When you’re last in line to receive a CD to review, it can be both easy and difficult to write about it, especially if most other reviewers generally had the same opinion. (Sorry, I can’t help but do a little background research, if only to inform myself a bit about the band.) And to some degree, I agree with some aspects of the reviews I’ve seen about this band’s debut album. It actually does BLAST its way on to the Industrial music scene, although I wouldn’t call it strictly Industrial.
Uberbyte is the brainchild of ex-Killing Miranda frontman Richard Pyne. KM was sort of a Goth-Metal outfit, fairly well known with a decent following. Pyne, apparently disillusioned with KM and went off in a different direction, re-christened himself as "Uberman" and started a hard dancefloor-oriented EBM/Industrial outfit called Uberbyte where synths and not guitars are at the forefront. Drawing on influences ranging from Apoptygma Berserk to Wumpscut or X-Marks the Pedwalk (I can’t think of any good well-known bands that begin with the letter "Z") and just about every male-fronted group loosely lumped into the Industrial Music category, Uberbyte pushes their way past the mosh pit to center stage in a bid to dominate the dark dance club scene.
From the anthemic opening track, "STAND UP [FOR UBERBYTE]" you know this music was made for live performance. While I try to ignore ghost of Jim Morrison hovering in the background ("Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin... ") I can’t ignore the BIG BEAT, and the crowd-rousing antics of Uberman ("front to the back, left to the right, everybody here STAND UP FOR UBERBYTE!"). It’s done with all the straight-aced tongue-in-cheek of Devo, and, believe it or not, these guys wear these futuristic black & white art deco uniforms when they play live! Holy shit! Now THAT takes balls. I think if the rest of the album had the same satirical bent, it might be right up there with Hanzel und Gretyl on the comic book industrial music scale. But... no, it doesn’t maintain that.
Not to say that SIC doesn’t have some excellent moments. It does. In fact, there are some really good memorable tracks, or memorable moments within some tracks. And the production is great. The synth sounds, sequenced programming and bells and whistles are spot on even if you’ve heard most it them before elsewhere. The vocal treatment is what you’d expect, dark, raspy and processed for the most part, although there are some tracks that have clearer vocals, and even a female vox on one track. My little bit of wincing were due to the overuse of sampled dialogue sound bytes, the counting (1, 2,3,4... eins, zwei ,drei, fier,... uno dos, tres, quatro, et al), the profundity overly simplified melodic hooks, and repetition, repetition, repetition. Some 5 minute tracks would have made better 3 minute tracks. But I guess that when you’ve got em dancing, you wan to keep em dancing. Lyrics are a bit light on substance but I guess you can’t have everything. The problem with SIC is, that an EP’s worth of good material has been expanded to nearly a full hour album. I’m sure it helps fill out the live show, but it’s the difference between a good album and a GREAT album. I think that if Uberbyte wants to be the iconic Industrial band they seem to be aspiring to be, they need less filler and more blow-away songs. Trim away some of the sampled sound bytes and ramp up the larger-than-life band identity. More humor too. (Yeah, I know it’s a grim, fucked up world we live in, but nobody said you can’t make fun of it.) But this is all MY idea of a good time, it may not be yours.
I read an interview with Richard Pyne, and I can tell he’s a pretty savvy individual. I also know he doesn’t give a fuck what I or any other reviewer says about Uberbyte. (Aw, c’mon Unberman, the good reviews have gotta stroke your ego just a little bit.) But I’m really curious what the next album has in store, and if Uberbyte ever plays Upstate NY, I’ll most likely be there.