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V/A Surge & Subside: Queensland Flood Appeal [reviews]
Surge & Subside: Queensland Flood Appeal V/A |Aphotic Audio, 2011|

Disc 1 - Surge: 01. Sensory Gate - Ianus, 02. Angelspit - Cold Hard Cash, 03. Empty - Drift (Ginger Snap5 Remix), 04. Bound In Oblivion - Pain & Suffering, 05. Psyche - The Beyond - Live (Flood Relief Edition), 06. Streak - Groovy Booty, 07. Diverje - Suffer-control.org v2, 08. Dismantled - Dead on Impact, 09. Lucidstatic - Operating Directive, 10. Mangadrive - 67 Gemini Starglider, 11. NVEiN - All So Wired, 12. Skrew - Universal Immolation, 13. Tempest & the Diaspora - IO, 14. Viral Millennium - Vomitosis, 15. in-FUSED - Misplaced (iammynewt e-RAGE Mix), 16. Maximum Sexy Pigeon - Tunguska! (Water Retentive mix)

Disc 2 - Subside: 17. P45K - Adrift, 18. Assemblage 23 - Raw, 19. I, Parasite - A Violence At Rest, 20. Android Lust - God in the Hole, 21. Soulchasm - My Facade (Empty Remix), 22. Autoclav1.1 - Waxing, 23. Anhedonia - Rain, 24. Motion Fused - Reflection Of Madness (Extended), 25. ANGELTHEORY - The Wind, 26. Headdreamer - Colder, 27. Collide - Ocean, 28. M(i)lkrun - Lard Ram, 29. Dark Territory - Trista Me (ANGELTHEORY Mantra Mix), 30. iammynewt - itHURTS, 31. Flood of Rain - Grey Sky, 32. Blast Radius - To Find Them Frozen

Download Pack - Overflow: 33. Sensory Gate - Purgatory (Marco Zanza Devoted Mix), 34. Empty - This Regret REDUX, 35. P45K - Before Dawn, 36. Blast Radius - Sight Unseen, 37. P45K - What Have I Done, 38. Tempest & the Diaspora - Jasmine, 39. iammynewt - Egor [Version 2.0] (Skullduggery Remix), 40. Disharmony - Evolution, 41. Betty X - Shoot'em Up (Fury Road Mix)

A collective cooperation between a variety of musicians usually takes places when they have a specific goal to achieve. This charity initiative that is providing financial help for the 2010 Australia flood victims belongs to Daniel Brunet (Aphotic Audio owner) and Aaron Potter, musicians of the band Empty who collectively created this gem for all Australians.
The floods were caused by tropical cyclone Tasha and have destroyed a big part of this continent, which normally had not been troubled by any natural disasters until December 2010. The state of Queensland suffered the most, so the album Surge & Subside is dedicated to the residents of this area.

The double CD includes 32 songs while an additional nine can be downloaded from the official release website only after typing special codes placed on the purchased CD. The tracklist is huge and filled with the names of artists associated with electronic, industrial and industrial metal scenes, however the first one is outlined. There are famous and less known band names amongst 41 tracks as well as those yet to discover, thanks to such V/A releases.
I'm pretty sure every fan of alternative music is familiar with such names like Psyche, Assemblage 23, Angelspit, Skrew, Collide, I Parasite or Dismantled. Others have been already promoted by Fabryka Industrial Rock Magazine during the past few years and include Tempest & the Diaspora, NVEiN, Bound In Oblivion, iammynewt, Betty X, Streak, P45K and Empty. I haven't heard of a few other names that were included on the tracklist because they mainly offer electronic music which I'm not a fan of. However, like I said before, V/A compilations allow for learning of new music and this is how I've discovered the band Maximum Sexy Pigeon.

The first CD entitled Surge begins with a Sensory Gate song “Ianus”, which is built on repetitive parts and recalls industrial-electronic music inspired by Front Line Assembly. Then Angelspit comes out with one of their less noisy songs “Cold Hard Cash”. They have announced recently that the band line-up would change, so I think it's the right time to listen to the band while they are still together with their current line-up. The best idea would be to see them live on the upcoming US tour with Lords of Acid in March 2011.

