Posts Tagged ‘Killing Joke’

Cool Thing Records – 18th March 22

Christopher Nosnibor

Ahead of the release of their second album, Sea Change, BAIT social critics and all-round ragers blast us with another taster in the shape of ‘TV Personality’.

Sonically, it’s something of a departure from previous outings, in that they’ve dialled back the abrasion a few notches. That doesn’t mean it’s by any means tame, since they’ve been pedal-to-the-metal pretty much all the way so far.

The synths are more prominent on this compared to previous releases, and with a bouncy, processed-sounding bass, it’s very much in the in the vein of mid-80s industrial, like pre-Rape and Honey Ministry (think ‘Every Day Is Halloween’), with a dash of Pretty Hate Machine Nine Inch Nails and a big greasy slap of Big Sexy Land Revolting Cocks. It’s all in that pumping bass groove that nags away like an old-school console game. It’s also their most overtly melodic song to date, meaning that the obligatory Killing Joke reference places it alongside ‘Love Like Blood’ rather than ‘Money is Not Our God’.

Lyrically, it’s not so much of a departure, and we find the guys running rampant in their domain of railing against mass-media, manufactured culture and their numbing effects. Television is still the opium of the people – only now, with the advent of 24-hour rolling news media beaming plague, disaster, and war into our homes via infinite devices, we’ve got a direct injection of fear being pumped into our eyeballs the second we open our eyes. And so, while twitching with terror, people seek the comfort of mental chewing gum like game shows, and so-called ‘celebrity’ shit, whether it’s dancing, skating, baking, or eating camels’ anuses and gnats’ chuffs in the name of entertainment.

Reality TV isn’t real, TV ‘personality’ is something of a misnomer, since practically every word is scripted, every move staged, hair, makeup, camera angles all as controlled and contrived as the filtered selfie snaps on Instagram. And here, amidst the relentless wash of fake shit, BAIT are keeping it real.

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Cool Thing – 18th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Hot on the heels of their explosive return with ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’, BAIT continue the assault with the delivery of ‘My Tribe’, off their eagerly-anticipated long-player, Sea Change.

Pitched as ‘the voice of pandemic anxiety’, Michael Webster explains that “’My Tribe’ was written at the very beginning of the pandemic when none of us knew what the fuck was going on. It got me thinking about survival and protecting my family from the unknown. There’s reference to primal activities in contrast to the mundane activities taken up to pass time during isolation.”

This encapsulates the contradictions of the early days of the pandemic: the confusion, the fear, the panic, the sheer bewilderment and sense of ‘what the fuck?’ as the guidance changed daily and we were told to work from home and batten down the hatches: the number of times we heard and read the word ‘unprecedented’ was unprecedented’ – far more so than the pandemic itself. No-one knew how to react, because no-one really knew what they were even reacting to, really.

Clocking in at almost four minutes, it’s one of BAIT’s longer efforts, and it’s driven – as has rapidly become established as their style – but a thick, snarling, repetitive riff in the vein of Killing Joke, and the comparisons don’t end there, given their sociopolitical leanings. In short, it continues the trajectory of their eponymous mini-album debut, and cements everything harder, denser than before, and then veers off into hard technoindustrial that’s more the domain of KMFDM and the like for the final minute.

Tackling isolation and the internal conflicts so many of us suffered, it’s angry, but in no specific direction – because who do you direct that anger at? Some of it goes inwardly, of course, wrestling with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, while some of it goes outwards and into the air because fuck shit, life just isn’t fair. Why here? Why now? Just why? That sense of helplessness and frustration pervades every moment of anger and anguish, and it’s almost as if BAIT were a band ready-made for the pandemic.

But while it may feel like ‘Merry Easter, Covid’s Over’ may be a tune for the coming months, it’s readily apparent that the psychological repercussions of the last two years will be long-lasting for many. The social divisions that became raw gaping wounds through Brexit have only become more pronounced, as people have become more entrenched and seemingly harbour more violent feelings towards others, and on-line aggressions have begun to manifest in an upsurge in the ugliest behaviours since people have been allowed to get back out there. Something is awry, and the world is dark and more fucked-up than ever. This, seemingly, was the plan all along: divide and conquer. This is not some conspiracy theory, it’s not about some ‘plandemic’; it’s an opportunistic power-grab by governments following a neat-global shift to the right. They want people to be scared, and, as it happens, people have reason to be scared – jut not necessarily the reason it seems on the face of it.

