IN STRICT CONFIDENCE

Album: "Holy"
Label: Metropolis Records (2004)
Style: Electro-industrial/EBM/Darkwave
Songs: 11

A
 

Reviewed by: Darklight

In Strict Confidence (ISC) is one of my favorite bands, and I always anticipate new releases from them. Since their two previous CDs, Love Kills! and Mistrust The Angels, basically sounded the same - I was hoping that they would try some new ideas on this CD. And that's exactly what they did.

This is overall probably ISC's strongest release yet. I am extremely impressed with this entire recording. Everything is done exactly how I would want it to be. There's no filler, and only one instrumental that ends the CD. Also, every song, except for one, offers English lyrics. I am quite pleased by this as past ISC recordings were brought down slightly by including experimental filler, too many instrumentals and mostly German lyrics.

This CD is packed with variety. There's heavy electro-industrial with distorted guitar, energetic EBM, darkwave and even synth-pop. The music is created with immaculately layered and textured driving electronic programming and beats placed over dark and dramatic orchestrated melodies. Dennis Ostermann offers his usual great deep and clear voice on most of the songs. He's joined by appealing female singers at times as well. This is great for variety.

ISC strays away from their usual gothic/darkwave sound a bit on this recording offering more upbeat and catchy elements into most of the songs included here. There's still darkwave moods throughout, but they don't dominate the overall sound of the CD like they did in the past. There's the traditional ISC sound to everything, but with a slightly new twist. The song "Seven Lives" especially stands out with a dark synth-pop vibe and guest vocals provided by Ion Javelin.

This is a solid focused recording that delivers eleven tightly structured songs with no filler that gets in the way of the action. Each song is so good that I can't pick any favorites. I like them all equally. This could be the CD of the year. It will be hard to beat. If you like ISC, and other similar bands such as Blutengel and L'ame Immortelle, this CD can't be missed.

By the way, the artwork for this CD is superb. It offers some incredible photos throughout the entire booklet. The cover photo is great as well. ISC really did a fantastic job on this release.

 

Album: "Mistrust The Angels"
Label: Metropolis Records (2002)
Style: Electro-industrial/EBM/Darkwave
Songs: 12

B

Reviewed by: Darklight

This entire album plays out like the previous In Strict Confidence (ISC) recording Love Kills!. So much, in fact, that it could be called Love Kills! 2. Basically, you get a few traditional sounding ISC tracks featuring the vocals of Dennis Ostermann ("Send A Sign", "Herzattacke", "When The Heart Starts To Bleed", "Horizont", "Lost In The Night" and "The Prayers Of The Mute"), a few tracks offering the beautiful singing of Nadine Stelzer ("Au Milieu Des Anges", "Engelsstaub" and "Der Vampir Und Dessen Verwandlung") and, of course, a couple instrumentals ("Schlecht Getraumt" and "Der Tag An Dem Es Frosche Regnet"). There is even a track titled "It Seems LostÖ" which is nothing but five seconds of blank space. So this album definitely has some variety on it.

As you can tell from the song names, this album features a lot of tracks that include German lyrics. More than any ISC album before it. And while I do like the German language, and how it sounds in music, I do prefer the English language as thatís what I understand. So Iím somewhat disappointed that there are so many German language tracks here. Also, the songs featuring the vocals of Nadine Stelzer stand out the most and it would have been nice if she was used a little more here as only using her on three songs isnít enough.

All of the songs are created with well layered electronic programming, solid bass beats, sampling and dramatic dark melodies that offer up a darkwave vibe. Dennis Ostermann sings in his usual deep, rough and gruff thick German accented voice that blends nicely with the music. And Nadine Stelzer has a beautifully haunting melodic voice that compliments every track sheís on.

While I do like this album, I do feel that itís a little too similar to Love Kills! not bringing enough new or different elements to the table. However, every song here is indeed good and do stand out with elements that make them catchy and memorable. ISC fans will not be disappointed with this release as it delivers everything that they have come to enjoy from this act.

The bottom line is that if you like dark German electro-industrial/EBM/darkwave hybrid bands that blend male and female vocals with English and German lyrics such as Blutengel, The Dust Of Basement and Líame Immortelle, you will like this ISC recording. I just hope that the band tries something a little different on their next release as I donít want a Mistrust The Angels II.

 

Album: "Angels Anger Overkill"
Label: Energy Rekords
Style: Electro-industrial
Songs: 14

A

Reviewed by: Darklight

This is a best-of compilation of In Strict Confidence (ISC) songs recorded from 1994-1999. I am extremely impressed with the overall quality of this release. Usually similar best-of collections feature songs that are recorded at different volume levels and are placed in a lousy track order. This recording, however, is consistent from beginning to end with all of the songs recorded at the same volume level and all placed in an order that flows nicely. Also, this really is a best-of collection. You wonít be asking why some of the songs are offered here as each one is superb. Basically, this one recording delivers all of the best songs from ISCís past and puts them all onto one CD.

