Sunday, July 5, 2020
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Nechromancer: Monochrome Dystopia

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Artist: Nechromancer (@)
Title: Monochrome Dystopia
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Man, it’s tough to catch a break in the music business these days, especially if you're doing it all yourself, and most definitely if you're in some sort of fringe genre, like the kinds we cover here. For every YouTube "overnight" sensation, there are thousands of talented artists that get hardly any notice at all. The music press (and unfortunately I have to count myself among them) is notoriously fickle, highly opinionated, biased and often cruel, and sometimes don't even bother reviewing half the stuff they get sent. So when an artist or a band works their ass off and really delivers the goods to minimal acclaim, it can be really demoralizing. All I can say is you better be prepared to play live a lot and hope you develop enough of a following to sustain some interest and make a few $$ to defray your expenses. That's where our friends Nechromancer come in. I can tell these people really want to succeed, and put in the work to get there.

Nechromancer is a group of four, and they all have band pseudonyms, which some might consider pretentious, but I find fairly amusing. There is Vile Heathen (Vilarya Marceline) - Vocals/Guitar/Lyrics; Wreythe (Aislynn Taber) - Keyboards; Johan (John Elwert) - Electronic Drums/Percussion; Vetica (Matthew Binginot) - Keyboards, Backing Vocals. The band is from Burlington, Vermont, not the first place that comes to mind for this type of music, which is EBM rooted in old school, with nods to acts such as Nitzer Ebb, Xymox, Leæther Strip, Front 242, etc., so you get the idea. This isn't usually the path that modern dark electronic acts follow these days, at least not here in the U.S. I find more bands leaning toward the harsher end of the spectrum- acts such as Combichrist, God Module, Hocico, etc. That wasn't always the case for Nechromancer. Their debut album, 'Intersect' (2017) was a harsher, rawer affair, with a good number of songs that are also on 'Monochrome Dystopia'.

Truth be told, 'Intersect' sounds like a so-so demo, although there is a glimmer of promise in some of the songwriting. Nechromancer cleaned up their sound on the greatly improved 'MD,' leaving behind what didn't work so well and adding some better material as well. Interestingly, three of the best tracks - "Unhallows Grieve," "Vampire Queen," and "Blood and Teeth" appear on both albums but the ones on 'DM' sound better. ("Unhallows Grieve" and "Vampire Queen" appear twice on this album, the regular versions and a remix of each which is fine; they're worth hearing again.) Other highlights on 'Monochrome Dystopia' are High Tech No Life" and the atmospheric "Punish Me." Vile's voice, which compares to Andrew Eldritch trying to imitate Type O- Neg's Pete Steele (or visa versa) on 'Intersect,' comes into its own on this album, but still in the gothy baritone vein. His strident guitar playing (a little too dominant and invasive on the debut) is effectively employed here lending a sharp metal edge to the electronic base. Synths/keyboards are well orchestrated and having a live drummer instead of just drum programming is a big plus. The two killers - "Unhallows" Grieve" and "Vampire Queen" should be guaranteed to motivate the dark dancefloor crowd with solid beatwork and great hooks. (Favorite line from "Unhallows" Grieve" - "Those awakening from this slumber speak to me in curse, and the inquisition of my disposition makes it")

Monochrome Dystopia’ sounds like the work of a seasoned band and not of a group that’s been kicking around only a few years. These folks look pretty young from their videos, and from what I understand they're already the big fish in the small pond of the Burlington, VT. If they can hook up on a national, or even international tour with a bigger fish, the exposure gained is likely to substantially enlarge their fanbase and maybe prompt some good dark music label to sign them. Meanwhile, you can revel that you heard about them here first when you turn your friends on to Nechromancer.


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