‘Keep them occupied / lock them up inside’ is a neat summary of how things have been managed. They slide in the line ‘Under his eye’, and while they may have been bingeing on Netflix, the totalitarian regime of The Handmaid’s Tale seems a lot closer to home now: we are living in the midst of almost every dystopia ever penned made real.

BAIT have got the soundtrack down, they’re both the reassurance that you’re not alone in feeling what you feel, as well as the articulation of the painful truth. And they’re kicking ass all the way.

 

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Cool Thing Records – 14th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Asylums offshoot band Bait mark their return in blistering style with the ball-busting, ballistic blast of tension that is ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’. Having dropped – or perhaps more accurately detonated – their explosive eponymous debut in 2018, showcasing a post-punk industrial crossover that crash-landed somewhere between PiL and Killing Joke, they reminded us of their existence in the spring of 2019 with the gritty grind of the single ‘DLP’ before falling silent.

In fairness, a global pandemic and a succession of lockdowns and limitations was never going to be conducive to the creation of new output, especially when core members Michael Webster and Luke Branch have been busy beavering away on a new Asylums album.

But, inter alia, they’ve also been working on the new Bait album, Sea Change, which is set for release in April, and ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’ is one hell of a way of announcing it, distilling all of the pent-up frustration, fury, and anxiety of two years kept on edge into just under two minutes of eye-popping, adrenaline-fuelled sonic catharsis.

If the sneering edge of the vocal delivery sounds like it’s a put-down to those who’ve been panic stricken by the pandemic, it’s likely more a swipe at those who’ve chronically mismanaged the public’s expectations, left them separated, isolated, financially insecure, and unable to seek solace with friends or family while keeping them apart while quaffing drinks and generally having a jolly old time as well as getting minted off slipping multi-million pound contracts for unusable PPE and all the rest at the taxpayers’ expense. The reason the parties have particularly tipped people is because they missed the final moments of loved ones and suffered the immeasurable torture of enforced isolation.

The ‘drama drama drama drama’ in question here isn’t some lame Eastenders shit, this is life. The swirling turmoil and endless uncertainty of everything… On a personal level, when lockdown hit, I was inundated with messages at first, from friends, from family and especially work as WhatsApp groups were set up while we got sent home to work, and the channels of communication were beyond buzzing as everyone flipped out and I witnessed – and participated – in their panics in real-time. It was hectic, a blizzard, a blur… but it was when it went quiet I lost it. You get thrown into something so hard you have to swim. But when the armbands deflate…You text with no reply – that anguish is real and it’s intense. The minutes feel like hours. The tension rises, the panic rises, the palpitations flutter and the perspiration flows and in no time you’re a dishevelled, disoriented mess. You know it’s irrational, but panic is irrational. You struggle to steady your breathing. You can’t face the supermarket because it’s full of people. You can’t face meeting anyone. You can’t breathe. This is the drama, and it piles up and piles up and increases in intensity until it’s unbearable.

‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’ steps up the gritty edge of previous outings, and this time arrives somewhere between Killing Joke and Black Flag, which means it’s absolutely furious and relentlessly raging. It’s a killer tune with all the intensity, and the soundtrack to the now.

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Youth Sounds / Cadiz Entertainment

Christopher Nosnibor

Well, this is a surprise, and I say that without sarcasm. The lead single from Youth’s debut solo album is a breezy slice of indie with a heavy 60s folk influence.

But then, Youth has always been a man of surprises. His transition from Killing Joke bassist to producer and remixer of some incredibly high-profile mainstream acts including U2 and Erasure, via recording as a member of 90s dance act Blue Pearl and back to playing bass with Killing Joke and juggling infinite other projects is an incredible feat, and while I might consider his lack of commitment to any one thing uncritical, it’s clearly apparent that he’s an artist who can turn his hand – and successfully – to anything. I suppose the only real question is ‘what does he truly believe in?’ or ‘who is the real Martin Glover?’

