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La Scaltra - Freakshow (2017) - Review

Band: La Scaltra
Album title: Freakshow
Release date: 15 September 2017
Label: Solar Lodge

Tracklist:
01. Intro
02. Devils Playground
03. Cantate
04. The Cat Lady
05. Gloria
06. A Remedy
07. Sonar Dance
08. Holidays
09. Chained Hysteria
10. Black Wedding

Two German banshees called La Scaltra have already made a name for themselves with their last year released debut album Cabaret and the EP Ghosts. The band soon got attention and was signed by one of the most respected goth labels out there, Solar Lodge (Merciful Nuns, Aeon Sable, Whispers In The Shadow,...), and it seems that Aeleth Kaven and Dae Widow, with the help on guitars provided by Jay Sharpe are quite creative, and so here comes already their sophomore full-lenght called Freakshow. La Scaltra intend on sharing sorrow, pain and loneliness with their fabulously unique voices, and while Dae loves hope and East-Asian mysticism, Aeleth prefers the occult and venerates black metal. Ok, you won't hear any black metal in here, neither any kind of typical oriental music, but most certainly this kind of venerations bring to their sound somehow unique elements that meticulously garnish their minimalistic compositions. 

Freakshow is an interesting album, it's not a thing that grows on a listener so easily, even if it doesn't bring any kind of sophisticated sound, but it's the uncompromisingly cold, dark, eerie and sinister atmosphere that needs some time to be fully grasped. Freakshow is in a way a bit less emotional than it was the debut Cabaret, but it's absolutely more haunting and hypnotic. Song structures are mainly minimalistic, yet very atmospheric and might work best as some kind of an ending score to some 60s or 70s horror movies. The main characteristics of La Scaltra are cold yet sometimes gentle, dreamy and sensitive vocals, impellent drum machine, gothy ambiental synths, reverberate bass lines, lush electronic samples and gritty darkwave/gothic guitars, that from time to time offer some very heavy riffs.

Even if the sound is pretty minimalistic, the whole ambiance that they create is pretty dense and quite rich, always very dark soundscapes here and there become psychotic and strangely danceable, for example "Cantate" or "Holiday". It's also obvious that La Scaltra don't try to copy anybody, more likely the main inspiration comes from their affinity for horror movies and it'll be nothing strange if you'll imagine a group of witches dancing around the fire in the woods while listening to Freakshow. They put a lot of imagination in the whole thing, also the songs are quite diverse between each other, ranging from cold wave, darkwave, minimal-synth-wave to post-punk, but done in special, somehow theatrical way. 

Like I said before, Freakshow can become very addictive and is absolutely hypnotic dark album which in my opinion reaches its peak in the songs like is cavernous ambiental horror rock of seven minutes long slow paced "Gloria", with addition of deep and dark male vocals provided by guest Ashen (Aschfahl). Then I was enthused by the fantastic captivating and very strong yet nicely building up rendition called "A Remedy", some great guitar lines in here, and absolutely by so very evocative closing one "Black Wedding", where we can once again hear Ashen giving support to the girls. Some of the songs might become a bit too monotone, linear, or at least too mellow, for example "Sonar Dance", which surprisingly is driven by EBM beats to make it a bit more vibrant and groovy. As well the uninspired "Chained Hysteria" with its kind of gothic/electro rock vibe was not one of my favorites. Nevertheless, some fillers don't hurt and on the other hand might work out as relaxing pieces between more extravagant ones. 

La Scaltra with Freakshow offer ten songs of high value. What this two witches are doing I would call darkwave in its most respective form. It's elegant, mystical, dreamy and grisly. As well the production is very good. Freakshow is coldness and darkness all over, it's indulging in one’s hidden fantasies and is one of those albums which have that kind of seductive power that can possess you and it doesn't let you go so easily.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8/10

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Band: Sabled Sun
Album title: 2148
Release date: 8 November 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber

Sabled Sun is, at this point, one of the most well known sci-fi infused dark ambient projects out there. 2148 is the fourth chapter and the fourth year in the story of a man who has awoken from a long cryo-sleep to find that his planet has been abandoned. Each year or album in the series reveals a few more details and possibilities to be taken into account. Sabled Sun is the side-project of Simon Heath, who is most well known as Atrium Carceri and owner of the Cryo Chamber label. This year's album 2148 takes the story to it most surprising place yet. As an individual album 2148 is brilliant. From beginning to end, we hear some of the best music yet within the Sabled Sun story. There are plenty of things here to keep each type of listener happily entertained. Now, we can only wait to find out if this is the end of the line for the protagonist or if Simon Heath still has more ideas up his sleeve for the continuation of his protagonist as he moves toward the stars, the second great unknown in his journey.

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