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Wednesday, January 08, 1997

Two headed Monster reviews

A Model of Control

It's amazing to think just how long it's been since the last full Collide release. Some Kind of Strange was released way back in April 2003, and the extensive remix album Vortex a year later in April 2004. That's nearly five and a half years since the last actual new material, and while The Secret Meeting album last year was an appetiser, it wasn't quite the real thing.

So the patient wait for new material continued, until August when pretty much out of the blue a release date in September was confirmed at last for Two Headed Monster. And as Tongue Tied & Twisted fades in, it couldn't be anyone else other than Collide - suggesting that, on first glance anyway, that the band are picking up where they left off all those years ago.

Surprisingly, this isn't quite the case. While this is still unmistakeably the work of kaRIN and Statik, when the savage power chords tear across the opening track like slashes of a knife to herald the chorus, it becomes clear other influences have been allowed in. If nothing else, the whole sound doesn't just centre around Karin's vocals like they used to - there is a lot going on here, and repeated listens are required to pick up the subtle things going on.

This cracking opening track is simply blown away by the racing thrills of Chaotic, a hitherto rare uptempo track that works very well indeed, the fast-paced drumming by Danny Carey from Tool underpinning a track that strikes me as a symbolic shift - teeming with energy and drive, it's a world away from the languid sound you so expect from the band. A Little Too Much's slinky pop thrills - back to the usual pace, really, but all seems to be in technicolour, rather than the usual darker colours.

Pure Bliss takes us back to more familiar Collide territory, a long, spacey track that is exquisite as the title suggests. Spaces In Between surprises by bringing quasi-breakbeats to the mix (that'll be Danny Carey again), and another high octane chorus driven by torrents of multi-tracked guitars...and then we reach the first track where I'm still not sure about it. Silently Creeping sends me back to some older Collide songs, but not in a good way - it's smokey, bluesy feel seems to jar a little as all the parts don't really appear to belong together, not to mention that the track as a whole sounds like a track they've done before that I can't quite place (and it's going to bug me, this).

Head Spin also takes ideas from previous Collide songs, but makes (in my view) a much better fist of it. Considerably less...dense than much of the rest of the album, the sparse beats and electronics push Karin back to the fore and brings attention back to the lyrics - which are as obtuse as ever, but have the suggestion of being about something sexual. Another poppy track, this, that works brilliantly.

The title track is another Collide-by-numbers, really. Dreamy, spaced-out and languid that while is nothing bad, isn't much to write home about, and to a point, Shifting's orchestral shimmer brings out the same opinion in me - after the big leaps forward earlier in the CD, these tracks feel like something of a disappointment. Thankfully, the album doesn't finish in this vein, closer Utopia being a glorious ballad that seems to open up the night sky and send the stars shining though just for you - really, it's that good.

So, yeah, this was worth all the wait. Collide deliver what we perhaps expected, and then some, showing such a confidence with their established sound that they have been able to stretch and shift it into new arenas, and hopefully along the way gain some more fans, too - they've been a "well kept secret" for far too long.-Adam W

Bite Me

Not only are Statik & kaRIN amazing individuals, they are exceptional musicians as well, and Two Headed Monster is proof. Collide has been creating music since 1992, and the independent darkwave/industrial unit’s sound has evolved since. Each album (all on the duo’s Noiseplus imprint) has always been a unique and enjoyable listening experience. The latest, Two Headed Monster, is nothing like the past.

The record incorporates a variety of elements and styles, yet still retains the group’s signature hypnotic sound. A lot has happened since Collide’s last release, 2003’s ‘Some Kind of Strange’, and perhaps those experiences contributed to Two Headed Monster’s adventurous nature. A perfect example is “Chaotic” – with its propelling energy, dark electronics, and collision of beats this track best represents the twosome coming into their own. Statik knows the value of dynamics and interesting changes and his assured songcraft is matched by the versatility of kaRIN’s voice, which can be bold, childlike, dreamy, and sultry depending on the mood of the song. Her childlike musings add a bit of innocence to “A Little Too Much,” which soon transition into a sweet whisper that floats over trippy guitar strummings and dreamy electronics. The variety continues with the electro trip-hop inspired “Spaces In Between”. “Head Spin” is a catchy, playful tune that derives its character from Middle Eastern textures and a sizzling beat that pops. KaRIN’s dreamy vocals glide over the rich tapestry of the album’s title track, and the grand finale arrives with “Utopia”. With its beautifully layered electronics and buzzing guitars this bold and dreamy piece will transport you into a tranquil state of mind. It makes for a perfect ending because when it’s over you feel like you just experienced something amazing.

Tool’s Danny Carey and Curve’s Dean Garcia lent their creative talents to a few songs, and I’m sure they are proud to be associated with such a fine offering. Two Headed Monster is a high quality work of art that deserves attention. Hear for yourself and pick up a copy at www.collide.net. ; While you’re there, take a virtual tour of Statik’s studio and do some holiday shopping from kaRIN’s ‘Saints and Sinners’ collection. -NIN

Chain D.L.K.

I hate when it happens; I receive a CD to review from a fairly well-known band months after it’s been released. Reviews are already published, verdicts are out, and I’m left with the unenviable task of confirming or denying sentiments previously espoused while still trying to remain original and unbiased in my opinion. First- the prejudice: I’ve always has a soft spot in my heart for Collide. I’ve enjoyed them since their initial release (BENEATH THE SKIN) back in 1997. Although I haven’t kept up with everything they’ve done, I’m familiar enough with their material to assess what they’re delivering here. If you want to cut to the chase and just determine whether to buy this latest Collide product or not, then I’d say BUY IT without a doubt. If you’re interest in my reasons why you should, then read on.

Collide kind of started out as a female-fronted electro-industrial mélange with dark goth pop inclinations. There were a few bands out there at the time doing this kind of thing but somehow Collide managed to do it better. When every other female vocalist in the genre was getting compared to Siouxsie Sioux, the vocal talents of Collide’s kaRIN invited a broader range of juxtapositions. The aural complexities Statik produced, especially on their earlier releases helped set the band apart from the glut of female-fronted gothy-electronica bands that populate the genre.

Collide has morphed somewhat from their beginnings; grown and changed but always retained the unique core of their sound- complex and beguiling. I think Collide’s turning point was their involvement with Curve’s Dean Garcia. For those unfamiliar with Curve (probably a minority), the band’s was essentially a fem-fronted duo consisting of Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia. Curve sits somewhere between shoegazer and noise pop on the genre meter. Last year kaRIN and Statik collaborated with Garcia on a one-off (so far) project called Ultrashiver resulting in an album titled THE SECRET MEETING. The end result was a lot more Curvish than Collidish in my estimation- not a bad thing at all. That album got great reviews but true to its name is a commercially “secret meeting”. However, what Collide retained as a result of that project has ultimately influenced their new material on TWO HEADED MONSTER.

