In its best moments punk music transcends volk-rage by serving as a cracked mirror reflecting the forlorn realities that industrialization and intangible goal of perpetual progress wrought as this civilization awaited technological rapture to deliver its destiny among the stars. The reflection was always unclear because of its nature as folk music, marred by smudges and dust that lead it to misdiagnose the cause of its own woes. Depressor spiritually and musically channel this ethos while stepping into the well-worn boots of Godflesh resulting in a body of work resides between industrial, doom/death and punk music. The artists understand that heaviness is not merely a novelty or a token, but a vessel.
Sometimes Al Jourgensen seems tangential and unrelated to the DMU mission, but given how many projects he’s had his hands in, you won’t have much trouble finding a lineage between one of them (probably Ministry, since they tend to sound like metal even when the underlying songwriting isn’t aiming for that style) and something more directly related to our usual interests. Al has recently created a page on Patreon full of invective against the music industry and promising video backstage type content in addition to the usual industrial metal stuff in return for financial support. Musicians in general seem to have embraced the Kickstarter/Indiegogo type funding model more rapidly than Patreon; if you ask me, it’s easier to adapt the business model of the former to an LP every 12-36 months than it is to adapt to the more rapid releases that Patreon campaigns benefit from. Either way, the push towards crowdfunding and other means of financing free of major record labels is something our business-oriented readers may want to keep an eye on.
In the mid-1990s, it became clear that death metal and black metal had run through their formative and matured material and were now in decline, so bands experimented with developing older styles of metal using the new techniques. Voivod dropped Negatron into this period with a fusion of Ministry, old Voivod and Master of Puppets-era Metallica accented by alternative rock vocals. The result came about a decade before the audience was ready.
Continuity from classic Voivod remains present throughout in not the odd riffs, angular melodies, inverted guitar chords and challenging tempo changes but also the overall sensibility, which creates a sense of unease and infinite possibility at the same time as is appropriate for the sci-fi theme of the band. That impulse translates into Ministry-styled industrial-influenced percussion and the complex phrase-based but rhythmically-centered riffing of mid-period Metallica, creating a smooth fusion that can hold its own against mainstream heavyweights like Pantera, who dominated speed metal at the time. Instead of focusing on easy grooves however, Voivod center their music around disruption and order emerging from chaos, giving these alternative-rock style choruses built around the vocal a space to expand and a strong musical bedrock on which to develop. Vocalist/bassist Eric Forrest gives a strained vocal cord performance which adds to the urgency of the material, and creates a sinister suspension of what we normally think of as reality.
The creative riffs of classic Voivod are here, but bent and twisted around complex rhythms and given more standard power chords to anchor them around an increasingly irresistible rhythm. Like most of mid-90s metal, Negatron anticipates the underground being re-absorbed into the larger world of metal, and does so with distorted vocals and death metal strumming techniques mixed in with the progressive speed metal touches from earlier bands. What propels this album forward is its ability to bring out an underlying narrative and reveal a hidden side to the previous explanation for how its pieces fit together, causing — like good death metal, or even Carbonized which it periodically resembles — a sensation of discovery for the listener. Its task was Herculean because the type of listener who likes mainstream power metal will probably find this inscrutable, and underground listeners balked at the Nirvana-plus-Amebix vocal stylings. Their loss, because this album provides solid speed metal with the best integration of progressive and industrial influences yet seen.
Gods of metal, please liberate us from the blithe of samey industrial and doom metal from atmospheric-minded twats! Save us from the ignorance that plagues metal artists and fandom alike! Only then can these empty husks that resemble metal be driven out and seen for what they are. This album is one more kind of subversive tendency under empty pretentiousness that affects those with a penchant for the occult and a short-sighted vision for composition.
Mysterium Magnum consists of four songs of basically the same thing. At points it approaches the industrial sound of Beherit on Electric Doom Synthesis but without the distinct ideas and development. Temple of Gnosis’ music is rather a snapshot of that industrial metal with some minimalist melodies played in subtle keyboard sounds along shadowed vocals that lend to the darkness of the atmosphere. And that’s it. You take that and basically play that moment again and again in slightly different ways. The songs even have more or less the same length, and all equally fail at developing or show any variety. Perhaps the length was the measure stick to decide when to stop the songs.
Temple of Gnosis show us with Mysterium Magnum just how gullible both the industry and the average fan of metal can be. Or how blind and undiscerning the industry takes the metalhead to be. To be honest, this probably deserved since most metalheads show they cannot see past “the riff” or “the melody” in the case of the more mainstream-minded. The average metalhead is still a pop music fan, he sees music as separate moments and what each of them individually make him feel. He is also driven purely by what makes him “feel good”. That means that he will measure the quality of music by the count of how many moments tickled his funny bone. Thus you receive what you asked for, mediocre metalhead.
If you can imagine an industrial band using metal riffs, but instead of relying on the Godflesh style of machine-like industrial restores in itself the older EBM style, you have a decent idea of what Slaves of God to the Gallows is like.
Ad Hominem make easily listened to industrial pop with metal riffs peeking out from beneath the sequenced keyboards, drums and samples, including vocals howling out distorted tempests of chorus. It is more repetitive than metal, and not atmospheric at all; like a pop song, it directs your attention at its focal point and then forces the dots to connect.
As a result, this is somewhat inarticulate compared to metal, despite being able to understand the vocals which I admit is a new experience. Imagine Nine Inch Nails but with more of ceremonial vibe to the keyboards, much as they’re used on a Rotting Christ album, and you have Slaves of the God to the Gallows.
While I’m not the world’s biggest industrial fan simply because it is closer to the repetitive trope function of rock and pop music, this is enjoyable material that hides its intensely repetitive nature as best it can. You may find yourself humming these songs as you go through life, wondering where your brain came up with such viral grooves.
Industrial metal band Fear Factory graduated to concept albums early in their career, and following on the successes of last year’s The Industrialist will be touring in support of their particular mix of industrial, metal, grindcore and rock.
Based on a science-fiction epic written by vocalist Burton C. Bell, The Industrialist comments on the present and the future as part of one continuum. While the story remains inscrutable, the dystopian-anarchist feeling of industrial music pervades it.
Bell describes the work as the band’s most focused effort. “Everything had its purpose and we knew exactly what we were doing and what we had to do,” he said. The album is the second for the reunited songwriting duo of Bell and Dino Cazares, who worked on earlier material from this band.
Starting life as an alternative to Godflesh at a time when no other band could work within that style, Fear Factory has melded its own sound over the years, combining Nine Inch Nails and Ministry style industrial rock with metal riffs and grinding cadences.
If you want to catch these maniacs on tour, be sure to visit one of these venues:
4/14/2013 The Black Sheep – Colorado Springs, CO
4/15/2013 Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
4/17/2013 The Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
4/18/2013 The Rave – Milwaukee, WI
4/19/2013 Mojoes – Joliet, IL
4/20/2013 Club Fever – South Bend, IN
4/21/2013 Diamond Pub & Billiards – Louisville, KY