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Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012: Industrial Black Metal

This is an article I've been wanting to write up for a couple of months now and have finally worked up enough time to write it up. Hopefully there are some releases in here that you haven't already heard this year and might pique your interest. All of them are reviewed from 1-10.

Wavelength: Satan - Time-Blood Theory (2012)
Band: Wavelength: Satan
Country: Lisboa, Portugal
Style: Industrial Black Metal
Label: Obscure Abhorrence Productions

I'm not sure what other people tend to think of when they hear the term "industrial black metal", but to me, this album is pretty much the sound I think of. Even though the genre is really hard to pin down to a single sound, this is the sort of sound that always pops into my head. It's tremolo picked riffs, pulsating electronic beats, and an epic sense of atmosphere. Frankly, in comparison to a lot of other albums and groups in this sub-genre, this album isn't actually all that intense or fast, as most of the songs feature a much heavier focus on dense and thick atmospherics over speed and intensity. As the album progresses, the focus on metal becomes even more apparent as lengthy segments of ambiance are used to either introduce a track, as in closer Let The Kingdom Come, or stand on their own, Wholeness and The Implicate Order. I don't know if I'd consider that to be a bad thing, but I certainly enjoyed the black metal tracks enough to know that I would have liked to have heard more of them. I thought that Time-Blood was a very well paced piece of space ambient that doesn't clash with the aesthetic of the rest of the album, and I can appreciate that, I just happened to wish that other tracks like that were able to either reach similar heights or progress into something more interesting. So, what can you expect, and album of solid industrial black metal mixed with some pretty solid space ambient pieces. If that sounds ok to you, I'd say don't hesitate to check this one out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Jihad of Chaos, Collapsed Supersymmetry, Time-Blood

P.H.O.B.O.S. - Atonal Hypermnesia (2012)
Band: P.H.O.B.O.S.
Country: Paris, France
Style: Industrial Doom Metal
Label: Megaton Mass

Have you been longing for the days of old when Blut Aus Nord were the pioneers of fusing black metal with industrial music? If you are, look no further than this album and you will find the spiritual successor to that band's 2003 effort, The Work Which Transforms God. Granted, the four songs that make up this album are far longer than those on Blut Aus Nord's album, but sonically, the moment that Necromegalopolis of Coprolites began, I heard a similarity between the two albums. You have that very distinct, amorphous guitar sound, industrial percussion, and tons of atmosphere, along with the occasional vocal part so automatically I was pretty much on board with this album. I would actually dare to say that the percussion ideas on here is actually more interesting than many other bands attempting this sort of sound including Blus Aus Nord. While I don't think there are any bands who can touch Blut Aus Nord, there are plenty of groups who do give it a go (most of those I actually like) but it is very hard for any band to reach that same level in my book. I'm not going to say this album was able to reach that plateau because it didn't, but it was a pretty damn fine attempt at doing this sound in an interesting way. For me it was a bit too long and not quite as engaging or clinically cold enough to make it captivating, but it's still very interesting and certainly worth hearing.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Maelström Mani Padme Hum, Solar Defrag

Lidice - 1942 (2012)
Band: Lidice
Country: Sweden
Style: Industrial Black Metal
Label: Independent

I'm sure, like me, when you first saw the cover art here for this album, you were a little shocked. Surprisingly enough, unlike some other albums with front covers that look rather haphazard, the music on here is actually quite solid. It's actually pretty well done and pretty weird black metal, maybe not quite industrial in the sense of using electronics, but still pretty good. It has sort of a mid-period Satyricon kind of vibe going on to be honest, but perhaps a little weirder than Satyricon ever was. There's a nice amount of variety in here as well, with songs that tend to take more straightforward and direct methods of songwriting, Rotten World for example, and then there are the stranger ones that are slightly more abstract, like Lidice, but all of the songs have a pretty simplistic way about them that makes them pretty easy to get into. This is the sort of record that I could see appealing to people who don't really like their black metal too experimental, but different from the standard stuff. I happened to think that this was some pretty solid stuff, still very rough around the edges and maybe a bit too digital sounding for some, but the potential and talent is certainly there.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Snapped, Rotten World, Eclipse

