We Have a Technical 191: Here Comes the Chairstepper

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On this episode of We Have a Technical we welcome perennially returning guest Matt Fanale of Caustic. We’re always keen to catch up with the Man Who Couldn’t Stop about what he’s up to, and in this instance we were super interested to hear about what went into his terrific new album American Carrion. We talk politics, anger, Caustic’s place in industrial, and a little about hot new beat project Klack, along with news about Mechanismus Festival, a local show we have a hand in, and the dissolution of Tactical Sekt, all this week on We Have a Technical, the idieyoudie.com podcast! C’mon, go on and rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

The Frozen Autumn, “The Fellow Traveller”

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The Frozen Autumn - The Fellow Traveller

The Frozen Autumn
The Fellow Traveller

The legacy of Italy’s The Frozen Autumn speaks for itself as the duo hits their fifteenth anniversary just on the heels of their sixth LP, The Fellow Traveller. As mentioned in our discussion of 2012′s Chirality, one need only catch a glimpse of Diego Merletto and Arianna to get a sense of their darkwave credentials, but the music’s always delivered on that promise. The duo have often used synth sequences with more regularity than other darkwave acts of their generation, but The Fellow Traveller is heavy on the electronics even by their standard, offering a set of often labyrinthine and lengthy pieces.

Instrumentation on The Fellow Traveller is often spritely and direct, and the record gets off to the races quickly with “Tomorrow’s Life”, a bouncy number with slightly melancholy leads, admittedly, but with a zest and immediacy that’s hard to deny. Merletto’s languid and reflective vocals only bring the busy to and fro of the lithe synths into clearer focus; my partner found some parity with Eskil Simonsson’s delivery on it and the slightly italo-disco inflected “We’ll Fly Away”, and while it was a comparison I’d never considered I couldn’t really disagree.

Despite the uptempo cadence of much of the record, The Fellow Traveller‘s component parts can run on for surprising lengths. Three tracks were released in edited forms a few years back, and I’m not sure that the record is stronger for having half of its tracks go over the six minute mark, especially when so many of them are nimble workouts rather than heavy brooding sessions. The exception to this is “Your Touch”, a classic darkwave stormer which takes all the time it needs to build atmosphere in order to get the most out of its multiple passages. It might not be coincidence that it’s the one track in which guitar is given an ample share of the spotlight, giving the tune the texture and dynamics befitting a lengthier run-time.

The Frozen Autumn have their style locked in and are well aware of how and when to modulate it to serve their current purposes. Hell, they named one of the songs here “I Love You But I’ve Chosen Synthesizers” which is pretty much a perfect darkwave one-liner. Even if a few of the songs might run a tad longer than necessary, it’s fun to hear a band so distinctly dedicated to darkwave offering up a distillation of one of its specific modes. Oh, and that’s without even mentioning the “Loving The Alien” cover…

Buy it.

The Fellow Traveller by The Frozen Autumn

Sigsaly, self-titled

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Squall Recordings

Sigsaly is the new project of Brittany West and Samuel Lloyd, the duo behind Vancouver darkwavers Koban. Divesting themselves of the bass and guitar that make up the wall-of-sound texture of that project and relying solely on synths, drum machines and vocals, their self-titled debut has a distinctly cool and collected vibe that jibes well with the punky elegance they’ve been refining in their recent work.

That said, the way Sigsaly’s rhythm programming is presented is distinct from Koban. Opener “Push” has hints of Berlin-style new school EBM in its 16th note bassline and clicking cymbals, propelling West’s contralto vocals through the vast cavern of reverb that envelops them. Similarly the buzzing “You Carry” relies on doubled and tripled kick placement and intermittent claps and snares to create variation, while the warbling synths on top of them move through simpler figures. The punchy, kinetic feel of those tracks really helps define Sigsaly’s identity, driving home the tension between their uptempo drums and the minimal and opaque tone of their melodies.

