ESA: No-One Will Ever Touch You / False In Tongue EP

Electronic Substance Abuse: No-One Will Ever Touch You / False In Tongue EP (Tympanik) 

Following up the twin release for Themes of Carnal empowerment, ESA is back with a “pay what you want” EP on the Tympanik Bandcamp page! I am always curious to see what Jamie has to offer, especially with his contributions to IVardensphere. I had the great opportunity to see ESA live last time they came through Portland and was very impressed - If you get the chance go and see it - definitely one of the better one-man shows that I have seen. 

The IVardensphere remix for This Is Not Love stands out most for this release. It is a fun club track to get the bodies moving on the floor! It is strikingly apparent that IV has a good hold on how to make people dance. This remix in particular has a seamless blend of tribal and noise elements. 

The Cloud Roots remix of the same song is a very close second favorite, there is a weird ambient glitchy element that I thoroughly enjoy. I am a sucker for glitchy beats over piano movements!

The (partial) title track is nothing short of a great ESA track. It is chaotic, noisy and percussion based - which is exactly what I am looking for when gearing up for a night out or just good old fashion aggression. 

You can pick up No-One Will Ever Touch You/False in Tongue EP directly from Tympanik Audio or just listen to it for free at their bandcamp page: http://tympanikaudio.bandcamp.com/track/this-is-not-love-ivardensphere-remix

Dawn of Ashes - Poisoning the Steps of Babel Official Video

(You will have to go to Bloody Disgusting’s website to see the official video - it is exclusive right now and I do not want to upset them…)

I usually try not to write negative reviews, so I will try to keep this as neutral as possible. 

Here are some thoughts I had while watching the video:

- I feel like 14 year old me would have liked this video. 24 year old me…

- Anyone who uses “fist fuck” in a song has lost my respect. 

- How many songs can you write about hating Christians?

- Didn’t these guys used to make dance music? (I know the history, and am a fan, I just don’t like American Metal very often.)

- Wasn’t this supposed to be the more industrial album? 

- If Nero is in every track/DJ set/Live performance/Video for Dawn of Ashes, is it really necessary to credit him as a “feat. Nero Bellum from Psyclon Nine”? Isn’t he just a band member now? The new Psyclon Nine might as well be a Dawn of Ashes album anyway…

Anyway, over all I am sure that many people already knew that this video/new material was going to be the same as before. At the end of the day, I was not shocked or surprised by the content - but understand that some people over 14 still like it. Not for me personally. 

Psykkle - Mother Monoxide

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Psykkle - Mother Monoxide (CRL Studios)

"Mother Monoxide" stands as a turning point for Psykkle. Over the last few years I have been keeping tabs on our good Edmontonian freinds Psykkle and watched as mastermind Evan Collingwood shaped the project from a aggrotech background into the atmospheric reality glitch it has become today. 

After the “In the City of Nodes” Single/remix disk and “Back to Paradise: B-Sides and Rarities” releases, it was easy to see that the project was coming fully out of its shell. “Mother Monoxide” brings the tempo down and the clarity up. I was surprised by the quality of the sounds in this release. Swelling tempos and soft pads shape a cyberpunk take on what I can only imagine is a perverse futurescape. The vocals are heavily effected, but I do not think that the songs could be presented the same way if they were not. 

From the first track, “The Colony,” it is very apparent that this is an album with a pretty large scope - not your average Aggro-dance-step-class release. I was also excited that there was not a purely dubstep influence in every track (personally I am tired of the dubstep bleed-over,) but that it was used conservatively and in a unique way.

This is definitely a release for people who like: Encephalon and Comaduster 

You can buy this release directly from the artist’s Bandcamp Page

XP8 - Andrenochrome

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XP8 is back with a great new album! It has been really interesting watching this album come together online. XP8 is notorious for being one of the more successful independent electronic artists in the dark dance scene, and Andrenochrome definitely had a unsurmountable support from the bigger names in the industry right now. The Indigogo.com campaign for this album well exceeded the goal, which allows for all kinds of fun perks and some music videos I believe are in the works.

Andrenochrome is a cyber punk story written by Marko (one half of XP8,) and follows two individuals through a not so far off London – deception rings through the streets no doubt! I have always been a fan of concept albums, I think that they are a difficult thing to piece together and I have always admired the skill it takes to link music and story through the process of creating an album. Andrenochrome is no exception, it buildings in waves of dance floor anthems and addicting lyrics. Andrenochrome is an album that you find yourself humming days later.