If you are not familiar with ISC, they are a dark German electro-industrial/EBM band that produce a similar sound as other popular European electro acts such as Leaether Strip and :wumpscut:. The electronic programming is high-tech and fast paced with a lot of layering of different sounds, effects and beats playing over hauntingly dramatic melodies while thick accented male vocals sing with it all. They do this sound very well, and rank up there with the best this genre has to offer. This CD is a great introduction to this stellar act.

 

Album: "Love Kills!"
Label: Bloodline (2000)
Style: Electro-industrial
Songs: 12

A

Reviewed by: Darklight

The previous In Strict Confidence (ISC) CD "Face The Fear" wasn't too impressive in my opinion as there were only a few stand-out tracks amongst a lot of mediocre songs and boring instrumentals. However, this follow-up CD is their most mature and enjoyable release yet. There's a lot of variety contained on this disc, and everything is interesting and creative. While there are a couple of tracks with German lyrics and a few instrumentals, everything works well. The CD starts off strong with four solid dark dramatic EBM tracks featuring great electronic programming, mesmerizing and haunting synth melodies, driving beats and rough accented deep male vocals. All of these tracks scream quality and really show off the talents of the band. The CD takes a slight turn on track five with "Spread Your Wings Part I". It's an experimental instrumental track featuring voice samples, chaotic and sporadic electronic programming, dark keyboards, etc. During its course it morphs into a fast paced drum n' bass assault. It's very strange, but also appealing and enjoyable just for the fact that it's different and comes in at a good time on the disc. Things return to the normal structured dark dance EBM style after that track with the amazing club hit "Kiss Your Shadow". The next track "Silent Memorial" slows things down a bit with a darkwave edge and beautiful female vocals. This is a quality song that adds even more variety to this release. The next track "Wenn Ich Die Augen Schliepe" is a nice long dark EBM track featuring a combination of both male and female vocals. Ater this track we're treated to the amazing haunting instrumental "Weltuntergang". This would have been a nice track to end the CD with, but there are still two more tracks left. Track ten "The Setting Off The Sun" is a rather aggressive straight-forward electro industrial song similar to older ISC material. While it's a little short in length, it's still a quality listen. Track eleven "Spread Your Wings Part II" is basically the same as the first part, but a little more redundant. There is a track twelve listed on the back of the CD case entitled "Six Six Six Seconds Silence In Heaven" that is simply blank empty playing space on the CD. I have no idea why the band did this. Anyway, the bottom line is that this is a very quality and enjoyable dark electro industrial CD that should not be missed by anyone that likes this genre of music.

 

Album: "Face The Fear"
Label:
Metropolis Records (1998)
Style: Electro industrial
Songs: 10
C

Reviewed by: Darklight

I really enjoyed the previous ISC album and this release is a disappointing follow up to that effort in my opinion. First of all none of the songs delivered here really sound new. Usually when a band brings out another album you can tell that they have progressed, matured and polished their sound. But this album just sounds like earlier ISC material without any real differences to make it stand out. ISC is a German electro industrial band that sounds similar to other dark EBM acts such as Leaether Strip and :wumpscut:. Electronic sequencing, sampling, synths and drum programming make up the rather fast paced dance floor ready music while thickly accented angry slightly distorted male vocals overlay it. Nothing too original, but ISC does have a slight edge that allows them to stand out. Overall this is a quality release that older fans of ISC should enjoy for the most part. But with a few really slow songs and three instrumentals, there just isn't enough bang for your buck in my opinion considering that there are only ten tracks. Also, none of the songs really stand out. You have heard this same style of music many times before and there is nothing given here that sounds that different. The best song to be found here is "Prediction". It mixes a lot of changing directions combined with a powerful dance floor pace that will get any rivethead moving to its rhythms and beats. If more of the songs here were like it the album would be much better. But there are several boring slow songs that are difficult to sit through and three instrumentals that you will have to skip past if you want to keep your sanity. If you want another German electro industrial album to add to your collection this is one that you might want to consider. But if you are starting to grow tired of this style of music, this album doesn't bring in any new elements that will allow it to stand out.

 

Album: "Cryogenix"
Label:
Metropolis Records (1997)
Style: Electro industrial
Songs: 14
B

Reviewed by: Darklight

This is your typical dark electro industrial music, but does have a quality and style to it that makes it stand out amongst countless of other acts doing the same thing. The electronic programming and synths are very full and create some extremely catchy and top notch music. Samples are placed well throughout, and the vocals are slightly distorted and sing great. The dark and haunting mood of the music is very atmospheric and makes the music pleasurable to listen to. Each of the songs do include unique elements that allow them to stand apart from each other. But the mood of the songs never change. They are always dark and dreary and play along at a medium pace. I wouldn't consider this dance music. It's much too deep and emotional. Each song here does include vocals, and I was very pleased about that. There are a lot of songs here, and they are each equally as impressive. This music isn't really anything new or different, but it is quality. If you are a fan of this style of music, you can't go wrong with this album.