The press blurbage for the album, out in November, and its eclectic range does attempt to shed some light one this:

‘Growing up with the sound of 70’s pop radio and bands such as Smokie, Pilot and Bay City Rollers – some of the tracks here are a flashback to those times and the initial inspiration of a thirteen year old Youth to write his first songs. ‘Sha La Laa I Love You’ and ‘The King Of The Losers’ are intimate, honest and have a naïve and innocent pop sensibility that are underpinned with regret and loss. He’s also took [sic] inspiration from psychedelic pop and English folk rock and his own words, he was thinking – “Everything from Nick Drake to Led Zeppelin, through a lens of Fairport tripping out with the Velvet Underground with a couple of Beach Boys, all the way to Cohen and Rodriguez, via Jim O Rourke, jamming with Fred Neil and Bert Janch and Michael Rother.’

Yes, Youth has been around, and so absorbed and assimilated a lot of stuff, and ‘Spinning Wheel’ brings many of those different pieces together, starting with a keen ear for melody, with the added bonus of some nice, subtle harmonies. Objectively, it’s a neat and accessible pop tune, and you can’t say fairer than that.

4th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

In the ever-expanding world of microgenres based on hybrids and crossovers, Montreal-based trio Boar God may be onto something as close to unique as you could imagine, describing their style as drone-punk. That said, drone takes many forms, ranging from the elongated notes that tend to feature in electronic works, to the dirgy, doom sustain of Sunn O)), with the kind of Psychedelic drone of The Black Angels in between.

Boar God’s sound belongs to none of these areas, and as such, does stand apart as different. The EP’s four tracks all sit around the six-minute mark, and blend driving alt-rock with a dash of shoegaze, and amp it all up with a spiky edge that’s as much post-punk as punk, but then I’d always say it’s the attitude that counts more than the sound in defining what’s punk.

Echoed tremolo tones shimmer like a heat-haze around guitars that scratch like sandpaper on the intro to ‘Life Eternal’. It’s a long, gradual build. The tempo quickens as the bass begins to run, faster and faster, the guitars chiming and swirling before everything breaks into a punchy clamour of everything, with Eric Bent’s vocals adding to the urgency. If it’s reminiscent of anything that immediately springs to mind, it’s Trail of Dead.

‘Azrael in Crisis’ goes all-out for the epic, with atmospheric synths swirling and wafting in the background, but still remains tightly-structured and punchy and dominated by a gritty guitar and booming bass. The energy is tempered by a chill, a bleakness, reminiscent of early Joy Division (think the outtakes that appeared on Still). The production is murky, and this is actually a good thing, as its low-budget, unpolished feel gives it an immediacy as well as replicating the late 70s’ / early 80s 8-track recording sound.

The pace and the angst are amped up on ‘The World Set Free’, a pounding amalgamation of Killing Joke and Red Lorry tallow Lorry, and again, it’s the thick, floor-shaking bass that defines and dominates the sound. Things take a twist for the gothic around two-thirds in, and as the fractal guitars glisten, the song acquires a dream-like quality.

Everything comes together at once on the closer, ‘The Tar Pits’, which locks into a motoric groove and drives it home with a searing guitar break and shrieking strains of feedback.

I know I’m a complete sucker for this kind of new-wave stuff, but as dark, angry, claustrophobic and steely-grey musings on loss go, Boar God bring a rare intensity on Near Extinction.

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Christopher Nosnibor

8th November 2019

The bio bit tells me that ‘NAUT is a 5 piece dark rock band from Bristol, whose shared love of classic rock and metal, alongside reverence for the post-punk pioneers of the late 70s and 80s makes itself known from the start. Their songs switch from raw tribal tom beats to uplifting anthemic synth in a moment, but always stay danceable and perhaps most dangerously, catchy’.

Fan comments on their bandcamp shed a little more light on their sound, observing the band’s ‘unique ability to recreate the original sound and feeling of 80’s uk goth rock. Sisters, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, the Rose of Avalanche, early Nephilim…’ and their offering ‘the perfect mix of Post Punk with old school Goth Rock… Killing Joke meet The Wake & Love Like Blood.’

