Music Reviews



Out Out: Swan/Dive?

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Nov 11 2016
cover
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.

Controlled Bleeding: Distress Signals & Distress Signals II

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Sep 30 2016
cover
Artist: Controlled Bleeding
Title: Distress Signals & Distress Signals II
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Artoffact
Revelling in the sonic assault, bathing in the distortions, gratifying themselves with the quest for difficult sound, Controlled Bleeding knew in 1984 that “Distress Signals” was a wilfully challenging thing to listen to.

Styling their artwork and press photos towards death metal, the work is actually a lot more insular and avantgarde and less crowd-pleasing. While the vocals, such as they are, get the heavy peaking treatment, what’s going on underneath is more complex. Experimental echoes and found sound pervade throughout. Rhythms threaten then vanish. Flashes of melody and purity arrive at irregular intervals, such as the mesmeric Philip Glass-esque arpeggios that suddenly moderate proceedings halfway through “The Heretic And The Christs Of Violence”. Opener “The Spitting Cell” even ends with solo operatic ad-libs.

Seemingly there was a major mix-up when “Distress Signals” was released on cassette in 1984 on the revered Broken Flag label, with, supposedly, the wrong version of the album getting released. Here, the wrong is righted and the Artoffact label are putting out a double set, with “Distress Signals I” what was actually released on tape, released digitally for the first time, and “Distress Signals II” the version that ought to have been released in the first place. They’re a 2CD box set, or available on vinyl as separate products. The 1984 mistake is quite surprising when you hear the difference between the two- very differently separated tracks, different elements, and several other variations. As albums, the two versions are certainly siblings on the same wavelength, but they’re definitely not twins. The second, previously unreleased version has fewer interludes of calm and space, and consists of shorter but more relentless bursts of awkward passion and electronic angst.

Ahead of its time for 1984 and certainly worthy of deluxe treatment and re-appraisal.

Khost [Deconstructed And Reconstructed By] Godflesh: Needles Into The Ground

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Jul 17 2016
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Artist: Khost [Deconstructed And Reconstructed By] Godflesh
Title: Needles Into The Ground
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
This release is a reworking of Khost's material by Justin K. Bradrick of Godflesh, one of the key figure of modern music. The first three tracks are the result of the application of the formal structure at the core of Godflesh output while the fourth one is a new track by Khost, a duo made up of Andy Swanc and Damian Bennett, which left almost unchanged my opinion about them.
The first track of this EP, "Inversion", shows the main element of Godflesh music: a square and hypnotic rhythmic cage where all sounds are united in a thick mass. The noise element is, instead, the element which at the base of the relatively shelled form of "A Shadow On The Wound" that acts as an introduction to "Revelations Vultures Jackals Wolves" where the rhythmic articulation is applied to noise, so creating something distant from typical noise music that is close to the stream of consciousness. The Khost's track, "Deathsset", sounds as an homage to Godflesh being so close to the sound of this band to let the impression to be an outtake from one of their classic album.
These four track is a statement of a form which isn't aged in all those years perhaps because it was too personal to generate a scene and become popular. Another sure pick for Godflesh's fans.

Ultraphallus: The Art of Spectres

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 15 2016
cover
Artist: Ultraphallus
Title: The Art of Spectres
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
After a couple of self-produced albums - "Lungville" (2005) and "The Clever" (2008), being the latter the one which included most interesting ideas, even if partially listened in the 90ies in the stuff of bands like Starfish Enterprises - and an album - "Sowberry Hagan" (2010) - on the English label Riot Season, the Liege-based Belgian band Ultraphallus -made up of Phil Maggi (vocals, samples, electronics, trumpet, percussion...maybe some Chain DLK readers met his name as he signed some outputs on Idiosyncratic, a label I keep on following, wisely managed by Phil himself), Julien Bockiau (bass, drums), Xavier Dubois (guitar, bass), Ivan Del Castillo (bass) - moves towards intriguing and definitively more experimental stylistic rough terrains. Even if there are many common factors with so-called sludge metal bands (mainly some political and sociological issues, developed as if they got filtered through a cynical lens and a visionary distorting one, abrasive guitars close to stone rock and shouts that featured former outputs of the band), I won't label - thank goodness! I would have already skipped all tracks... - them as a proper sludge band. On this album, whose output was initially announced for the beginning of 2015, they wisely melt death core, doom metal, noise, art-rock, dark ritual ambient, music of western movies, deviant declensions of blues (check the second part of "Let Him Be Alistair") and electronic movie music and replaced avalanches of riffs that featured some of their previous outputs by pernickety jobs on guitar-driven spindles. I could vaguely describe them as a strange hybrid between an abstract interpretation of Ramesses' music and some stuff coming from Gent-based label Delboy (Blutch, Black Cobra and so on). The hyper-amplified convulsive guitar-driven opening "The Blood Sequence", where the really spectral voice by Phil Maggi seems to give voice to a personal manifesto, sounds like the appetizer of the piercing sound by which they drill the almost tribal mantra of "Madrigal Lane", the hyper-cynical debunking hymn of the above-mentioned "Let Him Be Alistair". The track in the middle of the album, "The Death of Mark Frechette", evokes some stuff by The Residents, but the choice of the reference - Mark Frechette was the American actor that became notorious after interpreting the leading role in Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point", who died in prison after having been suffocated by a barber that fell on his neck... - sounds like a merciless grin on the jokes of fate. The spleen of "Whitewasher" precede the likewise cynical sad portray on "Eva Ionesco" (the well-known baby model), and the ghostly feast of the final "Sinister Exaggerator" are some of the highlights of an assay of spectral art.

War Anyway: War For Peace

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
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Jul 14 2016
cover
Artist: War Anyway (@)
Title: War For Peace
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
As far as I can tell, War Anyway is a French Martial/Industrial duo and I think 'War For Peace' is their debut release. According to their press release, War Anyway says "Loudness and war songs are the way to bring the necessary war for peace." To me that's kind of like saying "the sounds of sniper fire and songs about shooting cops is the best way to end gun violence." Okay, I get it. Industrial music has a long history of war-themed songs, both real and imagined. But here, we have a rather artless attempt to make a name for a clichéd-sounding industrial act with their scorched-earth policy of all out war themed
tracks. Beginning with "Crossing the Rubicon," the band starts out with a kind of percussive apocalyptic ambience before crunchy guitar and abrasive growl-shout vocals take over. I guess you're supposed to be imagining Caesar's soldiers marching into glory, but it sounds more like an army of Blutos in search of a Popeye to pound. "We Are the Army" takes a Front 242 beat with more Bluto vocals (occasionally morhping into screamo) but injects this light tinkertoy melody over the top. WTF? Maybe they were striving for irony, but the incrongruity is just overwhelming. "Actions Have Consequences" samples about half of Obama's March 2011 speech on the Libya intervention (let's face it, it was a fucking invasion) over an martial-industrial music background. Does anyone really want to hear that crap again? I think not. And that's the entire song, lock stock and barrel. "The Rise of a Tyrant" has plenty of staccato industrial guitar stabs with more agressive growly vocals. Final track, "The System is Down" is the only track that shows a hint of promise with its cyber-techy ambience, until those Blutoid vocals come in and and render the whole thing into some parody of an industrial band. You know, I really like industrial music, good industrial music that has been done by many class acts over the years, and even some new lights on the horizon, but this, this is just sub-par. Unless these guys can come up with something a whole lot better for their next release, they better not quit their day jobs.


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