Posts Tagged ‘Industrial’

12th October 2022

James Wells

Alright, so I can’t see ‘bad news’ without thinking of the spoof rock band that was part of the Comic Strip Presents… series, featuring the actors behind The Young Ones who released a parody rendition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, actually produced by Brian May, and got themselves bottled off stage at Monsters of Rock in 1986.

There’s nothing periodic or rock cliché about this, though. As the blurb outlines, ‘Bad News explores dreams and nightmares, forgiveness and damnation. Through dark electronic and industrial rock themes: wailing bagpipes and fragile synths on the likes of ‘Not Enough Bridge’ contrasted with pounding beats and heavy guitars on ‘Wild Girl (Slug Mix)’ the band further develops their self-described ‘alternadustrial’ sound.

Admittedly, bagpipes sound like really fucking bad news, but this six-tracker doesn’t sound nearly as bad as the cover art suggests it might. ‘L’appel du Vide’ comes on like Pornography-era Cure with doomy synths and clattering, crushing drum, but with the bonus addition of crunching metal guitar, with the end result being as heavy as hell.

‘Echo Chamber’ is twitchy and urgent, a vintage snare cutting through stark synths and a murky fog of bass and guitar; elsewhere, ‘Darkest Dream’ is stark and sparse, blending early Depeche Mode and Meat Beat Manifesto with a dash of Wax Trax! industrial-tinged electronica injected with a shot of adrenaline – and it’s all slammed home with that tempo that gets you pumped.

If the dense, dark waves of synth and snarling vocals and stomping beats which dominate the EP seem fairly standard fare, at least the pipes are kept in the background.

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21st October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

What a week to drop a new single. Especially if you’re a politically-charged British band. And particularly if you’re Benefits. Their meteoric ascendancy continues unabated: still without label, management, or PR, they’ve had the video for their new single premiered on none other than Rolling Stone Magazine’s website. They are most certainly not your typical Rolling Stone act. Yes, the magazine may historically have been an outlet for Hunter S. Thomson’s writing and been both political and cutting edge, more recently, it’s been very much more establishment. But it’s reach is huge, and if this suggests by any means that Benefits have gone establishment, you’re either nuts, or you’ve not heard of Benefits before.

For a band like this to be given such a platform isn’t simply a big deal – it’s practically the sounding horn of revolution. And as the British government collapses around our ears faster than 24/7 scrolling news can update their marquees, the timing could not be better.

Against a grinding, undulating, distorted mechanical throb, Kingsley Hall delivers another lacerating dissection of Real Life, carving his way through anxiety and dayjob drudgery, corporate and political doublespeak, endless bullshit filtered and amplified through the echo chambers of social media, ‘failure masked as victory’.

Two-thirds in, a hefty industrial beat kicks in and gives a solidity to the squalling blast of thick, thick noise, and the roaring rage yields to a crisp, clinical spoken word monologue that in many ways hits even harder than that savage raw-throated primal scream, and there’s glimmer of home as he intimates ‘we can win this’… and then, abruptly, nothing. It’s the most unexpected ending to a sing since Dinosaur Jr’s cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’.

It’s also Benefits’ most uncompromisingly brutal and heavyweight release yet, as well as their most fully realised.

The world is changing fast. We may be quite literally drowning in shit on the coasts of this brown and deeply unpleasant pleasant land, but Benefits are doing their bit to make it a better place, not by bringing sunshine, but telling it like it is.

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Benefits are on your in November:

May be an image of one or more people and text that says "enefits 18/11 GLASGOW stereo 23/11 LONDON oslo 19/11 SUNDERLAND pop recs 24/11 NOTTINGHAM bodega 20/11 SOUTHAMPTON joiners 25/11 MANCHESTER yes 21/11 EXETER cavern 26/11 LEEDS brudenell 22/11 BRISTOL strange brew tickets all shows available www.benefitstheband.com on sale friday 10am"

7th October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Having been introduced to GLDN this summer via the gritty industrial gore-flecked First Blood EP, the vehicle of Nicholas Golden continues at juggernaut pace, having prefaced the full-length Haemophilia with lead single ‘Suicide Machine’.

While some are particularly sensitive about anything pertaining to suicide, its disturbing prevalence means it’s a topic that needs to be out there and under discussion. While rates among the young are conspicuously high, here in the UK, rates are now highest for men in the 45-49 bracket (my own demographic), while globally, it’s rocketed among those beyond retirement age. And, traumatic as it may be for some directly affected, it shouldn’t be considered taboo or require a trigger warning – otherwise, pretty much all industrial and metal would need to carry warnings before every song.

