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Dark Awakening | vol 1 | review | electro | goth | compilation | Lollipop

Dark Awakening Vol. 1

(C.O.P. International)
by DJ Arcanus

C.O.P. International's newest compilation has one disc of electro, another of Gothic music. I was hopeful when I put the electro disc in since I knew a number of artists and thought highly of them. In the end, it's an even split of good heavy dance tracks and really awful attempts at making music. Decoded Feedback, Absurd Minds, Angels + Agony, and Neuroticfish have the best-structured songs with complex samples that compliment the melodies. These songs are excellent choices for the dancefloor. Another song that may be suited for the club is Mastertune's contribution, if people can get past the absurd lyrics. I'll never forget how to spell "back" for the rest of my life as the mantra of "b-a-c-k" drones on and on... Since the topic of laughable has been brought up, did you know that Second Decay hates Berlin? I didn't until I heard their anthem telling me "I hate Berlin. Little city on heroin." Imagine this sung over '80s New Wave in the vein of O.M.D. and Visage. After a few listens, my New Wave heart giggled in delight at this annoyingly cheesy song. It's so bad it's good... Die-hards of Alien Sex Fiend and Virgin Prunes will probably enjoy "Fly with Me" by Alien Skull Paint. Why this song was not on the other disc with Sex Gang Children and Inkubus Sukkubus is a mystery.

The second disc covers the progression of Gothic music, everything from death rock to the broad range of Gothic music today. It's hard to think of Einstürzende Neubauten as anything but industrial or experimental, but somehow, they're on the Gothic disc. Killing Miranda and Malaise both use synths and samples like everyone else these day. Killing Miranda uses a guitar to add melodies rather than more electronic sounds. They've put together a song that has driving dance beats and clear Gothic vocals. Malaise provides a more electro sound with strong beats and vocals that go back and forth between X-Marks the Pedwalk and Mission UK. Another song with a Mission UK sound is "Human" from Behind the Scenes. Mix that and London After Midnight's sound and a pinch of their vocal style and you get Behind the Scenes. The Wounded reminds of me of a mature Type O Negative. The melodies have a rough guitar edge, but under that is a beautiful orchestral composition that soothes the aggressiveness of the guitar. The lyrics are well-written and the vocalist sounds like the singer from Bush. One Hundred Names and Sex Gang Children bring a taste of old school death rock. The former sounds like Shadow Project or Christian Death circa Rozz Williams, the latter is a classic band with dissonant vocals over a slow bass and drum machine. Marc Almond adds his voice to this song. Another band that's been around for a long time is Inkubus Sukkubus. My recently-lactose-intolerant-self choked on the proverbial cheese as I was blasted by '80s hair band music. For vocals, think Bon Jovi as a woman singing about vampires and the underworld...

The rest of the album is forgettable except for Corvus Corax, who almost sent me into convulsions and a car accident. "Saltarello" is a 14th-century Italian piece, probably played at court dances and festivals in its time. Dead Can Dance included it on their album Aeon. Corvus Corax honor the song by playing it in double time with almost triple the percussion. To make matters worse, bagpipes play all the harmonies. There's a certain elegance in the clarity and precision of the original instrumentation. The bagpipes do what bagpipes do - hold long notes and play other ones over the drone. This version has taken away the beauty and medieval experience and made it a disjointed song that sounds too fast, chaotic, and off-key.

Dark Awakening Vol. 1 has half really good songs, a few decent ones, and a few that make me wonder how anyone can produce such shit. There's a good amount of diversity on both CDs, so it may not appeal to people who like very specific genres. For those who do enjoy a variety of genres, there's a bit of everything here. Additional bands on the electro disc: Shock of Reality, Soil & Eclipse, Plastic, MDFMK, Culture Kultür, and MS Gentur. Additional bands on the Gothic disc: Cruelty Alliance, Power to Dream, and Another Tale.
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