The Forgotten – Chapter I: The Forgotten EP

Chapter I: The Forgotten EP Cover Art

The Forgotten – Chapter I: The Forgotten EP
FiXT Noir
Release date: 01.12.21
Running Time: 17:32
Review by Dark Juan
5/10

Good morning, dear friends. It is I, Dark Juan, and I am awake uncommonly early because I was supposed to have a team meeting at work, but no-one told me that it wasn’t over Teams anymore and I’m fucked if I am driving for over an hour to get to it after it has already started… Hence, I am doing something productive with my time instead of getting pissed off with politicians, furiously masturbating, eating my own body weight in Manchego cheese or pretending that I make any difference whatsoever to the lives of young toughs. I went shopping yesterday, you see, and also bought a bottle of bourbon. At the last Ever-Metal online “team meeting” I attended I drank some bourbon, and my friend and jolly splendid gentleman of the first order Simon “The Review Writing Machine” Black has been spreading the scurrilous and patently untrue lie that I, Dark Juan, libertine and alcohol enthusiast, drank enough to pass out and slide gently and decorously out of camera view. Sideways, according to his report. Obviously this is an actionable fib. I was merely tired after a 96-hour work week.

That’s the gospel truth, Your Honour.

Anyway, today’s platter on the spinning deck of death is by The Forgotten (it is important to note that this band is NOT the San Jose punk band. Oh no. They couldn’t be more diametrically musically opposed if they had actually tried. Yes, I know that was a split infinitive and no, I don’t care. I am finding it extremely difficult to find out any information on the group as any internet searches return results about an electronic music label, or the American punksters, so I am unable to give you any details about the band besides the fact that the blurb that came with the record claims it was written in Los Angeles. Also, the grammar on the press release is that bloody poor I can’t even tell if The Forgotten is a one-person project or a group.

Full disclosure – heavy metal this ain’t. The music is more of a mix of EBM, Aggrotech, Futurepop and Synthwave. There is not a guitar to be found anywhere on this five track EP. The record tells stories about living in space, love, desperation and revolution and it’s a fairly engaging listen. If you like electronic music, that is. A purist of Metal is likely to fucking despise it (and me) because I am enjoying it. I’m not thrilled in the same manner as a Gunship or Carpenter Brut release thrills me, because those two groups understand just how colossal and cinematic Synthwave can be in its purest form, whereas The Forgotten are more…. Disjointed. Massive Synthwave grooves are curtailed and replaced by drum and bass fills or tempos are accelerated and dance music keys substituted and it all feels like the music is aimed at too many targets at once. Many targets are fine if you’re using a Multiple Launch Rocket System. Not so much when you are playing music. It all leads to a kind of crystalline, brittle quality, best displayed on ‘Believe In Me’ which is a fractured, misshapen kind of song.

The opening song, ‘The Forgotten’, has the kind of colossal synth pattern opening that makes Synthwave great, being sweeping and neon-tinged and massively cinematic and not out of place during the opening credits of an 80s action film, or Airwolf, or Knight Rider, or Blue Thunder, or Street Hawk. This supermassive cinematic goodness is interspersed with Futurepop-y squelching and mid-tempo meandering.

‘System Failure’ is more interesting, as it starts with an 8-bit chiptune sound before launching into the kind of massive synth hook that makes Synthwave so incredible, before devolving into a Futurepop beat that beeps and squelches its way around the room before returning to that fucking GLORIOUS hook. Then it changes direction again and becomes this kind of Dungeon Synth/ Futurepop analogue before morphing into a small Industrial component and then changing again into almost a computer game tune…

And therein lies the problem. This record is TOO eclectic. It is an attempt to meld too many disparate genres together, and I fucking hate the drum fills that start off slow and speed up like on dance records. They are lazy and cheap ways to pad out a song and they have been done to death. The Forgotten, I feel, need to choose what style of music they want to play. Do they want to be a Synthwave band? EDM? Futurepop? Choose one, because your musical schizophrenia isn’t doing you any favours, and it is not gaining you a larger audience. It is fragmenting it. Which is a shame, because there’s some massive fucking potential to be utterly jawdroppingly magnificent that is being wasted right now.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards The Forgotten 5/10 for a good, but deeply flawed EP that would benefit from a lot more focus, and less on trying to scattergun fans from across genres.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Interstellar
02. The Forgotten
03. Believe In Me
04. System Failure
05. Evolution

