Since I really enjoyed VNV Nation’s previous album
‘Empires’, I was looking forward to this follow-up.
Unfortunately, I am somewhat disappointed with it. The main problem
is that it offers one of the worst track layouts I have ever encountered.
If the band is responsible for putting the tracks in this horrendous
order, they need to start having someone else do their track layouts.
And if someone else is responsible for this mess, they need to be fired.
Basically, this CD does not flow good from beginning to end at all.
It’s a disjointed scrambled disaster.
The CD opens with an extremely short slow ambient intro piece with people
talking some positive mumbo-jumbo. It’s so sappy that I cringe every
time I hear it. The album really begins with track two “Epicentre”.
This is the VNV Nation that we all know and love. It
offers their trademark upbeat energetic electro sounds and beats along
with dark melodies and Ronan’s impressive throat work.
It has club hit written all over it. Track three “Electronaut”
is an extremely long instrumental. Thankfully, it’s excellent with a
lot of interesting and engaging twists and turns. But I feel that it
comes in too early on the album. Instrumentals do have their place on
albums when they are put in proper locations, and track three for this
album definitely is not the right place for it. Track four “Liebestod”
is another instrumental. First of all, it’s never a good idea to put
instrumentals back-to-back on an industrial/EBM album. Secondly, this
has got to be one of the worst instrumentals I have ever had the misfortune
of hearing. It’s simply a soft and slow classical piece with an overly
romantic melody. It’s boring and puts me to sleep. While it shouldn’t
even be on this album, putting it as track four just makes it even worse.
It would have made a decent closing song, but doesn’t fit anywhere else
here. Track five “Holding On” is a slow cold ballad with decent
melodies and emotional vocals. Track six “Carbon” is another
slow cold ballad similar to “Holding On”. Having to sit through
two slow and mellow songs in a row is a hard thing to do. Track seven
“Genesis” finally picks the album up again offering the second
club song of the album. This is one of the best songs here with great
driving electronic rhythms and beats joined by Ronan’s passionate singing.
Track eight “Structure” is another instrumental. It’s rather
crunchy and noisy with an industrial sound to it. It starts off a little
basic, but picks up along the way. I do like it, and it actually works
where it is. Track nine “Fearless” is another fast paced club
track offering the usual high energy programming and beats along with
Ronan’s vocals. While it’s a good song, it is a bit repetitive with
a slight techno sound to it. Track ten “4AM” brings the album
to a halt once again. It’s an empty sparse dark and dreary ambient instrumental
that shouldn’t be on this album. Track eleven “Beloved” is
a cheery sounding romantic ballad with a light upbeat positive feel
to it. It’s enjoyable and does add nice variety to the CD. Track twelve
“Airships” is a somewhat soft and sappy song with feel good
type melodies along with Ronan’s smooth singing. It’s a good song to
end the CD with.
This overall album would have worked so much better if the tracks were placed in a different order. As they are placed now, this album does not play well from start to finish. I can’t remember the last time that I wanted to skip past so many tracks on an album. While there are some really good songs to be enjoyed here, there is also a lot of crap that just doesn’t belong. While I am sure that there are people out there who will appreciate this album exactly as it is, I also know that there are others who feel that it’s a big disappointment. I don’t have an urge to listen to it very often. The few good songs that it does have aren’t really good enough to have to sit through all of the other junk to get to them. I would strongly suggest that you try before you buy, because this album definitely isn’t for everyone.
CD is simply amazing from beginning to end featuring some of the best
EBM I have heard before. The music is multi-layered with a variety of
energetic electronic sounds and effects overlaid on top of beautifully
orchestrated synth melodies making it fast paced and dramatic. The vocals
are deep and clear sung with both power and passion. The lyrics in the
songs are well written and emotional.
The overall production of this
album is clean and polished to perfection. The songs do a great job
of switching between various feelings and emotions presenting a twisting
and turning journey for the mind. But the body can’t help but want to
move to the powerful rhythms and beats.
There are two instrumentals included
here. The initial one “Firstlight” is a rather dark and cold
ambient intro that is a bit bland and boring. However, the second one
“Saviour” is an incredibly energetic almost techno dance track
that would be a hit in clubs. The rest of the tracks include vocals,
and are blended extremely well with the music complimenting it superbly.
There is a good mix of both energy
packed dance floor tracks as well as more emotional and melodic moments.
So there’s definitely variety included here. The tracks are laid out
in a good order where they flow smoothly throughout without any snags
along the way. This is a CD that you can put in your stereo and play
without worrying about having to skip past any mediocre songs.
It’s obvious that the musicians
of this band are very talented and are passionate about the music they
make. There’s a level of quality found on this CD that isn’t delivered
too often. It’s refreshing to listen to music this immaculate and masterful.
This CD can’t be missed by anyone who enjoys electro-industrial and
far I have been trying to review only the newest releases, but this
review of last year's VNV Nation EP comes late since I was awaiting
the US release. It will now not be released at all in the US because
someone at TVT decided he doesn't like EPs or singles anymore,
so I paid up for the import version and here is the review.
The prologue is just a siren and some voices, and I don't really understand
how it fits into the rest of the CD. If it is supposed to be an introduction
into an EP that has continuity, that is destroyed by the total lack
of continuity within. It works as far as the VNV Nation material
is concerned, but the remixes by other bands come in and really change
The first real "song", the Signals edit of Solitary, begins
with orchestral strings and drums leading into a beautiful tinkling
electronic melody. All of this buildup is then wiped away by a pounding
dance floor beat which then has some of the earlier pretty elements
added back into it. The song sounds like it couldn't get much better
when the vocalist begins singing. When I say this, I mean he actually
sings with melody, without heavy vocal processing, and does a very good
job of it. This song in particular is one of my new favorites, and in
itself is deserving of an A but the EP itself is not, for I have heard
this song already on the Tyranny Off the Beat V Compilation
and the Praise the Fallen album. Does it really need any more
exposure? Apparently it is thought so, for 5 versions are presented
on this EP. The Covenant remix sounds a lot like a covenant song,
with most of the orchestration and complexity stripped away for a more
minimalist ebm piece with vocals intact.
The vocal mix of Forsaken is next, but I don't feel that an emotional
track like this without beats really needs to be slipped in the middle
of the rest of the dance oriented tracks. Again, the continuity falls
apart. The :Wumpscut: remix of Freude comes as a complete
surprise, since I don't know of any other versions of this song or where
the original comes from. It is not a spectacular track, and the vocals
sound like Rudy recorded them himself, since they are all in German
and sung in a harsh angry voice. This does not fit with the beauty of
the rest of the CD.
is a very short (2:30) trance piece, which begins with some of the orchestration
of Solitary and then swiftly moves to a fast paced track. I like
this song (which I consider a version of Solitary since it contains
some of the elements) but I wish it could have been longer. The Radio
Edit of Solitary is where I begin to grow weary of this EP. It
begins with the song in full force, skipping over all of the orchestral
buildup that I so enjoy on the signals edit. Luckily, the song is so
good that I am not sick of it even after hearing so many similar versions.
Finally, Solitude is a thinly veiled soft edit of Solitary.
The music is not the same as the original version, thankfully, but retains
the melodies and mood. The extra piano is a nice touch. This song is
what I've been waiting for the whole time I've been listening: a truly
different version of Solitary done by the band itself since a
radio edit just doesn't cut it as a remix for me.
In review: The VNV
tracks are all nice, the remixes by other bands don't fit but will appeal
to fans of those bands, and I'm aggravated that this will not be a US
release. If you've already heard enough of Solitary from the
album or comps, this is probably not a necessary purchase.