With the exception of kaRIN’s sultry-slinky vocal style (a hallmark of any Collide project), I wasn’t much impressed with Collide’s last studio album, SOME KIND OF STRANGE from 2003. In spite of guests cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy and Danny Carey of Tool it was altogether too slow, and the songs just didn’t seem that compelling to me. Flash forward to 2008’s TWO HEADED MONSTER and you have a whole different animal. First off, Collide sounds more like a band here than a recording project. I can actually imagine this album being played live more than any of their prior material. Although “Tongue Tied & Twisted” (line from a Pink Floyd song, eh?) opens the album with a dark, lurching semi-slow groove, the pace changes briskly with the followup, “Chaotic”. Here you begin to notice the drum work (undoubtedly courtesy of Danny Carey’s reprise here) and the fact that kaRIN’s vocals seem more integrated with the music in the mix. Stylistically, kaRIN isn’t that far removed from Toni Halliday and it shows in numerous places on TWO HEADED MONSTER. I think the songs are a bit more accessible (probably unintentionally so) in structure on this album without falling into commercial cliché. This is a feat many bands strive for but few seem to accomplish without concession or conceit. And it is for this reason that TWO HEADED MONSTER transcends being merely a good album and becomes a great one. There are enough mood and tempo changes, enough twisted sonics, potently placed power chords, dynamic shifts and compelling rhythms to satisfy the most demanding alt rock listeners. Every corner turned by another track on TWO HEADED MONSTER holds a dark and delicious delight. TWO HEADED MONSTER could well be the breakout album for Collide, bringing them a much broader fan base than just the dressed in black set. Then again, who knows? They run their own record label (Noiseplus Music) ensuring artistic integrity and a meager promotional budget. One well-placed track on a TV series or a movie soundtrack could propel them into the spotlight. Unlike a lot of bands who achieve “overnight success”, if TWO HEADED MONSTER is any indication, Collide are ready for it.-Steve Mecca

Delusions of Adaquacy

The core of Collide, kaRIN and Statik, have been creating and releasing music for over a decade, mostly on their own Noiseplus music label. Two Headed Monster is their fourth full-length release and finds them collaborating with Dean Garcia (formerly of Curve) on bass for one song and Danny Carey of Tool on drums for four songs. Additional members of Collide’s live line-up, Rogerio Silva, Kai Kurosawa, Scott Landes, and Chaz Pease, also contribute distorted guitar, bass, and drums. This is Collide’s most lush, warm, and accomplished album to date, with a atmospheric mix of rough and raw guitar sounds and flowing beats, electronics, and vocals.

KaRIN’s vocals are always a tantalizing highlight and that’s no different on opener “Tongue Tied & Twisted” where her sinuous and breathy voice twines around a winding, siren-like guitar line and drum beat. The song exerts a mid-tempo pull with seductive verses of gritty, distorted guitars and wordless sighing accents and chorus parts with dark blasts of sledgehammer rock guitar riffs and cymbal smash contrasting with kaRIN’s sultry vocals as she bittersweetly draws out the lyrics “Couldn’t tell you / how I feel / couldn’t tell you / what was real.”

“Chaotic” sweeps in at a fast pace with a dashed out beat, low-register bass line, and driving guitars, as kaRIN sing-talks in a slinky tone against a James Bond theme song-like reverberating guitar. Dean Garcia is featured on bass and the song and kaRIN’s vocal delivery are reminiscent of Dean’s former band Curve. Electronic beeps, laser zips, and submarine blips fill out the dense sound as kaRIN’s soft-edged vocals take on breathy pauses in the chorus, with her ghostly vocal refrain remaining suspended in the air for a moment before it’s pushed aside by the darting electronics and propulsive drum beat and guitars.

“Pure Bliss” is vocally true to its title, with kaRIN’s voice blossoming on the line “You bring me pure bliss…”, radiant and wrapping luxuriously around the measured-pace, somber Cranes-like piano notes, fleeting electronics, and slow blues guitar licks that unfold in jags. The chorus brings the noise, with loops of intensely churning guitar, cymbal smash, and kaRIN’s velvety vocals filtered through a megaphone.

“Silently Creeping” comes on like a torch number, complete with Twin Peaks-like deeply reverberating guitar strokes, orchestral strings, and a spacey, synth organ sound. The chorus is a dark weave of flame-like, wavering guitar lines, drum beat, cymbal shimmer, and kaRIN’s mellifluous vocals that alternate between a lighter, honeyed tone and an aching, low-register inflection.

“Shifting” bends mournful guitar notes and orchestral strings and horns against a scratchy beat, evoking an old-time feel to the song, along with kaRIN’s warm, but longing vocals. The closer “Utopia” ends it in a dream state, with delicate, reverberating guitar lines, a lush bed of strings, kaRIN’s airy, echoed vocals, and burnished guitar distortion that glazes over the blissful languor.

Fazer

Collide, a long-running independent industrial/darkwave band is the brainchild of Statik and kaRIN and has been around since 1992. While I’d not call the band a commercial success per se, their music is always a welcome treat for fans of slow-building industrial riffs intertwined with sultry vocals. I’d feel I was cheating saying the band sounded like Curve, but seeing as both Statik and kaRIN collaborated with Dean Garcia from Curve on Their Secret Meeting side-project, and that Dean returns for a song on Two Headed Monster, I’m actually quite alright with comparing them to Curve.

Also in the mix, is Danny Carey from Tool, who lends his weighty drums to four tracks on Two Headed Monster (Statik has done some work with Tool in the past, providing some sounds & effects to some of Tools material). Collide’s four piece touring band contribute instrumentation on the recording where needed as well.

Two Headed Monster is absolutely a Collide recording, but its not a recording that sounds like it picks up exactly where Collide’s Some Kind Of Strange left off. having worked with Dean on The Secret Meeting album, and then delving back into Collide material has taken the band into some more ambience in places - and I’d say a little more towards some pop songs with ‘Head Spin’ and ‘A Little Too Much’. Statik’s ability to churn out a musical backbone to a song made out of different bloops and synthesized buzzings makes for a totally unique listening experience. If you’re willing to jump on for the ride, Two Headed Monster will take you places most commercial releases cannot - and that’s right into the minds of it’s two creators. Another thought: Collide are not a band you want to rip into your computer at 128 bits and expect great things from. Two Headed Monster is headphone music of the highest order. Don’t sell yourself sort and accept truncated computer files as a means of playing the CD. Collide is some heady stuff - so treat it as such. Review by Mike Bax

Fear.net

There are so many indie bands out there turning out club-friendly tracks in the “darkwave” genre – a music industry catch-all that loosely covers a variety of moody, down-tempo, sensual and exotic music styles often favored by the Goth community – that it takes a little extra something to stand above the crowd… something that this LA-based duo has managed to do for many years without the assistance of a major label, which is no small feat.

