Coil | Backwards CD / Vinyl Review

[dropcap]It [/dropcap]is virtually impossible to objectively review Coil – they have created more music with two core members in less than 30 years than North Korea in total, under different monikers – of course Coil, Black Light District, ELpH, Zos Kia… And we’re just speaking about the stuff that happened after Throbbing Gristle, with whom Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson radically re-shaped the music scene before teaming up with Jhonn Balance to form Coil, that genre bending phenomenon I can barely approach with something so trivial like mere words. I raise you Horse Rotorvator, I raise you Musick To Play In The Dark I and II, I raise you Love’s Secret Domain – albums that shaped and influenced more bands than a music journalist could possibly claim to know. One of the bands, known not just to journalists, that has been deeply influenced by Coil, is Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails.

Being a huge Coil fan himself, eventually forming a project called How To Destroy Angels, Trent Reznor asked Coil to remix five tracks off The Downward Spiral named Recoiled, a collaboration that has seen the light of day in 2014 – but their collaboration went further than just a few remix projects. In a time span from 1992-1996, first at Coil’s home in England, then in New Orleans at Trent Reznor’s studio, Coil recorded what was supposed to be released in the early 90s, but due to legal reasons, never saw the light of day. A re-worked version of the album, called The New Backwards, was originally released as a bonus 12″ given away with The Ape of Naples – is crucially different to the release I am reviewing. But so much about history. Hard fact time now.

I am not even remotely objective, I warned you already. I am a starving Coil fan, a sucker for every sound bit I can get my hands on, and I am completely absorbed into their strange world, in Coil’s dark, weird, and tentative sound structures, hanging on every processed syllable uttered by Jhonn Balance and perfectly destroyed and re-composed by Peter Christopherson, with my body being rocked, not rocking, back and forth, automotively, capturing and resonating the sound waves, over and over. With Fire of the Mind and A Cold Cell being perfect hymns, Copacaballa utilizing Breakbeat like rhythms and ghost train synth pads, Nature is a Language more resembling a ritual chant sung by a possessed priest that got his hands on a The Smiths song… And brooding over all, the amazing Heaven’s Blade, one song I would clearly point out as my highlight – displaying how glorious Coil could have been as an EBM driven band with a very experimental edge. Sure, I could enumerate every song and tell you why it is amazing, but most of the songs are known to you anyway, and all I could say is nerdist details of a synth nerd. This is likely not what you want to read here.

But – What fresh hell am I supposed to say? Getting this one as a Coil fan is an absolute No-Brainer, and even if you’re not, or completely unfamiliar with the band – shame on you, we’ve tried our best to convince you that Coil has more vital importance than sliced bread – you should get this one anyway. Coil is making a comeback for some reason and I am exceptionally pleased about that. Backwards, in the form it is released now, is another proof that Coil is important and the band’s footsteps in the musical landscape are enormous. Thus it is extremely hard to properly review and validate the value of this release. How dare I to judge Coil’s creation? All I can do is to stand here on Mount, enlightened and touched by the hand of a deity, showing off my impressive beard and parting the waves of many, many records being released these days, probably overthink my current state and exclaim with the creed of a prophet – This is amazing.


  1. Intro
  2. Backwards
  3. Amber Rain
  4. Fire of the Green Dragon
  5. Be Careful What You Wish For
  6. Nature Is A Language
  7. Heaven’s Blade
  8. CopaCaballa
  9. Paint Me As A Dead Soul
  10. AYOR (It’s In My Blood)
  11. A Cold Cell
  12. Fire Of The Mind

Get it here