Sunday, 11 July 2010

Velvet Acid Christ Calling Ov The Dead Reissue Review

Artist\Group: Velvet Acid Christ.

Album: Calling Ov The Dead

Genre: Electro-Industrial (Other Genre Influences include Electronica, Darkwave, Gothic Rock, Goa Trance, Metal).

Released: 1997.

Reissue: 2006.

Label: Offbeat

Reissue Label: Metropolis Records.

1. Phucking Phreak.

2. Malfunction

3. BSAT2

4. The Calling (Fuck Shit Motherfucker Mix).

5. The Dead (Deathwish Mix).

6. Timeless Visions.

7. Pray For Life.

8. Exquisite Stench.

9. The Hand Violent Trance Mix).

10. ZixZixZix (666 Mix).

11. Decay.

Reissue Bonus Tracks:

12. The Hand (Gut Cheek Remix By Disease Factory).

13. BSAT2 (Polymophix a theme to a visual epic by Bryan Erickson and Todd Loomis).

Eclecticism is a word I use heavily to describe the Industrial project known as Velvet Acid Christ. VAC in my eyes is up with Front Line Assembly, :Wumpscut: and Haujobb when comes to making Industrial music that doesn't stick to one pure style and yet remain true to their origins.

Few Industrial follow these bands example these days and as probably why musically the scene is full of cookie cutter Disco Ditty groups like Faderhead.

Velvet Acid Christ's debut album is full of raw hate and pure seething misery, every track has hard clacky drum rhythms that smash your face. Metal and Sister Of Mercy guitar riffs are layered over the throbbing modulated acid synth sounds that is key to their sound.

Bryan vocals remind me of Nivek Orge's tormented screams and cries on track's like 'Worlock' and 'Testure', yet Bryan retains his own filter distinctive growl.

The history of Velvet Acid Christ has had various group members come and go for various reasons (some quite bizarre), leaving only it's founder Bryan Erickson at the helm most of the time. But it was during making of the Calling Ov The Dead were the cracks began to show for two of its members, Gary Slaughter and Chris Workme whon were known to fall out with each other during sessions of earlier albums like the demo album Nerualblastoma (Released as Between The Eyes Vol.4).

This lead Bryan to work with the two members separately, but during a meeting with their main label Offbeat Records, who rejected the original tracks for Calling Ov The Dead on the grounds of it being "Too Gothic and Darkwave inspired" instead of a more Electro-Industrial styled record that they wanted. This event led to the falling out between Gary Slaughter and Bryan, Gary left VAC along with most of the bands equipment.

Bryan had no choice but to borrow money from friends to buy his own studio gear. As Bryan did this Gary tired to create a Coup d'etat by trying to claim that the band project was his sole idea and tried to justify this on the grounds that he owned most of the studio equipment, but Bryan had managed to claim his own studio by then. Offbeat had no choice but to meet the two musicians to discuss the matter, in the end it was Bryan who created the name of the band therefore he had the right to the project. This prompted Gary's permanent exit from VAC, but the legend still gives Bryan headaches to this day.

Chris Workman (Who would leave during the making of Fun With Knives to become a Born Again Christan and again during the marking of Twisted Thought Generator and the Walking with Razors tour) would work with Bryan on some of the new tracks for the album however Bryan decided to do most of it alone. Not all tracks from the Beta were scrapped but some of the tracks like 'The Dead' and 'The Calling' had to be reworked in a more Industrial style using new equipment.

Dan Olson also assisted with the sampling and engineering on this album along with Steve Bird.

The album was mastered by Stefan Herwig and Thorsten Stroht of Offbeat.

The Artwork was done by Jeff Pruett (who was designing a comic which some of the songs on this album are based on but didn't finish it in time and became a Republican).