I’ve been digging Collide since I discovered them via their second album Chasing the Ghost, and since then I’ve heard their music pop up all over the place – including genre films like The Covenant and Resident Evil: Extinction – and lately their assembly of a live touring band (with regular members including guitarists Scott Landes & Rogerio Silva, drummer Chas Pease and bassist Kai Kurosawa) helped to transform their low-key electro groove into a harder, more aggressive industrial-rock sound. They also pursued an interesting side project last year dubbed The Secret Meeting, in collaboration with Dean Garcia of Curve (a band with many of the same styles and themes in common), and released the album Ultrashiver to generally favorable reviews.

Still, I’ve been ready for original Collide material for a while now, and thankfully, the reward for my patience arrived with the release of Two Headed Monster, their fourth full-length album of all new tracks.

Described by the band as a study in “the duality and balance of life from an alien point of view,” the themes of Monster involve an examination of human nature from an outsider’s perspective. “Sometimes I feel like an alien from another planet,” explains singer-songwriter kaRIN. “I never have followed the path that most people take, doing what they think they are supposed to be doing.”

Taking the unexpected path is something Collide has managed quite well over the years, and although they may surprise darkwave fans expecting to hear more of the same, sticking to the old groove was definitely not their intention. “It’s still important to me not to remake the same songs that we have made before, and not to tread on anyone else’s path,” states kaRIN’s creative partner Statik, the band’s chief instrumentalist.

The path they ultimately chose is much closer by nature to straight modern rock than down-tempo electronica. The focus appears to have moved from the creation of subtle, hauntingly erotic moods to more of a pulse-racing momentum – and for the most part, I’d say this was the correct choice for keeping the material fresh.

Make no mistake, the signature Collide sound is there: kaRIN’s calm, wind-whispering vocals still float like a mist over Statik’s deliberate beat structures, which now are even punchier thanks to some harsh synth textures and extra-gritty guitar riffs which have evolved from mere accents into a central sonic element. Adding greatly to the effect are explosive rhythm contributions by Tool’s Danny Carey, a frequent Collide contributor. But despite this dialing up of the grinding instrumental machinery, the soft vocals still cut through the mix with surprising precision. The result may be a bit less slinky-sexy than their previous work, but the emotional content is stronger.

This new paradigm is immediately evident with opening track “Tongue Tied & Twisted,” its rusty-edged guitar work reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails' Fragile period (my personal favorite), the high-rolling tempo and thick vocal harmonies of “Chaotic” and the bouncing beat and wah-wah effects of “A Little Too Much,” which recalls the “wall-of-sound” approach to Curve's early work like Frozen.

The dark piano strains and swirling Pink Floyd guitars that kick off “Pure Bliss” hint at the coming turn to a more brooding menace, finally bursting into dark flames of heavily distorted downtuned guitars and overdriven vocals to become one of the most emotionally satisfying tracks. This one's a strong repeater, and definitely the best of the bunch.

The more hypnotic tone that pervades their earlier albums does seem to sink in again on the second half, with electronic noise and overdriven rhythm guitar driven further back in the mix in favor of warm atmospheres and smoky sensuality. Among these, the wide canvas of “Silently Creeping” is the most powerful, with its rich orchestral washes and low fuzz guitar wails, and the pumped-up '90s style trip-hop of “Shifting” runs a close second. The album closes on a mellow note with the soothing immersive swirls of “Utopia,” topped with some impressive lead guitar chops.

Another common thread among these songs – and one of the band's consistent strengths – is the seamless integration of multiple layers of sound. With heavy drumming and robust bass pinning down the low end, and kaRIN's vocals occupying the top of the sonic spectrum, there's a lot of room for intricate guitar licks and noise-rock synth mayhem in the frequencies between. Statik's production skills just get better and better with each effort, and it's no surprise he's been a go-to name in music programming, with a resume that runs the gamut from Skinny Puppy to Prince to Christina Aguilera.

Overall I really like the direction Collide has taken lately, and I’d like to hear them push even deeper into the more aggressive material displayed here. I think this approach is even more keenly suited to their live performances, which remain a rare and unique experience, since the band does not tour widely or often. If you’re not able to catch one of their shows, I’d recommend also picking up their first concert DVD Like the Hunted through their website [www.collide.net]. While you’re there, check out kaRIN’s “Saints and Sinners” clothing line, and take a virtual tour of Statik’s NoisePlus studios. -Gregory S. Burkart

Glasswerk

It's Five years since Collide’s previous album Some Kind of Strange. In that five year period the band have released a double disc remix album, put together a live act, recorded a live performance on DVD and even did a side project with ‘Curve’s’ Dean Garcia aptly title ‘The Secret Meeting’. (Garcia also features as guest on this new album). The past two years plus has also seen them put together this new work. So laying around in the L.A. Sun is hardly what Collide are known for.

Two Headed Monster – Seems to be an extension of the Collide name. This being the coming together of the collective minds of its two members: kaRIN on Vocals & Lyrics, Statik on noise duties.

This 10 track album you’d half expect to burst into life to remind fans that they are indeed still alive and full of energy. That burst of energy is saved for the opening of the second track ‘Chaotic.’ What we get instead is a rather stripped back effort on Statik’s part in ‘Tongue Tied and Twisted.’ With song titles like these, Collide are certainly acting just as sinister as ever. Coming from a band that is brimming with inventiveness, ideas, and a deep love for their fans – one can almost imagine such a wonderful duo having far too much fun “playing evil” with childlike glee when writing song titles.

If their first album was an experiment to test the water, their second being a very Industrial Rock venture and their last album becoming much more soothing and ethereal – then this new album sees more of the dance vibe being brought to the fore in its opening numbers. Fans will be much more used to Statik creating noise through guitar and beats whilst taking influence from other cultures around the globe. Here he is much more the sound mixer and distorter. This tends to be a trend reserved for remixes themselves, but this time out Collide have decided to infuse as much interference as possible on their new babies.

kaRIN as ever hasn’t lost any of her charm or seduction behind the microphone. With such a beautiful voice laid down it sometimes sees a shame for the soundman to etch away at it for effect, but this is partly what Collide do so well although possibly to better effect in the past. It isn’t viable to say that Collide could produce work that isn’t thoughtful or well produced. What we have here certainly feels like a departure from before. There is something much more simplistic going on in terms of the music writing itself and more focus on the effect of the music and vocals. It isn’t comparable to any previous effort except maybe the level of experimentation on their very early material.