It’s no secret that I’m a rabid Sisters / Lorries / Nephs / KJ fan, but it’s equally documented that I consider most of the bands who’ve taken them as influences are generic and derivative, and that includes the mid-late 80s acts like Rose of Avalanche who traded in diluted forms of blueprint-based accessible alternative rock. This means I’ve no idea who The Wake or Love Like Blood are, but judging by the referential monikers, I probably don’t need to.

The EP’s title track kicks things off with a classically ‘gothy’ rhythm that’s dominated by a quickfire snare attack and defined by spindly guitars, trebly and awash with chorus. And talking of Chorus, it does boast a strong, hooky chorus, and there’s real energy behind it, which pushes it over the line from template-based to credible and sufficiently possessed of a band identity while still very much drawing well-studied inspiration from their precursors.

‘Spirit Horses’ steps down both the tempo and the individuality, and there’s a chord progression that’s lifted straight off The Sisters’ ‘Marian’, but the third and final track, which slows the pace further to a sluggish mid-tempo resembles ‘Blasting Off’ era Lorries, and works remarkably well with a looser feel but a grainy greyness that brings a certain weight.

On the strength of this outing, Naut are at their best when they go deeper and darker, and if they continue to evolve their songwriting in the directions demonstrated here, there’s a good chance they’ll break out beyond the trad-goth scene and into wider alternative circles.

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Hull Pair Head Out For Debut European Tour

Hull hardcore duo Parasitic Twins are set to hit the road later this month with the monstrous Boycott The Baptist! The band, who released their visceral debut EP, “All That’s Left To Do Now Is Sleep With Each Other”, on October 26th, are set to appear in Germany and Holland with BTB! Remaining dates see support from Clunge Destroyer. Full dates for the tour below:

November 30th – Thav – Hildesheim, Germany (w/ Parasitic Twins)

December 1st – The Morgue – Leeuwarden, Belgium (w/ Parasitic Twins)

December 2nd – Crowley’s – Hastings (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 4th – Birds Nest – London (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 5th – North Bar – Rhyl, Wales (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 6th– Paradiddles Music Café – Worcester (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 7th – Lounge 41 – Workington (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

December 8th – The Westgarth Social Club – Middlesbrough (w/ Clunge Destroyer)

Ripping a page from the Killing Joke school of lo-fi noise, then setting it on fire via the way of Today Is The Day and Godflesh, Hull’s scariest kids, Parasitic Twins are riding high following the release of their debut EP. Recorded live and raw, at Melrose Yard Studios in York, the hardcore duo, made up by guitarist/vocalist Max Watt (Rotting Monarchs) and drummer Dom Smith (Mary and The Ram), have performed together previously as part of Seep Away was born of a desire to create the most abrasive sound they could.

Discussing their debut single, “Massive”, Watt had this to say: “It’s about that mental sense of abandon that comes once in a while and turns our lives into ash. Temporarily, of course. Everyone’s been in that place where long term plans and prospects just become irrelevant and all you can focus on is immediate day to day shit, and one day you wake up and think “Goddamn, what was all that noise about?” At the time it’s huge but with time just becomes a notch in your past, then you gotta make the reparations, and push all that negative shit to the back.”

Hammered into the raw aggression like a nail into splintered wood is a youthful rage desperate to be heard. Taking comfortable influence from the late 90s sludge scene, the track “Flipswitch” borrows from the Raging Speedhorn school of duel vocal ferocity while “End” wraps a chain around the Biohazard-esque bouncy hardcore and throws it on the heap. Making “ATLTDNISWEO” a white-hot blast of crusty oblivion, perfect for fans of low end, aggro-punk. Listen to at wielding volume.

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House Of Mythology – 7th December 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Having unveiled the Sic Transit Gloria Mundi EP via their Bandcamp page last November – and subsequently on all of the usual digital platforms, Ulver are finally giving the EP a physical release. The initial release was somewhat hurried as the band were about to embark on a lengthy tour to support the album The Assassination of Julius Caesar – so now, in addition to the three studio tracks (two originals which had lain dormant, incomplete for a time, and a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’) – they’re giving fans four live tracks recoded on the aforementioned tour as an added bonus.

