Music Reviews

v01d: Greeted As Liberators

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Dec 12 2016
Artist: v01d
Title: Greeted As Liberators
Format: CD + Download
Label: Artoffact
“Greeted As Liberators” is Toronto-based v01d’s second album, after 2009’s “Burnt Upon Re-Entry”. Seven years has been v01d plenty of time to create something accomplished, polished, with very rich production- but potentially over that time, also slightly watered-down.

Though branded as industrial metal, this is an accessible album which respects pop music- think the harder side of Pop Will Eat Itself, Blue Stahli or Celldweller. The vocoded vocal sections on tracks like “All The Rage” are even Hyperbubble-esque. The cinematic flavours of “Veils Will Fall” and “Exit Strategy” could pass as a bit of Tom Halkenborg film score.

“Hoof To The Sky” has all the regular ingredients- heavy guitar loops with attitude and screaming two-note solos- yet you find yourself wondering, “what would happen if he had turned all this up to 10? Because right now it feels like he’s turned it up to 7.” The skills are all there clearly but it feels like the shackles have been left on. This is perhaps most true in the vocals- the arrangements lend themselves to heartfelt screams and full-on throat-wrecking passionate rock vocals, yet vocally it’s often understated, almost polite. “I question your commitment” is a lyric from “Exit Strategy”, and there’s a certain irony in that since that’s the strongest vocal on the album.

The gentler sections of “Abhor A Vacuum” and much of the closing track “The Sun Is Late” drift towards drone and shoegaze sounds, and it would have been equally interesting to hear an extended journey in that direction, but as it stands “Greeted As Liberators” unfortunately feels like it’s not quite enough of any one thing to really stand out.

Master Class: A Kiss is the Beginning of Cannibalism

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 24 2016
Artist: Master Class (@)
Title: A Kiss is the Beginning of Cannibalism
Format: Tape
Label: Broad Beauty Tapes
Rated: *****
Master Class is a duo consisting of Bert Bergen and Jesse Reiner. Other than that, I know little about this act. The tape comes in a knit sleeve, so I’m expecting some DIY oddness here. Their website proclaims, “Culled from freak-out sensory experiences in California, filtered through the austere assimilatory ethos of New York, Master Class has actualized. Master Class, a new martial ecstasy. A relentless rhythmic pulsing beneath the tectonic plates of melodic discordance undulating to transport initiates into the realm of disciplined bestial otherworldliness. This is Jim Jones guiding the People’s Temple while in an opiate haze. This is Father Yod’s terminal hang glider flight over the decayed monoliths of a forgotten sacred geometry.” After reading this I was expecting something a bit noisier than what I got. I was somewhat surprised when I heard what sounds like old school electro. Imagine Front 242 circa 1986, but with 2016 synths. This is not quite as stripped down as, say, Geography, but still with that feel. The main problem is that it became rather repetitive. The main departure comes at the end of side B with what I am going to describe as “droning and moaning.” I like old school electro. I’m a big fan of Front 242 and love Geography as an album. But this didn’t really do it for me. Perhaps it was just too repetitive for my tastes. But there is potential here.

Sino Re-Build Projects: Ruined Silence

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 22 2016
Artist: Sino Re-Build Projects (@)
Title: Ruined Silence
Format: CD
Label: re-build records (@)
Rated: *****
This project is the work of Tokyo-based artist Sino, who has been active since 2000. This is my introduction to this project, but the fact that he managed to make it onto one of the Industrial Nation sampler CDs is promising. The artist describes the music this way: “SINO's sounds don't have any lyrics, so they don't contain any messages. Of course, to make a new sound, I have an image in my mind. But I don't expect that you feel as itself. I believe my works are felt freely by each of you.” OK, instrumental music can be quite good, so let’s see how this goes. This album opens up with “Ruin,” a symphonic noise track that starts with a heavy, ominous synth line that gets noisy – not harsh noise wall, but gritty. I was gearing up for a nice slab of harshness when “Blast” kicked in and shifted gears. If you were wondering what happened to 1990’s coldwave music, Sino Re-Build Projects has you covered. If I were a gambling man, I would say that they were pretty big fans of Chemlab and Angst-era KMFDM, with “Null” providing a nice synthesis of the two bands – the guitars are KMFDM, but the attitude is totally Chemlab. The biggest difference though is that this is all instrumental. This works at times, with “Rise” laying down a short track of heavy bass drone reminiscent of Chemlab’s “sutures” and the breakneck percussion and overdriven synth of “04.” Other times the lack of lyrics becomes a liability, as in the case of “02 (Burst Mix [reproduct],” where the pounding drums and crunchy guitars begins to get repetitive. Overall this would be a good album to pick up for fans of old-school coldwave. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes.