XP8 has done a good job of blending some of the newly popular styles of electronic music and their classic future pop feel. This is not easily obtained, and can be very annoying in my opinion, so to hear it come out in a way that I can agree with is a great feat! (Mainly I am referring to dubstep influences.) At the same time however, “Night Run” has a great classic XP8 feel (which I love.)

Overall it is a great addition to any DJ’s collection with songs like “Getaway” and “Information.” I am excited to add these songs to my current club rotation.  

You can buy this release on XP8’s Bandcamp page: http://officialxp8.bandcamp.com/album/adrenochrome

Or on iTunes! 

Check out the Official Lyric Video for “Information”

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Distorted Memory – The Eternal Return

It should be no secret at this point that Distorted Memory is out to change the face of current industrial. ‘The Eternal Return’ is the third full length album from Canadian act Distorted Memory and will serve as the first album released independently by the artist.

A brief history for those of you who have not had the pleasure of what is now Distorted Memory:

The first album released on Noitekk, “Burning Heaven,” was a great album with a lot of fast paced dance floor friendly anti-christian concepts. Distorted vocals, high pitched gates, and great rhythms. The second album, “Swallowing The Sun,” came from a completely different direction – there was a lot of tribal influence and the vocals were very raw and powerful. The whole album felt very other-worldly in the best of ancient ways. “Temple of the Black Star” came shortly after as a stepping stone that greatly prepared us all for what would become another change in sound from Distorted Memory. “Temple of the Black Star” was a single instrumental track presented in nine movements. This is extremely unique not only for the project, but for the scene in general. Each movement was different remix by a popular (at least in my book,) witch house artist. All great. All game changing in my opinion. Very fun.

“The Eternal Return” is nothing short of a great work of art – again. To me it is a really delicate blend of dark dance music and witch house. I know that this album is in no way presented as a witch house album, and I am sure that many witch house fans will scoff at this because the elitism of it all will get to them – but it is true. The whole album feels very creepy, in the best way of course. “In The Heart of Your Fire,” the opening track starts the album off very mellow with a well placed acoustic guitar riff that honestly took me by surprise. The melodies and the atmospheres of this track work so well together. “Lose Control,” the free single and second track on the album is a fun blend of thoughtful lyrics and dance claps, and I imagine that it will do the best in the club scene if any DJ dares to get away from their failsafes. The intro to “Back Away” threw me off because it contains some fairly poppy synth stabs, but the song quickly redeems itself with an old school Ministry or Remission era Skinny Puppy feel.

I will spare the song by song breakdown – the rest of the album is very, very good and will continue its play for many years in my books. “The Eternal Return,” is an eclectic album with some very odd influences that are combined in an extremely original way. Industrial listeners and music makers alike be warned – Distorted Memory is changing everything.

You can listen to the new album in full on Distorted Memory’s Soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/distorted-memory

The Eternal Return comes out on June 28th. You can purchase it through the artists Bandcamp page: http://distortedmemory.bandcamp.com/album/the-eternal-return

Review: reakt[ion] - We Are the Cause of Our Own Despair

React[ion] We Are The Cause of Our Own Despair

I will have to preface this piece by saying that I have been there for a majority of the creation of We Are the Cause of Our Own Despair, because I live with Wes from reakt[ion], and that it has been a pleasure watching this EP come together. WATCOOD is the follow up EP to 2011’s debut EP, Attrition,which brought a hard EBM dance beat down on the Portland crowd with distorted vocals and political undertones. WATCOOD, however, is a step in another direction. Presented at a slower overall tempo, WATCOOD delivers an avid punch in the guy of the human condition with intense breakdowns and just a hint of wobble bass (often found in dubstep.) But make no mistake, this is not a hybrid dubstep project – reakt[ion] manages to bring these elements very clearly to the world of HarshEBM, along the lines of Die Sektor’s Final Electro Solution.

The lyrical content of WATCOOD is something to be mentioned as well. I felt that the content of the first release, while well written, was too politically focused and ignored personal reflection. WATCOOD however is an open wound bleeding out, the words raw and freshly carved out. It is refreshing, to me, to hear such honest, and personal lyrics from this project.  

Buy it now: http://reaktion.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-the-cause-of-our-own-despair

I, Omega Review by Wesley Mueller

I, Omega

By Wesley Mueller

I, Omega is the first full length album from Portland, Oregon artist [product]. It is being released through COP International and will be available worldwide on October 19,2012.

