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Impetus - CD 2002
Synthpop.net
Dark Realms magazine
DJ Trauma

Electroage webzine
Electrogarden.com
Gothic Beauty Magazine
Gothic Paradise webzine
Legends Magazine
OUTBURN - issue #20
Prospective Magazine
Re:generation webzine
Toronto industrial Kollective
Memento Materia
MK Ultra - Magazine
Synthpop.ru (in Russian)
Gothling.com
DJ Aceldama
Peter Mahoney (www.seventh-circle.com)
________________________________

REVIEWS

 

Synthpop.net
This is the ninth release for the Nilaihah record label, and the debut album for Backlash. Now, as I understand it, the band has since changed vocalists for their second album. However, this album features Malin Andersson, a female lead vocalist, instead of the current male lead singer. Anyway, I first encountered this band through the second Volume of the Venusaxx compilation series (in fact, the first track of this album was the track on that compilation). Then, after hearing "Anodyne For The Weak" on the State of Synthpop 2003 compilation, I knew I had to pick this album up. Both tracks are very high quality blends of the harsher noises of Industrial and EBM with a strong synthpop feel. "Alter Ego" is the only track to feature heavily processed vocals throughout, (I can't even tell if it's still the female singer singing), but it makes it distinctive from the other tracks, and with it's more EBM-friendly stomping beat and distortion, this track probably will see a lot of club play. "Liberation", while it takes a little while to get to the chorus, really has a solid hook to it, one that I really found top-notch. This is a very solid album, with a good bit of crossover appeal possibility for fans of Electro and EBM music, as well as Synthpop fans. While the most impressive tracks (to me) were the ones I had heard previously, there are several very solid songs on here as well. A album worth checking into! Synthpop.net

Dark Realms
There must be something in the water in Sweden capable of generating fine artists who create catchy music. From the opening track "Blind," one is simply drawn into a world of infectious dance grooves and vocoder effects. For the underground club kid, there aren't as many harsh or dark enough tracks that may interest them. This is understandable since most artist's receiving club play emphasize mind-numbing repetitive fodder without any soul that scream vocals that are hardly ever decipherable. Backlash crafts songs one can dance to, but also make sure to insert lyrics that transcend national origin and age boundaries. The other distinction is that "Impetus" will find its way circling the mainstream clubs before long because of its cross-over allure. There is a bit of a retro appeal with the utilization of robotic vocals that once were the trademark of Afrika Bambaataa, Giorgio Moroder and other luminaries of the high energy dance hall days, but that is where the comparisons end. Clearly, Backlash gives a nod to the forebears of the day without ripping them off like some other prominent electro-artists. The major highlights for this reviewer were the tracks sung by Malin Andersson, who simply tweaked as much emotion possible for this genre. Her contributions to the opening track as well as "Anodyne For The Weak," "Fix," "Liberation," "Visionary Fields," "Regression Is No Option" and "Heal" ought to make her a household name before long with enough of a push. The male delivered robotic styles are more aggressive for today's underground clubs, which may cause many DJ's to foolishly overlook Andersson's more seductive percussive and brilliant contributions. The closest one could compare this band with is a highly danceable Kraftwerk with the addition of a lovely female robotic component. If you like to dance to electronic music with a crossover appeal, this CD will keep you moving for quite some time. --review by Mike Ventarola of Dark Realms

DJ Trauma
BAND OF THE WEEK: BACKLASH - "Impetus" - Memento Materia/Nilaihah Records
Backlash's place with North American label Nilaihah provides a good perspective for the sound of this Swedish synth-trip-pop band. Before I even noted that Nilaihah is also home to The Azoic and Fiction 8, I had been thinking to myself, "Hmm, I think the fans of The Azoic and Fiction 8 would really relate to this Backlash album." But that barely scratches the surface in commenting on the synthesis of styles on "Impetus." I could just say that this album contains much of what is painfully missing from the club scene today, and that would be say enough. But that's not paying much service to the band or to music fans, so let's continue.