Given that approach, it can’t be understated how important West’s voice is to these songs. Her cultivated but never aloof singing voice fits perfectly with the yawning chasms of “Ivory Towers”, using some of the bite she displays in her work with cold-punk act lié while maintaining a deep measure of control even as the track grows more frantic around her. On the release’s most striking and quirky cut “Mothers” she does provides whispers, monotone verses and a pitched climax as required, bringing a distinctly NDW feel to the proceedings. It’s a striking enough performance that she becomes conspicuous by her absence on sole instrumental track “Decay”, a fine enough song that you can’t help wonder how she might have approached vocally.

At six songs and a little over 22 minutes in length, it’s striking how fully-formed Sigsaly’s ethos is. There’s plenty of economy in their production and arrangements, but above all there’s a purposefulness and significance to their musical choices that conveys gravity and meaning. Far from being a slight variation on what we’ve heard from them before, West and Lloyd make a case for their new project on its own terms, a new context for their considerable musical personality to shine.

Buy it.


Tracks: January 15th, 2018

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Okay, now that we’re into the swing of things here at the HQ, it comes for the Senior Staff to start planning our year. It’s been an unusually busy January thus far, and the new releases don’t seem to be slowing down, so it’s not like we’re worried about having stuff to write about. That said, we are curious what the folks who read the site and listen to the podcast are interested in seeing on I Die: You Die in 2018. We’ll probably do a formal survey at some point in the future to really get an idea of what kind of stuff people enjoy and don’t enjoy on the site, but in the interim, feel free to drop us a line here in the comments or via e-mail or our social media channels with your thoughts. Is there a specific feature you’d like to see us do more or less of? A new idea you’d like to see us tackle? Any specific artists we should try to and talk to at some point? Let us know!

Frank Spinath remixed his look and his album

V▲LH▲LL, “Ormens Offer”
Toronto played host to a rare North American gig by our beloved Swedish Mystery Vikings V▲LH▲LL over the past weekend. Sounds like things went swimmingly, and those of us not lucky enough to have been in town for the show can take some comfort in this, the first preview of the act’s second full-length release, Grimoire. There’s a mix of folk and pop in the vocals on this one, but the slinky yet stuttering groove underneath it feels just like that peculiar mix of ancient and futuristic dark sounds V▲LH▲LL have had on luck since their emergence out of the mist.
Grimoire by V▲LH▲LL

Kirlian Camera, “Haunted River”
If you listened to We Have a Technical last week you may have surmised that we’re pretty excited about Hologram Moon the upcoming album from Italian darkwave monarchs Kirlian Camera. We gobbled up first single “Sky Collapse” are equally excited about this second taste “Haunted River”: all the majesty, atmosphere and endearing weirdness we’ve come to expect from the group, along with some orchestral sounds that really work in the context of a beat-oriented club track. Stay tuned for more on the LP as it develops, we guarantee you we will have opinions.

Meat Beat Manifesto, “Nocebo”
Jack Dangers certainly needs no introduction from the likes of us, and a new LP from Meat Beat will obviously garner attention from just about every corner of the world of electronics. From film scoring to the incredible visual dimension of live sets we’ve caught in recent years, Dangers doesn’t coast on his laurels and we’re keen to hear what the forthcoming Impossible Star has to offer. Wet yet stripped down, this number gets across both the funk and rigid programming which have always been in Meat Beat’s DNA.
Impossible Star by Meat Beat Manifesto

Lionhearts, “No Going Back (Forma Tadre remix)”
We had a conversation about Frank Spinath’s solo project Lionhearts on the podcast a ways back, and agreed that while it was an album that had a lot to recommend it in terms of atmosphere and songwriting, it was also perhaps a touch too mellow to make an impact. Remix album Companion addresses that somewhat by turning up the tempo of numerous numbers, as a diverse and impressive cast of collaborators including Architect, Acretongue, IRIS, Mildreda and Hecq (who worked on the original LP) have a go at the songs. Especially grand is this mix by Forma Tadre, who really give “No Going Back” into a regal ballad of massive proportions. Is this a sign Andreas is back making new material? We hope so.
Companion by Lionhearts

SARIN, “Korean Air Lines”
Seems like scarcely a month can go by without us getting wind of something new from SARIN, the techno-ebm outlet of Emad Dabiri. Like we’ve come to expect this one has the straight up body-bassline and percussion mixed with techno structures that allow it straddle the line of both genres effectively. This one appears courtesy of a 12″ by Area Z, which also features cuts by Unhuman, Elements of Joy and Tomohiko Sagae. Also, it was mastered by Eric Van Wonterghem of Absolute Body Control, Monolith and inumerable other projects, which is a cool touch to be certain.