A song known as “Drift (Ginger Snap5 Remix)” by Empty sounds danceable and seems to be directed to the fans of electro/EBM music. There is also “Pain & Suffering” by Bound In Oblivion on the list next. This band has been promoted by Fabryka Industrial Rock Magazine for the last few years (we were giving away their promo albums at the Machinery #6 party in 2006). Both Jonathan Case's characteristic voice as well as his dynamic mastering (which you can also hear on the songs by NVEiN and Tempest & the Diaspora on this compilation) make the track arrangements harmonic and interesting.

Psyche surprised me with a gospel intro into a live version of “The Beyond - Live (Flood Relief Edition)”, however the further into the song the more classic electro/EBM beats can be heard. Other than that, Streak came up with what I believe to be their best song - “Groovy Booty” which was released on their debut album Break Away. It sounds very industrial rock with a lot of guitars, rock vocals and interesting samples.
Diverje with his “Suffer-control.org v2” seems to meet the requirements of dance/electronica music fans as well as Dismantled with their song “Dead on Impact”.
After this dynamic dose of beats, there is time for some IDM/breakcore fun with a sampler (in “Operating Directive”) performed by Lucidstatic; one of the artists of the Tympanic Audio roster.
Mangadrive then takes things into an instant return to more dynamic sounds again with “67 Gemini Starglider” which is another track on this release for those who like to party in electro/EBM clubs.

Heavier guitar driven tunes then dominate the next several minutes. At the same time, it is the most interesting part of the Surge album to me thanks to NVEiN, Skrew, Tempest & the Diaspora, Viral Millenium and Maximum Sexy Pigeon. Honestly, Streak should have been placed in this set as well.
A brand new song called “All So Wired” by American project NVEiN is undoubtedly a windfall for the fans of industrial rock music as well as early Marilyn Manson music (because of vocal arrangements, but without the typical Manson style voice monotony).
Also, “Universal Immolation” is a brand new track by Skrew, which has recently reunited after a long hiatus. They brought more 'darkness and space' this time. This music is better associated to black metal than industrial metal music which is the style they were performing before and what they are best known for since the 90's. You can also hear new vocalist, Ty Pickett, whose voice fits the sound of Skrew A.D. 2011 very well. Ty replaced Adam Grossman on vocals after Adam had decided to play the guitar only from now on in his band.

“IO” by Tempest & the Diaspora provides more energy though. This American band comes out with a refreshed version of industrial metal music. They have been lurking at us for some time while publishing quite controversial videos on YouTube and babying their debut album “Amanita Muscaria” that is to be released in spring 2011.

The next track is pure Australian from Viral Millennium. Coming after “IO” with a wall of guitars opening the song “Vomitosis”. However, I would have liked it better without the symphonic additions and dense drumbeats or a perhaps a drum machine.
In-Fused with their “Misplaced (iammynewt e-RAGE Mix)”) is yet another track with lots to offer. Coming from the realms of dark and experimental music, this track is suited for fans of Dismantled or I, Parasite.

In support of a thesis that almost every V/A compilation released for a reason brings up some new music discoveries, or even fascinations, the CD Surge includes a song by an Australian band with a funny name - Maximum Sexy Pigeon. I liked their sound instantly and launched my browser to find any more information about their band on the Internet hoping to hear more music.

It is not true that if you get old, you may encounter troubles to adjust to whatever trendy music surrounds you. However, it is a fact that when your music taste are stable you will react to certain tunes throughout life the same way you did when you were younger. This is an impulse which also “Tunguska! (Water Retentive mix)” brought on as well. What's more, a lot of people who share with me the same fascination of powerful, dynamic tracks full of cold, aggressive, industrial metal drive and repetitive guitar riffs, admitted that this song had gotten their attention at once. “Tunguska!” is a pure example of well done industrial metal songwriting (and don't even call it 'old-school'; the genre never become old, just got distorted by European bands). MSP has been undoubtedly inspired by Ministry, Testify, Treponem Pal and Godflesh, but they created their own style based on the above influences.

This finishes the first part of Surge & Subside V/A compilation.

An instrumental song “Adrift”opens the second CD called Subside, making it a neat contrast to the previous heavy guitar driven arrangements. Adam Pask (performing under a new moniker P45K for the last year) is an Australian composer who has been known for intriguing, professionally mastered instrumental scores, fitting all sorts of ambitious movies and computer games the best.

