'Subconscious Landscapes is the 16th studio album from Velvet Acid Christ and his time out they’ve funded things via the crowdfunding route, which is starting to look like the only way anyone can release music these days. That’s fine for a band who’ve been around for nearly quarter of a century and have built up a dedicated fanbase but it makes you wonder how newer bands are going to adapt to a drastically changing market. Anyway, it paid off for VAC (as a reviewer can I just say how much I love bands whose names can be abbreviated?) and here we are.
Bryan Erickson has described the album as being in the vein of Massive Attack and Delerium and that’s evident on the first track, Barbed Wire Garden, with opens with tinkling synths and a trip-hop style drumbeat, with vocals by Sabine Theroni of Psykkle which are a fair bit softer than Erickson’s but the track still contains the edge of darkness you’d expect from VAC and features samples taken from American Horror Story. Taste the Sin is instantly and clearly both darker and heavier with an oppressive beat. Theroni is back again on vocals but for some reason they didn’t quite work for me on this one, feeling out of place - as if I’d just opened a page on my web browser that had started playing something else in the background, which is a shame as I really enjoyed the rest of it. The next few tracks continue the mellow but shadowy feel of Barbed Wire Garden; on Grey Malgorzata Wacht of The Siren Project provides a vocal performance though there are no actual words, her voice is used as another instrument to add an organic layer to the mix of electronics that grows throughout the track.
This album is also VAC’s first ever vinyl release and features drastically different moods to each side of the vinyl, and therefore to each half of the album when listened to digitally. Though Strychnine is the first track on the album you could imagine playing in a club, with a much more obvious dance beat, this change really becomes apparent with Eye H8 U which contains a thumping dance rhythm along with hoarse vocals and horror movie overtones, topped off with a powerful chorus of “I fucking hate you” running throughout. In fact, the second half of the album often sounds like it could be the soundtrack to some industrial horror movie. While Zalflex has a stronger electro sound Evil Toxin and Empusa are both laced with dread and Empusa in particular is a grindingly heavy way to finish the album off.
So this is another solid release from Velvet Acid Christ. I would say I prefer the second half of the album with its sinister, evil tone and might have preferred it if the switch had come about sooner. I definitely think Erickson’s vocals suit that style of music more than when he takes over from the guest vocalists on The Last Goodbye and Dire but nevertheless the transition is excellently handled and the album as a whole is a strong one.'