Black Mecha, “Counterforce”
Lastly, some seriously screwball electronic chaos brought to us courtesy of the always intriguing noise/metal label Profound Lore. Reminding us of old Negativland as much as all that wacky hardvapor stuff coming our way from Russia, Black Mecha hew loops out of wholly arrythmic programming. Info on the project is scant, but the press release states that the cover art is “advanced actualization of Internal Masonry S. Star Sigil rumination emanation metaphor technique of which encompasses special geometric based inner space mind constellation illustrations.” So…there’s that.
Counterforce by BLACK MECHA

We Have a Commentary: The Klinik, “Sabotage”

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On this month’s Patreon-supported bonus podcast, we’re discussing the first LP by legendary Belgian dark electro pioneers The Klinik. Sabotage, the only record to feature the four person line-up of the band is instructive, in that it threads the origins of the group in the wave scene with distinctly industrial aesthetics. We discuss both how it foreshadows The Klinik’s later work, and what is specifically unique about them at this early juncture. All this month on We Have a Commentary, an I Die: You Die bonus podcast. If you like you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

Observer: INVA//ID & Severe Illusion

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We were impressed with youthful one-person industrial act INVA//ID when we saw their live debut at Das Bunker 21 back in October. Despite it being his first show, the exuberance and energy of his performance was infectious, with any rough edges in terms of presentation and production more than made up for by the sheer force with which the songs were delivered. That same energy is apparent in the project’s first proper release, the 16-track deep Solitude: while it’s clear that the project is still finding its identity within a broader spectrum of electro-industrial, there’s a genuine conviction that comes through loud and clear on each cut. Tracks like the tightly sequenced “Cold Blood” and the surging “Why I Lie” call to mind mid-period Numb via the aggressive vocal delivery, which work in sharp contrast to mid-tempo crawlers like “Never Again” and “Tormented” that show a real interest in grooves and rhythmic variation. There’s also some surprisingly musical touches on display, like how “Form of Color” allows a slippery melody to dart between its clacking percussion, or how “The Cast” uses disparate sequences to build a real elastic tension. There are certainly tracks that feel less refined, some, like instrumental “Time Slip”, feel underdeveloped, while others like closer “Shame” are decent ideas stretched too thin. That said, when a track like “Never Again” hits with its slamming percussion, tweaky synthlines and throat-tearing vocals it’s absolutely bracing, and evidence of good things yet to come as the act continues to ripen.
Solitude by INVA//ID

Severe Illusion - A Familiar State Of Passive Compliance
Severe Illusion
A Familiar State Of Passive Compliance
“Can you hear me ignore you?” It’s caustic wordplay like that which first endeared Severe Illusion to us upon the release of No More Alive Than You Deserve. On the surface it might seem as though the Swedish duo’s brand of bitter and unremitting dark electro would be perfectly suited to address the chaos and unease which seems to have flooded the globe since their last release. But given how Ulf Lundblad and Fredrik Djurfeldt have always looked askance at any notions of “progress”, or even “civilization” for that matter, it’s likely that they view the current state of things as a slight difference in degree rather than being of a new, horrible order. In short, we’re perhaps just beginning to realise that the world is as bleak as Severe Illusion have always seen it, and they’re here on schedule with the A Familiar State Of Passive Compliance EP, providing five steely tracks of plodding and grinding beats and squalls. Opener “No Rage To Spare” and “All The Way Down” find an economic balance of drums and bass while slightly off-kilter synths hover ominously and Djurfeldt’s distorted voice barks. As always, it’s the controlled and even way in which Severe Illusion deliver such ostensibly ugly work which renders it all the more unsettling, with the exception of closer “White White White”. It’s an agitated and plainly stated track about the failure of discourse in eras of alternate facts and echo chambers, with the notion of “free speech” becoming a hollow joke, with skims of synth programming growing ever flightier as total rhythmic chaos breaks out in the drums. It’s a feverish track which underscores just how dire things feel right now, even if it’s business as usual for Severe Illusion
A Familiar State of Passive Compliance by Severe Illusion