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Null Cell – Nemesis

Nemesis Album Cover Art

Null Cell – Nemesis
Machineman Records
Release Date: 31.12.21
Running Time: 47:05
Review by Dark Juan

9/10

Hello, dear friends. It is I, Dark Juan, and you may be very surprised to know that I am feeling somewhat subdued. Normally I am to be found bursting with explosive bonhomie, and replete with witty bon mots and all round cheerful good humour. Instead I feel like shite and can’t even rouse myself to masturbate furiously over a picture of Euronymous burning down a church. That’s death’s door kind of business. Fuck knows what’s wrong with me, because all the tests I am doing for COLIN-19 appear to be negative. Mrs Dark Juan is currently sparked out on the sofa with two Smellhounds and I have a gently snoring (and extremely flatulent) General Sir Zeusington Zeus KCVG, VC, DFC and bar, Croix de Guerre and Order Of The Red Banner next to me whilst I contemplate my mortality, and what the response from Mrs Dark Juan would be if I woke her to demand tea. As the second point would probably directly influence the first, I feel it would be beneficial to my lifespan if I just went and fetched my own cup of tea.

I don’t even feel like drinking, even though I know there’s a very acceptable bottle of 15-year-old single malt Scotch whisky in the kitchen with my name on it. Is this what old age and senescence is?

Also, it’s near Christmas, and I promised Mrs Dark Juan I wouldn’t ruin it for her this year by being miserable. However, seeing as she has no control over the vitriolic vomiting of my metaphorical pen (he sez as he types this on Word) I can confidently share with you the fact that I despise Christmas with a passion. I hate all the false bonhomie, the commercial shitstorm that starts in fucking SEPTEMBER, the awful music, and most of all the fact that I am OBLIGED to like it for the sake of society as a whole. Why? Why the fuck should I accept the Christians (fucking imported Middle Eastern death cults do my fucking head in too) having stolen a perfectly acceptable pagan festival, and their capitalist lackeys using it as an excuse to drag ever more profit out of our miserable and increasingly less well-off lives? And more to the point, swallow it all down like a good little boy for the sake of other people’s happiness? Commercial shitstorms do my fucking head in. Next the supermarkets will have fucking Easter eggs in in February. Right after the supermarkets try to relieve me of money and increase my already beyond Catholic levels of assumed guilt with Valentine’s Day and all the pink frothy bullshit that comes with it. Mrs Dark Juan would fucking adore it if I bought her a raven, not a fucking lovebird, you money grabbing twats…

You might be wondering just what the fuck I am listening to that has caused me to rant in such a disgracefully self-indulgent fashion. It’s “Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)” by The Darkness.

No, it isn’t. I’m lying to you again. By kind permission of Machineman Records, I have in my sweated and greasy hands an advance copy of Nebraska native Isabella Chains’ latest offering as Null Cell – “Nemesis”.

You will no doubt, as regular readers of this gobbledegook masquerading as factual information, know that I am something of a Null Cell fan, having reviewed the debut album (https://evermetal.wpcomstaging.com/2021/02/20/null-cell-eternally-ill/, if you’re interested) and found the listening experience not unlike being incarcerated in an industrial meat packing plant populated by heavily armed sadists who all have anger management issues and severe inferiority complexes. You will be pleased to note that “Nemesis” is considerably more schizophrenic, ‘Chemical Haze’ having a bizarre, calliope like carnival quality, and a vocal that for some outré (and probably drug-fuelled) reason has me thinking of the tongue in cheek humour and delivery of Lux Interior, with a strange middle and end section of spoken word parts that also remind me of Satanic doo-wop titans Twin Temple. A very strange and engaging mix of psychobilly and industrial… This having exploded out of the end of a rather more industrial piece of noise called ‘The Void’, which spasmodically jerks from a droning electronic noise to the sound of orgasm over pounding sequenced drums.

In general, though, the sound of Null Cell is still an amalgam of Skinny Puppy, early Ministry, KMFDM, Die Krupps and Front Line Assembly. Chopped up guitars underpin machine-made, pounding beats and vocals that still remind me of a mightily pissed off Nivek Ogre. All good on the influence front then, eh? 