Indeed, the equipment on this album varies depending on the sessions. Tracks like Phucking Phreak, Timeless Visions, Exquisite Stench, The Hand (Violent Trance Mix) and Decay were done using some of the older gear owned by Slaughter who also worked on them (The Korg Prophecy is most likely Bryan's):

Roland Juno 106.

Roland MKS-50.

Roland JD-800.

Ensoniq ASR-10.

Digitech RP-1.

Alesis Quadraverb Gt.

Boss DR-660.

Boss ME-10.

Peavy Trace Guitar (Most Likely Bryan's).

Korg Prophecy (used on Timeless Visions The Hand (Violent Trance Mix) and Exquisite Stench as well).

Korg M1 (Used on Decay).

The Gear on The newer tracks like Malfunction, BSAT2, The Calling (Fuck Shit Motherfucker Mix) and The Dead (Deathwish Mix), Pray For Life, ZixZixZix (666 Mix) is all Bryan's:

Nord Lead.

Korg Prophecy.

Korg Trinty.

Ensoniq ASR-X

Digitech RP-12.

Alesis Quadraverb 2.0.

Boss DR-660.

Ibanez Guitar (Not sure if this was Byans or Chris Workmans, might be Bryans).

The album opens with Phucking Phreak, a Guitar driven Darkwave track with Sisters of Mercy sytle Guitar and drums. But vocally is more aggressive with Electro-Industrial style vocals. The track is also very chord driven with Synth Strings and bellish sounding arpeggios. The samples are from the movie Seven hence the title. I admit I am not the most Guitar driven music listener these days but this track kicks ass. A good example of a Gothic Darkwave track. The strings at 2:54 are great, nice chorus sound. Very Tortured.

The next is Malfunction, this track is very Orbital/Juno Reactor Techno inspired track especially the high octave square sounding arp and the beginning of the track. The vocals have lots of chorus/flange and very atmospheric, no samples on this Bryan wanted to prove that he do a track without samples and this proves it. You can tell this track was done with the newer gear because the Nord sounds are really recognisable in this track, awesome. The Trinity choir pads are really good in this track, Korg make kick Choir ass pads. The drums are Industrial Hard Wired FLA sounding, heavy but still dancey in places. Really good track, awesome chord pads.

Some people say that on this album the overuse of samples and the length of them, ruin it, but I have never had this problem. I think the sample work well in the tracks in my opinion. I don't think you can criticize VAC too much for this as FLA used loads of movie samples in their mid to late 90's work.

BSAT2 makes me go fucking crazy when the buzzy phasing synth sequence 38 seconds into the track and then that acid sequence comes in. This is probably one of my favourite tracks on the whole album. Industrial drums. The 12 Monkeys samples fit the serious tone of the vocals and lyrics even the title was changed from Stefan Sucks At Teken 2 (Stefan was wise to Bryan's funny title) to Bryan Sucks At Teken 2 (Great Game). The word yeah is used a lot very much like the White Zombie song More Human Than Human. Yeaaah! :)

The next track is the reworking of The Calling (Fuck Shit Motherfucker Mix), original is similar but of a Skinny Puppy Electro- Industrial/Darkwave Dance track you can hear the original on Between The Eyes Vol.4. This has a more Hard Wire FLA Metal meets trippy Orbital Juno Reactor. Some really nice Nord Arp sequences in this track. Industrial Dance Drums with a more Electronic sounding 909 type kick on this track. Nice trippy acid sounds at 3:20 with this heavy metal in places, good chords. Fuck Shit Motherfucker indeed.

The Dead (Deathwish Mix) is really different from the Original which had a slower tempo and was more of Sisters Of Mercy style track. This version is more up tempo Techno Electronica inspired Electro-Industrial track. I love the samples on this especially when the Fonz (the actor) says "It's Not Fair. Fairness would be to rip your insides out and hang you from a tree so we can expose you for the heartless, desensitized, little shits that you are!". Reminds me of the scummy shithouses that fester in my fucking country. Interesting that the kick drum on this one with a big fat reverb acoustic sounding kick but its doing a straight four to the floor rhythm. Awesome trippy sounds. Nice Goa sounding trance leads. Choir Trinity pads again are great. I prefer this over original.