We Have a Technical 190: Burrito Math

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Kirlian Camera

We’re back in the swing of things and talking post-2000 Kirlian Camera on the second 2018 episode of We Have a Technical! Yes, Bruce and Alex chew over what exactly Elena brought to the table and how it changed KC, along with Angelo’s enduring lyrical themes, and how regal and magisterial the band has become over their last four albums. What’s up with the connection between darkwave and space travel? What’s the difference between covering “We Will Rock You” and “Comfortably Numb”? All of these questions and more will be plumbed as we look at the latter-era catalog of one of the most mysterious yet evocative bands to emerge from the goth-industrial spectrum. Where else are you gonna find that kind of discussion? If you like you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.

DIN, “Real Dirt”

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Real Dirt
DKA Records

The debut LP of Los Angeles duo DIN (not to be confused with the 90s Canadian EBM project of the same name) occupies an interesting space in the broader electronic music landscape. While the Josie and Greg Vand’s work is defined by deep grooves and movement, it never really approaches those ideas in the same way as Greg’s work in High-Functioning Flesh. Rather Real Dirt makes songs that hypnotically turn in wide psychedelic circles, just this side of hazy and atmospheric but with a real tangibility and weight.

The album’s most notable style is one established early on “Oil”: a funky and round synth bassline is punctuated by clinky percussion and peals of delayed and reverbed guitar while Josie recites the lyrics in a deadpan monotone. The song doesn’t vary much throughout, which gives it almost a narcotic effect, bypassing a lot of the conscious ways we process music to tap into our base response to pattern and rhythm. They replicate that feel to a tee numerous times over, on “Be In the Light” where pitched cowbells make up the song’s ever so slight climax, and the sparser “Dream Your Way” that plays like the previously noted tracks at halftime.

There is some variation in the album’s nine tracks though, especially when the duo let the well-defined edges of their carefully arranged songs blur a bit. “Your Right Hand” turns the fog machine up, allowing the song’s vocals and far-off guitar accompaniment to wander a bit, creating tension as the rapidly cycling synthline pushes things forward to their conclusion. DIN even forego consistent rhythm entirely on atmospheric closer “AM” and “Radiating”, where a thudding kick drum falls in a way that constantly seems off-axis, always landing just to the left of where your ear expects it to.

Real Dirt really does have a pleasingly unique feel to it. Not quite smooth enough to fit in with the minimal synth crowd and just a bit too slippery and nebulous for post-punk, it invokes those genres while still feeling like a weirdo permutation of its own. The Vands use foggy atmospherics with just the right amount of dusky colour to enliven them, helping the LP to dig in in subtle ways, oscillating steadily from beginning to end.

Buy it.

Real Dirt by DIN

Vomito Negro, “Black Plague”

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Vomito Negro - Black Plague

Vomito Negro
Black Plague

The release of Black Plague, the fourth LP from Belgium’s Vomito Negro since their reactivation in 2010, was pushed back some months “to re-record some songs [...]in order to remain that typical Vomito Negro sound,” in the band’s own words. With this many years in the game, Gin Devo and recent collaborator Sven Kadanza are well aware of the dark EBM act’s longstanding legacy with fans, and have endeavored to integrate slight variations on recent records like Death Sun and Fall Of An Empire without tarnishing that legacy. Black Plague follows in that path with plenty of thrills new and old, though is occasionally hamstrung by its own formula.

The mix of atmosphere and beat we’ve come to expect from new era VM greets us with the opening jab-uppercut combo of “Constantine’s Death” and “Inside Your Brain”. The former gives us slow, metallic rhythms dragging themselves along a cellar floor, while the latter spews fiery paranoia and anxiety overtop a classic slugging mid-tempo EBM rhythm arrangement. From there on out, a third element’s added to that dynamic in the form of a classic techno influence in, amongst other moments, the shuffle happening beneath the kick of the title track, and closing track “Unleash My Demons” which recalls the fusing of acid to Klinik-like minimalism done by the likes of The Pain Machinery and Pure Ground.

