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top10 2018 nonalbumA full-length album is the main goal and the logical conclusion of a segment of the path of a musician and sometimes the result of an era. Why do we need maxi-singles (MCD), mini-albums (EP) and demos? Of course besides the huge desire of musicians to share with the listeners what they have already done. The demo is first of all a sample of music and search for their own sound. Maybe the feedbacks will lead the authors somewhere else. The EP is a statement about yourself and more PR move before the release of the full-length material. But there are completely holistic and complete EPs with a certain concept and sound, which may differ from the rest of the material. The MCD is also a kind of PR move with remixes from well-known projects, but for the listener it is primarily a vision and interpretation of the group’s compositions by other musicians.

For me these formats have always been interesting firstly because in the demo I can hear a clear, sincere and lively sound, rather than a commercial slicked product with expensive mastering, in EP I can see dynamic short movies, that do not get bored and kept in action from the beginning to the very end, and in MCD I hear, how this or that composition could sound from a different angle, from a different style, from a different world. That is why I did a category for all these formats as a separate top. And if you think a little more, then these EPs are much more interesting than the full-length albums of some of the grandees, who wrote 2-3 hits and included pass-through songs just to fill the space. EP consists of these 2-3 cool tracks.

Covered formats: EP, demo, single, maxi single (MCD), remix compilation

10. Fabrizio Paterlini – ‘Winter Stories (EP)’ (Neo-Classics | Italy, Memory Recordings)

Italian composer FABRIZIO PATERLINI began his musical activity on the piano at the age of 6. In Mantua he received an education in the specialty ‘Theory of Music’ and the Italian began his musical career with a baggage of knowledge and a desire to create in Rock, Jazz and Pop genres in various not known projects. Until 2007 Fabrizio did not record solo material. After the release of the debut album Paterlini focused on solo activities. In 2012 his work entitled ‘Autumn Stories’ was released, in which the musician created unique amazing soundscapes of autumn in piano sound. The EP ‘Winter Stories’ is a continuation of this series. Only now the music touched the winter. Or winter touched music. A colder mood, more frosty melodies with a crackling fire and sitting in front of the fireplace while snow is falling outside. What could be better? Fabrizio Paterlini continues to please the ear and create pictures in my subconscious.

09. Anastasis – ‘Song of Anastasis (EP)’ (Ethereal, Neofolk, Ritual Folk | Russia, Self-Released)

The Russian project ANASTASIS was named after one of the DEAD CAN DANCE albums for a certain reason. The debut release of the Russian project has become a kind of interpretation of the ethereal style, which slightly contradicts the established canons. Let's just say that the presence of electronics in ethereal is no longer new. This style even got its name, although here the electronics are not so indie-sounding and soft, but more tough. But the use of Russian folklore and Christian orthodoxy colouring as opposed to classical oriental melodies will be a discovery, although in a couple of songs the musicians still could not resist and followed East, although also rather Russian or at least the former USSR. And the male vocal opposite to that generally accepted in the ethereal female vocals is also a kind of unexpected factor. And even considering all these campaigns against the system the material turned out to be interesting and the fact that this is debut make this start encouraging and very unique.

08. Sisters of Shaddowwe – ‘Sisters of Shaddowwe (EP)’ (Gothic Rock, Post Punk | USA, Self-Released)

In the year 2017 the first demo of the American women’s quartet from SISTERS OF SHADDOWWE was released. In 2018 essentially the same compositions were refined, reworked and brought to a non-demo level. Four “sisters” created the band under the clear influence of the 80s Post Punk and the Gothic Rock of the 90s. It turned out very interesting. In the four included tracks there are Gothic mystery with dark romance, Post Punk spirit of the 80s, which still does not cause indiscriminate comparison with the grandees of this genre of those years, and femininity bordering on pleasant bitchiness. And especially pleases the fact, that the overall sound is not sleek with modern mastering and thus remains old-school. This is what I call real gothic music, ladies and gentlemen.