The album starts strong with the track “The Last Battle”, a song that begins with vaguely Blade Runner-esque swells before moving into the dance driven aggressive beat that [product] uses so heavily. As the synth line comes in you immediately know that you’re listening to a [product] song; the lead moves quickly but with purpose, and manages to be both upbeat and brooding at the same time. The song follows what will become an album long theme of both philosophical and post-apocalyptic imagery. The vocals are distorted and effected heavily, but with Michael Kurt’s unique voice it is not hard to make out the words he is assaulting you with.

After “The Last Battle” we get “Lungs Full of Water,” a track that was on the I Hope You Choke EP released digitally in November 2011. Lyrics about drowning surge over swelling synths and you get the distinct impression that these oceanic overtures may have inspired the theme of the song.

From here we move to “Brackish”, another track from I Hope You Choke. This is the first song on the album where you can really hear hardcore influences – cymbal heavy breakdowns and slow, mechanical snares. This song stands out as less overtly danceable than other tracks on the album, a refreshing break from the repetitive four-on-the-floor drumbeats that plague the genre.

“Brackish” gives way to “Greed (The Second Skin)”, a new song from the artist, and a song that continues the post-apocalyptic theme started in “The Last Battle”; lyrically it touches on the construct of economy and money, and the worthlessness of it in a post-capitalist hellscape. One thing that strikes me about “Greed” is that before the verse comes in, the swelling pad and fast moving synth line dotting away reminds me a lot of nolongerhuman’s first album. However, once the verse comes in, so do those tell-tale synth lines that [product] is so good at making his own.

Next up is “Imminent”, another I Hope You Choke track. This track is much slower than we’re used to getting from [product] - the kick line pulls us along at around 110 beats per minute - but it never feel like it drags; instead, we get an emotional track about innocence in the face of false accusations. About half way through the song, we lose the synths, the beats, and the bass, and are treated to a flowing peaceful pad that pulls us into the next chorus, “You’re Innocent/They Don’t Believe You”.

“The Decline” changes pace and brings us back up to that dancing four-on-the-floor beat that we all know so well. While the song is, overall, constructed and layered very well there is a synth line that runs when there is a break in the vocals that makes me feel like I should be watching an early ‘90s martial arts movie based on a video game. Lyrically this song may give us a view of how the rest of this album’s world went so wrong, the vocals yelling warnings about bombs dropping and a city being destroyed by war.

From “The Decline” we move into “Death (A New Beginning)”. The opening synth line makes me think of Suicide Commando, or maybe Dioxyde, neither of which is a bad thing. The lyrics of this song have a cadence that surprised me, and the theme seems to be the immediate aftermath of the bombings from “The Decline.” I don’t know if [product] intended for this to be a concept album but so far, with the exception of the I Hope You Choke songs, it certainly sounds like one.

“Everything Falls Apart”, the last I Hope You Choke track on this album, comes in immediately hammering away with kick drums, off-beat bass lines and moving arpeggios. Underneath high sweeping synth lines, [product] sings a song of club love, dark and destructive, but sung with less emotion than you would expect given the content of the song. Maybe it’s just harder to aggressively scream lyrics of a love song.

At this time in the album we have reached the title track, “I, Omega”, and it starts off strong with a clip about the uselessness of consumerism. A pounding beat dances away under a dark synth line while [product] implores you to take back your life from the materialism you have built up around you and make yourself happy. A poignant song, “I, Omega” is clearly tinged with [product]’s views on existentialism and may be reflecting his Straight Edge lifestyle.

“An Era of Agony” moves away from the four-on-the-floor beats again, and you can feel the anger in the synth lines before you hear a word of the lyrics. Anti-religious overtones mark the lyrics of this track as [product] demands that the faithful look into the abyss and realize that their God is missing.

The next song, “Provoke (9mm Intervention)”, is a song about school shootings, which is I guess something he wanted to write about? It’s fun musically, but lyrically I want something more. If I want mindless EBM about killing people I’ll go pick up a Dawn of Ashes album.

The final song on the album is “Blind Indifference.” The song is instrumental, mildly ambient, and brings the album to a surprisingly soft close. I think that this could have been a good intermission track, and that [product] could have closed on a stronger, more emotional note, but musically, it is a fun piece to just sit back and listen to.

I, Omega is a very good album, especially for a debut. [product] shows that he is an expert at building layers in his music, both musically and lyrically; his synth lines are distinct and original, and while you may hear the occasional homage, I think that in an electronic genre this is largely unavoidable. Most of his songs have lyrics that have to be listened to or read multiple times to decipher the full meaning; what on its surface may appear to be a song about dropping bombs or drowning may actually be a song about inner turmoil or a statement on the capitalistic society that, ironically, even the most anti-capitalist musician must try to thrive in.