Point is, that suicide, death, and, indeed, the fixational theme of plasma and platelets that dominates the work of GLDN are as much tropes, themes as much metaphorical as literal – and that’s ok. To confront one’s darker thoughts is healthy, and is a world apart from acting upon those thoughts. More often than not, those who produce the most dark and grotesque art, in any medium, prove to be the most balanced and the least dangerous, as they’ve found a healthy outlet for whatever it is that’s chewing at them.

On the evidence of Hemophilia, there’s a lot chewing at Nicholas G, and he channels every last ounce of that angst into his art. The result is an album that’s tense, taunt, relentless. And yes, of course it’s harsh. Not to a power electronics level of extremity, but this is an album that’s edges are serrated with industrial abrasion every inch of the way. Oh, and there’s blood and guts all over – just look at the cover. It sounds how it looks: by turns incendiary with rage and ominous and sinister with disconsolate darkness, Hemophilia has sonic and emotional range, but at the sae time, it’s bleak, bleak, bleak, as song tiles like ‘Self-Mutilation as a Form of Compliance’ indicate.

It opens with the lo-fi punky metal thrashabout of ‘Animal’, which is as up-front as it is unexpected, with GLDN roaring raggedly against a gritty, grimy guitar blast. But ‘New Face, Same Lies’ is bleakly electronic, dingy, subterranean, whispered and tense and is everything you would expect. The contrast of these two tracks alone tells you pretty much everything you need about GLDN and Hemophilia – namely it’s every inch the gritty, dark industrial album you’d expect, but it’s got twists – lots of twists. ‘#1 Crush is just one of them – a chugging metal reworking of the flipside to Garbage’s second single ‘Vow’, it clearly recognises the song’s lyrical darkness, then plunges is into an abyss and culminates in screaming angst. Despite being familiar with the song – it’s something of a personal favourite from the Garbage catalogue – it didn’t land as immediately recognisable, and that’s a positive, and a measure of just how much GLDN have twisted and mangled the tune – or put their own twist on it, if you’re talking more commercially. It’s a bold move, and one that proves successful. In contrast again, ‘Half-Life’ is sparse, stark electronics and as gritty, grimy and gnarly as hell.

At times it’s pure NIN: often it’s much more, not least of all in that it does its own thing within the industrial framework and at times pushes beyond, making for an exciting and dynamic album, and one that is, naturally, brimming with anguish and existential angst. And relentless, pounding beats, too. ‘Suicide Machine’ stands as a highlight, with parallels to ‘Happiness in Slavery’ from Nine Inch Nails’ Wish, which is clearly one of Nicholas Golden’s touchstones – and it’s a solid choice, as a release that really took harsh noise to a massive audience.

Hemophilia is dark, dense, and intense, the sonic equivalent of bloodletting. And the production is tight. It’s clearly a studied work, and the execution is magnificent – not just the performance, but the production, too, which presents the songs in their best light, tugging out the details and the dynamics to yield maximum impact.

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30th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

This is a proper slap round the chops. It follows many conventional industrial tropes, and you could readily lump it min with the endless catalogue of Nine Inch Nails rip-offs, primarily because NIN set the benchmark and the tone from way back in 1988. Prior to that, it was either mainstream sleaze with soul drawing influence from Depeche Mode, or pulsating electro industrial that was either on or wanted to be on, Wax Trax!

Pretty Hate Machine was actually more Depeche Mode than Ministry, but its use of extraneous noise and the general production was, to use a cliché, a gamechanger. It created a new conduit for simultaneous anger and emotional fragility in ways that had previously been untapped.

Anything post PHM is therefore destined to stand against comparisons to NIN if it’s angry electro and industrial, and ‘SAV@Ge’ is all of that – plus tax.

Luna Blake spits lyrics about blood and bones and shame, pain, and death, against a thumping beat-heavy surge of sleaze-grind that’s strong on the stomach-churning low-end and that classic NIN-style production that’s dense and distortion-thick yet crisply digital. The dynamic range and optimal use of dropouts just before everything powers in at twice the volume achieves maximum impact. ‘SAV@Ge’ is aflame with fury and condenses all the rage into just a fraction over two and a half minutes that absolutely blow your face off.

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Negative Gain Productions – 9th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Curse Mackey has enjoyed an enviable career as a frequent performer with legendary industrial collectives Pigface and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, and has built a substantial catalogue of work as a solo artist too – and it’s perhaps to be expected that much of this, including his latest, Immoral Emporium, is defined by the vintage late 80s / early 90s Wax Trax! electroindustrial sound.