The next song “Raw” belongs to Assemblange 23. This track is kept in the same style as several other songs that can be found on the tracklist, making this album extremely suitable for electro/EBM club parties.
I, Parasite seems to prefer making murky songs and their long lasting Nine Inch Nails inspiration leaks through into the song “A Violence At Rest”. However, its content sounds much more mature, various, dark and rather saddening.

There is a female accent on the next song “God in the Hole” which was recorded by the alternative-electronic band Android Lust. A mixture of lyrical and electronic atmospheres are then brought by Soulchasm in a remix of a song by Empty called “My Facade”. Next, Autoclav1.1 came up with a positive, gentle and such a 'nice' song aptly named “Waxing”.

Anhedonia presents ambient-breakcore electronica tunes like “Rain”, which may recall echoes of Kitaro, Klaus Schulze, Jean-Michele Jarre's and similar instrumentalists' music.

Motion Fused is a side project of the guys involved in the band Empty. Like P45K, they are aiming towards open compositions that very much inspire the imagination, just like on the soundtrack (“Reflection Of Madness (Extended)”).
There is “The Wind” next brought by ANGELTHEORY which seems to be yet another offer for dark wave and electro music fans, inspired mainly by Depeche Mode.
A very suggestive track called “wet” is the intro to “Colder” and makes this song fit well to the moods of P45K's and Motion Fused compositions. Headdreamer who is responsible for making this track, should have been opening the whole compilation, or at least finishing it as far as I'm concerned, considering that the main idea behind the CD is similar to the vibe of “Colder” itself.

“Ocean” by Collide is a typical sound for this band. It is an electronic track inspired this time by Arabic atmospheres and contains lyrical, almost 'murmured' lyrics ;)

I was unable to find any information about M(i)lkrun, but to be honest, the song provided for Surge & Subside called “Lard Ram” gives me an idea of influences coming from the 80's electronic music scene as well as modern IDM, click'n'cuts and drum'n'bass genres.
A lot of electronica comes with a mantra-like Dark Territory remix of “Trista Me”, originally recorded by ANGELTHEORY with the lyrics in Italian. Other than that, iammynewt who experiments with different sounds mostly inspired by drum'n'bass and breakcore rhythms can be heard with a brand new instrumental track called “itHURTS”.

“Grey Sky” by Flood of Rain is the saddest song on Subside. It is mainly based on repetitive piano accords and electronic parts filling them in-between. Similar, though less organic sounds were brought by Blast Radius in “To Find Them Frozen”.

This is how the second CD Subside finishes. Like you've probably noticed, this album didn't include any aggressive songs but mainly moody compositions.

Surge & Subside was produced in a limited run of 500 CDs but there is a bonus available. Everybody who buys one of the CDs is allowed to receive a free download of an additional nine songs after typing a special code delivered with the CD on the official website of this release.

What does the package include? First of all, there is a predatory, guitar driven song called “Shoot'em Up (Fury Road Mix)” by Betty X which cannot be purchased through any digital partners selling this compilation and is exclusive to Aphotic Audio only. There is also the track “Evolution” made by Disharmony.
The other seven bonus songs were provided by the bands presented above. Sensory Gate is featured with a bit of an exotic song called “Purgatory (Marco Zanza Devoted Mix)”. Empty can be found with another track entitled “This Regret REDUX”. P45K provides a very intriguing song known as “Before Dawn” that is rich in various atmospheres along with “What Have I Done”. There is also a track by Blast Radius with a moody, but still beat driven song named “Sight Unseen” and a noise remix by Skulldudgery “Egor [Version 2.0]” originally recoded by iammynewt. However, “Jasmine” is the heaviest track on this bonus package and was recorded by Tempest & the Diaspora. This band doesn't play around!

Surge & Subside doesn't bring any old and tired well known songs like fans have come to expect from many V/A compilations. Aphotic Audio has chosen to provide the listener with brand new and even never published tracks and mixes. It will be cool if you buy this release so that Aphotic Audio can send any income towards the charity goal mentioned above. You should also buy it as a first opportunity to familiarize yourself with artist and music that may happen to be released on debut records and upcoming albums of the artists presented in this review.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, 28/02/2011. Proofreading: Scott M. Owens. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below)

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