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Strangely coiled... never unravelled


Totally (and I mean totally) original

Some of it is truly unlistenable

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:



Quality and consistency of tracks

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How does it compare to the artist's other releasesNot applicable

How does it rate alongside the competitionGood

13 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (92%):
  1. Phildude
  2. zoobremia
  3. e.j.kingham
and 19 other members
helpful by (8%):
  1. JeeanA
  2. a-true-ben

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I seem to have developed something of a reputation for reviewing bands that most other Ciao members haven't heard of. Whether this has to do with the age and gender of the average Ciao member I don't know (nor am I willing to open that particular casket of snakes) but anyway- another day, another band review, and I doubt that many people will have heard of Coil, let alone listened to them.

Coil started out as an experimental one-man band (that one man being John Balance, a multi-instrumentalist with an interest in "sonic manipulation") in the early eighties. He teamed up with Peter Christopherson, who was a member of notorious industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle, and after they had recruited a number of other band members, they recorded their debut album "Scatology" in 1984.

This was the first of many Coil albums that would defy any sort of description let alone genre classification. The album is mostly industrial and synthetic noise, although the noise sometimes seems to hide a melody deep inside. Nevertheless this is one for Coil completists and anyone who likes an uncomfortable listening experience.

A number of other curious albums followed- "Nightmare Culture" in 1986, "Horse Rotorvator" from the same year, "Unreleased Themes from Hellraiser" in 1987 (incidentally this is exactly what this album is- instrumental mood pieces created specifically for the film Hellraiser, although they were never actually used for the film) and in 1990 a slightly more commercial album, "Love's Secret Domain" which featured some slightly more straightforward tracks.

Some of Coil's song titles are truly evocative- such as "Titan Arch", "Further Back and Faster", "Where Even the Darkness is Something to See" all of the "Love's Secret Domain" album. I would also say that this is one of their stronger albums, if not the strongest.

The other one to recommend would probably be "Horse Rotorvator" from 1986, a primoridal but still at least half-listenable industrial / gothic dirge featuring driving guitar, harsh electronica and some truly weird song titles- e.g "Penetralia", "Blood from the Air", "The Anal Staircase" etc. etc. Yes folks. This is a weird, weird band.

There is no doubt that Coil are true innovators, pushing back boundaries with each successive release, and they helped create industrial alternative music as we know it today. Unfortunately, much of their extensive back-catalogue is truly unlistenable or unfathomable or both. Whilst their better works conjure up a powerful sense of mystery and forboding in the listener, others just induce puzzlement.

That said, "Love's Secret Domain" and "Horse Rotorvator" are both worth listening to. Much of their other material may find you reaching for the Off Button fairly quickly. Nevertheless, I would still recommend the two aforementioned albums .

Very much an acquired taste.

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Comments about this review »

JeeanA 18.01.2007 00:16

Heh, I think I must be in a minority, because with just the exception of the odd one, I've heard of them all! But then my tastes are, shall we say, eclectic too? :o) (read as 'most people would think decidedly weird!)

battiest 24.03.2005 16:31

Doesn't really sound like the sort of music I like - I think?!#%!

SweetCaroline2 20.03.2005 12:14

No, never heard of them. Caroline

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Review Ratings »

This review of Coil has been rated:

"very helpful" by (92%):

  1. Phildude
  2. zoobremia
  3. e.j.kingham

and 19 other members

"helpful" by (8%):

  1. JeeanA
  2. a-true-ben

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.