"Impetus" has the basslines needed to keep the cadence of the songs mixed with it in clubs, the mysterious, vocorder-laden vocals (though a little too quiet) to make people take notice of something new (and strong vocals ARE important to people, even in clubs), the very cleverly arranged synth melodies, and--most important--the sexy, trippy atmosphere missing from SO MUCH club music these days. Fans will include the said Fiction 8, The Azoic, plus Massive Attack, Beborn Beton, Fading Colours, Delerium, Epsilon Minus, HMB, WTE-era Apoptygma Berzerk, Battery and St. Ettienne. Backlash should be very proud to have successfully produced such a complete, such a solid album. Each song reveals more and more elements to sink yourself into with each listen. A must-buy. Good luck trying to find your favorite song. When you do, reply back. I'd love to hear about it.
Rated A+ --review by DJ Trauma - http://www.djtrauma.net


Electroage
Electroage's Favorite - February 2002
Each year, some releases are totally ignored from the plot; some for a good reason while we're still wondering why the others didn't gain more attention. Backlash, a new discovery from Sweden's Memento Materia, falls into the second category. Many factors can explains why Impetus hasn't reached us before, but this isn't the point here as Backlash is an excellent surprise and perhaps, a new breed of modern electro-pop. From the first listen, we know that Backlash is apart from its contemporaries and the trio isn't afraid to break some barriers; the creativity shown on Impetus is amazing. In fact, the album is an adventurous mix of IDM, 80s pop, electro, disco, modern electronics and this melting pot makes of Backlash a melting-pop breed. Impetus' charm resides in its structure, tempers with satisfying minimalist, but extremly danceable, beats and careful attention to details. Also, Malin Andersson's vocals are a captivating listen; she carries the songs with elegance and the use of voice effects is a great addition (although, it would have been nice to hear her without those effects), renforcing the synthetic pop character of Backlash. "Liberation" and "Blind' are particularly excellent pieces, with just the right degree of pronounced beats and technoid manipulations. If Madonna would have worked with both Covenant and Autechre, the result could be close to this and just explains the complex sound of Backlash. "Alter Ego" plays with a more pronounced club direction, moving with an insidous groove, an astounishing electronic texture and a tasteful use of computerized male vocals. The instrumental title track is another stand-out with its Kraftwerk-esque drive and so does the calm synthetic atmosphere of "Regression is No Option." The recording quality of Impetus is flawless. The sound quality is deep and hides the many subtelties and nuances of what is Backlash's music. Hopefully, the album will get more recognition now than since its release, because this is an excellent work of electronics that goes beyond synthpop conventions. Remarkable. Backlash are: Malin Andersson, Niklas Lundqvist, Oskar Lygner. --Review by Final Man - Electroage Music

Electrogarden.com
The sublime synthpop of Swedish band Backlash had its North American debut back in August 2002. Impetus was originally released in Sweden in 2001 on the Memento Materia label. A best approximation of Backlash's sound is an amalgamation of classic 80's synthpop, the computer world of Kraftwerk circa 1980-1981, and innocuous Eurodisco. Malin Andersson's silky smooth vocal range is uncannily reminiscent of Shirley Manson mixed with Beth Gibbons. Unfortunately her strong vocals were sometimes buried a bit too deep in the mix and should have been more of a focal point. The band's obsession with heavily processed vocals aptly captured that Kraftwerkian retro element in the music. Niklas Lindquist (music, lyrics) and Oskar Lygner (music, producer, mixer, and engineer), the two original band members, have crafted a well-polished synthpop album that leaves one with the expectation that Backlash will be at the forefront of cutting edge synthpop for years to come. Songs such as Blind (Radio Edit) and Liberation are the perfect saccharine narcotic best suited for helping you forget about what it was that you were so upset about. A harder-edged song like Spirit In Reverse added a nice change of pace. -- Review by Michael Casano - Electrogarden.com