Dargar - Dargar (2012)
Band: Dargar
Country: Los Angeles, California
Style: Raw Black Metal/Noise
Label: Rising Beast

This release is more on the rawer side of production sounds. I was actually surprised by how "industrial" this release was, based on the cover art and the little bit of research I did into the album before listening to it, I had half expected it to be a raw black metal record with electronic drums. That was true, but the vocals have various effects place on them at times, there are low-end drones playing in the mix, replacing guitars at some points actually. The performance is pretty ropy in my opinion, with several of the guitar lines sounding almost badly done, and normally I'd take against that (as you will find out below) but for this it strangely worked because as on 6:52, the balance between badly performed and mechanically divisive is quite close. The line is blurred even more when some almost post-rock sounding guitar parts are included on 4:48, to a rather odd effect I might add. It's a strange little album that will definitely turn your head if you choose to seek it out.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: 3:56, 4:48

Khonsu - Anomalia (2012)
Band: Khonsu
Country: Trondheim, Norway
Style: Progressive/Industrial Black Metal
Label: Season of Mist

In my opinion, despite the acclaim that a group like Keep of Kalessin has achieved (even with their last album getting quite a bit of flack), they've never been all that great or interesting a group. So I was actually quite surprised when I found out that their vocalist Thebon performed all the vocals on this album. Now, I'm certainly not a new listener to KoK, and I have thought that Thebon was a perfectly acceptable vocalist, I didn't think he was extraordinary, but on here, I was really surprised by how versatile and well crafted his performance was. He voice just goes from soaring cleans to death metal growls, blackened screams, and some spoken word that almost made me think that Attila from Mayhem was guesting. For The Malady, I swear I had to check numerous sites a reviews just to make sure that Pasi Koskinen wasn't doing vocals on the track. In addition to that, the music on here was really well done as well. Channeling ideas from symphonic, industrial (electronica really), and progressive sub-genres and turning them into something really unexpected. I like how the band are able to make use of more symphonic pieces, In Otherness, melodic songs, Darker Days Coming, and more aggressive and thrashy ones, Inhuman States, all the while never really coming across as a different band. I think this is a very strong piece of work that if you're into the more progressive or electronic side of black metal, you'll definitely want to check out.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Darker Days Coming, Va Shia (Into The Spectral Sphere)

Necro Deathmort - The Colonial Script (2012)
Band: Necro Deathmort
Country: London, UK
Style: Industrial Doom Metal/Post-Rock
Label: Distraction

The idea of a man floating through space, as the cover appeared to look to me, seemed like a really awesome concept for an album cover, so regardless of how the music actually turned out, I wanted to cover this. I was unaware of Necro Deathmort before finding this album and was quite surprised with their interesting take on industrial metal. If you're looking for harsh and hard-hitting metallic riffs and beats, you'd best look elsewhere because this is a far more atmospheric affair. While you do get a couple of tracks dedicated to low-end heaviness, the majority of the album takes on a more spacey ambiance than industrial edge. In some ways it reminded me of the rather amorphous sound of Blut Aus Nord, but slower and more ambient. Frankly, despite my rather frank description, I actually didn't mind the album being based in slower passages of ambiance because they were done well. The album flows and even though I might have wished this was a heavier piece of work, that honestly wouldn't have fit with the album. The droning heaviness of Led to The Water works great after the build-up of opener Imperial while Arrows is a much more chaotic and noisy track that acts as a release of the two pieces of ambiance that came before it. It isn't exactly black metal, but if you're in the market for something on the more ambient side of the industrial metal spectrum definitely check this one out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Led to The Water, Arrows, Starbeast

Total Angels Violence - III (2012)
Band: Total Angels Violence
Country: Ukraine
Style: Industrial Noise/Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Kunsthauch

