(Review By William Wheaton)
The biggest and best surprise in music for me of late 2010-early 2011 was the Metalhit Free Download series from the on-line metal label Metalhit, which I've written about on here. That was six hours of definitive underground metal released for free on-line. This fall the biggest and best musical surprise comes thanks to the same individual. Mike Riddick owns both Metalhit and The Fossil Dungeon, which is not a metal label but rather a gothic label that's been around about ten years, and we have a free mp3 album of material from the Fossil Dungeon catalogue. For awhile I would have told you the best gothic playlist around was to be found by tuning into the Doomed.fm station on Soma.fm. Riddick here has put together a much shorter playlist of material, but it probably competes with what you would hear if you listened to an hour of the Doomed station. Doomed has a few problems, one being that they play the same sound clips from the original Halloween film over and over. Mike Riddick really has quite an ear, as evidenced by the bands he's found for his labels and by his own band, The Soil Bleeds Black. It could very well be that he owns the one of the best gothic label around these days and one of the best metal label around these days, which is an accomplishment.
The only band on here I'd heard before is Mephisto Waltz who recall well from the 90's, their track on here is quite similar in sound to the track "Heaven or Las Vegas" by Cocteau Twins. Other bands on the compilation have more of a neo-classical or pseudo-medieval feel. Riddick's own band Soil Bleeds Black is like that. Caelum Bliss have almost a little bit of a metal element to their sound. A few of the songs sound more like that dance-oriented gothic music played at fetish clubs. "It's Time" by Butterfly Messiah is like that. Across the board,the compilation tends to focus on bands with female vocals, in particular bands that use female vocal harmonies. As you may have guessed, this is not musically revolutionary material. I won't pretend that is. If you go back to the In Goth Daze compilation put out by Cleopatra Records in 1994, and closed your eyes while it played, you might have difficulty determining which bands were 80's bands or 90's bands. It would be hard to place any of the bands on Gothic Daydreams as not being from the 90's or even the 80's without knowing otherwise. "I Don't Want You To Go" by Gifts in Secret on Gothic Daydreams sounds like something that might have played on college radio in 1984. This comes up again and again, but it seems veritably impossible for current gothic/industrial bands to surpass the kind of musical innovation that was taking place within gothic/industrial the 80's. I'm still uncovering obscure gothic/industrial bands of quality from the 80's. I hadn't even heard Brighter Death Now until this year. However, the music on this compilation sounds a lot better then some of the music being made now by gothic/industrial artists left over from the 80's. Psychic TV, a band from 30 years ago, has a new single for sale, which is a cover of a track by Can, a band from over 40 years ago. Some of this music is from ten years ago or more, and Mephisto Waltz has been around forever, but this music isn't as bad as dredging up Boyd Rice,Genesis P.Orridge or Sleep Chamber once again. That I can do without.