07. October Burns Black – ‘Fault Line (EP)’ (Gothic Rock | USA, Outland Media)

In 1986 the Gothic Rock band THE WAKE was created in the US state of Ohio. In the mid-90s the Americans released two albums, after which the project disappeared from musical radar and occasionally popped up with singles and a compilation. One of the participants of the project James Tremel decided to play gothic rock again in the second half of the 10s, but under the different band name of another project. He invited other famous musicians from different groups and different countries to make the OCTOBER BURNS BLACK an international super band. The formation includes Tommy Olsson (ELUSIVE, LONG NIGHT, ex-THEATRE OF TRAGEDY), Lars Kappeler (SWEET ERMENGARDE, ATOMIC NEON, ex-THE HOUSE OF USHER) and Ger Egan (THIS BURNING EFFIGY). The result was an American-Norwegian-German-Irish cocktail, creating a wonderful, diverse, melodic and very tasty gothic rock, in which you can hear both old-school motifs and modern sound. The debut EP is an explosion not only in line-up, but also in music. Usually I do not say such words, but in this case it is appropriate: 4 songs are not enough. If this release was a full-length album, most likely it would take first place in the top of the guitar dark scene. I look forward to the future of October Burns Black.

06. Nachtmahr – ‘Widerstand (MCD)’ (TBM, EBM | Austria, Trisol)

I do not know how about you, but when I listen to maxi-singles, which include a certain amount of remixes of the same track, I do not want to hear 10 remixes in the same genre and in the same sound. As you understand, this description is not suitable for this release. But let's start everything in order. NACHTMAHR is a project of Thomas Rainer from L'ÂME IMMORTELLE, which has already become popular and known and created an army of fans. In fact this MCD is divided into two parts. The first original track is called ‘Firmanent’. The song with German lyrics sounds quite hit and quite in the style of NACHTMAHR. The project has tendency to the industrial pop sound of popular TBM, but it sounds good, high quality and hit, so I personally do not see any problems in this. The rest is a matter of taste. The original version is followed by its Russian version, which Maria from the OMNIMAR did. Maria’s vocals are already known for charisma and quality, so Thomas had only to implement it right into the track. That worked out well, although some roughness and aggression were gone. But then just those same remixes in the same style continued the MCD. The remixes turned out to be good, but they all sound pretty monotonous and boring, so I already thought that the maxi-single would be one of many similar. But the second part dissuaded me. The second original is again in the style of NACHTMAHR with German and Russian lyrics. But his Russian-language version is made with the NDH-project EISENWUT, therefore it turned out to be much more interesting. And the remixes after that were made in such a different genres including techno, NDH and Dark-Folk cover that the issue of the variety of genres disappeared. The release ends with an apocalyptic version of the old track, which is also out of the general NACHTMAHR sound. This MCD can hardly be called a good example of the various and holistic release, but it’s quite cool and has its feature.

05. Antilav – ‘Somewhere (EP)’ (Gothic Electro | Russia, Synth-Me)

The Russian project ANTILAV was created in 2010 by a member at the time of the already disbanded Gothic Rock project SPAUN. Inspired by the work of L’ÂME IMMORTELLE and [:SITD:] Ivan and Hellen put together the sound of their idols, added their own ideas and consolidated everything with composer and singing talent, so they are able to create great hits in the genre of Gothic Electro. The project has so far only one full-length album, and this EP has essentially become a kind of experiment with collaborations with other vocalists and musicians. Great hit songs with aggressive male vocal monster Ivan diluted by the beauties Inna from MIRRORS OF MINDS, Darya from MINDS ENTWINED and INFY. Hellen also did not stand aside. Excellent five original compositions are worthy to sound on the Gothic dancefloors of at least Europe. The album is also complemented by remixes from colleagues in the dark scene in different genres. There will also be Synth Pop from Swedes ETAGE NEUN, DAF-sounding EBM Mexicans REBEL EMPIRE, old-school Electro-Industrial with Rock elements from the Russian project OUTPOST 11, Electro thriller by Belgian PSY’AVIAH and German Industrial dance bomb AT0SHIMA 3RR0R. A good release with great originals and cool remixes, dance hits and emotional ballads.