When I first heard Total Angels Violence last year, I was really impressed by the project because it took a pretty solid variety of influences and made them into something rather intriguing and showed potential. With this new full-length the we see the project adopting several new ideas into their style including the use of gothic orchestrations, a higher degree of industrial influence, and more psychedelic sound effects sewn throughout the entire record. The entire thing may sound a bit like a bunch of random ideas thrown into a mixing pot, but the result is actually rather well done. It's definitely still pretty rough around the edges, but that's something I actually rather like about this project. The fact that some of these ideas feel rather messy or unpolished is sort of the best thing about it, in some cases. It's only on closer Act V where you get to hear the full extent of what the project's aim is (or what I assume it's trying to get to). Moving from blasting black metal segments into a more minimal ambient one before transitioning into a more industrial noise led part may not seem like the most exciting of transitions, but it's executed pretty well and did remind me just a bit of what Servile Sect have been doing recently. So if you're interested in experimental black metal and ambient music, I'd definitely say to give this a shot.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Act I, Act V

Choronzon - /​/​/​Consummation​/​/​\​\​Metanoia​\​\​\ (2012)
Band: Choronzon
Country: Winter Park, Florida
Style: Blackened Industrial Metal

I don't know for how many other people, but for me, this was the first album I had heard from Choronzon, even though the project has been releasing material since the 90s. If I had decided to write this review after the first time I had listened to this, I can tell you that this would have been a decidedly more negative write-up. I can't say that I was disappointed because I had no expectations coming into it, but the sound I imagined when I read the term "blackened industrial metal" was not what this turned out to be. Like most albums on this list, I had expected this to be more metallic, when it was actually more experimental. Yes, there are a handful of more aggressive, but definitely still quite strange, metal tracks but there are just as many experimental tracks that borrow from the worlds of industrial noise to more standard fare industrial electronic(a). From my perspective, I did find some of the ideas to be somewhat dull and monotonous, but I wouldn't say that any of the ideas were ever bad. I sort of wish that there was a bit more obvious aggression on here because it did feel muted, in a sense, even though the project's other releases (that I've listened though) do maintain a similar sense of style. It's solid and if you're interested in hearing some interesting industrial metal, this might be worth looking into.
Overall Score: 7
Highlights: System Uncertainty, Luminous Apparition, Cognitive Execution

Night Troll - Dimension Gateway (2012)
Band: Night Troll
Country: US
Style: Industrial/Raw Black Metal
Label: Independent

Finally we come to this, and if there was ever an album that made sure to make you hate the possibilities of black metal, this would surely be one of them. This is one of those albums that makes you wonder if the person recording it had even listened to it before releasing it. The drum machine on this is pretty much the best performer on here, and it's doing a pretty minimal performance to be honest. The guitars are really quiet in the mix, which could either be from the guy who recorded/mixed it not knowing what they were doing or in order to obscure how dull the guitar parts actually are - you be the judge. I'd say that latter because a track like Gateway Ritual can't be made to sound that sloppy on purpose. Then there are the vocals, which are honestly some of the worst I've heard all year. Whoever did them obviously had no intention of having what they were say deciphered, because from what I can tell, there are no words - not something I have a problem, but the vocals are unspeakably bad. In addition to that, there are also several effects used on them on a few tracks in order to make them just that much more annoying. There are some ideas on here that could have turned out interesting, but they are just that, ideas, and unfortunately, they went nowhere on here. Then there was that sixteen minute closer, Devil Worship, which was just an entirely different problem. There's a difference between making a droning noisescape just because you can and making one because it's a fundamental statement to your record. This lies in the former. The longer I would listen to this album, the more I would get a piercing headache. If you're interested in hearing this, look into it, but I would not recommend this to anyone. Avoid like the plague.
Overall Score: 2
Highlights: Cryptic Passage, Gibbet Hallucination, Rusty Moon of Desert

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