Music Reviews



Compactor: Technology Worship

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Jan 12 2019
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Artist: Compactor (@)
Title: Technology Worship
Format: CD
Label: Oppressive Resistance Recordings
Rated: *****
Who is Compactor? The website explains that “Compactor is an interconnected set of machinery that is manipulated by an anonymous figure known as The Worker under orders from faceless corporation Waste MGT. Industrial, Noise, Techno, and other related sonics are crushed into something else. The project uses mostly obsolete equipment, which is set up, broken down and maintained by System Administrator Derek Rush.” Yes, that Derek Rush, of Chthonic Streams, Dream Into Dust, and for those on Facebook, the man behind the hilarious HNW Memes group. This should give you some insight into what you’re in for. First off, let’s get this out of the way. Buy this album. If you like noise, you need to just get this. I have been recording and listening to noise music for two decades now, and there are very few albums that blew me away like this one. This was not just enjoyable listening, but also inspiring to me as a musician. The rest of this review will just be more about why you need this album. First off, the liner notes frame this work with “Terms of Service” like “Long Distance Rage: Thou shalt cultivate greater irrational anger towards thy neighbors whom thou never see’est in the flesh (Externals 20.2).” In much of this, Rush seems to be channeling the eminent media theorist and critic Neil Postman, with his skepticism of technological advancement. Now on to the music. “Ease Of Use” kicks it off with heavy plodding beats and digital noise. This is pure industrial; factory music for the digital age. “Autonomous” is what you hear when the machines are no longer in spec. Grinding noise over the chugging sound of a gas-powered generator. “Cellular Degradation” is a nice mix of high-end crackling and low rumbling bass, as the sound of bottle rockets and analog sweeps blast through. In “Timeloss,” a relentless beat scrapes over a low-pitched static tone, as a variety of noise blasts enter the scene, only to leave as quickly as they entered. Just when you think it is over, it rattles your speakers with bass and piercing analog sweeps. “Interconnected-Isolated” starts off with dial-up modem noise before hammering you with overdriven bass as the modem continues to peek through. It all dissolves into an almost subdued throbbing bass tone. “Long Distance Rage” is pure, grinding, staticy noise, once again giving us a good mix of high and low range. “Vaporware” is more subdued and atmospheric. This is the point in the soundtrack where the protagonist discovers the robot uprising plot, building until the climactic moment when the protagonist is suddenly discovered. “Unclean Power” is pulsing waves of noise that has an almost hypnotic quality. This also collapses in on itself with harsh noise squalls and rumbling bass. “Screen Hypnosis” is a short track of subdued crackling sound, which is almost peaceful by comparison. Finally, “Church Of Virtual Reality” illustrates how what is not done can sometimes be more important than having a overwhelming wall of noise. There is a good use of dynamics and silence here, with bubbling noise that is punctuated by pounding thuds. Overall, the compositions are wonderfully complex, with a clear attention to detail. This is well worth getting for noise fans. This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.

Shock Frontier: Tumult

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Oct 29 2018
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Artist: Shock Frontier (@)
Title: Tumult
Format: CD + Download
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Shock Frontier's 'Tumult' was released in December of 2017, but it was one of a number of albums sent to Chain D.L.K. central and not to me directly. The review wheels grind slowly when that happens as my reviewing time is limited, and it could take a while before I get to something when it comes through an indirect channel. Shock Frontier is the duo of Robert Kozletsky (Apocryphos) and Kyle Carney, and 'Tumult' is their second release after 'Mancuerda Confessions'. (Haven't heard that one.) Kozletsky and Carney are assisted here by Kristoffer Oustad, Grant Richardson (Gnawed), Noculture and Christopher Angelucci in certain areas on some tracks. The program is a varied one but most certainly weighted on the dark side with very little light entering this oubliette. By definition 'Tumult' means highly agitated, distraught and/or turbulent, and there is plenty of that on the album. Opening track "The Cold Illucid World" sounds ritual-industrial with a blaring warning horn and mechanical thudding as Carney's morose funerary intonations turns into screams as the piece progresses. A jarring, but effective way to open this opus. Shock Frontier is not adverse to employing dialogue samples (movies or otherwise) to achieve their morbid objectives, and sometimes it's highly effective while others somewhat of a distraction (a bit of an overkill on "What We Are"). Some of the atmospheres such as "I Am Afraid & Bringing Fire" are quite chilling and creepy fostering an aura of apprehension like a cold sweat tricking down your neck. Others such as "Duress" and "Our Vain Illusion" are heavily industrial-percussive with all the subtlety of being bludgeoned by huge mauls in a reverberation chamber. Some tracks such as "Ashes of Others" are simply inscrutable with what sounds like raining shards of something metallic, abrasive and unpleasant with hoarse screaming arriving later in the piece. "Forefallen" sounds like it would work as a good background environment for nearly any horror-oriented computer game. I was particularly impressed by the final (and title) track "Tumult" which utilizes a good amount of Oustad's sound sources. As with most things I’ve heard that he’s been involved in, the dark ambient atmosphere is predominant, eschewing some of the noisier aspects of death industrial in favor of thick, joyless drones that weigh heavy on the soul. All of this was mastered to perfection by John Stillings of Steel Hook Prosthesis, someone who definitely knows his way around this genre. While some of 'Tumult' does recall the darker acts from C.M.I. such as Brighter Death Now and Peter Andersson’s harsher industrialized recordings , this isn't some tribute to the founders of death industrial, but rather an exploration of new terrain for a new age of darkness. While I can't say I love it all, there is enough of value here to please most death industrial enthusiasts.