Gothic Beauty Magazine
Sliding in beneath the razor-wire deadline, Nilaihah Records delivers a "Best of" mix in Impetus, the All-New US version of the same-name award-winning Swedish release, from newcomers BACKLASH. Impetus, nominated for the "best album of 2001" at the Swedish Alternative Music Awards, introduces irresistible vocals by Malin Andersson; electric wire and sweet satin
coalesce, providing a procession comparable to Battery and Portishead, cascading over Trip hop electronica with drum n' bass, and essential Industrial influences. Melting sugar through absinthe, "Blind" EP tracks (licensed from Sweden's premiere electro label, Memento Materia Records) liberate intoxicating bass, echoing through the chest cavity and into soul. Ignore the wallflowers! Feast your dance fetish upon Impetus, new from BACKLASH now!
5/5 stars --review by Jett Black - Gothic Beauty Magazine

Gothic Paradise
Hailing from Sweden, Backlash was formed in 1998 originally by Niklas Lundqvist and Oskar Lygnar. But it wasn't until 2000 when Malin Andersson joined them on vocals. It was this trio that released their debut album Impetus on the Memento Materia label in 2001. This album received rave reviews all over Sweden and much of Europe. In 2002 they released the Blind EP on the same label. Now, in August of 2002, America is finally presented with the debut album from this trio, which is a combination of the first two European releases and titled Impetus.

Their style is almost pure electro pop with various elements of drum 'n bass, trip hop and even small bits of industrial influences. They definitely have developed their own unique sound with a pop edge borrowing from the underground genres combined with female vocals. Fans of labelmates The Azoic and the legendary electro group Kraftwerk, should really enjoy the music from this band.

This release of Impetus combines tracks from the debut European release along with selections from the 2002 Blind EP. After listening to this album several times through I've grown to appreciate their sound and the apparent influences found throughout each track. While it is definitely on an upbeat and uplifting pop level, not usually what I present on this site, it is really enjoyable! Throughout the album the smooth female vocals drift and sway sometimes carrying a muffled, distorted edge to them, while other times they are crisp, clear and angelic. And of course, the music propels the emotions and underlying beauty of these vocals straight to the listener. The first track is a perfect example of this with slightly vocoded vocals and a synthpop feel with "blind (radio edit)".

While this synthpop feeling is the overall mood and dominant style throughout the album, there are some slight variations in style that really make this a full and complete album. A good example of this is "anodyne for the weak" with some break-beats and drum 'n bass laced throughout. However, it's the completely vocoded robotic vocals on "alter ego" that is a complete deviation from the rest of the album. Meanwhile, the music is still a great driving synthpop. This is a really great track and fast becoming one of my favorites on this album. I have to just mention one last track that is probably my favorite and very catchy. "liberation" has a very 80's New Wave feel similar to something you might hear from Celebrate The Nun, but maybe not quite so driving. While exhibiting this popular vintage style, the song has a smooth, flowing and very catchy upbeat synth feel. And finally, I don't want to leave the impression that it's all about upbeat synthpop. In fact, there are even a few mid-tempo tracks, including the last two "visionary fields" and "regression is no option". These two ballads bring to mind again some of the mid-tempo ballads from the 80's scene.

This is definitely an album for nostalgic 80's New Wave and synthpop fans to check out. If you really enjoy the lighter side of synthpop, then you will love this album. 4/5 stars --review by Jacob - Gothic Paradise