Each of these elements are well within Devo and Kadanza’s wheelhouse, and they execute them with the sense of vitriol and malady the band and records’ monikers indicate. But midway through the record a sense of torpor creeps in; it’s tough to distinguish the neighboring “Sister Voodoo” and “Pagan Epitaphs” from one another, both going back to the opening track’s slow hypnosis. The same could be said for “Thorn”, “Bone Cutter”, and “Hungry Cannibals”, which are all solid EBM numbers in the classic Vomito Negro vein, but in sequence they lose the punch they should have.

There’s nothing at all wrong with any of the individual tracks on Black Plague. In fact, taken track by track it could be argued to be the strongest collection of numbers Devo’s assembled since rebooting Vomito Negro. It’s only in their close proximity to one another that the constancy of the record’s individual pieces becomes a liability, albeit one die-hards will likely forgive. The old-school appeal of Vomito Negro is enduring and well-served here, but in trying to preserve “that typical Vomito Negro sound”, the band may have limited Black Plague as an album.

Buy it.

Tracks: January 8th, 2018

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As we’re quick to mention, at the end of the day I Die: You Die is just made up of two people with day jobs, and despite our best efforts to seek out and discuss as much of the music we feel is relevant to the site’s purview, sometimes releases slip through the cracks, especially towards the end of the year. Plenty of readers and listeners (thank you!) have already pointed us towards a few of their favourites from last year which we missed out on, but even accounting for those we’ve made note of several releases by bands we normally do our due diligence to cover which slipped past us. All of this is to say that, in addition to the slate of forthcoming releases we noted on the podcast, we’ll likely be peppering in the next month or so of posting with a handful of late 2017 releases we wanted to say at least something about. On with this week’s new tunes!

Glass Apple Bonzai photo courtesy of Jill Grant @Take it For Granted

Michael Idehall, “Six Six Sixties”
As we made brief mention of on last week’s podcast, there are several initiatives working to raise funds to aid Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s fight with cancer. One such endeavor is the pair of tribute releases assembled by Spanish label Unknown Pleasures (who should by now be familiar to fans of new and old coldwave and darkwave), with tracks spanning all of P-Orridge’s projects and featuring contributions by artists ranging from Black Egg to Peaches. Check in-house fave Michael Idehall’s take on “Six Six Sixties”, mastered by Nordvargr (not to go too off topic but that’s a duo we’d love to hear more collaboration from).
A Tribute To Genesis Breyer P-Orridge II [UPR 083] Digital version by VARIOUS ARTISTS COMPILATION

Glass Apple Bonzai, “A Million Foolish Hands (2008 Demo)”
Having been privy to some of the preamble to Glass Apple Bonzai’s debut, we got some sense of just how long Daniel Belasco had been working on the project, but the new Compendium release which unarchives dozens of demos and mixes from across GAB’s catalog is still gobsmacking. The solid songcraft which has always been the bedrock of the project is present throughout, but it’s fun to check out how Belasco workshopped specific synthpop shadings over the years.
Compendium V1 (Rarities, Remixes, and Demos) by Glass Apple Bonzai

11grams, “Give Me Death (Reincarnated mix by Dharmata 101 remix)”
US/Australia collaborative EBM project 11grams put out a solid debut project last year, one worthy of a chaser in the form of this compact remix single currenly available via Bandcamp. Featuring remixes by Am Tierpark and Dharmata 101 that take the project’s busy, beat-driven sound in distinct directions, the latter version especially which is very musical and groovy.
S.O.D. (Give Me Death) Single + Remixes by 11Grams

Klack, “Pump Up The Jam”
Giving Death in Rome a run for their money in the Technotronic tribute department, we’ve got Klack (that’s Eric Oehler of Null Device and Matt Fanale of Caustic so you know) with their take on this 90s eurodance classic. Given that Klack are explicitly an act who pay homage to the New Beat sound that laid some of the groundwork for classic eurodance, this one cover is extra appropriate. Can you guess who the super secret guest vocalist is?
Pump Up The Jam by klack

