This release celebrated the SkullLine label's first anniversary in 2007, and compiled 31 previously unreleased tracks. The label and mailorder service (www.skullline.de) specialises in neofolk, industrial, dark ambient and 80s elektro releases and is well worth checking out for music in these genres (and a few hard to find Bonemachine / B-Machina releases too in their store).
The version Naxzgul owns is the standard slimline jewel-case pressing (#51 of 200) and it has a home in the Castle library due to the presence of the exclusive Bonemachine track 'Rhythmus der Einsamkeit' (Rhythm of Loneliness). This song, to lift the description from the Heathen Harvest review of the album is "noise / experimental / industrial dominated by an intense horror sensation, reminiscent of Nordvarg’s 'Not One Of Us' at some points. Certainly something you can use to evoke all types of disturbing, unusual images."
As for the remainder of the album, there are many bands represented here that are unfamiliar to Nazgul and, as a consequence, playing the two discs leads to the odd "Christ, what the hell was that?!" moment (in both a good and a bad way!) as the album unfolds. For more of a critique, however, let me direct you to some web reviews of the release:
"This rather tasty and very substantial compilation was released to celebrate the first anniversary of German label and mail-order outfit SkullLine. Check it out – 31 tracks, all previously unreleased or exclusive remixes, well over two hours of music, and contributors including Von Thronstahl, Rose Rovine E Amanti, Lady Morphia and Bleiburg. Oooh, you know you want it, baby. I’ll just whet your appetite a little further with some of the highlights of the collection.
I assume the title WHW refers to the Winterhilfswerk, a German charitable association of the Third Reich period which held annual fundraising drives to provide food and fuel to the poor. Unsurprisingly, then, WHW has a distinctly martial industrial flavour, including such acts as Heiliges Licht, Life’s Decay, Lady Morphia, who present a symphonic version of ‘Widerstand’, which is one of their best tracks, Von Liebenfels and Contagious Orgasm. However, there are plenty of other musical styles on display here, ranging from the wistful, delicate acoustic neo-folk of Berkana’s ‘Sehnsucht Nach Dem Frühling’ and the sweepingly passionate ‘Noi Ritorneremo’ of Rose Rovine E Amanti, through the dark ambient of Melek-Tha and Kenji Siratori, to dancefloor-friendly techno from Zhark, Schallgewalt, Shift69 and MDMA. Von Thronstahl’s Boss / Lagerfeld mix of ‘Return Your Revolt Into Style’ is a menacing, chugging piece of drum’n’bass which samples the refrain from ‘They Walked In Line’. Zyankali’s ‘Zyklon’ is hard, rhythmic noise, as is Camisole’s ‘Recycle The Dead’ and Kaliber 9’s remix of ‘Neurotoxin’.
Overall, WHW provides a good overview of the range of music available from SkullLine, which is fast consolidating its reputation alongside VAWS and Tesco as one of Germany’s most interesting post-industrial labels."
Judas Kiss www.monkeyhouse-recordings.co.uk
and, of course, the typically thorough and insightful review care of www.heathenharvest.com:
"WHW is the 1-year anniversary compilation of the German label Skullline. It contains among others unreleased songs, demos and special remixes. There is a great diversity in these two CDs, so I will more or less try to refer to each track individually, to give you a complete idea of what it is like. The intro is a short atmospheric synth track, catching the listener's attention and getting them into the atmosphere. Kaliber 9 picks up with heavy noise industrial in 'Neurotoxin, and then Berkana alters the ambience completely, with 'Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling', which is a poetic, acoustic guitar track. The lyrics are taken from August Heinrich Hoffmann's poem with the same title (Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling).
The pattern of alteration between more traditional forms of music and electronics (at least on the first CD) starts to show with the fourth track, which is again an atmospheric, effective synth track. This one has a touch of a horror feel to it, that makes it quite interesting. Rose Rovine E Amanti need no specific introductions, 'Noi Ritorneremo' is another one of their wonderfully written, impeccably executed, highly dramatic melodies. If you like them in general you will surely love this one as well. And then, the highlight of the compilation: my personal favourite track, a remix of 'Return your Revolt into Style' by Von Thronstahl which is a hundred times better than the original… And this comes from a die-hard Von Thronstahl fan who has been listening to them for years, so you can understand how good it is. Cold, detached vocals and an intensified rhythm, along with the usual intensively sarcastic, razor sharp lyrics, and there you have it, a masterpiece! If only for this song the compilation would've been worth listening to.
Standgericht’s contribution is a harsh power electronics / industrial track with a military feel to it, that surely cannot go amiss with the fans of the genre. Bleiburg most of you will probably already be familiar with by now, as they have recently provided the scene with some good releases. 'Der Meldereiter' is a very rhythmic industrial / power electronics track with German spoken word samples. 'Arbeit' by Shift69 caught my attention immediately; it is a very good mixture of electronics and old school industrial, that among other things could serve as a good club track. 'Untitled' by Heiliges Licht is exclusive to this compilation, and is a down-tempo, atmospheric track with a bit of a ritualistic, repetitive feel to it.
