The penultimate part of my 2000s tracks rundown. Next week will be the usual rundown of the month’s best tracks, and then I’ll be starting at some point after that with a rundown of the 90s in a similar style – after all, this autumn marks twenty years since I first got into/was exposed to “alternative” music, and this is a good time to do this, I feel. Anyway, on with the show.
It’s going to take the best part of two months to post these on successive Tuesdays, but below begins my top 100 tracks of the past decade (and followed by the top 50 albums). There are very few tracks from this year in the list, simply because they may not have grabbed me enough yet. Indeed I may well revisit this list sometime and see if any more from 2009 should have made it in. But anyway, enough of that, let’s get started.
While I still try and keep the broad focus of the music covered here to the wider sphere of industrial music, I also listen to other music, and thus the spread here is perhaps a bit wider than you might otherwise expect. You know what, though? Try some of this music. Especially the stuff you don’t recognise or don’t know. Go for it – I love hearing new music that someone else has enthused about, trying to understand what’s so awesome about it. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it will take days or weeks to click, and hopefully, something here will do that to you.
Time to cue the music. You can listen along on Spotify or Youtube. Links to the right.
[A final note: This was written in 2009, and aside from formatting updates to match the new website style, this is unedited.]
/The Jaded And The Eager
51 seconds of metallic hardcore fury, tearing out of the speakers like a pack of slavering dogs from the off, somehow stuffing in two verses, a lot of screaming, and then the last ten seconds preparing to rip into the second track (which is pretty fucking good, too). Not sure what happened to this lot, but just for a short while they were awesome, like Helmet on a force-fed diet of steroids that weren’t quite as reserved, either, as this track proved nicely.
/Further From Reason
/Death by Design
Older than this, but it only ever got a proper release in 2002, so I believe it counts, and anyway, I set the rules for this! Whatever the date it comes from, this remains Interlock’s finest moment. Somehow balancing perfectly the chugging metal, industrial electronics and dual (male/female) vocalists who both had (and still do) have incredible range, from screams and snarls to melodic passages, this was a track that in some hands could have been a mess due to the sheer amount of ideas contained within…but instead became Interlock’s greatest moment by far.
/Everything Goes Cold
/I’ve Sold Your Organs on the Black Market to Finance the Purchase of a Used Minivan
/Prepare To Be Refrigerated
For one, one of the best song titles ever, and the song itself is awesome fun, too. A sneering, raging blast of industrial rock with great lyrics, samples, and a sense that nothing is being taken too seriously. The rest of the EP is great fun, too, and the album – due at last in December – also sounds like it is shaping to be just as good.
/Here Are The Roses
/Here Are The Roses
One of the latest in a long line of bands I was really late in catching up with, and even more remarkable in that this was the band formed from the remnants of Dark Star, one of my very favourite bands from the end of the 90s. This band are a very different beast, though – rather than the dreamy, proggy rock that Dark Star made their own, Dragons are firmly rooted in muscular, driving gothic rock. While at points making their influences a little too clear – one song sounds almost exactly like Interpol, another nods towards Depeche Mode, while the spectre of Joy Division is never too far away – there are some tracks that are just simply astonishing. And the opening, title track is certainly that. A swirling, roaring rush underpinned by David Francolini’s powerful drumming, the peak is saved for near the end, when it does a melodic about-turn in a similar fashion to the change that worked in such incredible fashion in Alice In Chain’s Would?.
This track was initially released – in an early, apparently incomplete, version a year before, but it was the majestic album version that opened Meta that is the one featured here. Opening with the sound of a ticking clock, which continues in the background for much of the track, it’s a lengthy track that – appropriately, perhaps – is about taking the chances that come your way and making a difference before time runs out, and not a second is wasted. No matter what the subject, it also happens to be one of the best A23 tracks ever, if not perhaps the best.
/Tour de Force
/United States of Mind
United States of Mind may have had two dancefloor monsters in Dead Stars and One World One Sky, but the rest of the album was pretty handy too, and indeed Tour de Force for me was by far the best song on it (although Afterhours runs it close, as the best ballad Covenant ever wrote). Comparing the gambles taken in life to those taken on a roulette wheel, it’s freewheeling melodies make for a marvellously thrilling, fast-paced track that has never seemed to get the credit it deserved in the band’s now-lengthy back catalogue.
/In Strict Confidence
This album was where ISC changed direction a little more, from the ultra-dark industrial-electro of before to a more-darkwave sound that seemed to suit them so much better. Adding permanent additional vocalist Antje Schulz was a masterstroke, too, as tracks like this proved. Her beautiful, crystal-clear vocals were pushed high in the mix above a deceptively simple beat to make probably the closest to a perfect pop song that the band ever made. A new – much delayed – album is coming very soon, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that they can scale the heights of this again.
