spend a number of years sustaining myself on the stuff I already own. I still see bands like Iron Maiden and Slayer when they come along, but nothing small or new.

In the early 2000s someone gives me her Rammstein CDs (Sara T) and I find the sound fascinating and new. It’s exciting. Along with seeing Slipknot perform on the TFI Friday television programme I have found something new. Something a little scary and something that seems dangerous. All the music I have grown up with seems rather tame in comparison to these new sounds. I played them over and over. Until around 2009 not much happened until Smith returned from abroad and he and I started attending gigs and concerts together again.

In 2009 I saw two bands. AC/DC at Wembley Stadium and I loved it. They were brilliant and I their music has brought me so much pleasure over the years [so much so that I wore out my musical cassette version of “If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It”]. The other band I saw that year was Rammstein. Their stage show is just absolutely brilliant. If you don’t believe me then just search YouTube for “Buch Dich”, it is quite brilliant, a little bit dangerous and something to cause moral outrage amongst the leading classes. The support band for Rammstein was Combichrist and that is when the trouble started.

After hearing Combichrist and being impressed with their sound I ordered a CD.

Today We Are All Demons

This music was exciting, different, morally dubious, scary and just damn brilliant. It made me want to dance (something I just don’t do). The big problem was that there were NO GUITARS and it was all SAMPLES and DRUM MACHINES. For someone who likes his music live and reproducible without machines this caused major issues. Why did I like this? Was I going insane? How can I like music with a complete lack of heavy guitars and bursting riffs? I was at the tip of the mountain staring down a great big slippery slope to the valley of “not real” music [as far as my metal head would tell you].

I bought more Combichrist stuff and started to look at their influences and associated acts. I bought more. Bands like:

  • Aesthetic Perfection
  • Reaper
  • Suicide Commando
  • Funker Vogt
  • Hex-Rx
  • Panzer AG

Pretty much all of this is what I would now call EBM, Aggrotech or Hellektro. These names are good because it means I am back on the edge of society and seeking to be different with my music. When Metallica took the world by storm in 1992 or so I was done with them. Their sound had changed and I didn’t like it any more. The “edge” had gone. This new music I had found has an edge. It makes me feel uncomfortable [sometimes] and it is different.

I have tried to describe it to friends and I say:

It’s heavy metal without any guitars. The lyrics are nasty and the tunes are awesome.


It’s kinda dance music but without the nice lyrics and happy stuff.

I have leant this stuff to friends who like the same sort of metal as me and they don’t really get on with it. They apologised and handed back the USB stick. That’s fine by me because it means I can carry on feeling “on the edge” and liking the music. This stuff ain’t ever going to be mainstream. It sometimes sounds like it should be playing in a night club on a Saturday night but then I have no idea what sort of stuff these people would play. I’d love to be in a club and hear this stuff come on and the crowd just freak out because it hurts them.

I am struggling to come to terms with my new found musical taste. It irks me that I’ve gone for samples and drum machines. I’ve been to see these people play. I’ve liked their music. I’ve had a great time. Yet still the 18 year old me is somewhat miffed at this odd turn in my ear pleasures. As an extreme I have seen a “band” with three Apple Macs on stage and a few leads and then they danced around pressing the odd key here and there. I loved it. There’s a tiny part of me that isn’t sure it’s music but I like it anyway. Over time I’m sure I’ll heal this mental riff. Much like I’ve got used to being a university snob when at the age of 17 I hated that person!

If you want to try this stuff then have a look for the following tracks:

  • 190 – Reaper
  • X-Junkie – Reaper
  • Hit The Streets – Aesthetic Perfection
  • In The Pit – Combichrist
  • God Bless – Combichrist
  • Tip The Dancer – Panzer AG

I am now listening to more industrial stuff. The following bands are on my current active list:

  • Faderhead
  • Eisbecher
  • Rotersand
  • Front 242
  • VNV Nation

My metal taste buds are still there. I watched Mentallica last night. I went to Download last year. I’m going to see Therapy? and FFDP soon. However, this Hellektro is here to stay and just wonderfully stunning: suck on that 18 year old me!

The Devil Is Female – Reaper

Reaper is a DJ whose music comes under the genres of aggrotech or hellectro. I like that sort of music and have done since I saw Combichrist play at Wembley Arena supporting Rammstein. The Benelux countries have some excellent things of which to be proud and this music style is one of them. What else would you expect from an area of land that has been conquered and fought over so often.