The studio material – offcuts from The Assassination of Julius Caesar – continue the band’s pop-orientated evolution, and as with the material from album which spawned them, there’s a very mid-80s synth-rock style in evidence. Now, some aspects of 80s revivalism make sense: the dark times in which we find ourselves seems to demand bleak post-punk inspired sounds. But is there anything that can truly justify the revisitation and recreation of radio-friendly pop-rock, the overproduced sound of mullets, hair gel and rolled jacket sleeves? Ulver have fully made the transition into purveyors of sleek, slick and ultimately overtly commercial. I’ve no objection to pop per se, but let’s not pretend that sonically or lyrically, Ulver 2018 are any more challenging than Bastille. Then again, there are shades of darkness in a lot of 80s chart music that are often overlooked, and Ulver still brood, with hints of Depeche Mode and Disintegration-era Cure in the many-layered mix. And the cover – a song that feels somewhat underrated in the FGTH discography – is done justice with an extremely faithful rendition.

The live tracks are, as one would expect, pristine in both performance and production. It’s perhaps easier to marvel at the fidelity and the quality than it is the dynamics and the passion, and there’s nothing that connects the silent scream of pain of Francis Bacon’s ‘Study After Velasquez’ used on the cover art, but music where synths are dominant tends to sound a lot cleaner and more polished live anyway.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar opener, ‘Nemoralia’, is presented here in extended form, its dreamy disco on sedatives groove stretching past the six-minute mark, and ‘Rolling Stone’ is allowed to breathe in all its epic glory. ‘Southern Gothic’ (which does bring some atmosphere and emotion to the partly) ‘Transverberation’, both recorded at Labirinto Della Masone, Fontanellato showcase the band’s stadium-filling, reverb-soaked sound to optimal effect. And the fact of the matter is, I can’t fault it. I’m just not really feeling it, either.

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Ulver – Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Christopher Nosnibor

I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Jo Quail: the two occasions I’ve seen her this year as an opening act, she’s been on not only early doors, but within minutes of doors opening. So I’m standing outside, in the rain, hearing the strains of her opening piece and feeling frustrated: the doors, set for 7:30, don’t open until 7:40, but Jo, scheduled for 7:40, starts on time. Still, the fact there’s a substantial queue before doors, and that people have packed to the front immediately on arrival is validation, if validation is needed.

She’s no ordinary cellist, utilizing a vast bank of pedals to conjure pulsing rhythms and a grinding undercurrent which flows fluidly as she builds layer upon layer to form cathedrals of sound – appropriate for a venue which a former church, now restored as a venue, and which boasts some of the most magnificent architecture. Her music is immense and powerful, the experience intense, moving, as the compositions transition between graceful and forceful, and Jo channels the range through her posture, at one with the instrument. The third and final piece, taken from her forthcoming LP opens with thunderous explosions and eerie, haunting shrillness, cultivating a dark, industrial atmosphere. And she certainly knows how to build a sustained crescendo: by the end of her set, I feel like I’ve emerged, battered but triumphant, from a tempest, and the respectable audience show real appreciation for an impressive set.

Jo Quail

Jo Quail

Rewind: while queueing in the rain, some irritatingly superior bozos behind me prate on about this and that. One remarks how the support has a forgettable, generic “adjective, something, something, noun’ name. He checks the event on Facebook on his phone, before trilling ‘A Storm of Light…. Yeah, adjective, something noun…” I turn and point out that ‘storm’ is also a noun, and that the new album’s really good. The smug cret thanks me dismissively and returns to babbling about cake at work and the like. I turn back to wait in silence, alone, and I’m fine with it, not least of all because A Storm of Light more than compensate the cold, damp discomfort of the queue.