Fear not, because “Nemesis” has more variety than “Eternally Ill” did. Isabella Chains has increased her musical influences and a distinct hip-hop vibe has crept into the music – ‘South-O Sleaze’ having hip-hop beats fused with choppy metal guitars and a Trent Reznor-channeling vocal and lyrical performance, and ‘Psychic Slave’ enjoying more rap beats and a sample from 90s R&B superstars En Vogue (don’t think I didn’t notice, you cheeky little monkey!), as well as it being the most removed song from Null Cell’s actual grinding, percussive assault upon the senses.

Null Cell still have the same “problem” as they did with their debut record. It might not be metal enough for a metal fan to truly enjoy. Whilst, I, as a massive fan of EBM and Futurepop and Aggrotech and Synthwave and Power Electronics and especially Industrial, can find much to enjoy and to appreciate the coldness and the alienation that Null Cell’s music conjures up in my poor abused brain, a metal fan unwilling to be convinced by the righteous path of Industrial might consider it lightweight poppy bollocks. However, I am prepared to ignore this when I score the record because I think it’s fucking brilliant. My favourite song is ‘Mechanesia’, which has an emotional, scarred vocal overlaid by closely tracked guitars and keyboards and a real feeling of melancholy attached to it.

Being a one-person project means absolutely no need to compromise on your musical vision, and Isabella Chains is to be praised for forging her own Industrial path and creating another fine album that is a reflection of her personality. It mirrors my own obsidian take on the universe, and the lyrical content relates stories of losing control of yourself, and going through depression and possibly failing to come back out of it again unscarred, or (and this, with you all knowing I wrangle young gentlemen in the care of local authorities for an actual living when I am not deflowering the children of religion, and frequently the followers of them makes it DEEPLY personal) the abuse suffered by young people in all its forms. This song (‘Blade’s Edge’) is a deeply unpleasant listening experience for me in that regard, but is relevant, timely and sharper than a rapier thrust to the eyeball.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (they speak a strange and bastardised version of English over in them there United States of America, so no amusingly incorrect translations into foreign languages today) awards Null Cell 9/10, because their cyberpunk mix of Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and Ministry with added metal is right up my perverted little alley.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Return To Oz
02. Nemesis
03. Breaking The Code
04. Dream Emulator
05. Over The Top
06. Psychic Slave
07. Blade’s Edge
08. The Void
09. Chemical Haze
10. Judgement Pays (Good Cop)
11. South-O Sleaze
12. Twitching Alive
13. Mechanesia

LINE-UP:

Isabella Chains – Vocals, synths, programming, guitar, production and all instrumentation where noted. There’s no need for this level of talent. No need at all!

LINKS:

Null Cell Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Null Cell – Eternally Ill

Eternally Ill Cover Art

Null Cell – Eternally Ill
Machine Man Records
Release Date: 08/12/2020
Running Time: 33:02
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

Hello. This is Dark Juan and I exhort thee to listen to my Gospel. There is no God, there is only the Dread Lord Satan and you are all going to be consigned to an endless fiery hell unless you seek His redemption through service to the Dark Master via the means of preaching his twisted faith. Then, and only then will you get to attend the Lounge Bar in Hell where the One That Walks Backwards has kindly assembled the greatest band there has ever been – comprising Robert Johnson and Randy Rhoads on guitar, Keith Moon on drums, John Entwistle on bass and the incomparable Ronnie James Dio on vocals with backups from Amy Winehouse and Layne Staley. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d fucking sell my testicles to see that line up playing…

None of which has, as usual, a damned thing to do with what I am actually doing, which is being wired on French blend coffee, and slowly suffocating to death under a wall of canine flesh, composed of Air Chief Marshal Sir Zeusington Zeus KCVG, VC, MM, DFC and bar, Croix De Guerre and the Dread Lord Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover, where they have decided that I am warmer than the frigid environs of West Yorkshire and I don’t actually need to breathe. Thereby, in their mad doggy heads I fulfil two requirements for their survival – warmth until I expire from the gentle releases of poison gas (mainly Igor) and then I will be a viable supplementary food source after my untimely death. Mrs Dark Juan is currently laughing at my lack of comfort and cheerfully inviting me to try and do her fucking job when she is under a pile of silly dogs. But she’s an artist and doesn’t need a comfortably situated computer to write nonsense on.

