Posts Tagged ‘Wax Trax!’

16th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Initially intended as a straight follow up to their 2019 debut, Digital Scars, Chemical Violence evolved as a more technoindustrial work, with less primacy given to the guitars. But having said that, the band explain that they were keen to present a range of elements across the album: ‘We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sub-genre so all the songs have their own flavor. Retro and post style, Electronic, driven guitar, grinding Noisecore and Aggrotech elements, Synth bass, Drum dominant. We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sub-genre so all the songs have their own flavor. Retro and post style, Electronic, driven guitar, grinding Noisecore and Aggrotech elements, Synth bass, Drum dominant.’

The album slams straight in with the shuddering synths and thumping beats with the hard-edged stomp of ‘Prototype’. The vocals are gnarly, mangled, snarling, robotic – yes, derivative of Twitch era Ministry and a million Wax Trax! releases from 86-89, but that’s entirely the idea.

It was The Wedding Present who turned a negative music review into a T-Shirt bearing the slogan ‘all the songs sound the same’ and while it served to turn the criticism back on itself, it raises the very fair question of ‘what’s the problem?’ Certain genres particularly require a significant level of sameness.

Dance music is necessarily constructed around a narrow range of tempos, and this strain of electro-centric industrial is in many respects, an aggressive rendition of dance music (no, I’m not going to call it fucking EDM. Or EBM, either. Because there is just so much tribal wankery around genres, and rebranding shit doesn’t make it new shit, it just makes it the same shit rebranded. I never blame bands for this: it’s a press and marketing thing.

Chemical Violence most definitely isn’t shit – it’s an astute work that sees the band really exploit the genre forms to their optimum reach, and the point is that the further you delve into a genre, the more important the details become. Malice Machine know this, and this album is the evidence. ‘Dead Circuit’ presents the grinding sleaze of PIG, while ‘Machine Hate’ is pure insistent groove that’s overtly dance – most definitely drum dominant – but clearly has its grimy roots in that Chicago c86 sound. Flipping that, ‘Techno Pagan’ goes full raging Ministry industrial metal in the vein of ‘Thieves’. It wraps up with a killer rendition of Tubeway Army’s ‘Down in the Park’ that’s quite a shift, being both organic and robotic at the same time, and very much captures the stark spirit of the original. Covered by so many, from Marilyn Manson to Foo Fighters, and it’s become a synth-goth classic. Malice Machine seem to take some cues from the Christian Death version, but brings something unique to the party as well.

Where Malice Machine succeed with Chemical Violence clearly isn’t in its innovation, but its execution, and they don’t put a foot wrong, making for an album that really is all killer.

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Metropolis Records – 8th February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

In a sense, I was raised on so-called ‘industrial’. It was the very early 90s and I was in my mid-late teens: Ministry had broken through to the MTV major league with ‘Psalm 69’ and I worked weekends in a second-hand record shop. The other hired hand, who worked when the owner wasn’t around and drove the van carrying the shop’s contents to record fairs on Sundays, was around 15 years older than me, and was massively into all sorts, but particularly punk, new wave, and industrial shit. He’d feed me stuff like Pigface and Lard. Records and CD had a pretty rapid turnover, so recent releases often landed with us for resale within a few weeks of release after a rush of ‘mistake’ purchases off the back of reviews in the music press, and at record fair, it was possible to swipe Wax Trax! remainder12” – which included albums, often still sealed – for a pound apiece.

The fact there was a certain similarity of sound across many of the releases was, in a sense, part of the appeal: the uniformity of industrial civilisation and its attendant culture, reflected in musical from echoed a blank nihilism that simultaneously accepted and confronted the grim harshness of daily reality.