With so much chaotic mixing in the early half of the album it is hard to pinpoint anything that stands out making for the album coming off as a whole rather than a collection of different sounds. But then ‘Silently Creeping’ hits and Collide become so wonderfully burlesque!

There is usually a track on a Collide album that bumps along rather breezily and seems uncontrollably upbeat and chirpy compared to the songs that surround it. In this case that may well be ‘Head Spin,’ which makes for a welcome change in tone. They are after all trying not to let you settle too much. Changes of path are a must for any opus. And also in every said opus is bound to be something much grander where the sheer tone takes over and makes you stop and listen. That track comes immediately after in the shape of the title track ‘Two Headed Monster.’ This is a very distinctive Collide song and a good indicator to new ears of what kind of band Collide are.

Continuing the plodded drums and guitar is ‘Shifting.’ A jazzy and string laden orchestral affair that leads us towards the end of the album. So dance mix madness meets the Collide Burlesque show. A ‘Two-Headed Monster’ indeed. If it were a contest then undoubtedly the second half is bound to go down more of a storm with traditionalists. Collide can’t go wrong in the trip-hop ethereal world. Anything with too fast a dance beat is going to be more hit and miss with the some fans, or maybe these are the tunes that become more attention deserving once they have sunk in.

The album sadly has to end somewhere, and surprisingly it ends with the type of song that the fan base might have expected it to have opened on. Certainly a fitting end tune to send us away (annoyingly) wanting more. It's magical, it's pure Collide, its kaRIN enticing, it's Statik fusing these charms to teasing effect and once it has slowly drifted away from our reach you slam the “Previous Track” button in fury as you don’t want it to end. The song, ‘Utopia,’ also sees kaRIN doing something very new. An expert at seduction, cooing, wavering, and now apparently reaching as well. Her voice is here unsure in places and yet suddenly totally in control. It’s a magic track that very few people know how to pull off, and yet it’s one that Statik understands oh so well and he surrounds her with wonder which is the effect it seems to have on their audience as well. Wonder and amazement.

Goatsden

This California act's fourth full-length CD strikes with a powerful and dynamic blow, balancing the heavy with the sweet as well (or better) than any band I can think of.

Anchored by the tough and darkly-evocative electronic grooves of programmer/instrumentalist Statik, and led by the sensual, ethereal vocal stylings of kaRIN, Collide's modern rock attack is multi-faceted and melodic. Some place them firmly in the 'industrial' or 'gothic' category, but here Collide move way past those classifications and take bits of hard rock, as well as swirly shoegaze aspects, into their lush mix. 'Chaotic' features drums by Tool's Danny Carey and bass by Curve mastermind Dean Garcia, and this synthesis of live instruments with Collide's electronic foundation makes for one of the band's finest, and most sonically well-developed songs to date. 'Head Spin' is a twisted pop song with an unusual tempo, while the thumpy and hallucinogenic 'Two Headed Monster' could almost be mistaken for Skinny Puppy (who Collide have been known to associate with), if not for the cool and seductive female vocal. The dramatic 'Shifting' shows an almost orchestral side, and this vibe works well, showcasing this group's skill at any style they tackle. Simply, 'Two Headed Monster' is Collide's best work thus far, and any follower of dark and stylish modern rock should investigate now!

Gothic Beauty

After taking a brief hiatus to work on The Secret Meeting with Dean Garcia from Curve, Collide returns with this latest release. Whether the album's title refers to the song writing duo os Statik and kaRIN or something deeper, Two Headed Monster definitely explores Collide's diverse musical abilities. From the electro-driven aggression of "Chaotic" and "Spaces In Between" to the lounge-friendly ethereal sounds of "Silently Creeping" and "Shifting," kaRIN's urgently sultry vocals offer a come-hither compliment to Statik's cinematic soundscapes. The album also features contributions from Garcia and Tool drummer Danny Carey, as well as the poppier "Head Spin," as heard on the hit CBS show NCIS.-(Jonathan)

Gothic Paradise

There is just no slowing down with this duo as the ideas just seem to flow and almost year after year we're presented with great new material. This latest work has the band putting together some of their best material to date crossing many genre boundaries and remaining as true to their sound as ever. With ten powerful yet smooth tracks on this disc, it is packed with a booklet of lyrics, cool pics of both members as well as tons of other info.

We start out slow and heavy with "Tongue Tied & Twisted" with some excellent grinding guitar and kaRIN's smooth vocals softening the edge and bringing it all in for a smooth. We leave this slow, grooving beat for something a little more intense with an upbeat rhythm. This piece, aptly named "Chaotic" really pours on the intensity through a mix of distorted electronics and guitars through each chorus. These first two piece remain something of the anchor for this album and have quickly become new favorites from this group. However, there's still plenty of great material as we grind on through the other remaining pieces.

After a fun romp through "A Little Too Much" we're brought into a somewhat downtempo piece with dark, brooding piano to start off "Pure Bliss". This slowly builds as guitar and somber percussion join, but by the time we hit the chorus hang on to your seat as the distortion and intensity kicks in once again. Then as suddenly as it began, we're left once again with the somber, smooth sounds and rhythm moving slowly along to vanish once again amidst the chaos one last time before fading off nicely. As the album moves one we drift through more of these up and down intense pieces such as the deftly slow "Silently Creeping" with intense choruses and soft and somber verses in between.

As we near the end of the album "Head Spin" is an awesome piece with some great, heavy and pulsating electronics and a beat that keeps things moving a little more and is almost fun and happy, in a dark and brooding sort of way. As we drift through the title track and "Shifting" we're finally left with "Utopia" which is another favorite and a great way to wrap up the album. This piece is dreamy and intense, once again going through an intense chorus with distorted grinding guitar, but more on the level something along the line of shoegazer and so it still remains quite dreamy and ethereal.

That wraps up another great work from this band and it should really please fans both old and new as they create new music while maintaining their true sound perfectly.

Rating: 4.5/5

Gothtronic

After the adventures in the side-project The Secret meeting with Dean Garcia (Curve), Collide is now back with a new album named Two Headed Monster. Each album of the darkwave rock band Collide is musically a strong album. That quality can also be found on Two Headed Monster. Like no other Collide manages to merge influences into their own unique sound, in which elements from triphop, gothicrock, industrial and metal are combined.