Fractional: Tepes

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 21 2016
Artist: Fractional (@)
Title: Tepes
Format: CD
Label: Raumklang (@)
Rated: *****
Belgian electronic music artist Fractional, aka Pierre Remy, aka Eugenie has been putting out albums since 2004 and 'Tepes' is Fractional's 5th album (not counting the 'Blood Remixes'). Much of Fractional's previous output has been atmospheric electronica with excursions into breakbeat and jungle, some dark, some light, some tracks better than others, but always interesting, and definitely experimental. Fractional's 'Tepes' is more focused on the industrial with a harder edge and razor keen incisiveness. Gone are the breakbeats (for the most part) and noodly synth lines that sometimes appeared in previous compositions. In their place is a pervasive heaviness and doom that shrouds the entire album. I'm not saying this is a bad thing; quite the contrary. The stately staccato, near classical chord progression that open the album on "Tess" give way to an industrial trudge with squalls of synth noise that just steamrolls over you. "Lahle" begins almost as a dark ambient piece which builds into a crushing industrial rhythm with occasional atmospheric breaks. Music for Godzilla to be sure. Title track "Tepes" gives me the impression of what Bill Leeb's Noise Unit could have been if he was more focused on the industrial and less on the ephemeral. Fractional has a way of taking tired old progressions and breathing new life into them on this album; simple in concept but utterly awesome in execution. Another thing Fractional seems to excel at is incorporating weird sample loops such as native chanting and Tarzan yell mixed with hard rhythmic industrial beats as on "Thirsty". Synth sounds are more industrial than Fractional has ever used before, often with plenty of overdrive and distortion. Not to say there is no let up- brutal passages are often juxtaposed with quiet ones for good contrast. My favorite track on the album though has to be "Vampyr" with its old world flavor combined with potent pounding beats and virulent feral rhythm. It is the incorporation of melodramatic antique piano and violin along with odd dialogue snippets that really makes this track crackle. It captures the essence of the vampyr as bestial predator, as opposed to the latter day sparkly romantic Twilight creatures. Immediately following "Vampyr" is an over 9 minute excursion into sub-bass dark ambient, infrequently interrupted by some brief electronic sonic effluvia. No rhythm here and the unwary listener is likely to be lulled into a state of narcolepsy. This is just the uneasy calm before the storm that erupts on "Cestje" pummeling you senseless with all the industrial prowess Fractional can muster. If you thought THAT was heavy, just get a load of "Lod," a track with total overkill in brutal beats and noise. "Vine" continues the electro-industrial assault, and maybe by this time you've had enough. Maybe not. Final track "Field" comes across like hard industrial dubstep with a heavy hand on the mod-wheel, and a little dirgy. It's probably the weakest track on the album. I would have preferred it going out in a blaze of glory. Be that as it may, Fractional gives industrial music fans a lot to chew on with 'Tepes' and all without the support of vocals and lyrics, remaining engaging throughout.

Out Out: Swan/Dive?

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 11 2016
Artist: Out Out
Title: Swan/Dive?
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Artoffact
“Wake up America, think for yourself; don’t leave the fact-checking to nobody else” is the main vocal refrain in opening track “Shut Up!”. On an album release four days before Donald Trump was voted President of the USA, it could hardly seem like a more timely warning.

This is an aggressive but still fundamentally quite poppy EBM release, laden with distortion on the guitars and vocals but not steering completely away from its industrial synthpop core. There are a few modern production touches sprinkled over a musical format that otherwise can still hark back to Cabaret Voltaire and co.

The music itself feels like it’s acting as a tonal underlay for the aggressive lyrical fury which is really the centrepiece that Out Out wants everyone to pay attention to. It’s often political but sometimes personal (and sometimes it’s hard to tell), it’s mostly either angry or frustrated. Mark Alan Miller is clearly a man who feels rage against the machine. It’s a heartfelt vocal performance, albeit not all that challenging, but the production leaves a lot of his vocal just a decibel or two lower in the mix than seems appropriate. There are moments, such as on “Like William Tell”, where the off-beat poetic delivery and repetition of short phrases is extremely reminiscent of Karl Hyde.

This isn’t a one-trick-pony album though by any means. There are a few notable exceptions on the tracklist though, and plenty of variation between tracks like a ‘proper’ pop album ought to have. “I Think You Know” leaves wide gaps between the vocals and ups the ante with the lo-fi and glitchy production. “Bleak And Hollow” is practically nu-metal, with moshing-friendly beats, while final track “The Overload” is a more extended, introverted, and atmospheric affair.

However there are also some weaker points, but not many. “S.Y.O. Version 2” has a half-hearted, slightly by-the-numbers feel to it, while “Falsified” sounds a little like an underbaked demo rather than a totally finished track.

It’s a little bit light in the ‘catchy hook’ department and some of the production is a touch muddy, but otherwise if you’re in the mood for nearly an hour of angry, attitude-laden industrial pop-beats, this is pretty satisfying.

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