The Devil Is Female is an awesome album. I love it. The album cover is scary enough to make me feel uncomfortable – just the point of art (create emotion). The opening song is a good old dance-floor filler. Good beats and a simple repeated melody. The album makes the most spectacular turn upwards with the second song:
The happy dance beat and melody underlie disturbing lyrics. I am not going to go into much detail here. You should listen to it. What you should most definitely not do is listen to the song on the tube with any women around you. Just listen on your own, somewhere.
Now, the album does include a number of remixes of X-Junkie and I can forgive that as the rest of this guy’s work is really good. Happy for him to indulge himself a little on this album.
Other highlights:
She Is A Devil And A Whore
Execution Of Your Mind

Hellectro isn’t for everyone. Thank goodness. I like how exclusive it is.

D – HexRx

HexRx make dirty hellectro music. That’s quite curious because hellectro is rather dirty in itself. HexRx take many samples from horror films and then build “tunes” around them. I can listen for about an album at a time and then it’s time for something else.

I like it, I just can’t take too much. Listening is an experience, which is a bit of a theme with this album.

Aesthetic Perfection

Saw Aesthetic Perfection at the Camden Underworld last night. There were four bands on the bill. Apart from the headliners the only one I liked was Kommand and Kontrol. They had a good mix of electronica and guitars, they considered themselves The Gentlemen of Electronica, worth a watch.
Aesthetic Perfection were good but let down, as other bands were, with some technical issues. During the evening speakers stop working, microphones died and guitars died. The sound was poor as the PA speakers were aimed too directly towards back, the closer to the stage you got, the worse the sound (more than at other venues).
Aesthetic Perfection essentially showed the other bands how to do it. Odd make up, hard sound and disturbing lyrics. Everything that makes a good evening!




Close To Human – Aesthetic Perfection

This album is quite clearly the product of a band who are finding their ground. It’s good but unfortunately it’s not as good as their later stuff. This was the last album by this band that I downloaded and probably just as well. Had I got this one first I wouldn’t have carried on. As it is I consider Combichrist and Aesthetic Perfection to be at the peak of their music genre.

As this is a recent purchase and I’ve only really listened to it on runs I can’t be sure about stand out tracks. Just having a look at the titles doesn’t help apart from noticing that the second song on the album is missing. How does that happen?

Bind, Torture, Kill – Suicide Commando

If it is screwed up dance music with a twisted feel then this is the right place to come. Part of my journey into aggrotech, this album was the first Suicide Commando album I downloaded. It’s really good. All the songs have a great beat and excellent melodies. Some might find the content and vocals a little distressing but then perhaps that is what some art is about.

Much like some comedians try to “push” the boundaries and you sometimes find yourself laughing at things you find repulsive I think it’s like that for all art. There are those who like to think they are pushing the boundaries of taste and I guess they do. If you can cause a bit of controversy and get people talking then you have done your job. Can I often see what these people are trying to do? Yes. Do I find it bothersome? Sometimes but then that’s the point isn’t it? I also recognise it for what it is, people trying to shock. I used to think that I didn’t really have limits, but it might be an age thing or it might be that I do have limits but never really recognised them before.

I saw a band recently, Sheep On Drugs, they were ok, but they were also trying to be arty. They burnt paper with words printed on it and also ripped their t-shirts off. The female member of the group had black tape over her nipples and then sprayed black paint on her torso. Did I find it interesting? Not really, more a curiosity. What was she trying to say? Was I shocked? No, not really. Having read the transcripts of the of the COUM TRANSMISSIONS [and they did it 30 years ago!] I don’t often find lightweight stuff like this shocking.

Anyway, back to the music. I like this album. It’s good. It also falls into the category of new and my poor memory doesn’t bring the songs into my head from a list of titles but when I hear them I recognise them. Perhaps that is a problem with listening to things while I run. I can’t see the artist, what the song is called or the cover work. Years ago, I would listen while thoroughly reading and taking in the album artwork. not anymore.

Hey, I like this. OK?

Axis Of Evil – Suicide Commando

Axis of Evil – Suicide Commando

Those crazy Belgians have a lot to answer for. I found this artist while looking for more aggrotech and hellectro. I’m pretty sure I looked on Wikipedia for associated acts and probably looked through iTunes to see related acts from Combichrist. Axis of Evil is full of dance beats, samples and club style synth sounds with some lovely disturbing lyrics over the top.

To start an album with the worldwide statistics on suicide is a brave move and one that works. Just a glance at the song titles will inform you of the style and mood of the music. Strangely I find this stuff quite upbeat and happy. It’s definitely my kind of stuff.

  • Consume Your Vengeance
  • Face of Death
  • Evildoer
  • Plastic Christ

These pretty much sum up this album!