Collide is a band that really can be labeled as a band that defies genre borders. Singer kaRIN delivers her sensual vocals to the music due to which, next to the dark atmosphere, it gets a romantic touch. Collide knows like no other how to translate the traditional mystery of gothic to a modern state-of-the-art electrorock sound. The arrangements, programming and songs produced by Statik are mostly well done and of course the sound is flawless. We don’t expect anything else from Statik given his experience as producer.

Highlights on this new Collide studio album, which gets released five years after the previous album Some Kind of Strange, are a.o. the uptempo song ‘Chaotic’, immediately followed by the playful sounding song ‘A Little Too Much’, which next to an infectious guitar sound, also flirts with pop music which makes it a very radio friendly tune. The song ‘Pure Bliss’ represents the hypnotic touch in the Collide sound, which most probably finds its roots in the psychedelic music from the 60s and 70s. ‘Spaces in Between’ transports the Collide sound towards the dance floor of the industrial clubs.

The energy, accessibility and danceability in most of the tracks on the first half of the Two Headed Monster album is the most striking change compared to the more ethereal work on the previous album. The song ‘Silently Creeping’ however is the exception that sets the rule as this slowly compelling track with low-pitched guitar which almost sounds like a metal type of guitar, really grabs the listener by the throat. ‘Head Spin’ is next and this is the kind of swirly swinging tune with pop sensibilities you can find more in the oeuvre of Collide, of which the contrast with the previous track couldn’t be much bigger.

Title track ‘Two Headed Monster’ combines a triphop rhythm with the grandeur of a symphony orchestra. In ‘Shifting’ almost the same majestic touch is combined with a dark atmosphere in an almost soundtrack like track. The album is closed with the dreamy song ‘Utopia’. Again it can be noticed that KaRIN’s voice is a strong asset to this new album. Collide obviously has been undergoing a remarkable musical growth and have found new musical grounds due to their collaboration with Dean Garcia (Curve) and again this really comes forward in their new album Two Headed Monster. Two Headed Monster is without doubt the best album Collide has made so far.

Kerrang

Trippy darkwave veterans continue to weave their wicked web.

Although divided into 10 tracks, Collide's music is more like one nocturnal journey into sound, and if you're up for the ride, it's a treat. Electro beats and synth fixes drop shards of silver into the pond, and up top are the chocolate-rich vocals of the purring kaRIN. Disarming guitar riffs compete for attention with slow piano refrains before you're immersed in great, velvety washes of sound. This is what Cristina Scabbia's side-project with Trent Reznor might sound like. Don't expect much to sing along with, but do expect to lose yourself late at night to this surreal and immersive alchemy Enjoy your tip.

Download: Chaotic

For Fans of: A Perfect Circle, Innerpartysystem

-Steve Beebee

Keyboard Magazine

Singer/lyricist kaRIN and producer Statik have been working hard since they were featured in these pages in June '06, and their efforts have paid off. Dark and dreamy, Collide's latest goth-tinged album Two Headed Monster brings to mind the work of Garbage, Sneaker Pimps, and Evanescence. From the frenetic drum grooves of "Spaces in Between" to the bubbling and soaring synths on "Head Spin," the band's tracks make excelent alchemy of kaRIN's floating vocals and Statik's gritty soundscapes. And even though the album carries more than a touch of menace, there's enough pop and dance influence here to keep things fun and sexy. This in one monster worth tangling with. -Michael Gallant.

Litany.net

With so much news from the ohGr camp lately and the info from cEvin about Subcon's 2009 plans I posted yesterday, it's easy to forget that there's a lot of great music coming out from related artists as well. Beehatch's second release is on its way, Phil Western has released his second fantastic Kone album, Justin Bennett is featured on the new Bahntier, and the Legendary Pink Dots have just put out a magnificent record in Plutonium Blonde.

Not to be outdone, Collide have just released their first album in a number of years, Two Headed Monster. You might recall that both members of the band have contributed to Puppy related albums and cEvin Key was featured on their last full-length. Lead singer kaRIN is also slated to appear on the upcoming Tear Garden release. Collide's new album is an impressively diverse mixture, the sound invigorated by the inclusion of live guitar, bass, and drums (the latter supplied on a few tracks by none other than Tool's Danny Carey). Chaotic, featuring Dean Garcia of Curve, pounds intensely in the space between the dance floor and the pit while A Little Too Much throbs with a 90s-Bowie-esque groove. Spaces in Between is breakbeat gone epic. It could've fit in nicely on Greater Wrong of the Right. Head Spin stands out with some delightfully retro synths riding atop a bassline from that spot where Graham Central Station and ELO met at the corner of Welt. The electronic and live instrumentation on this album mesh with kaRIN's ethereal voice to form a sound that includes dashes of industrial, goth, glam, and shoegaze yet is altogether new. Two Headed Monster is available here on Noiseplus.

The Machinist

(translated from Russian, original review here)

With every new studio release American gothic-rock/industrial group COLLIDE with confidence and steadily come near to own album-masterpiece. New CD "Two Headed Monster" is not exception. In the present situation this is the most diverse, multi-layer, mature, hard and complex record of duet.

Alongside with well known and already trade mark dark and melodic, sexually swinging inspired trip-hop/gothic-rock/industrial compositions ("Pure Bliss", "Silently Creeping", "Two Headed Monster", "Shifting") for the first time we can find on album of band several tough, fast running and aggressive tracks, reminding on its sound traditional American industrial rock in the vein of NINE INCH NAILS and MINISTRY, but in this case they are based on not simple, beautifully bending and ornate melodies, which only COLLIDE write today on gothic-industrial scene. Besides, for the first time you will hear in band’s repertoire song, which is fabulous mixture of shoegazer, dream-rock and postrock.

Running a few steps forward I will say, that this is romantic aerial final track "Utopia" – listening to this song I feel every time like it gives me the shivers and like spring flowers start to blossom in soul. Cosmico-orgasmic track! I hope this is not the last song in baggage of COLLIDE which is down in such style.