While Immoral Emporium is undeniably dark, it’s also fairly poppy and accessible, with a title track that calls to mind more recent Gary Numan. And this is in the region of the album’s tone and style overall.

Starting off, ‘Smoking Tongues’ is strong on melody and surprisingly sparse retro synths and while Depeche Mode circa Black Celebration comparisons are likely the obvious choice, it’s as much A Flock of Seagulls. That may appear to some as a rather casual dismissal as being flimsy pop, but the electropop that rode the charts in the early to mid-80s was way darker than it’s usually given credit for or remembered as being. Consequently, suggesting that the spoken-word verses of ‘A Sharp Reminder’ are reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys’ ‘West End Girls’ is absolutely no sleight.

‘The Reveal’ takes a turn for the more overtly industrial, with menacing synth bass pulsations and a death disco thudding beat. ‘Dead Fingers talk’ borders on bouncy, and while ‘Lost Body Hypothesis’ is harder, darker, and driven by a nagging bass, it’s in the same sphere as Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Sin’, and it’s that late-80s grind that dominates Immoral Emporium. Many will bang on about how Pretty Hate Machine broke new ground, but the fact is, without denigrating what is undeniably an outstanding and era-defining album, that it only broke the territory in commercial terms. It maty have added some layers of noise in the production, but it didn’t really add all that much to what Ministry and Depeche Mode had already been doing, and that’s before we get to the conveyor-belt catalogue run of acts churned out by Wax Trax! between 1986 and 1988 with releases by the likes of Revolting Cocks, Front 242, and Fini Tribe. There was a certain sameness among the label’s acts and releases, but they worked, because there’s something instinctive and primal about drums that thump and clatter distortedly against insistent bass workouts and various elements of extraneous noise.

On Immoral Emporium, Curse very much revisits his roots, and it’s well-realised with solid songs packed back-to-back.

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9th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Brooklyn-based blood and gore and dark-fixated industrial metal act GLDN keep on mixing things up with their singular and innovative take on industrial / metal / electronica, and the first single released ahead of the upcoming album Hemophilia, released early October, is another genre-smashing blast of excitement.

At the start of the video, front man Nicholas Golden is wearing a minidress on a mock-up of a slightly fuzzy-looking VHS clip, and while in itself it’s not edgy, it’s both resourceful (can’t afford actors for your promo? Do it yourself) and parodic in setting a dystopian tone n a retro setting. The trouble with retro dystopias is that, as we’ve come to find the hard way, is that the projected future which is now the present is actually worse. 1984 no longer reads like fiction, but reportage. What do you actually do with that knowledge? How do you live with that grim realisation? You too could be the owner of an obelisk…

The lyrics pick at social media and Instagram perfection, and on reading the lyrics, I remember with a slow sinking feeling how I read on a daily basis in the tabloid media how professionals – nurses, teachers, name it – are taking to OnlyFans to make ends meet and in no time they’re quitting their stressful, shittily-paid dayjobs in favour of coining it in to pay off their mortgages:

Got no flaws, no imperfections

The unachievable is my new obsession

Can’t get enough, I’m never satisfied

I’ve got to whore myself out just to feel alive

‘I’d rather be dead than be irrelevant’, Golden concludes, and it’s a stark yet fair reflection: people crave the attention as much as the money, and the bottom line is that the system is fucked and society and culture is fucked.

Coming on like an electro-infused black metal cross between Placebo and Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, ‘Suicide Machine’ finds GLDN in darkly abrasive form, peaking with a blistering climactic finale that’s utterly punishing. Bring the album.

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What does worldwide quarantine do to our favourite porcine libertine? Raymond Watts holed up in his sty and created The Merciless Light, the new album by PIG. Ably aided and abetted by long time accomplices En Esch and Steve White, Watts also welcomes a new swine to the trough as Jim Davies (Pitchshifter/The Prodigy) adds another new level of impeccable (in)credibility and talent.

The Merciless Light seethes, swings, seduces and snarls. Extraordinary electronics and a glut of glitz, glam, guitars and grooves create a masterful mélange of mirth, malice and winking wit from our very own venerable Vicar of Vice.

A stellar sample comes in the form of the snazzy ‘The Dark Room’, which clocks in at exactly three minutes and delivers a massive knockout punch with mercifully no paunch. A video for the song directed by LA based Ibex is available now. Watch it here:

Four further tasty morsels from the album can be consumed in the form of video snippets, while album opener ’No Yes More Less’ has also been released as a single ahead of the main course being served on 23rd September.

