Formed in early 1996 by the trio Kristy Venrick, Steve Laskarides and Shawn Lower, The Azoic was born. They combined their talents to form a type of Electro-goth sound with various experimental and generally dark tendencies. They were originally signed to Worm Records for the re-release of their demo tape titled The Divine Suffering, which was released in 1997. Their second album showed more of a mature sound with eerie elements that combine male and female vocals into what was released as Where Broken Angels Lie. Shortly after the release of this album, Shawn left the band leaving Steve and Kristy to carry on and further mature and define their musical style. Now we have more albums and EPs, each one progressing further and defining their style and all released on Nilaihah records, a label run by Kristy.
Their earlier sound is often described as Industrial/Gothic/Darkwave, although with the later albums they lean a lot more towards the EBM genre with techno elements and very danceable tracks. My favorite from their earlier years is probably "Intimate Incisions" from their second album and I really enjoy that eerie tone that is present on so many of their older tracks. From their latest works it's hard to pick a favorite, but the singles "Conflict" and "Corruption" rank right up there.
I had the opportunity to see this talented duo perform at the Dark Arts Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah a few years ago to a small, but fun crowd that really got into and enjoyed their music. Their live show was fun, well put together and performed with high energy and good quality. This was a rare opportunity and one that others will not want to miss if they get the chance.
We look forward to more releases of the combination of these sounds that has become a signature for The Azoic. You can hear old and new tracks on the various Gothic Paradise radio shows, so be sure to check them out.
Corruption EP - Review
As Kristy keeps busy with the record label and other ventures, I guess it's no surprise it takes more time to put together new music. Luckily after a few years we finally have this new EP featuring four brand new tracks along with eight remixes for twelve total tracks, making this the length of a regular album with plenty of great music to enjoy.
The band picks up right where they left off with a hard-driving electro-pop style with a dance-friendly beat and Kristy's vocals. Each track features varioius socially and politically driven lyrics with solid female vocals, at times harmonized in various ways always over layer upon layer of pulsating synths and electronic loops driven by hard-hitting beats. The title track starts it all off with these styles for an excellent club track. "Lost Soul" continues on in much the same vein, deviating slightly in loops and synths used, etc. while the thought-provoking lyrics are pounded into the listener's soul with the driving music and powerful vocals. "Search and Destroy" is intense, picking it up a bit adding more layers, more percussion over the repetative chorus and each verse, great when you feel like pounding down the walls. "Fall" rounds out the selection of exclusive new tracks with more of a standard electro-pop style, all the great elements we've grown to enjoy from this project over the years all harnassed here in this and the other pieces.
The eight remixes are pretty diverse, yet for the most part all well within the various electronic music genres, ranging mainly from synth and electro-pop to dance, house and trance. These mixes along the house and trance styles are those you might expect to hear in the discoteques in Europe and Mediterraneann islands. These include the first remix of "Corruption" as the "Mizz Camela Radio Mix", the "DJ Peter T & Scotty Bossman Club Mix" and later the "Kim Shiro Mix". The diversity of the remaining remixes is pretty broad, some more enjoyable than others, but all pretty good and overall a good disc packed with various dj material.
This is a great taste of new music from this band that has been long-awaited, so I'm definitely pleased to have it. Hopefully there will be more to come in the future, but for now we have a large discography that's worth revisiting as well as this great new music to enjoy.
Illuminate - Review
It's been three long years since the release of Forward... and a year since the teaser single Conflict came out. Fans of this group will no doubt be extremely excited about this release after such a long wait. This long-hoped-for follow-up to the more EBM/Techno friendly sound of Forward... is a great continuation of the long and promising career of this duo.
The overall tempo and mood of this album is one of pounding, fun music that really keeps you moving. Each time I listen to this album it's hard to stop if I can't listen to it all in one sitting. The music never ceases to keep my body moving too as the pounding beats and catchy rhythms pulsate and penetrate. Listeners that are familiar with this group should hear a lot of similar styles present, yet expanding into a little more techno-friendly music with a heavy edge, definitely plenty of bass and that solid beat. "Let Me Tell You Something" kicks this album off and is the first to really jump into this atmosphere of wonderful experimental trancey elements. Throughout the song vocals and instruments crossfade across stereo chanels back and forth filling the room with great effects and sound.
This is just the tip of the iceburg as you delve into the other tracks you of course hit the slightly harsher and more industrial track "Conflict" which has proved to a be a fan and club favorite since the release of the single. Along with the album version there is also a special bonus track mixing several of the remixed versions into a special mix called the "cyberDJ Medley". This is fun to hear how it all mixes together and is well done, especially if it took place in a live setting.
