Music Reviews

White Shadow: Panopticon

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Aug 24 2015
Artist: White Shadow (@)
Title: Panopticon
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
It's been a while since I've heard anything from Baltimore-based Industrial-Metal outfit White Shadow. I reviewed their 'The Wastelands' album back in 2010 and found it a so-so affair. I never heard their 2012 EP, 'Zugzwang', but 'Panopticon' is definitely a big leap
forward from what I heard previously. While DXNero (vocals, synth & drum programming) is still the ringmaster in this cyanide circus of sound, the band lineup now consists of Kryptych (bass, guitars, guitar synth, drum & synth programming); Nytro (guitars); Wahkeen (sound design, additional programming) and Marowit (live drums). On this recording there are additional performances by Crawford (bass), and Julia Beach (piano on "Six Months of Sundays").

'Panopticon' is a concept album based on 18th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham's conceptual prison by the same name. For the unfamiliar, the idea behind the design was to allow a single watchman to observe all the inmates of an institution without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Through the paranoia of not knowing whether or not one was being observed, the inmate would be forced to conform, being on their best behavior at all times. Bentham himself described the Panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example." The concept itself is a timely one in this age of ever-growing detention and surveillance. The album opens strong with "Slipgate", roaring with the power of a locomotive (and interjected "HEY"s) DXNero spits out the lyrics with machine-gun precision (something he's really good at) and muscular guitars provide fuel for the engine. The song goes through some changes- a quiet break with acoustic guitars and calmer vocals (progressive for an Industrial Metal group), alt-metal, then back to the locomotive. Very dynamic and creative. "The Fix is In" keeps this train chugging along nicely with heavy slabs of industrial guitar chords and nifty synth work. A very cool tune filled with appropriate malice and anger. (Something else DXNero is very good at.) "Zugwang" is another powerhouse number with
a great chorus hook - "Zugwang"- if we want to live, We all know something's got to give, Zugwang - even if it hurts, It's the only choice I know will work..." Next track "Crowd [Control}" continues the on-target assault, albeit with a few twists in the quieter passages. DXNero comes across with an appropriate amount of nastiness and it's kind of reminiscent of Disturbed here, maybe with a touch of Reznor. "I Don't Know Who I Am" features more engaging synth, and intersperses the metal aspect of the song with some more thoughtful and progressive passages. "10,000 Masks" alternates machinegun metal with less hyper and more melodic movements. Good hook too. The effected transitional piece "Ingress" offers a spoken word PSA in the Panopticon before you actually get into the title track, which is the first installment of a three part Suite. Some slidey guitar alludes a little to Pink Floyd in a brief instrumental break, but don't expect Mr. Gilmore. Part 2 of the
Suite, "Six Months of Sunday" is a piano-based confessional ballad, but DXNero's voice is all wrong for this track; he comes across as whiny and pathetic. Perhaps that was the intention but it's painful to listen to. Part 3 - "Cold Ground" is low key but somewhat better than the preceding track. It becomes obvious that DXNero is at his best with a full head of steam as opposed to trying to evoke pathos. "Egress" is another brief ambient transitional track leading into "Addicted to Despair". I feel a little ambivalent about this one; it has a quirky rhythmic groove, but the vocals are problematic. Some of it is
crooned in that typical alt metal style, some manic, and some rapped. I'm getting a NuMetal vibe here and for me, it took a bit of the wind out of the sails. It all ends with "Temple" and by this time I'm a bit fatigued, and it's showing in the music too.

At times White Shadow conjures up the best of what I recall of Stabbing Westward; a band with some great tracks and a lot of potential. 'Panopticon' kicks off with a bang and blazes through six dynamite tracks. After that though, it falters. Still, that's quite an achievement in my book. In an oblique way, DXNero does manage to carry off the panopticon concept, but still the songs stand on their own without being weighted down by said concept. I don't think the same could be said of most other rock concept albums.

Torque Order: Trust No One

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
 Edit (8808)
Jul 13 2015
Artist: Torque Order (@)
Title: Trust No One
Format: CD
Label: New Regime Records
Rated: *****
From Austin, Texas comes Torque Order, a three person Industrial Metal rock group consisting of Loz (vocals, programming); Josef Pfost (guitar); and Jaye Lee Vincent (percussion). The first and most obvious thing about this band is the album cover's obviously similarity to KFMDM album covers. (Not the same designer though.) The music is pretty similar too, except for the lack of the occasional KMFDM female vocals. Torque Order is a little heavier on the guitars and lighter on the electronics, and they also make copious use of dialogue samples as evidenced on the opener, "Nothing to Lose" as there are actually more spoken words on this track than Loz's lyrics. Loz sings in that screamed hoarse vocal style of Combichrist's Andy LaPlegua, suitably appropriate for this kind of guitar-driven Industrial. Further on down the line Torque Order relies more on Loz's vocals than samples, much to my relief. Songwriting is simple but effective, and nicely varied within the confines of the genre, which is all you could hope for from a band like this. Some tracks are better than others, and I can't pick a hit here, but a number of them should go down well on the dark dancefloor, taking names and kicking ass. I don't know why they chose to cover AwolNation's "Sail" but I actually found it more engaging than the original, given the Torque treatment. For a debut album, Torque Order's 'Trust No One' is pretty damn good. This is a band with an agenda though; they claim to be a movement to liberate the world from the System's, bland, cookie cutter music. Well, good luck with that, but they've got my vote. On the CD packaging is states: "Dedicated to exposing the corrupt systems of governance throughout the world, the legislators and enforcers of 'morality' and the greedy vultures who prey on the weak. Your days are numbered." Ah, the idealism of youth. Don't buy the rhetoric, buy the album.