But it’s 2019 and many of the old bands are still cranking out the same trudging grind, and there don’t really seem to be that many emerging bands in the field, making for a genre that’s increasingly stagnant, continually cross-feeding from within itself without drawing inspiration or air from outside its hermetic grey-hued space. The additional contributors featured here is a case in point: the album features contributions from Robert Gorl (DAF), Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), and Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks, Cocksure). As a catalogue of luminaries from the scene, it’s cool, but it’s the same catalogue as you might have seen as far back as twenty years ago

Wake Up the Coma isn’t bad by any means, and it certainly has its standout moments. It’s brimming with thumping industrial-strength disco beats, bubbling basslines and stabbing synths, and in this field, songs like ‘Hatevol’ are exemplary. The minimalist slow grind of ‘Tilt’ sounds very like PIG with its woozy, grimy, stop / start synth bass and snarling vocals, fuzzed at the edges with a metallic distortion. Then again, their cover of Falco’s ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ (with Jimmy Urine) stands out for less good reasons: it’s 100% straight, with negligible deviations from the original save for a more industrial beat. And I can’t help but think ‘what’s the point?’ there have been plenty of inspired industrial covers, and I will always cite RevCo’s take on ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’ as an example of irreverent and inventive adaptation.

No-one looking for a solid Front Line Assembly album is going to be disappointed by this. And since FLA, now thirty-three years and almost twenty albums into their existence, are always likely to be preaching to the choir, they’ve delivered firmly with Wake Up the Coma.

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Front Line Assembly – Wake Up The Coma

AnalogueTrash – 17th March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

First impressions matter. The opening seconds of ‘Beware of the Gods’, the first track on The Last Punks on Earth remind me of ‘Corrosion’ by Ministry. As such, my attention is well and truly grabbed, even before the album breaks. And when it does break, it’s a shouty, snotty, snarling drum-machine driven punk racket reminiscent of early Revolting Cocks that comes hammering from the speakers. Combining gritty, overdriven guitars and pounding, insistent mechanised beats with aggressive vocals and surging electronic noise and grinding synths, it’s not pretty.

‘We Are Freaks in the Sky’ has that classic Wax Trax! sound all over it, while ‘Sarah’s Song’ is an exemplar of the full-tilt industrialised Eurodisco of the late 80s and early 90s. KMFDM is a fair reference point for the driving, danceable technoindustrial nihilism that defines The Last Punks on Earth.

There’s little to no respite over the course of the album’s ten tracks, which offer up a savage and bleak postapocalyptic cultural worldview. Ok, so the name might evoke the blank postmodern irony of Nathan Barley, as might the band’s image and sound, but their brutal genre-clashing noise is exactly the music that these fucked-up times demand. The darkest dystopian fictions have become our reality, and on The Last Punks on Earth Syd.31 capture the zeitgeist with a violence, venom and vitality that’s pure and compelling.

Syd.31

The Hum is the first ever solo album by Marc Heal and his first full-length release since the year 2000. He has been a presence in electronic music since the late 1980s when his band Westwon toured with Gary Numan and recorded with Colin Thurston.

His next band, Cubanate, then achieved success in the industrial scene in the 1990s with four acclaimed albums. Hits such as ‘Oxyacetylene’ and ‘Bodyburn’ crossed over to metal and mainstream audiences, with the former achieving Single of the Week in both Kerrang! and Melody Maker. The band later signed to the Chicago based label Wax Trax!

in its final years, while also gaining worldwide exposure when Sony used four of their songs as the lead tracks on the best-selling Gran Turismo console game. ‘Body Burn’ was also featured in The Sopranos and the Mortal Kombat movie. They toured with The Sisters of Mercy, Gary Numan, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, Fear Factory, Sheep On Drugs, PIG and more. Marc also worked with Jean-Luc Demeyer of Front 242, the duo making two albums as C-TEC.

Marc appeared to remain creatively silent for many years after the demise of Cubanate, but was in fact running Fortress Studios in London and working in television and advertising, writing documentaries for the BBC and Sky.

Pefacing the release of The Hum on 11 November 2016 through Armalyte Industries, Marc presents ‘Adult Fiction’. Watch the video here: