Goth

Music Review: Tarja – From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas)

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Tarja - From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas)

Genre: Adult Contemporary, Coldwave, Goth
Label: earMUSIC

My first thought on seeing this promo in my inbox was to delete it. But, my curiosity got the better of me, unfortunately, and so I opened the email. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Christmas albums, with Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra getting a lot of spins every December.

But man, this is fucking garbage. Yes, Tarja is incredibly talented. And yes, she is singing some of these songs in a style I particularly enjoy. Some of these songs remind me of stuff that would have come off of the Projekt Records label, and Projekt is one of the best labels ever for coldwave and goth. But there has always been something about Tarja I’ve never really liked; even her Nightwish albums are mostly garbage. Once Annette got into the band they really took off, as if Tarja was an elastic band holding the band back from flying at full speed. Once she left, the elastic snapped, and the biplane Nightwish were went into full jet mode.

There’s some high points, such as interesting production choices on these classics of the Christmas season, but ultimately it’s just a Christmas album for Hot Topic goths who can’t stop watching Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s slower moving, which does add an interesting atmosphere to the songs, especially the ones that are traditionally faster, such as “Deck the Halls” and “Feliz Navidad”. But ultimately, this is a complete waste of studio recording hours. The new song, “Together” is completely immemorable, and was one of the main reasons I wanted to check this album out. It’s something that you’d hear on an easy rock station, geared towards suburban soccer moms with black nail polish.

As a less important aside, I am also very disappointed in the cover art for this album. Yes, Christmas is cold. A lot of the music on this album is coldly produced and cold sounding. Tarja, however, is a gorgeous woman on top of her talent, and having this much Photoshop work to her face is just brutal. Whoever did the art is a jackass and should go back to horribly disfiguring women for fashion magazines and leave the airbrushing of musicians to qualified people.

In all, don’t bother wasting your time with this, unless you’re streaming it for free on YouTube or Bandcamp. And definitely don’t play this at a Christmas party, unless your guests are all fourteen years old and have a crush on Jack Skellington.

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Music Review: Netra – Ingrats

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Netra - Ingrats

Genre: Experimental Progressive Black Metal
Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records

It’s been four and a half, five years since Netra released Sørbyen, seven years since Mélancolie Urbaine, and in some ways nothing has changed. Netra is still one man, playing a strange mixture of black metal, trip-hop, ambient, and a few other things. In some ways everything has changed.

Nothing ever felt forced with the first two albums, but on Ingrats everything feels like it belongs together even more. The songwriting has improved, and not even drastically. It’s been given just enough of a boost that all aspects that make Netra such a unique band are given their times to shine. For example, the pure DSBM moments of “Everything’s Fine”; the 80’s goth and 90’s EDM of “Live With It”; the saxophone on “Don’t Keep Me Waiting”; the beautiful ambient keyboards layered over fast double-kicks on “Paris or Me”; the list goes on.

Therein lies the beauty of what Netra is for me. It’s the controlled chaos of depressive black metal reined in with the steadiness of trip-hop and EBM. It’s slow and dark, truly melancholic and morose. It’s like slashing your wrists in a 4/4 beat. And it leaves such beautiful wounds upon your heart. Ingrats is a real masterpiece of black metal, for fans of the genre that like to watch it progress and further itself while still being true to what makes it black metal.