Various Castleparty 2002

If the torch of gothic music is kept lit in any way, it is the music festivals to which we owe thanks. These large, multi-day, multi-stage events continue in country upon country across the pond, helping to spread the sounds and introduce new acts, as well as re-introducing the old — sort of an European Lollapalooza, minus the college rock. This release celebrates the yearly shindig held at Poland’s Bolkow Castle, bringing together bands of the goth, metal and darkwave genres. If you’re looking for familiarity here, goth favourites from the Netherlands Clan of Xymox show up, as well as Germany’s Das Ich and England’s New Model Army. But the biggest treats on this comp are the acts that you don’t likely know of. God’s Bow, an electronic project out of Poland, deliver female-fronted dark electronic reminiscent of latter-day Depeche Mode. Also not to be missed is Poland’s Variete, a darkwave act combining the minimalism of Joy Division with the early goth sound of Faith-era Cure. The 16 tracks are varied, bouncing between the heavy and the soft, the electro and the virtually acoustic. I envy the opportunity to hear so much fine music over the span of two days in such a unique venue, but I suppose our young land is a bit lacking in the castle department. As I always say, there‘s no better way to hear a bunch of new bands than in a collection such as this. As a bonus, the good folks at Metal Mind Productions include bios of each of the acts, web sites included. (Independent)