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PIG photography by E Gabriel Edvy

On September 9, darkwave artist Curse Mackey will release his highly-anticipated new full-length album, Immoral Emporium, the follow-up to his 2019 industrial masterpiece, Instant Exorcism. Curse will also embark on a North American tour as a special guest for darkwave legends, Clan of Xymox.
Immoral Emporium is an intense, dark electronic music experience. Curse emphasizes, “This is a NEW album for modern times, in the here and now.”

True to his word, Immoral Emporium pushes the boundaries of genre with a vast dynamic range, from a tortured whisper to a triumphant howl. The first single, “Lacerations” is a dancefloor stomper with hypnotic vocals, a hard-hitting chorus with wailing synths and bin-shaking beats.

The album moves into poppy, upbeat club territory with the earworm ‘Dead Fingers Talk’.  The buildups are big, such as in ‘Omens and Monuments’, with monstrous synths that bring Immoral Emporium to a goosebump-inducing, cathartic end leaving the listener looking forward to the future.

Curse says, “Immoral Emporium was created under very remote, unusual, stressful conditions. This record is a dangerous listen. By the time it reaches the last song, I, as the protagonist, am essentially already dead. However, my last words are meant to give hope to the listener, my friends around the world…that you can live to fight another day, knowing you don’t have to give in to the fear, pain, and worry. These things will pass and you are not alone."

Clocking the William Burroughs reference in ‘Dead Fingers Talk’, interest in the album is piqued here at Aural Aggravation, and never more so than by the promo clip for ‘Lacerations’, released as a taster for the album, which you can watch here:

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Cruel Nature Records – 6th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

These are interesting times for Nadja, the ‘ambient / experimental / doom metal’ duo comprising Leah Buckareff and Aidan Baker. Luminous Rot was recorded during lockdown, and found a home on the legendary Southern Lord label. Released in the spring of 2021, it’s a veritable beast of a work, which combined metal with post-punk, cold-wave, shoegaze, and industrial.

Lockdown feels like something of not so much a distant memory as an unreality, and if by May 2021 it felt like life was returning to normal, the truth is that the wounds were still raw, and any attempt to move on as if life was back as it was before was simply a wilful act of delusion to stave off the effects of the trauma.

And with every trauma, there is some residual hangover, and you might say that Labyrinthine is the product of that. As the accompanying notes detail, the material was recorded during the pandemic and concurrently with Luminous Rot, and ‘explores themes of identity and loss, monstrosity and regret, extreme aesceticism, the differences between labyrinthes and mazes, taking inspiration from Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore, Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Tombs of Atuan, and Victor Pelevin’s reinterpretation of the story of the minotaur and Ariadne, The Helmet of Horror.’

When a band chooses to self-release an album, it’s no longer an indication that it’s substandard or not worthy of a label release, and the case here is that Labyrinthine, which ‘this might be Nadja’s heaviest, doomiest album to date’, it’s clear that rather than consisting of session offcuts, it stands alone as a separate project from Luminous Rot, featuring as it does, a different guest vocalist on each track, and it’s worth listing them here:

Alan Dubin – legendary American vocalist from O.L.D. and Khanate and, currently, Gnaw

Rachel Davies – vocalist and bassist from the British band, Esben & The Witch

Lane Shi Otayanii – is a Chinese multi-media artist and vocalist in Elizabeth Colour Wheel

Dylan Walker – American vocalist from grindcore/noise band Full of Hell

With such a roll-call of contributors, it’s in no way possible to fee short-changed by the fact there are only four tracks, and ‘only’ is somewhat redundant when the shortest of these is almost thirteen minutes in duration. This is an album alright, and it’s an absolute fucking monster at that.

And while the CD release is on the band’s own label, Broken Spine, there are limited cassette versions by several different indie labels from around the world: Katuktu Collective (US), Cruel Nature Recordings (UK), Bad Moon Rising (Taiwan), Adagio830 (Germany), Muzan Editions (Japan), WV Sorcerer (France/China), Pale Ghoul (Australia), and UR Audio Visual (Canada) – and it’s perhaps noting that the running order differs between formats,  and I’m going by the Cruel Nature tape sequence here rather than the CD. It may be more intuitive from a listening perspective, but limitations off format and all…

This co-operative approach to releasing music is highly commendable, and seems to offer solutions to numerous problems, not least of all surrounding distribution in the post-pandemic, post-Brexit era where everything seems on the face of it to be fucked for any band not on a major label with global distribution and access to pressing plants and warehouses worldwide.

The title track is a lugubrious droning crawl: imagine Sunn O))) with drums crashing a beat every twenty seconds in time with each pulverising power chord that vibrates your very lungs. And those beats are muffled, murky, and everything hits with a rib-crushing density, that’s only intensified by the squawking, anguished vocals that shred a blasted treble in contrast to the thick billows of booming bass sludge, and it’s a truly purgatorial experience.