There are a couple of tracks that slow the tempo down a bit and definitely bring down the overall mood and feeling in the form of "Ever" and the lush instrumental "Passage". Each maintain a solid electronic sound, but slow down the pace and bring out raw emotional power. Steve contributes his vocals on the incredibly melodic piece "Eternal". All of these variable elements and piece provide for great variety and a great overall album.
There are so many more things to relate about this album. It has to be one of the funner discs I've picked up lately that is just plain and simple, fun to listen to. The layered textures of the title-track with Kristy's vocals taking on a beauty that isn't very typical in the electronic dance genres bring out another nice element in the album. Of course I can't leave out the cover of the popular 80's cover "Obsession" orginally written and performed by Animotion. Frank Spinath of Seabound contributes his vocals for a nice duet between he and Kristy. They add a nice modern EBM sound while remaining true to the overall style of the original for a nice cover.
Once again The Azoic has proved the great results that come of hard work and talent. This album is highly commended to those that can really enjoy music and have fun.
Conflict EP - Review
As we await the highly anticipated new album to be titled "Illuminate", we are presented with the great single "Conflict". This CD Single is great in that it has 8 great mixes of the single as well as multimedia goodies including a video of "Conflict".
The multimedia is a definite plus for this single with a very catchy video that's fun to watch. The video is nice in that it's not a full "performance" video where the group just catches a performance on stage and releases it as their video. But this has some nice simple effects and thematic scenes that really mix well with the song. There are also pictures, links to their website and other little goodies.
This single is regular club-hit just waiting to happen. Like many other The Azoic tracks, this one is very moving and catchy with Kristy's emotional vocals carrying the mood with excellent backing music. The original album version is my favorite version on this single as it builds and fades, pulsates and moves you wherever you are. Add to this nice album version 7 other remixes and it's an interesting single that shouldn't disappoint. I'm usually not a huge fan of singles because of the "single dilemna" I like to call it where there's a bunch of remixes of the same song, most of which I usually end up not liking anyways as different artists' interpretations detract so much from the original feel of the song. However, I think that the remixers on this disc managed to pull them off in such a way as to maintain much of the original feeling, emotions and energy. The "Turmoil Mix" was remixed by The Azoic so it sticks to the original the most. However, you pull out the driving "CombiChrist Mix" and "Massive In Mensch" mix with the hard-hitting, driving beats and you have energetic club tracks. Iris presents their mix in more of a classic synthpop sound that isn't quite as driving, but still a nice track to listen to.
The remaining remixes are also very good by Negative Format and System Syn adding their own unique styles. The final track is another remix that I think stays more with the original style. This remix by Imperative Reaction really adds a lot more volume and intensity to the original creating a really great song. As a single, this one is a "must have" to go along with the new album that will soon be out.
Forward... - Review
This album name seems to describe the progression of the style and music from this electro band over the last few years. Adding more of an EBM beat to their sometimes eerie, always fantastic music, lyrics and vocals, the music progresses more to a dancefloor level. From the minute I heard "Progression" and soon after the Assemblage 23 remix of the same song, I was surprised but still knew I had to have this album and hear what the rest of it was like. So when I put it on and started listening to it over and over, I wasn't disappointed, in fact I was pleasantly surprised, but did have mixed feelings about the direction they had taken to an over-all EBM sound. I love their older sound as much as this new direction, so for me it doesn't matter either way, although I feel they've lost a bit of their originality. Don't take my introduction the wrong way, I really enjoy this album and the following is why...
From the very beginning their new hard-driving sound is evident in "Not Justified". The powerful synths and driving beat are accentuated by Kristy's vocals and the futurepop sound. "Lost", "Harsh Reality" and "Progression" it seems almost take a step toward their more familiar sound, but then quickly build up to that driving beat and dynamic mix of synths and catchy vocals. "Evolution" is the track that stands out the most with the harsh male vocals taking over. This is a great track that leans more towards the industrial sound. The entire album really stays pretty much in this same vein with their edgy sound punctuated by the driving beats and accented with Kristy's wonderful vocals throughout. This great album also contains some really great remixes. My favorite track on the album is also the remix of "Progression" by Assemblage 23 with a much more driving sound, more layered synths and various other elements mixed in. Of course we can't leave out the Oneiroid Psychosis remix of "Progression" with their very unique approach with analogue sounding synths and that overall very eerie and edgy sound they portray so well.
Overall I give this album a 4 1/2 out of 5 rating, even though the style changes from what I've been used to with their older stuff, I still love it and as they move "forward" with their sound I realize that styles change and progress. Definitely an album worth checking out if you don't already have it!
Label: Nilaihah Records