Psychosomatik: State of Oppression

 Posted by Phillip Walkden   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Apr 19 2015
with image
Artist: Psychosomatik (@)
Title: State of Oppression
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: PSK Records
Rated: *****
'State of Oppression' is the 2nd album released by French industrial duo 'PSYCHOSOMATIK', this release comes after an 11 year hiatus from music following their debut album released in 2003.The album presents us with a well crafted dark, industrial sound, mainly eerie in nature but sometimes evolving into more groovy, catchy rhythms that you could almost dance too like on 'No Time To Lose (Negociation of Peace)' Most synth rhythms on this album are undeniably catchy, and it is quite easy to see from the get go that this is their forte, as track after track the duo present us with infectious synth laden pieces. Drums are usually frantic, hard hitting and heavily distorted, sometimes a little bit simple but they consistently create a high tempo, pulsating beat that complements the synths and vocals brilliantly. Vocals are almost ghost like, sounding like a cold winter wind blew them straight to your ears. In some ways it can be said that the vocals complement the songs, however after sometime and notably in some of the more hard hitting songs, there becomes an apparent lack of substance and variation in the vocal department, the vocals sound almost too weak and are sometimes overpowered by the music behind them, which means PSYCHOMATIK are missing out on adding a much more powerful dimension to their music. They've shown that they're very proficient in eerie industrial but fail to deliver when they attempt to go for a more powerful, hard hitting approach. Lyrically, the end product is relatively solid, far from exceptional but equally as far from awful. Additionally, the band decided to include two remixes of 'No Time To Lose' the first of which being more dubstep in nature with the second following a similar style as to that used by PSYCHOMATIK. I quite liked the first remix and I really felt it added a whole other dimension to the album. The second didn't really add much to the overall album, instead it just felt like another repeat of 'No Time To Lose'. My favourite track on the album would have to be 'No Time To Lose (Negociation of Peace)' due to the impressive, eerie atmosphere created, catchy vocals and infections, dance worthy synths. State of Oppression is out now and is well worth checking out.

tētēma (Mike Patton & Anthony Pateras): Geocidal

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 31 2015
Artist: tētēma (Mike Patton & Anthony Pateras)
Title: Geocidal
Format: CD
Label: Ipecac Recordings
Rated: *****
tÄtÄma is a new duo formed by the unstoppable and untiring Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, Mondo Cane, Tomahawk, John Zorn interpreter) and Australian pianist Anthony Pateras (Thymolphthalein, Pivixki, Pateras/Baxter/Brown, Beta Erko).
I have seen Pateras solo opening for Patton's Mondo Cane in Australia a few years ago I remember being impressed by the vigor with which he beat the shit out of the grand piano on stage. I knew they were friends, but that Patton would find the time to write a whole record with Pateras, all the while writing the new Faith No More record and doing a million other things was undoubtedly a surprise!
"Geocidal" is a concept record about the killing of a place, maybe because it was a created in so many different places, since the two artists live half way across the world from each other and most everything was recorded in a different country (mostly France, Australia and the US). It is an incredibly interesting, original and exciting concentrate of raw power, evil chants, shamanistic percussion, mysterious atmospheres and violent eruptions of screams, distortion and instrumental abuse.
The album features a cast of 12 special guest (including drummer WiIl Guthrie) and is just another testament to the originality, versatility and pipes of the amazing Patton and the quality of the collaborators and co-writers he surrounds himself with.
Absolutely not to be missed!

Neugeborene Nachtmusik: Neugeborene Nachtmusik

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Mar 17 2015
image not
Artist: Neugeborene Nachtmusik
Title: Neugeborene Nachtmusik
Format: 12"
Label: Enfant Terrible
Rated: *****
I don't know if you remember the band Milligram Retreat, they released an album and a 7" for Enfant Terrible back in 2011, just to disband soon after. One of them, Mauritius Hermes, decided to give live to a new project called Neugeborene Nachtmusik. Since then, under that moniker he released four tracks on compilations out on Enfant Terrible and Death Disco. The debut album contains six new tracks where Mauritius takes inspiration from different musical styles such as industrial, experimental, metal, minimal synth and more. The opening "Last Day Of Winter", for example, mix industrial noises, dark ambient drones and epic orchestral sounds that made me recall old Cold Meat stuff. "Schaf Auge Rabe", instead, to my ear mix industrial and something like In Slaughter Natives. Things get different with "Kino Sputnik", as it sounds like a ritualistic minimal synth tune. The tracks tend to be a little long but you have to be in the right mood to enjoy at full this album. When you'll be ready to do that, then, you'll be ready for the nine minutes of "Horse" and to its arpeggio, which is the backbone of the track, and to the cosmic synth sounds that come and go dueling with the noises. You can check the track excerpts here:

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