Stromstad: New Devored Human

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Oct 10 2018
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Artist: Stromstad (@)
Title: New Devored Human
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I know this has been out for a while, but it has come into my hands only recently (through no fault of anyone), and although my taste for noise-electronics has waned over the years I feel compelled to review it because I believe that it's an important work. Stromstad is a collaborative project between Jasse Tuukki and Toni MyöhÄnen of STROM.ec and Kristoffer Oustad. Oustad is known for work under his own name, and also as part of the Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester with Peter Nyström (Megaptera). If you're familiar with STROM.ec then you know their type of power electronics/death industrial music and already have a pretty good idea of what this album might sound like. Oustad brings his own flavor of dark ambient to the mix making this an expansive and intriguing outing that doesn't disappoint. Beginning with the harsh opener - "Inherent Resurrection," we get nastily processed, shouted vocal over an abrasive storm of (sometimes rythymic) electronics. It may sound like just another angry rant, but when you read the printed lyrics (and you will probably need them), it will begin to make sense. "...By the fragmentation and degeneration of the 'old world,' we stand on the very brink of oblivion. The beginning of the end has set in. The beginning of a new religious era. There must be a new heaven and a new earth. A new heart and a new soul. All new, a pure resurrection...." That’s some food for thought there. This is a much more spiritual work than a cursory listening would leave one to believe, and that's amplified by Oustad's droning dark ambient strings on "Nattsvermer" and "Kosto," where stark minimalism is the order of the day. The 8 tracks on this album are short (the longest being 6:38, and the whole being a compact 36 minutes) for this genre which is often prone to lengthy excess, giving it a modicum of commercial appeal. Most of the more abrasive tracks have similarly inclined vocals ( Grutle Kjellson from Enslaved provides vocals on "Reluctant Traveler"), and I suppose in this kind of environment anything other than that would be inappropriate. But the words are poetic, the poetry of the diseased, displaced and disenfranchised. In other words, a major portion of humanity as they will likely appear in the not too far off post-apocalyptic future. Rhythms, where present, are of course industrial-mechanical but not tribal, so there is no sense of community, just the thrumming of process. Yet this is the best course for the delivery of the artists' vision. 'New Devoted Human' is effective, compelling, and thought-provoking, far more than I thought this kind of music was capable of.

FFI Digital: 180125

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Oct 09 2018
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Artist: FFI Digital
Title: 180125
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I quite enjoyed the last FFI Digital release that I reviewed, so I was interested to see how this would compare. For those of you who missed the last one, this is the work of Dan Fox, who has many other projects (including Loss, Fail, and This Is What I Hear When You Talk) and runs Inner Demons Records. The insert notes that “This album was created with only freeware / shareware instruments and effects, plus plugins packaged with Cubase.” With that established, let’s get into the music. This disc consists of two tracks at just over 10 minutes each. We start with 180125, which is a well put together composition of grinding noise over a thudding, metallic beat, which brings to mind the rhythms of older Test Department. This is not put together haphazardly, though, and everything fits well together. Later in the track, we have harshly distorted unintelligible vocals as the track slowly grinds to a close. 180125 (180305 RMX) gives us a sense of what the track sounds like with a month or two of distance from the original recording. The opening is far more stripped down, with the beat taking the center stage, before bringing the noise. This sounds a lot more mainstream industrial, kind of like Fox is trying to channel Front 242 through his own music. It’s much different from what I am used to hearing from him, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The vocals may be the same (you can’t tell in the remix either), but otherwise they are very different tracks. Overall, this is well done and quite enjoyable. This album weighs in at around 21 minutes and is limited to 42 copies.

Nightmare Park: Box Of Teeth

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Oct 09 2018
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Artist: Nightmare Park (@)
Title: Box Of Teeth
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
Nightmare Park hail from Connecticut and describe themselves as “Blackened Harsh Static and Noise Walls, sounds sourced from Horror films that I like. . . . HELL IS REAL.” I suppose that this gives us some sense of what we are in for, especially when we take a gander at the disc titles. This set consists of three 3" discs neatly packaged in a small box. We begin with the first disc, which consists of one 20 minute track entitled, “I Am the Devil.” This is a crackling, rumbling wall of noise that consists of a nice blend of low-end rumble and choppy white noise static. It shifts slowly over time, but remains the same idea throughout. It’s honestly kind of soothing. Disc two is one 18 minute track, titled, “And I'm Here To Do The Devil's Work.” This opens with heavy low end bass and some quiet crackling static, making you think that this will be similar in approach to the first disc. However, at about two minutes in, the static suddenly becomes much louder, kicking in with more force. This is a much more involved piece than “I Am the Devil,” and the evolution of the track is more interesting. Grinding and scraping noise mixed with distorted low end bass. Disc 3 brings the noise with one 18 minute track titled “An Interview With Evil.” This is a more complex track than the other two, and much noisier, as if the first two were simply a warm up for the finale. This is like standing next to a blast furnace in a sheet metal factory. Overall, the tracks keep a similar feel throughout and hang together well as a whole. At times I wish that it would have had some more variety, but the overall effect is oddly soothing and hypnotic. One may expect the standard horror movie samples and over the top “check out how evil I am” from the titles, but thankfully Nightmare Park resists this impulse. Instead, we have solid discs of straight wall of noise. If you like your noise with a lot of low end, this is worth checking out. This set weighs in at just under an hour and is limited to 42 copies.


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