But let’s return to the beginning. Additional guitarists, drummers and bass-players were participating in recording material for "Two Headed Monster" and this is immediately caused some interesting effects in sound of many songs on album. In the first place it concerns compositions "Tongue Tied & Twisted" and "Pure Bliss", where not very typical for COLLIDE roaring guitar power, heavy grooves and rush appeared (they are more typical for alternative American rock, grunge or nu metal). Songs "Chaotic" and "Spaces In Between" sound a little easier, but faster and also quit a noisy concerning saturation by various synthesizer and guitar parts. Last thing pretends, to my opinion, on the role of central club action, because contains explosive, almost punk-rock energy, heavy and impetuous breakbeat rhythmic outline and quit a dense industrial dance sound. It seems to me, that COLLIDE didn’t produce nothing similar in the past concerning speed. At the same time there are distinct pop-influences in such melodic and emotional womanly songs as "A Little Too Much" and "Head Spin" (I found arrangement of this playful and very sympathetic dance track concurrently original and even unexpected). Some of you again can draw parallel between COLLIDE and CURVE, GARBAGE or even latest successful hits of Kylie Minogue, but I wouldn’t do this today because kaRIN and Statik already exceed in many aspects both abovementioned groups, reaching very high level of musical performing and composing and during the years of existence fostering very own sound, which can be described as "style of COLLIDE".

Properly speaking, in all its glory and diversity this tasteful style is represented on new album. Old and new fans of band should only to make themselves comfortable in front of home stereo monitors and to get incomparable with nothing audiophile enjoyment. I will add that album "Two Headed Monster" is recorded excellently, sappy and deeply in contrast to new-fashioned studio experiments with “loud sound”. Also I will not forget to admit very stylish graphic design of booklet with sexual photos of charming gothic fashionable woman kaRIN. It is simply not impossible to not fall in love with her! Especially knowing that everything she does with her sensitive and bewitching cat/tigress-like voice on album already can’t be described with use of usual words and letters. Undoubtedly kaRIN also progresses with sound of COLLIDE, opening in yourself new vocal abilities, hues and emotional reserves. Paraphrasing words of A.P. Chehov, I can say that everything is perfect in kaRIN –appearance and soul and pure vocal… All in all I understand now that for Statik she is at the same time muse, friend and fetish object, maybe therefore he don’t and can’t lose inspiration and continues to write such a lovely music, dressing it in laces of cosmic and earthly electro-noise-industrial arrangements. Shatteringly beautiful album!

[9,5]

vAlien/DJ Commando LABELLA [Machinist]

Mick Mercer

I like the warmth of Collide. For all the complexity of the layers, and for two people they sure erect a stern musical firewall, yet inside, and outside, of all the quivering power they remain resolutely human when some pairings find themselves sterilised by the whole balancing act.

‘Tongue Tied & Twisted’ starts of all musically taut and vocal intentionally dithery, then shrinking and crouching when brutal guitar slashes intersect the supple undulations, all of which is good, as you learn to listen out for different aspects of sections while retaining a sense of a definable course. They also mask the melody which then walks straight across in front of you, like a shire horse at a traffic light.

‘Chaotic’ is far noisier yet still enjoys exploring the basement of sounds, wriggling and dusty, spaces allowing the feverish electronic sparks some light, while the vocals stick to the shadows, the battling percussion and swerving guitar distracting us. ‘A Little Too Much’ has no such modesty, the vocals exuding purpose as the music courteously falls back, and a sumptuous feel bathes in melodic sunlight, with a beautiful slowly blooming chorus, and there’s some tweaked, sour guitar to frisk the air up a little. A subdued opening to ‘Pure Bliss’ doesn’t disguise the wayward dreaminess, the cutely absorbing lyrical flourishes, or the coiled tension. ‘Spaces In Between’ swipes the best china off the table and slaps down tectonic plates instead, the rhythmical fizz scampering as the vocals remain imperiously controlled, the song like a giant figurehead of a ship transplanted onto a lethal skateboard. Looming, zooming. It’s a crazed little caper, and we all like those.

The bleached bones of ‘Silently Creeping’ wobble like a hall of mirrors, hot with that fake mirage effect. ‘Head Spin’ is vocally saucier, the sound still a deceitful hammock, restful but jabbing you with playful little shocks, lulling you cheekily. I’m not sure what the mildewed intensity of ‘Two Headed Monster’ represents, seeming shorter and pretty open-ended, and there’s more tortured drowsiness about ‘Shifting’, a downcast post-Portishead opulence evident. Closer ‘Utopia’ moves from hazily choked to timidly vanishing, which makes for an odd end.

You can’t go by one listen or you might think it’s got a delicate gloss and doesn’t demand as much as previous releases, or provide as much variety, but the weirdness aspect is actually quite high, and at other times they’re at their most accessible. I’d have preferred some more noise at times myself, but the resounding impression is that here is a gorgeous record.

Morbid Outlook

I am addicted to this stuff like an opiate drug. What’s not to die for? It is very well crafted, hypnotic, dreamy, compelling, seductive, alluring, sensual, dangerous, crazy, insightful, provocative, driving... I run out of superlatives and breath. If you aren’t already into this band, you owe it to your soul to discover them pronto. If you already love them, expect more of what you expect. They seem to keep getting better at it; more refined and expert, like finely buffed jewels. I can’t say what it is that keeps this group well ahead of the pack, but I suspect it has something to do with integrity of aesthetic vision, not to mention they are teh hotzor.-Andrew Fenner

Morpheus Music

Style

Industrial gothic guitar and electronic music with ethereal female vocals. Collide have a massive sound - pounding drums drive rich tracks of gritty guitar and sinuous bass full of energy that are in powerful contrast with singer kaRIN's voice. The singing is delivered with a languid cool, refusing to be hurried by the beat of the music kaRIN wields her seductive voice as if calmly controlling a tempest. The guitars are for the most part heavily effected - corrosive distortion creating a dense grainy feel for much of the time, broadened by various other flange or chorus type pedals and who knows what else - there's a lot in this sound. Statik also introduces various synthetic effects and textures that keep the mix percolating - peripheral details and bubbling ephemera that break up the surface like grunge layers on a photograph, and an almost orchestral sound on Shifting. The passages where the band wind the intensity down do a lot to add to the interest value of the album - sultry softer moments, downward spiralling interludes and even a few whole tracks of downtempo trip hop shadow. The album generally lowers the pace as the second head of the Collide monster rises to dominance - a more dreamy atmosphere, less noise and fuzz. That said there is an enjoyable variation of approach from start to finish, each track taking an unpredictable trajectory from the last.

Artwork

Two Headed Monster comes in a jewel case with a glossy sixteen page booklet. Imagery is primarily centred on shots of the band. Singer kaRIN appears on the front in reflective symmetry a conjoined two headed monster, hair lifted by unseen currents, shot in a limited palette of near sepia tones. Indeed this dark bronzy brown hue runs throughout the package - on the back another portrait mirror image with track titles rolling down the centre. Within textures of jagged stitching, cracked earth and twisted branches form backdrops for a wealth of information: lyrics are here, extensive credits, a whole page of thanks and plenty of studio photographs of the band.

