German electro-industrial/darkwave outfit In Strict Confidence became one of the longest-lived and most celebrated acts in the scene. Their darkly romantic sound sustained them through numerous albums and EPs during a near-30-year career, and their distribution deal with U.S. label Metropolis allowed them to establish an international foothold.
Formed in 1989 under the name Seal of Secrecy, originally as a quartet, they changed their name three years later, by which time they had slimmed down to a duo comprising Dennis Ostermann (the band's frontman and mastermind) and Jörg Schelte. Their early cassette releases gained them some traction in the scene, and they signed to Zoth Ommog. Their first two albums, 1996's Cryogenix and 1998's Face the Fear, were fairly generic harsh EBM with metallic elements, but by the time they left the label over contractual issues and released their third album Love Kills! on Bloodline in 1999, they had begun to develop a subtler, richer style by blending melodic dark electro and future pop. It was a sound that they would develop considerably over the course of their next three albums released on Minuswelt: 2002's Mistrust the Angels, 2004's Holy, and 2006's Exile Paradise. The return of founding member Stefan Vesper, and the addition of angelic female vocals by Antje Schulz, added a new dimension to the band's sound, while erudite lyrics combined themes of politics, psychology, spirituality, and sexuality into a heady, subversive brew. Each of their albums from this period was accompanied by at least one album-length "single" featuring extended versions and remixes, and the latter two were remixed in their entirety by Hecq. 2010's La Parade Monstrueuse had a more roughed-up production and saw the addition of guitarist HayDee Sparks, while Schulz left and was replaced by Nina de Lianin. 2012's Utopia, their sole album for ZYX offshoot Golden Core, was something of a hodgepodge, but 2016's The Hardest Heart, which saw them back on Minuswelt, fused the harder sounds of their early work with the melodies of their prime period, and was hailed as a return to form. 2018's self-released Hate2Love saw the band change up their sound yet again, going back to a rawer, more old-school, EBM- and synth pop-influenced style. ~ John D. Buchanan