Snog, “Corporate Slave (Seeming RMX)”
We snarked pretty hard on the idea of staunch capitalist critic David Thrussel reissuing his signature hit as a 25th anniversary remix single before we even knew it was gonna be a double, and were all set to let vol. 2 pass without comment. That said, we couldn’t resist hearing what Alex Reed of Seeming might do with the 90s club hit, and it turns out it’s very in line with some of the ideas he was playing with circa the Worldburners era. Who else but Reed would have translated the song’s instantly recognizable rhythm into a sixties soul-clap milieu, complete with twirling pianos, contemporary samples and choppy guitar accents?
Corporate Slave 2525 Part II by SNOG

Ari Mason, “Se Ignoras Te”
Lastly, something well out of our usual field, some early sacred music as recorded by Ari Mason. A sharp break from the club-friendly darkwave of Creatures, Mason’s new record Musica Lunae is wholly made up of the vocal sacred repertoire in which she was originally trained. We’re somewhat out of our element in evaluating sacred music, but the production and design touches Mason’s added somewhat remind us of Wendy Carlos’ pioneering Moogery. Also, it’s difficult to not enjoy Palestrina.
Musica Lunae by Ari Mason

Caustic, “American Carrion”

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Caustic - American Carrion

American Carrion
Negative Gain Productions

Matt Fanale’s work as Caustic has achieved a sort of cult status, even within the already marginal confines of North American industrial. Some of that comes from his tenure (Fanale has been steadily releasing material and performing live for close to a decade and a half), but a large part of it comes from his engagement with his audience: as evidenced by his consistently successful crowd-funding efforts Fanale has made fans who are genuinely invested in him as an artist by virtue of his accessibility and candor. That reputation for foul-mouthed forthrightness serves him well on American Carrion, the first explicitly political record in his catalogue, a blending of the rough DIY sound he’s been re-cultivating and everyman outrage.

Musically the record picks up from the rugged, groove-based compositions of 2015′s Industrial Music. Given the broad themes of disillusionment with America’s political and social institutions in the Trump era, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are a number of beat-heavy shout-alongs. Opener “Purgative” and mid-album rager “Heads Down, Fingers Up” both ride tightly sequenced synth basslines that bubble underneath Fanale’s furiously delivered stream of targeted obscenities. “Fuck corrupt religions/Fuck the politicians” is pretty direct as messages go, but why play coy when it feels like the world is collapsing in on itself? It’s an anger rooted in a relatable anxiety that plays out across the album’s ten tracks. When Matt sneers “We’re all canaries in the mine” on the dubby Meat Beat-esque title track its half an expression of malaise and half uneasy hint at what horrors are still to come.

Fanale manages to parlay more nuanced critiques (health care, the rise of the alt-right, homophobia and misogyny) throughout American Carrion with subtle nods in vocal style to Stromkern, Nitzer Ebb, and PWEI. It’s a smaller point, perhaps, but that variety in delivery matches up with his willingness to switch back and forth between musical styles and influences. His oft-mentioned love for Underworld is carried forward in the excellent and surprisingly proggy chill-out voyage of “The Coital Staircase”, while “Fuck That Fascist Beat”, “Angel Grinder”, and the aforementioned “Heads Down” straddle the line between classic EBM programming and recent reworkings of those sounds from outside the genre.

Fanale’s always been a student proper of post-industrial history and there’s plenty of play with its styles and signifiers here even if the theme of American Carrion is strongly focused. Not quite a full-bore concept album, it is however the sort of record some have been prophesying over the past couple of years as western culture’s tailspin only grows sharper (though that’s cold comfort for those directly suffering at the hands of the forces Fanale decries). Less than a week in, 2018 looks to be no friendlier than its predecessor, and Caustic’s given the year its first thumb to the eye.

American Carrion by Caustic

Buy it.

We Have a Technical 189: Wonderscore

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Noblesse Oblige

Noblesse Oblige

We’re back in action, folks! Yep, the Senior Staff are back from the holidays refreshed and ready to talk about the releases which lie just ahead in the early months of 2018. We’re also doing a Pick Five segment in which we talk about some family-friendly faves we like to spin around the holidays. It’s 2018, and I Die: You Die’s champing at the bit! If you like you can rate and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, download directly or stream from the widget down below.


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