Overall

This is now the fifth or sixth album from Collide depending on how you count things (the double disc Vortex being largely a remix collection). This current release, once more on the Noiseplus label, sees the band more solid, confident and polished than ever; true to their darkwave heritage still, yet with some more dance floor elements and at times even leaning a little in the direction of edgy pop. There are elements in the music that further explore some directions taken on the Secret Meeting project where the Collide duo teamed up with ex-Curve main man Dean Garcia. The ten track Two Headed Monster comes five years after the last full studio album and it's worth the wait - all of the controlled chaos, the thick catchy riffs, the inventive programming and crepuscular mystique - it's all here only even more well-produced than before. Have a listen on the band's website.

Nocturnal

It’s been 5 years since Collide’s last album. You’d therefore be forgiven for expecting this 10 tracker to burst into life. What we get instead is a stripped back effort on Statik’s part in Tongue Tied and Twisted. He is much more the sound mixer and distorter on the opening parts of this album. But then Silently Creeping hits around the midpoint and Collide become so wonderfully burlesque!

kaRIN hasn’t lost any of her charm behind the microphone. With such a beautiful voice laid down it sometimes seems a shame for the soundman to etch away at it for effect, but this is partly what Collide do so well.

There is the breezy and upbeat, Head Spin, which makes for a welcome change in tone. The jazzy swaying of Shifting continues the burlesque aspect in a string laden orchestral affair and title track, Two Headed Monster, is a very distinctive Collide song and a good indicator to new ears of what kind of band Collide are.

With song titles like these Collide are acting just as sinister as ever. A band that is brimming with inventiveness and ideas – one can almost imagine them having too much fun ‘playing evil’ with childlike glee when naming tracks.

The album sadly has to end somewhere and a fitting end tune to send us away rwanting more is delivered in the shape of Utopia. kaRIN does something very new. An expert at seduction, cooing, wavering and now apparently reaching as well. Her voice is unsure in places and yet suddenly totally in control. It’s a magic that very few people know how to pull off. Yet it’s one that Statik understands oh so well and he surrounds her with wonder which translates to the audience as well. Wonder, and amazement.

-Steven Hurst

Outburn

Collide, the Los Angeles based industrial darkwave project centered around kaRIN and Statik, has been in existence for over a decade and is on its sixth album, which is indicative to the attention to detail that goes into all of the duo's releases. It's not just about the songs with Collide, it's the intricacy of the production, often featuring multi-tracked vocals and numerous electronic and organic layers, as well as the whole album package--the band still embraces high quality booklets in the iTunes age. A little while back, kaRIN and Statik collaborated with Curve's Dean Garcia in The Secret Meeting. Although Garcia contributes bass for Collide on "Chaotic," the influence of Curve and it's mix of guitar noise, electronic beats, and powerful feminine vocals are more pronounced here than on the band's previous releases. Two Headed Monster is focused primarily on atmosphere, although it never loses its pop sensibility. Its standout track, "Head Spin," clocks in at over six minutes and is driven by a repetitive synth groove, but still has the sing-along quality of a midtempo dance club number. Two Headed Monster is an album that requires a good set of speakers. There are so many little joys to be discovered in the production, a new treat to be discovered upon every listen. - Liz Ohanesian.

Radio-Active-Music

Always a mainstay in the trip-hop industrial scene, Collide is back with yet another beautifully compiled full-length album. Featuring some of the band's best work to date, "Two Headed Monster" offers some of their most intricately written songs, while still maintaining that classic Collide sound.

The strength of this release is the band's ability to maintain those elements of their music that the fans have come to love over the years, without falling into boredom. Though many of the tracks utilize a bit more of an industrial rock feel than the band's previous work, the songs still maintain the trademark unmistakable hypnotism of kaRIN's vocals.

The only possible slight downfall of this album is that there is no real 'standout' track or tracks that could be picked out as an instant single or club hit, unlike the band's previous releases. So while this album may not find an easy place on the radio or the dance floor, it still comes with the highest recommendations for a good sit-down listen. - Valdyr

Regen Magazine

Placing a greater emphasis on the organic elements of their music, Collide still provide fans with what they know and love.

Collide have certainly come far since their inception, and credit should be granted to this dynamic duo for doing it on their own terms, having released all of their music via their own Noiseplus label. While they have hardly kept quiet since their last album of new material, 2003's Some Kind of Strange, releasing a remix album, a live CD/DVD, a re-release of Distort, and their collaboration with Curve's Dead Garcia in The Secret Meeting, their latest album, Two Headed Monster presents Collide fans with more of what they know and love: scathing electronic and guitar textures, dark atmospheres, and mystifying vocals and melodies. Never ones to stray from balancing beauty and aggression, Two Headed Monster may be perhaps the band's most rock-oriented work.

Beginning with "Tongue Tied & Twisted," we are immediately treated to the Collide formula as layers of Statik's distorted synth scrapes mesh with the drums of Tool's Danny Carey, which slightly resemble The Downward Spiral-era Nine Inch Nails, while kaRIN's voice reverberates as beautifully as ever, her cadence during the chorus recalling elements of Maynard James Keenan (think "Ænima"). "Chaotic" and "A Little Too Much" then chime in, the former track with a raucous beat evocative of mid '90s noise-rock like Medicine, while both songs are chockfull of gritty guitars and ambient melodies that immediately put one in the mind of Curve, although that could also be due to the presence of Dean Garcia on the bass. Collide have often been likened to Curve, but never has the comparison been quite as evident as on these two tracks, and it's hardly a detriment. Try listening to the bopping rhythm and catchy melodies of "Head Spin" and not imagine go-go dancers and psychedelic light shows. "Pure Bliss" brings us back into Collide's more familiar territory as a somber piano and fluid guitar sustain create a dark mood offset by kaRIN's lush vocals before blissfully erupting into an energetic chorus. The same can be said of the title track, which bears the distinction of being the shortest song on the album. One of the more impressively off-kilter tracks on Two Headed Monster comes in the form of "Silently Creeping;" beginning with a somewhat jazzy rhythm, analog synth tones that recall the cinematic soundtracks of the late '70s and early '80s, and tried and true tremolo guitar dives, the song takes an abrupt and discordant turn in the chorus. Though hardly the most linear progression, it is perhaps one of the most musically adventurous tracks the band has yet composed. The album closes out with "Utopia," yet another classic Collide track with their expert mix of lush ambience and grating synth and guitar textures, all carried by kaRIN's emotive voice.