With relentless, ever-shifting streams from CCTV intercut with cascading pills and the like projected behind the stage, ASOL play in near darkness and they play hard. Cranking out gritty industrial-tinged, grunge-hued post-punk with a dark, metallic sheen seems most incongruous in the setting, particularly given the nihilistic sociopolitical leanings of the lyrics. But we’re on deconsecrated, renovated ground here, and as much as I’m struck by the contextual juxtaposition, I’m struck by the clarity of the sound, particularly the drums, which cut through and pack a serious punch.

lA Storm of Light

A Storm of Light

Veering between claustrophobically taut frameworks and more organic, Neurosis-like expanses, the band create a sonic space that’s very much their own. And throughout the set, the basis lunges, hard, building in intensity as the set progresses: near the end, his instrument is pretty much scraping the floor, and he steps in front of the monitors to deliver some of the most savagely attacking bass playing you’re likely to witness. Not so much a strong performance as an act of total devastation.

Mono are considerably less abrasive, and I some ways, feel like a little bit of a step down. They sit down to play, for a start. It makes for a mellow atmosphere, but renders them invisible to anyone not in the first few rows, for a start.

Mono

Mono

Unable to get decent sight of the band, I make my way to the back, where the sound is magnificent. I can’t see anything other than smoke and strobes, but it’s ok: Mono aren’t a band to watch, even with the addition of vocals to their arsenal: they’re a band to get lot in. and that, I do. I find myself slowly drifting in the enormity of the experience: the sound, the atmosphere, the space, all contrive to create an immersive experience.

Consouling Sounds – 5th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been five years since A Storm of Light graced us with Nation To Flames, released via Southern Lord. Anthroscene has a very different mood, and isn’t exactly a Southern Lord type of album. It’s still very much a metal album at heart, and still has the sharp, snarling throb of latter-day Ministry at its molten core – but on this outing, they’ve opened things up a way – without losing any of the fire.

Josh Graham’s take on the album is that “Anthroscene ignores genre and freely combines a lot of our early influences. Christian Death, The Cure, Discharge, Lard, Fugazi, Big Black, Ministry, Pailhead, Melvins, Pink Floyd, Killing Joke, NIN, Tool, etc. Where Nations to Flames was a very a focused sonic assault, this record has more time to breathe, yet still keeps the intensity intact. We allowed the songs to venture into new territory and push our personal boundaries. It’s heavy and intense, but always focuses on interwoven melodies, song structure and dynamic.”

It’s a slow build by way of a start: the six-minute-trudger that is ‘Prime Time’ is constructed around a stocky riff, choppy, chunky. The guitar overdriven and compressed, chops out a sound reminiscent of post-millennial Killing Joke. The vocals are more metal, and then it breaks into a descending powerchord sequence that’s more grunge. The overall feel, then, is very much late 90s and into the first decade of the noughties, and lyrically, we’re very much in the socio-political terrain of Killing Joke. Indeed, the shift in focus is as much about the album’s heart as its soul, as ASOL turn to face the world in all its madness and corruption and pick through the pieces of this fucked-up, impossible mess. It’s practically impossible not to be angry; it’s practically impossible not to feel angry, defeated.

‘Blackout’ grinds in with some big chuggage, and ‘Life Will be Violent’ is remarkably expansive as it howls through a barrage of percussion that blasts like heavy artillery for eight and a half minutes. There are no short songs here: Anthroscene is the post-millennial cousin of Killing Joke’s Pandemonium. Only, whereas Pandemonium was pitched as prophetic and prescient, Anthroscene is clawing its way through the wreckage that is the future now present. Yes, the damage is done, and we’re standing, looking into the rubble as the dust drifts across a barren wasteland. But we’re too busy on social media and with faces buried in smartphones and tablets to even contemplate what we’ve done, and our children, heading inexorably toward an existence bereft of meaning as they too bury their faces in smartphones and tablets and Netflix on the 50” flatscreen, have no idea.

But this is no by-numbers template-based regurgitation: Anthroscene is sincere, and original. The squalling guitars of ‘Short Term Feedback’ sizzle and squirm over a barrage of drums and throat-ripping vocals as A Storm of Light revisit industrial metal territory, tugging at Ministry and early Pitch Shifter by way of touchstones. Elsewhere, the lugubrious ‘Slow Motion Apocalypse’ fulfils the promise of the title, but perhaps with more emotional resonance than you might expect.

Anthroscene is harsh, but evokes steely industrial greyness in its dense, claustrophobic atmosphere. A challenging album for challenging times.

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