Disclosure Statement: I’ve been a [product] fan for a number of years now, toured with [product], and am good friends with Michael Kurt, the man behind the music. While I have attempted to write this review as objectively as possible I think that any piece of non-fiction writing, including album reviews, will necessarily show at least some bias from the author and I hope you will forgive me if any of this bias has seeped in.

Review: Better Beings - Surface

Better Beings – Surface

Better Beings is the electronic UFO calling side project of Portland local band Bryan Minus. Their first album has recently been self released online and is chock full of amazing stories from planets beyond our own. The concept of Surface is based around the idea that ecclectic beings have come to earth and observed all of the horrors that mankind has become.

With heavy base and catchy synth lines, Surface is a great first release, along the lines of IAMX and Moving Units. The first track, Message, brings you right in to the world - “There is something hidden/ written in the sky/ some kind of message/ force to defy/ a message from the future..”

The genius of Surface is the emotional duality that is explored as the album progresses. Waves explores the greed and need for fame in human nature and how it is all cyclical. Not only do you have dance friendly beats, roving baselines, and screeching video game like synthesizers (which are becoming increasingly more prominent in the genre,) you also get philosophical depth!

I believe that Better Beings will have no trouble finding a home on a prominent label if they decide that is what they want for the project. I also think that the music is versatile enough to fit in with a lot of genres. I am very excited to see this project grow and infect all awaiting human life forms.

Check out Better Beings on FACEBOOK

Review: Unitcode:Machine - Nosophobia

Unitcode:Machine is what I will call a EBM project from Dallas, Texas. It is kind of hard to pinpoint what genre exactly they are, which is often a good thing in today’s music. Nosophobia is the 3rd studio album from Unitcode:Machine, released without label, onto untold masses. As I was going through the CD, trying to formulate an appropriate sub-genre reprisal I found myself torn between EBM and futurepop (in a good way.)

I hear a lot of Imperative Reaction influence in the male vocal style, which is also, in a very good way. The music is a little chaotic for me personally, but it works really well beneath the dance beats. There are some points where a female singer is present, who reminds me of Siouxsie And The Banshees a little bit, but it works really well in the electro background.

On a less superficial level, the lyrics are really emotionally based, which is always a win in my book. Songs like “Fall Again” and “Reflect” really stand out to me as emotionally driven songs, that bring me close to them. “Reflect” especially is based on “I AM” statements – a nice look inside of someone else. “You cant survive without me, you know you amount to nothing. I am the cause, the cure, the pain, I am inside.” is a really good line.

I believe that this CD is really really good – I do think, however, that professional mixing and mastering would send it soaring into a whole new area in the scene. There are a lot of great elements in the music that I can hear that are understated, or lost within the mix of the tracks. All around though, I thoroughly enjoyed this CD, and will be playing “Reflect” the next time I DJ here in Portland.

I would recommend this CD to fans of: Imperative Reaction, Access Zero, Older VNV Nation, and older Apoptygma Berzerk.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/unitcodemachine/127051220667473

Review: Cynical Existence - A Familiar Kind of Pain

Cynical Existence was birthed from the industrial womb of Project Rotten’s Fredrik Croona and comes at you with a vengeance! Project Rotten is a favorite of mine, so Cynical Existence is an interesting look into the solo works of Croona.

A Familiar Kind of Pain, out now on Engraved Rituals, is the first card thrown into the Harsh EBM game from Cynical Existence. From the first track, you are thrown into the an emotionally cage and release of dance beats and raw emotion. For me, the CD really climaxes at the collaborative track with Pre Emptive Strike 0.1 “I’m Broken.” That track is really solidly put together, musically, and lyrically. I think that, if given the right exposure, it will easily become a club staple at industrial clubs worldwide. It is an ideal dance song for me because it has the emotion behind driving bass and drums with the high -pitched saw synth.

I hear a lot of Hocico influence in the music, which is a great thing, mixed with a familiar Project Rotten element. Don’t misinterpret that as me saying that it is the same as Project Rotten’s releases though, because this definitely stands out from those tracks.

I would recommend this CD to listeners who like: Hocico, C-Lekktor, God Module, and Project Rotten (of course.)

http://facebook.com/cynical.existence.official
http://facebook.com/engravedritual