Aided by live members Scott Landes, Rogerio deSilva, Chaz Pease, and Kai Kurosawa, kaRIN and Statik prove with Two Headed Monster that a band can indeed carry their sound into new directions while retaining those elements that defined them in the first place. Still balancing the guitars with the electronics and with no shortage of live drums, the emphasis on the organic qualities of the band's music seem much more prevalent on this album, but there are still plenty of those noisy synthesizers that fans love. Besides that, kaRIN's vocals and melodies are as sharp as ever, enticing and mysterious, and always adding the right amount of soothe to Statik's noisy musical seethe. Two Headed Monster is not a dramatic departure for Collide, but it could do well to not only please longtime fans but also gain them a few new ones along the way.-Ilker Yücel

Release Magazine

Careening down the fire escape just ahead of the inferno, out into the street under a torrential winter's downpour. You pause to look back at the flames exploding out your window, looking up and down the lonely lane you'll be calling home. In the midst of all this destruction, in the waves of heat curdling into a thickly acrid lung-choking mixture you hear something, "Two Headed Monster" is what's lulling your reeling senses.

Precision, yes. Craftmanship, absolutely. Collide's fourth album delivers an overwhelming knock-out. You're falling back into it, falling forward still drowning... gasping for breath. If it's addiction you seek, if it's compulsion you want chronicled: here's your homily. With a deftness few possess, Karin and Statik thunder into the pole position of slinky elegance. Believe me, this is no album for the meek. There are no half measures anywhere on this thing. I refer you to the track "Chaotic" and warn that the riffs will consume you before you have time to even notice what's going on.

This is the LA band who exploded years back with their debut, "Beneath the Skin". I make note of this only to illustrate how far they have come since that by-gone year of 1995. A more intrinsically flawless symbiosis of technology and human deviance you won't find this year, this much is certain. This is the rain on flushed skin after an escapade to be mentioned only in hushed tones. With the utmost confidence, Collide return to the world with their new work wrought delicately in the darkest of desires. I swear I can almost hear angels weeping while listening to this. - PETER MARKS

Side Line

If one considers Collide’s cadre of Monster cohorts includes Danny Carey (Tool), Dean Garcia (Curve), as well as their team of live musicians, it seems logical that “Two Headed Monster” would be their most organic, rock-oriented album to date. Down to its trotting snare-flecked heartbeat, “Head Spin” is a swooning romantic; kaRIN’s vocals ebb and flow velveteen, glimmering to its sweet violin-like strains, thrumming bass guitar, and buzzing whimsical synth. KaRIN’s dreamy espionage croon in “Silently Creeping” is like a flashback to old Portishead, with their guitars set to a shimmer before both submit to a fray of burly dissonance and drums during its chorus. Dragged in by fractured piano and strangulated guitars, “Pure Bliss” proves to be rather bipolar as kaRIN’s bluesy presence intermittently summons a raucous drum and guitar outburst. Heavily echoing Garcia’s work as Curve, guitars break, swerve and dive-bomb though clusters of off-kilter drums in the aptly dubbed “Chaotic”. So never fear, fans of their hauntingly sensual history; Collide’s electronics may take a less obtrusive role within “Two Headed Monster”, but kaRIN and Statik are only broadening their arsenal, not replacing it.
(VM:8/9)VM.

The Triskelion Society<

The fourth studio release from, the appropriately dubbed “darkwave” band, Collide is a must have for your scene music collection. Industrial sounds and melodic rhythms by Statik blended with the often haunting, never disappointing vocals of kaRIN form the perfect audio soundtrack (minus some sounds of pain of course) for your next bondage and flogging scene.

Collide is the passion of two individuals creating beautiful music with the help of the occasional industry friend. In this case those friends are Danny Carey of Tool, and Dean Garcia of Curve. Although generally considered Industrial, Collide’s music brings together influences from around the world to convey the messages with deep feeling. With a strong undercurrent of raw emotion and dark, murky nights, Collide projects their thoughts into your head.

Personally, my favorite track on the CD is “Shifting”. For me it evoked an image of a leather-clad woman walking down a dimly lit hallway towards an open door, strutting as she approaches her victim, tied to the wall at the end of the room.. Granted, not exactly what the song is about but it does the trick for me.

The phrase “never judge a book by its cover” has never been more wrong in the case of Collide. One look at Statik and kaRIN in the booklet and you are instantly aware of the sounds you are about to hear. They respectively embody their artistic abilities and message. Statik projects a sense of dark raw aggression that comes across in the sounds he manipulates to form the setting for kaRIN’s voice. kaRIN on the other hand oozes sensuality and the suggestion of pleasures to come. Together the package is complete and I dare a listener to not be impressed with the melding of talents. -Mistral

Zeitgeist

Collide have been on the go for a fair old while now, and their brand of dark electro-goth has always managed to stir something deep inside me. There is a human element to their music that lifts it out of the generic, putting them far ahead of their peers. It's been a long time since the last proper Collide album, "Some Kind Of Strange", although there has been a remix album, a live DVD and the Secret Meeting side project with Dean Garcia from Curve to keep me happy and their hands far from idle.

But it's very reassuring to have an actual, proper, new Collide album to slip into the CD player. Lights suitably dimmed, headphones in place, phone taken off hook, and relax. And, oh, it's good. Half a decade gone, and it's like they've never been away. There are changes to their sound, but it's minimal, and sees them stripping away more of their industrial past, leaning more on ambience and moods.

It's still the vision of Statik and kaRIN, although Dean Garcia pops in for visit and Danny Carey from Tool pitches up with his drum kit on a handful of songs. The songs themselves have a tendency to come slithering in, insinuating themselves in places you'd rather have left alone, although there is still room for peculiarly melodic pop tunes like 'A Little Too Much'. It also sounds as though the remix project has left its mark, as some of the songs seem to have absorbed some extra vibe. Hell, 'Head Spin' could be an unlikely hit single!

But it's when Collide do that Collide thing that it all makes perfect sense. The track 'Chaotic' is almost a template for everything that is good about what they do, with a sensual yet rocking burst of darkwave that takes you far away on an aural experience you can't wait to repeat. Closely behind in second place is the quite stunning 'Silently Creeping', a song I intend to put on a loop for a few hours, just to see what happens.

It's another fabulous extravaganza in the history of Collide, by far the best darkwave / electro-goth / insert appropriate genre here release of the year, and one of the best albums of the year in any genre you're likely to hear. Go get it now.

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