Legends Magazine
Backlash was first conceived in 1998 by Niklas Lundqvist and Oskar Lygner both of whom hail from Lidköping, Sweden. By 2000, the duo became a trio with the addition of Malin Andersson. This successful band was brought to the North American shores by the ever astute Kristy Venrick, owner of Nilaihah Records, thereby demonstrating that there is simply so much good music being made in the world that needs to be discovered. At first listen, some may be a bit disoriented because there is such a heavy emphasis on vocoder effects. Usually bands opt for this studio trick when their vocalist can't carry a tune. That isn't the case with Backlash since it is quite discernable to hear the singing voice layered under the electronic effect. Some have stated that the band is a cross between And One meets Kraftwerk and Front Line Assembly. That is understandable as far as comparisons may go, but they certainly have their own unique sound. Once one is acclimated to the vocal transition you are then left to hear the wonderfully expansive dance electronic work that they have crafted. This EBM style is friendly and conducive in both a club and home setting. It is upbeat, infectious to the point of addiction and dares you not to love it with each listen. The band was also astute enough to interject the male and female robotic effects to round out the aggression with elements of the soft. Once we get past all the electronic wizardry, we are left with some rather poignant lyrics and sentiments that are introspectively poetic without being mawkish.

"Blind (radio edit)" takes a love longing sentiment where one lover understands the depth of their beloved but the other partner seems blinded by this.

"Anodyne For The Weak" bubbles and percolates at the intro before pumping the groove up a few notches. It is a mind talk dealing with keeping up an outward appearance even though everything inside has gone cold.

"Alter Ego" pumps the EBM with yet another self-talk type of lyrical track. Here, we are faced with having to battle our own conscience when we simply don't have the self esteem or stamina to keep up appearances.

"Fix" has international "hit" written all over it and is flawless in its present state. This is the type of track that could be playing in the background somewhere and for some reason, you find yourself singing it to yourself as it replays in your mind. Lyrically, the delivery takes us towards our own human frailty while we wonder if our search for a higher power will ever come to elevate us out of our present existence. EBM Dj's would be foolish not to incorporate this gem into their playlists as it has a hell of a long shelf life for rotation that could mix well with classics from the 80's as well as some of today's more popular club fare.

"Heal" expounds upon simply coasting through our daily existence until the love and affection of another elevates us to a new mental high.

"Impetus In Reverse" is designed for the industrial clubs that also include Kraftwerk in their playlist.

"Spirit In Reverse" explores the personality trait of obsessiveness that haunts us. It is that place where we realize we are in a comfort zone that isn't healthy for us, yet we are immobile to transcend its clutches upon our lives. The gritty electronic introduction segues into a gentle synthpop and then kicks back in with the aggressive tones.

"Liberation" is a double entendre of sorts. On the one hand there is that undeniable feeling of being free when in love, yet there is always that inner voice that warns that we are being lied to or will be deceived somewhere down the road. It is this culmination between reality and emotional intensity that causes us to allow ourselves to fall into an oblivion like some mental drug. This is another track that also screams out international hit.

"Blind (slot b mix)" adds touches of Kraftwerk and 80's synthpop elements to create a crossover track for many types of playlists. There is quite a bit going on here that would make this ideal for DJ's who like to beat match.

"Visionary Fields" takes us to that place where we need our nocturnal dreams of yesterday when love was right and the world didn't seem so cold and emotionally barren. This mid-tempo track forces us to see our own relational dysfunction and helps to give a voice to the complexity of love and life in the modern age.

"Regression Is No Option" is the crux of all relational reality. No matter how one tries to salvage a broken romance, it never quite seems to fall back into its original place. After a number of songs that were self recriminating, the entirety of it all is summed up rather poetically in this track. This, like the preceding track is mid-tempo.

Backlash gave voice to all those emotions within the confines of a relationship. As the title of the CD suggests, there is an "impetus" because without the friction, there isn't any personal growth. The tracks delve into many facets of love, loss and longing until the culmination gives rise to the need of transcending self reproach. The male-female vocal counterpoints work rather well, however Malin Andersson's vocals elevate the tracks to new heights. Whether one is into good electronic music or seeking out new dance music for a club or home environment, Backlash will deliver for quite some time. The only negative comment is that their website has been under construction for some time, so gleaning information will have to come from a variety of sources, most notably from their US parent company Nilaihah Records.