'Zyklon' on the other hand is strictly harsh noise / industrial, mercilessly pounding the ears of the listener until the end. I usually don’t like this type of music but this one has a strong rhythmic base to it that makes it somehow different from the rest. 'Insolent Ungodliness' continues on the same tone with a harsh industrial track, containing some spoken word samples and extracts of catholic male choirs. Life’s Decay are one of my favourite projects in the neoclassical / industrial genre, and I was very happy to discover that 'Regimental' is an exclusive track for this compilation. The industrial element is more emphasized in it, but the neo-classical strings and the piano mix with the female vocals to add a theatrical dash to the whole. 'Vengeance' is another old-school industrial track, also very danceable, while Bonemachine’s 'Rhythmus der Einsamkeit' is noise / experimental / industrial dominated by an intense horror sensation, reminiscent of Nordvarg’s 'Not One Of Us' at some points. Certainly something you can use to evoke all types of disturbing, unusual images. Manmachine end the first CD in the same manner that it had started, in a slow, heavy and threatening atmosphere.
Off we go then to the second CD, which makes a promising start with Mark Lane, a minimal electronics / ambient artist you should definitely make time to discover. His music is at the same time innovative, soothing, thought-provoking and powerful. In its subtlety it has the ability to transport the listener to another universe. Genocide Lolita resumes on a harsher note, in another noise industrial / experimental effort, while Lady Morphia hails us with a sweet-toned, melodic, pleasant track. Perhaps it's just me and my ecological conscience, but I would like to believe that 'Complaint de la Terre Brulee' (the complaint of the scorched earth, in a rather liberal translation) is a protest against the destruction and continuous neglect of the environmental health of our planet.
Neget Nok I am listening to for the first time, but I liked the track enough to google them and visit their Myspace profile for some more previews of their work. Synthpop / electro with a bit of old-school industrial thrown in. Makes for a very promising combination. The Hybryds track is similar to the previous one, while 'Sailing Homeward' is a romantic, epic instrumental that can serve very well as background for a bit of daydreaming. Your daydreaming time is over with Zhark, as 'Eisenzeit (C-64)' is a fast-paced, dancey industrial club track, guitar riffs included, that is guaranteed to get you moving, even a little bit. Now Kenji Siratori is a special case, personally I find the sheer amount of his production overwhelming, and not in a positive manner. It is rather awkward to say the least, that everywhere you turn you find his name involved in one collaboration or the other. To me it is quality, not quantity, that counts, and the result is seen in this track as well. A flat atmospheric, horror ambient track with distorted spoken word on top of it. Perhaps I would've liked it if I hadn't heard the same thing from the same artist so many times. A minor flaw however compared to the rest of the track and artist selections.
Accurately enough, things are corrected with the next track, which is difficult to apply a genre tag to – if I really had to I would say neoclassical / neofolk, with distorted vocal extracts. Exemtum were also new to me, and I will be sure to listen to some of their other songs as well. 'Recycle the Dead' would be very comfortable as part of the soundtrack for a Japanese horror movie, consisting mainly of static and weird, muffled sounds, creating an intimidating atmosphere. 'The Fall' by Contagious Orgasm is another experimental, dark ambient track, with spoken word samples in what I’m guessing to be either Japanese or Korean. A smooth transition for 'White Comfort', which is more on the harsh noise / electronics side of things. Lonsai Maikov contribute with 'Coup De Grace', an acoustic guitar piece with dramatic synth samples and poignant, melodic male vocals, and the CD ends with Schallgewalt, in a totally different tone: a synthpop / electronics track with robotic male vocals and spoken word samples, in the vein of Cabaret Voltaire and the likes - no complaints from me there! An outstanding club track in my humble opinion.
The second CD is definitely more down-tempo than the first one, the music intending to create an ambience and to lure one’s mind into all sorts of peculiar imagery and mental locations. This is indeed a very good compilation, almost everything in it is good music, and even if one or two tracks aren't exactly 'good', they are certainly not indifferent either. It contains some of the most influential bands in their respective genres, along with new ones that have made quite an impression.
It will give you a clear idea of what these bands are like, will surely introduce you to some new ones you will want to look further into, and you will keep enjoying and listening to it long after this has happened. There is enough diversion and interest in it to maintain your attention for quite a while. The packaging is very attractive as well, so in a few words, if you intend to make some similar buys for Christmas, you will not regret including this in your list. It will be a very satisfying present to spoil yourself with. It’s limited to 200 copies, so be quick about it!"
You can find this release at a few of the 'usual' online distros and retailers, and most likely direct from the label itself still, although Nazgul suspects the box-set edition will be long sold-out now. Should any of the review above grab your attention and fire your imagination then it's a release well worth an investment of time and money.