And then, here it comes, and it all comes crashing down hard over the course of the most punishing nineteen minutes in the shape of the brutal behemoth that is ‘Necroausterity’. In a sense, the title speaks for itself in context of a world in lockdown, and it’s sometimes easy to forget just what terrifying times we endured, watching news reports of bodies piling up in New York and elsewhere while governments and news agencies fed a constant stream of statistics around cases and deaths. It felt truly apocalyptic. And ‘Necroausterity’ is the sound of the apocalypse, tuned up to eleven and slowed to a crawl, the writhing torture of a slow, suffocating death soundtracked by guitar and drums do dense and dark as so feel like a bag over the head and a tightening grip on the throat. The recording is overloaded, distorting, and it’s a simply excruciating experience. And it simply goes on, chord after chord, bar after bar, slugging away… and on in a fashion that makes SWANS feel lightweight in comparison. It’s relentless, unforgiving, brutal, and punishing.

‘Rue’ broods hard with dark, thick strings and a heavy atmosphere, but it’s light in comparison. It’s dense, and weighty, but Rachel Davies’ ethereal vocal drifts gloriously within the claustrophobic confines and conjures another level of melody that transforms the thick, sluggish drones into something altogether more enchanting. It builds to a throbbing crescendo that is – perhaps not entirely surprisingly – reminiscent of Esben And the Witch or Big | Brave.

Wolves howl into the groaning drone of ‘Blurred’ and the guitars slowly simmer and burn: no notes, just an endless am-bleeding distortion before the power chords crash in and drive hard, so low and slow and heavy so as to shift tectonic plates and shatter mountains. Amidst the raging tempest, Lane Shi Otayanii brings an otherworldly aspect that transcends mere words, making for a listening experience with a different kind of intensity as it trudges and churns fir what feels like a magical eternity.

The sum total is the sound of hellish desperation, and while Labyrinthine may offer absolutely no solace in the bleakest pits of deathly despair, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an album that better articulates perpetual pain and anguish better than this.

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5th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Lately, I’ve been seeing people on the Internet bemoaning the number of ‘lockdown’ albums, and even the emergence of ‘lockdown’ novels, questioning the need for anything that recreates, recounts, reflects upon or is otherwise set during the most recent of historical events. They all seem to make more or less the same case – that we all went through it, it was bad enough, and there’s no need to harp on or relive it. But artists tend to process and comprehend the world and their experiences of it through the act of creation, and just because we all experienced the pandemic and various lockdowns, no two people will have had the exact same experience or the exact same psychological response. Besides, isn’t more or less all art some form of response or reaction to the human condition, or otherwise a reflection thereof? No-one beefs about an excessive amount of war novels or poems or various genre novels, like crime or sci-fi or fantasy. Perhaps it’s because they prefer escapism to real life.

As the accompanying blurbage explains, ‘This album is a reflection of the dark days the world has seen in recent years. It’s about the tragedies many of us have faced and the effort to find the will to fight on. We remember those we have lost because it is through them that we carry on into tomorrow’.

Strange Days is pitched as ‘a symbolic re-birth for the project, returning with a new zeal to create and perform’, and it’s not short on pumping beats and rippling synths. What sets it apart from so many other industrial / electropop / darkwave hybrids is Voicecoil’s vocal: it’s in that gothy baritone region, but for all of that, and the sense of performance and theatre that comes with those well-established genre tropes, his delivery had a certain emotional depth and sincerity that lifts the songs to another level.

So where ‘Versterbrogade’ comes on like a dance remix of a Depeche Mode in terms of its musical arrangement, and the verses observe the popular style of singing in the throat, a wheezy, grit-edged monotone, the verses unleash the hook and some ‘proper’ singing with heart and soul, and in doing so breathes life into the bleak experience of life where days drift and fade into one another. ‘Speak in Sine’ brings a harder-edged beat and a starker atmosphere, and it sits well with the themes of dislocation and alienation which run through the lyrics. ‘No Easy Reply’ is remarkably sensitive, not to mention accessible, and Strange Days has some great tunes, from the expansive, pulsating yet reflective ‘Why’ to the brooding piano-led curtain-closer of ‘Drift’.

While electronic music – particularly of that dark pop / industrial / goth disco persuasion – can often suffer from feeling sterile, detached, robotic, and impersonal, Strange Days is anything but. It possesses a certain warmth, a humanity, that resonates on numerous levels.

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