Band Line Up: Malin Andersson, Niklas Lundqvist, and Oskar Lygner
--Michael Ventrarola - Legends Magazine


OUTBURN Magazine
Electro-pop with female vocals: Originally released in Sweden on Memento Materia, Nilaihah brings this sweet sounding electro dance pop trio stateside for all to enjoy. Impetus is 11 tracks of pure electronic pop that is accented by sweet whispery, dreamy female vocals and the occassional offerings of computerized male vocals that are reminiscent of electro masters Kraftwerk. Opening with the daydream inspired sounds of "Blind" and then shifting into the light EBM pounding of "Anodyne for the Weak," Impetus provides to be an excellent entry into pop oriented dance music. Although the overall theme of the album is submerged in the soft vocal melodies and loose trip-hop, drum & bass, and high-energy dance, Backlash prove that they are not a one-dimensional dance act. Slid among the mix on Impetus is harsh electronics and industrial elements on tracks such as "Impetus (98 Version)" and "Spirit in Reverse." These two tracks, as well, as subtle samplings on several other songs, provide an interesting flip side to the normally melodic nature of this album, confirming that Backlash are more than just a pop band. Talented, motivating, and full of life, Impetus is one of the better electronic dance albums to circulate in quite some time. --Joseph Graham [9/10] - Outburn


Prospective Magazine
Backlash from the Swedish town Lindköping play a really appreciative form of "synthpop". A complex and diverse sound with references to Kraftwerk, Air and a very special twist on the sound. A modern and in many ways innovative piece of work. The album is woven together in a way few other people in the scene could have done. The slight balance between exquisite carpentry and modern art. You will find 12 strong songs. It is so dancefloor and radio-friendly that it hurts. This electronic pop with a touch of 80's, wrapped in a super way to create something really excellent! Imagine if they came from Liverpool. --Atle Marcussen [9/10] - Prospective Magazine

Re:generation webzine
After two releases in their home country of Sweden on the premier electronic label Memento Materia, Backlash now deliver their unique blend of electronic music to fans in the United States with their debut domestic release Impetus. Their style lies somewhere between the trip-hop infused Hooverphonic and the more aggressive drum 'n bass Haujobb circa Solutions for a Small Planet. Impetus is a compilation of tracks from their debut album of the same name and the Blind EP, both released in Sweden. With a trance-like introductory build-up, a sinister backbeat and the beautiful vocal line "I'm supposed to trust in heaven, why am I still left alone", "Anodyne for the Weak" stands out above all the other tracks on the album. The beauty of "Anodyne for the Weak" contrasts heavily with the percussive thud and the heavily processed computer-like vocals of the hardcore track "Impetus," which may just inspire a moment of dancefloor frenzy. The slot b mix of "Blind" makes one imagine a late-night ride on the Autobahn with the covertible top down, wind blowing through your hair as Malin Andersson sings the chorus "Visualize your faith in me and purify my mind." Some day soon, car companies may just discover that the intense and emotional electronic pop of Backlash may just be the perfect antidote for commercial cloning. --Nick Garland - Re:generation webzine

Toronto Industrial Kollective
I think I surprised a few people when I requested the new Backlash from a DJ. Synthpop with slight elements of drum n' bass and trip hop. Backlash has a good funky beat, coupled with sexy female vocals, in a combination that wins me over. Could it be that I have so pummelled myself with abrasive and intense sounds than I have worn myself out, and need to relax and take a break with the soft soothing sounds of Backlash? This CD won the Best Album of 2001 from the Swedish Alternative Awards. So if you don't believe me, believe a Swede. "Alter Ego" has come out as my favourite track on the CD. The vocals are manipulated to such a degree that I was not sure if it was the same vocalist (still don't). With a total dance floor beat, I found myself claiming that this song would be Niliahah Records next "Let Go" (a reference to the big club hit by Fiction 8, also signed to Niliahah Records). Nice catchy vocals and a chorus of "Everything I say is wasted, everything I touch is made of dirt" fit the paradox that people seem to love to dance and have fun to the most depressing songs. --review by DJ Squid - T. i . K. webzine

