German artist, producer and songwriter Chris Techritz, formally known as Scatterface, has been creating songs since he was 16 back in 2001. He wanted to start a nu-metal band ala KoRn, and eventually became a founding member of German Industrial band =fudge= in which he is the keyboardist/vocalist, and the band is still active with him. As Scatterface though, Techritz is up to something entirely different. If variety is the spice of life, then '2020' is the Sichuan hot pot of rock. In order to make this album Techritz enlisted a variety of international singers and musicians to put his music across. The album opens with "SC4TTERF4CE," a song that starts out electro (synths and programmed drums), moves into metal (guitar) and even has a rap section. Participants include Husky Wolfenstain (Bahamas) - concept & samples; Delia Tamasanu (Romania) - voice acting; Jimmy Konsta (Greece) - guitar solo; Amon Lopez (Spain) - vocals, Bindi The First (India) – rap vocals/words, Stephie Lune (Argentina) - vocals; and Chris providing the song lyrics. And that's just the first song! (There are numerous others involved in songs following.) Giving everybody credit for all the songs on this album in this review would not only be exhausting, it would take a lotta lotta space, so we'll just keep it to the highlights. "State of Change," which follows is a piano-based ballad nicely sung by the UK's Alice Banister. Following that we get "Null," a standard heavy metal rocker in the tradition of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Dio. The stars on this one are Oliver Fecci-Chiffi from the UK (composition, guitar, bass & drums), Jimmy Konsta on guitar again, and Craig Cairns (also from the UK) on vocals. Big change of pace with "Symptoms" which starts out as a chaotic dubstep electro-rap (Bindi The First rapping again), then turns into a blazing alterno-grrrl rocker with Abby Strickland (South Africa) on ethereal lead vocals. I have to admit that one was unusual.
"Lust II" is the first song that actually sounds like gothic rock, and Argentine songstress Stephie Lune's voice is a major factor in putting it across. "Snowflake," which follows begins as a nicely arranged ballad highlighted by Terrienne's (France) sweet voice and the cello of Maria Gabriela Rosas Oviol (Venezuela) and Piotr Galinski's (Poland) brief guitar solo. A new cellist, Nina Uzelac (Serbia) gives a neoclassical introduction to "Apocalypse" that has not much to do with the chaotic hot mess that's the bulk of this song. It's metal of a sort, but goes through so many changes all over the place it left me confused. If that was supposed to throw you for a loop, the brief intro to "Path of the Sun" ("Kyosis") is pure Westenized gamelan. "Path of the Sun" reminds me instrumentally of Mortiis, but Abby Strickland's vocals bear no similarity to Norwegian Håvard Ellefsen. The song is actually Eastern-themed. A lot of people contributed to "Endless Rain," but the one you will remember is Maria Grazia Zancopè for her outstanding vocals. Back to metal again with "Secret Rooms," largely the combination of Nahu Pryrope (Argentina) - composition and instruments, and Josephine Kyba (Italy) vocals. Although Kyba is a good vocalist, I think she got overpowered by Pryrope's powerful arrangement. "State of Truth" is an interesting track, even if it tries to be too many things at once, but all you are likely to remember from it is Maddy Behrens' (South Africa) vocals. Tracks 13 & 14 ("2020" & "Apnoea") are both instrumentals that Techritz probably had more to do with than anyone else, the first being techno morphing into a sort of Grand Gugnoil neoclassical, the second - a little girl nursery rhyme over space ambience. It gets very goth-metal on "We All Float"; kind of 'Brutal Planet' era Alice Cooper meets My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. This is obviously the show-stopper.
You might think the album ends here, and you'd be partially right. There’s a 6:11 track of silence before the instrumental version of "Endless Rain," which we really didn't need, so just consider it a bonus track. Stuffing this much variety into a single album is risky business, especially if it's your first solo project, which really isn't a solo project at all. There's the question of identity (what are your listeners/fans going to identify with) and even what genre to associate the project with. The album has enough metal inclinations to lean it in that direction, but this really isn't a metal album, although some things on it are solid metal. I don't know a lot of musician/producers who have had a lot of success cross-breeding musical styles like this but I do know one - Yves Schelpe's Psy'Aviah. Yves has hit the mark more often than missed it, due to good songwriting and finding the right people to carry it off. It seems as though Chris Techritz is following a similar path, even if there are some bumps in the road. Most of the tracks on '2020' are really good, and a few are extraordinary. Once you get past the non-homogeneous aspects of the music, it is a very enjoyable ride. The booklet/CD artwork is very cool too. Since this is being released on vinyl as well (only 16 Euros) I'd opt for that while supplies last.