The next track Timeless Visions, is an older track from the early sessions. A Darkwave track about society and the Government. Really good string intro, nice chords. Sisters Of Mercy style drums (Ala Floodland), Depeche Mode/Cure like Melodies at the beginning. Filter breakbeat looped towards the end of the track. Very Clear vocals at the beginning of the track. As the track progress the vocals get darker and darker. Very atmospheric track.

Pray For Life is an another Darkwave track but with a more Industrial Rock/Metal edge. Animal and Human rights message is quite clear in the samples and lyrics. Really awesome chords and choir pad sounds. Never thought I would hear Hugh Grant's voice and Jackie Chan's screams in a Industrial track. Despite the Jackie Chan sample this track manages still sound dark and serious. Awesome Guitar riffs on this.

I can hear Hard Wire Influence on this album a lot but I can also hear a lot of Goth/Darkwave influences too as well as the Trippy Techno/Electronica influences that VAC is great at. For the Acid is the key part of what I think makes VAC great.

Exquisite Stench is another track that makes me go crazy I would love to hear this in a club and dance really aggressive and hyper. But nobody plays Industrial like this anymore. The aggressive bassline just sends a violent spasm in my spine that makes want to blow shit up and scream. Very Primal. Awesome Hellraiser samples. I also how well the breakbeat loops are layered underneath the nice dance beats give the track an awesome groove. Very 90's I love this track. Love the vocals Skinny meets Ministry's Stigmata, great.

The Hand (Violent Trance Mix) is awesome Electro-Industrial dance track. The samples are brilliant I love how the piano and atmospheres from the sample fit into the track. Awesome Technoish sounding leads on this track. The drums are varied from heavy Industrial Snares to 808 Kicks and hats.

ZixZixZix (666 Mix) is relentless. Hard and Heavy Industrial Drums with throbing acid bassline. This track is so hard it crushes you and scufocates with only the ambient pads of the Trinty and the Orbital sounding arp lead leaving some space and ambience within the track. This track is great gets you moving and makes hyperactive. The vocals are really aggressive too probably VAC's most aggressive next to 'Murder The World'.

Decay ends the original album like how it began with a Gothic Darkwave track. Like Timeless Visions its very atmospheric. Really heavy Gothic Rock style guitar on this track. Korg M1 is possibly doing the choir stabs on this track. Really harsh scream at the beginning of this track sends shivers down my spine.

The Bonus tracks on the reissue are Two Remixs one of The Hand. I really like this version sounds like it was done just after the original release of the album pre Fun With Knives. I really like acid sequences on this mix, really good modulated sounds. I like this a lot more the album version but I love the album version too. Great Remix.

The other remix is BSAT2 done by Bryan and Todd Loomis sounds like it was done before, during or after the marking of Lust For Blood. Really Nice Melodic Piano with a Heavy Ministry style Metal guitar riffs. I admit I prefer the original but this mix this is also really good and shows a different side to the track.

To me this album shows the transistion between the ealry VAC Gothic Darkwave/Electro-Industrial sound to the more Goa Trance/Techno/Electronica/Trip Hop sound of their next two albums.

In my opinion its a classic Electro-Industrial album of the 1990's and for proves why the 90's kick ass for Electronic and Industrial music. I love 70's, 80's synth stuff too. But the 90's is in my Blood.

If like 90's FLA, 90's :Wumpscut:, 90's Suicide Commando and 90's Mentallo & The Fixer. Then you will probably like this album its agressive and varied. Also check Juno Reactor and Orbtial they inspired a lot of the Electronica elements on this album.

I am going to do a Single Review of Front Line Assembly's Plascity next since its my favourite track of theirs and wasn't released on an album.

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