Again, I digress. It’s the caffeine. I can’t type fast enough to get the thoughts out of my head. You are actually reading this babble so you can be informed about the latest platter of splatter I am listening to, being Null Cell’s “Eternally Ill” album, released last December through Machine Man Records. Null Cell is a one-person project encompassing the sounds of metal, industrial and EBM (Electronic Body Music, if you don’t already know, fact fans) composed of the very annoyingly talented Isabella Chains of Omaha, Nebraska. Now, listening to this music, it makes me think that Omaha, Nebraska (never been there, I’m British and the furthest I ever got was Iceland. Wonderful place and lifelong friends made) is an arctically cold, industrialised wasteland in the arse end of America, filled with slaughterhouses and meat-packing plants and endless production lines, manned by grey skinned, emaciated drones carrying out endless robotic tasks until they drop and are replaced by equally grey faced and clearly defeated humans. Yep, industrial music speaks to me in a manner which a lot of music doesn’t, and as far as I am concerned, it is the musical accompaniment to the machine apocalypse which is going to kill us all…

The album opens with ‘The Rabbit Hole’ which is a distorted and percussive assault on your senses, somewhat akin to being attacked with an automatic and rapidly firing 40mm grenade launcher – mercifully short but goosebump inducing before there is a short pause and then the first track proper kicks in, ‘Texas Chainsaw’ which blends slamming industrial beats with super distorted, chopped up blues rock guitar and screaming, slowly building into an impenetrable wall of sound with heavy as fuck industrial keyboards until the fade. Think ZZ Top being anally violated by Terminators playing Suicide Commando albums. I shall leave you with that mental image. You’re welcome.

Null Cell have successfully gained my attention.

Now, I know I am writing for a primarily metal audience here, but I have to recommend Null Cell to your attention too. Electronic music can be just as heavy as metal and this is not so much an album as an atmosphere with musical additions. Null Cell’s sound on this release could best be described as Skinny Puppy’s pure electronic industrial output combined with Ministry around their “Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste” era output, where the guitars and the more metal elements began to creep through. Add this to “Pretty Hate Machine” and “The Downward Spiral” Nine Inch Nails beeps and squelches and you have a rough idea of what this record sounds like. It is rather more electronic industrial than metal, however, relying more on stabbing, shiny keyboards than slashing guitars and dementedly howling vocals. Isabella employs a harsh, almost spoken word style of vocal, which comes across almost like a particularly demented preacher exhorting his flock to follow the right path lest they all perish in storms of fire and brimstone. This level of controlled aggression makes for something rather scarier than some long-haired Herbert hitting notes that cause bats to crash into trees on a regular basis and is somewhat reminiscent of Nivek Ogre in delivery. In fact, the more I listen to Null Cell, the more I find myself comparing “Eternally Ill” to Skinny Puppy’s “Too Dark Park”, “VIVIsectVI” and “Rabies”. This, you will be utterly unsurprised to note, is a Very Good Thing. Especially if you like late 80s electronic industrial music. Track three, ‘Thrashing Creature’ is a particularly virulent song, mixing elements of the sounds of Belgian industrialist pioneers Front 242 and Cabaret Voltaire with the muscular guitar driven industrial metal of Die Krupps. It’s fair to say I haven’t heard a single person’s musical project this virulent since I first heard Unter Null’s “The Failure Epiphany”.

And here we have the usual quandary we face whenever Dark Juan goes screamingly off-piste with his choices from the ever-metal.com review list. I am reviewing this record for a heavy metal website and what I am listening to, although it is very extreme music, isn’t really heavy metal, and I am faced with the question of whether I should score it entirely on the merit of the music, which is fucking kick ass killer industrial EBM with plenty to interest the passing metaller if they can get past the fact it is predominantly electronic music, or whether I mark it down for not being metal. The thing is, this album shares the sheer power that metal has and the same sense of not belonging to the mainstream and being alternative. My views on alternative cultures sticking together are well known to you all.

A decision has been made by The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System because frankly it got fucking bored of listening to the writer gibbering to himself and awards Null Cell a thoroughly flagellant 9/10 for an album of music suitable to flog your submissive to vigorously and at some length. An album for the more adventurous fan of extreme music.

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Rabbit Hole
02. Texas Chainsaw
03. Thrashing Creature
04. Wonderland
05. Dead Skin
06. The Ceremony
07. Hardware
08. Cruel
09. Missing Moments
10. Boiling Point

LINE-UP:

Isabella Chains – Fucking everything on this record including the production, mate. Multi-talented people get right on my tits because I can’t even do writing right! Bet Isabella is spectacularly good looking as well just to REALLY rub it in. No head like an amusingly shaped ice cube for Isabella, I bet…

LINKS:

Null Cell Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.