04. Temple of Angels – ‘Foiled (EP)’ (Post Punk | USA, Self-Released)

Rarely can you hear intertwined male and female vocals in Post Punk or Gothic Rock genres. The project TEMPLE OF ANGELS was created in the second half of 10s in Austin, Texas. The musicians released their debut record in 2017. The second EP consisting of five tracks was out in 2018 in limited edition on cassette and in digital version. Five great compositions of atmospheric Post Punk, which is very close to the Indie scene, but did not go there completely. And it did not go to totally old-school sound. ‘Foiled’ is an example of the very fresh sound on the modern scene and the above-mentioned symbiosis of male and female makes this release unique in its kind. If you add to these cool recognizable melodic songs, then if it is a full-length album, it could take a high place in the top of gothic rock.

03. Amelia Arsenic – ‘Queen of Risk (EP)’ (Electro Punk, Electro Clash | Australia, Glitch Mode Records)

Australian singer AMELIA ARSENIC is known for her work in the band ANGELSPIT, which she left in 2013. In 2014 Amelia has already released her debut EP, but after that the singer went into the shadows, at least in music. You can, of course, compare her work with ANGELSPIT, but still Amelia went further, adding elements of electroclash and Synth-Punk to the sound of electronic Rock. It turned out moderately aggressive and tough, very insane and, most importantly, hit. The bitchy vocal and extraordinary image of Amelia will only add to the general atmosphere on a live performance, and in the recordings to the above-mentioned genres you can add also Electro and breakbeat just to confuse all of you completely. In any case the release is very interesting and worthy of at least acquaintance, and at most - the third place in the top of non-album releases of the dark scene in the year 2018.

02. Traumabond – ‘Scratched Out (EP)’ (Electronic Rock | USA, Self-Released)

TRAUMABOND is a new name on the electronic guitar scene. And when I see the phrase “electronic guitar”, then in addition to the Neue Deutsche Härte, American projects with the influence of NINE INCH NAILS come to mind. TRAUMABOND was surely inspired by NINE INCH NAILS, however didn’t become another clone blindly copying famous Americans. The musicians from Chicago made a very powerful combination of driving electronic music and Alternative Rock, which was not killed by hard guitar riffs. To this we can add, that this is all done with female and male vocals. If you forget about hit tracks, quality of mastering and composer talent for a second, then this release can be considered the standard of how to properly and correctly integrate a guitar into electronic music, so that electronics lovers do not shout “damned metal” and Metal heads will not get blown up with signs of horns on shows. Three hit tracks, which, I hope, be continued sooner or later into an album that will not become completely metal or completely electronic. TRAUMABOND became one of the discoveries of the dark scene in 2018.

01. Cryo – ‘Sanitarium (MCD)’ (EBM | Sweden, Progress Productions)

The Swedes Martin and Torny created the CRYO project closer to the middle of the 00s. At that time the Anhalt EBM trendy sound was popular, but the authors did not follow this path, taking a step towards a more modern EBM sound even without a clear old-school component. CRYO’s discography currently has four full-length albums and performances at leading major festivals of the dark scene. I would not call myself a fan of CRYO, although their sound pleases my ears, but is not my standard of the genre. Not this maxi-single. The original track ‘Sanitarium’ is made in the classic CRYO sound - atmospheric modern EBM, under which you can think at home and move on the dancefloor. It’s hard to call a song the super hit, but it’s still good. But 8 remixes for one track initially do not cause the desire to listen to it all carefully and in a row. Only after I saw the remixers list, my opinion changed to a completely opposite one. Soft atmospheric Future Pop was made by grandees NEUROTICFISH. Swedish colleagues GUILT TRIP have created a very interesting Electro-Industrial soft composition. SEBASTIAN KOMOR made a remix in his own key with his own peculiar sound adding a club drive and a dancefloor blast. SKYLOG made a monotonous Techno-Industrial without any melodics. SPARK! is probably the only project of all remixers made a remix in the same genre as the original, although they added their own sound. When ROTERSAND makes the remix, you should always expect something vivid and colourful. It happened so also now. From XOTOX I expected a hard rhythmic Noise thriller, but I received experiments of rhythmic Noise, Techno-Industrial and IDM, which has already become the norm in the last 2-3 years for the known rhythmic noise act (not including XOTOX... still). But the remix is still interesting. And the ambient remix from the Estonians FORGOTTEN SUNRISE closes all this action. This maxi-single is the etalon of how to create a diverse release consisting of 9 versions even in the same post-industrial scene of the same track, so it will not be boring to listen to. Bravo!


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