Memento Materia
Backlash creates both innovative techno with intelligent dance beats as well as calm, beautiful electronic soundscapes. --from the Memento Materia website

MK Ultra Magazine
Impetus: motivating force; incentive. In a word, the title of Backlash's first U.S. release explains itself. This Swedish band has been quickly climbing the charts in Europe and there is little wonder as to why. The electronic soundscapes are like nothing else out there. They have a calming effect on the mind, making the listener feel detached from reality if they so desired to be. The effect on the body is not wholly different, but there is one major difference, which is where the title comes in. While the music relaxes the mind and body, it also fuels a desire to move in smooth, relaxed movements that are as graceful and calm as the melodic voice of Malin Andersson as she sweeps forward and backwards through the varying tempos of the music. There are obvious industrial influences, the most comparable being Front Line Assembly, but the overall sound is more poetic, more beautiful. The song "Alter Ego" contains all of these elements and cannot be described as anything short of phenomenal. It begins with electronic sounds that are intermittent like rain droplets, then sweeps into waves of layered effects that swirl about like a gentle tornado of warm water that caresses the listener as their body moves to the hard bass line. -- Paul Reighn of MK Ultra Magazine

Gothling.com
Modern Synthpop with a dark-techno and electroclash edge at times. Like Ladytron? You'll like this, anyway. Chilly yet emotive female vocals plead over irresistable beats. Tracks "Blind" and "Anodyne for the Weak" are sure to please. This is on my Top Ten of 2002 List. Again, from Nilaihah Records.

DJ Aceldama
-"Nilaihah distributes this Memento Materia Swedish album in North America."
-"Don't confuse this line up with the new Backlash line-up coming out soon. This has a female vocalist and is a very different sound than the new material."
-"Laid back female vocals on top of solid programming, some excellent distortion used on some songs, all and all a solid disc."
-"A 'worth considering' buy while the disc is excellent in many regards, it really doesn't stand out unless the sound really catches you personally." -DJ Aceldama

Peter Mahoney (www.seventh-circle.com)
Having not really enjoyed the last few offerings from Nilaihah Records, stumbling across Backlash makes me think that the label have finally found an act that are worth the promotion beyond a single song. With their single, 'Blind', Sweden's Backlash have a very good thing going on their first US release. Not only is it well-produced, mixed and mastered, but the songs also stand up to repeat listening, which is a considerable feat for many darker electronic acts, let alone being able to blend dark atmospheres with poppy, upbeat melodies and still come away without getting tagged as another synthpop act. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the album actually flows. Leading off with the danceable 'Blind', into the slightly more subdued 'Anodyne for the weak', and on to more upbeat territory, Backlash always seems to manage a steady progression of moods and textures throughout the album, leaving hope in my heart that this won't be the last we hear from them. The only real downside is that Backlash seem to be promoted as a trip-hop influenced act, which I can hear, but only well-into the album do they really let it shine with 'Heal', which is a nice departure from the standard club-stomp beats. My personal favourite on Impetus would have to be 'Spirit in Reverse', which seems to really make the album come together by really blending all of it's influences and sounds into a really impressive track. The only other complaint I have is that while they use it well, in the future, less pitch-correction FX would let the vocals really impress the listener.
RATING: 5.5/7
www.seventh-circle.com


Other links in various languages
http://www.bloom.de/articles/article_002826.htm
http://www.re-flexion.de/reviews/2002-04/reviews-april-2002.htm
http://www.violator-crew.de/rezensionen/rezi-backlash-blind.htm
http://home.no.net/cmisje/goth/old.html
http://members.netscapeonline.co.uk/barcodexl/Reviewselectronica.html
http://www.ladefuncion.com/coment/comentarios/0255backlash.htm


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