Controversial – Second Genesis

Posted: 13 July 2021 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Cleopatra Records

Christopher Nosnibor

As a label, Cleopatra has arguably established itself as the home of goth and dark music, with leanings toward the vintage period where goth emerged from post-punk – alongside some classic 80s acts, old-school punk, and some weird shit, of course.

Belgian ‘band’ Controversial – the vehicle of Bart Coninckx – mines a largely industrial seam in the vein of Wax Trax! – early Ministry, KMFDM, Skrew, blending stark synths with grating guitars and thumping programmed beats.

It’s a bleak, barren start to the album with the eerie dark drone of ‘The Trauma of Birth’ that ruptures the haunting, ethereal choral sound with dirty guitars and grainy samples, before things get 80s motoric with the cyclical synth groove of ‘With a Vision of Death’: plinking videogame laser sounds give way to the heavy chug of a metallic guitar, and, low in the mix, a distorted, Al Jourgensen style raspy roar that growls and spits and snarls its way through a cacophony of tortured howl.

Having done birth and death, we’re into the myriad shades of pain of the human condition, from recent single ‘Violence’ – an absolutely relentless riff-driven pounder – to the brooding piano-led ‘Is This the Best’ via serene theatricals of ‘Crying’ that swerves into an epic prog guitar solo. You couldn’t accuse Controversial of being predictable or one-dimensional.

Over the course of thirteen muscular cuts (plus a couple of bonus remixes courtesy of Die Krupps and Laether Strip) dominated by some brutally heavy, hard-edge riffage, Controversial tears through modern society like, like a typhoon, like a forest fire, like a juggernaut with the brakes cut.

‘Commercial Breakdown’ blasts its way through pandemic control mechanisms and leans heavily on both ‘NWO’ and ‘Psalm 69’ but works because of it rather than in spite of it – because if you’re going to be overt, best to take a solid source of influence, and while much of the album is geared toward the grating guitar sound, a handful, like ‘Suffering Unseen’ (which nabs the drum fill from Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Nag Nag Nag’) go all out technoindustrial / aggrotech. The songs tend to be centred around heavy repetition, both with circular, repetitive riffs and motifs, and looped samples, pitched around the optimal 120 BPM to render them instant grippers.

No two ways about it, Second Genesis is a solid album with plenty of attack paired with an unexpected range.

AA

174872

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