/Dare To Live (SR Version)
/Dare To Live – Perspectives on Welcome To Goodbye
The original version of this track – along with the intro track – opened breakthrough album Welcome To Goodbye, and the condensed version, with elements of the intro merged in and removing much of the lengthy buildup, made it into a much more dancefloor and listener-friendly track, finally making just about everyone realise that this was Rotersand’s best track all the long. Everything that is great about Rotersand is in this one track – it’s anthemic, melodic, very heavy on the beats but with an emotional heart that is sometimes missing from their peers.
/Principals of a Paradisic Resolve
/How Pure Would Your Utopia Be?
Three albums of astonishing industrial noise have been supplied so far by the seemingly never-ending well of creativity that is Jamie Blacker, and he has lent his talents to various other acts in the form of guest appearances or remixes (some of which have been astounding, too). The track chosen here, though, features a guest of its own – Nikki from Prometheus Burning, who lends her evil-sounding vocals to the churning maelstrom of noise later in the track. The electronics bubble, churn and then explode like a looming volcanic eruption, and the climax, when it arrives, it’s jaw-dropping. The video, by the way, is not worksafe…
/The Dresden Dolls
/The Dresden Dolls
Not the first DD song I heard – like many, that honour falls to the quirky Coin-Operated Boy – but this was certainly one of the more striking tracks on their impressive debut. Being fast and punky is some feat when all the band have is drums, piano and vocals, but the band manage it, with it all sounding insanely chaotic and on the verge of falling apart at any moment. Much like the girl Amanda Palmer details in the lyrics – the kind of girl that you probably should think twice about getting involved with, and is somewhat out of time…
/Welcome To Earth
Stefan Groth and Apop may have left the industrial/EBM world far behind in search of poppier planets nowadays, but it’s perhaps telling that their live shows are still stuffed full of the older, bleepier tracks. A good number of older Apop songs – some of which are nearing their teens in age – are still dancefloor staples, and with songs the quality of Starsign, it’s perhaps a mystery that they didn’t become pop megastars long ago. Opening with urgent beats and sweeping synths, and a gloriously euphoric, hands-in-air chorus that still packs dancefloors nine years on, it’s outwardly-positive sound masks the yearning of Groth to go and investigate somewhere “where no-one knows [his] name”.
The “studio” version of this track has finally landed – a good many years since the first live version surfaced on the “best of”, and three years since this monstrous remix/retooling. It’s still a great song underneath the reworking – proved by the recently-released album version – but the work that Cyanotic did with this, treating the vocals, crowding in effects and samples, beefing up the beats, giving the chorus even more oomph, adds up to one of the best remixes of the decade.
Opening with an uncompromising sample source – from the vicious Scum – sets the scene perfectly for this band’s most brutal moment (which really is saying something). Pure industrial power that consumes everything before it, live it turns into a wall of noise that can get quite uncomfortable, but then, that’s the way I suspect Alex and the band would like it.
An album I picked up on spec, without hearing a single second of it – something I rarely do nowadays – and I made the right choice. In fact, I knew I’d made the right choice all of about ten seconds into this, the opening track as it exploded out of the speakers at me. Four-and-a-half-minutes of mental, angry breakcore riddled with samples, breakdowns and more breakcore – it’s almost daring you to even try and dance to it. The rest of the album is great, yes, but really, it never reaches the dazzling peak that is this track.
It might be Skullfuck that took all the plaudits, and indeed was the track that brought Modulate to a big audience by being played to death on industrial dancefloors everywhere, but my favourite track is about as old as Skullfuck. Revolution is the rabble-rousing, sample-heavy call to arms that sounds absolutely immense live and on dancefloors, and somehow has never quite caught on like Skullfuck.
Goldfrapp’s breakthrough, this – a dirty electro album that was a fun and at times x-rated, tumble between the sheets for forty-five minutes, opening with this slithering, pulsing track whose lyrics suggest a night of fun under the stars. While Goldfrapp has perhaps moved onto greater success since this album, it – and this track, for me – remain career highlights.
A band that has always seemed to be hidden in the shadows of their peers, both in reality and metaphorically, just for a moment they took a little of the limelight here and created their best song full stop. A song about dark obsession, gently simmering fury and ice-cold revenge, it’s such a tense song that you can almost hear Jonas Renkse shivering with anger as he calmly delivers the devastating vocal. The song, remarkably, simply gets better and better before it fades out – the repeated refrain that closes the song out is just heartstoppingly sad. A new album is imminent, but the band are never, ever, going to top the clout of this.
/Botch Up and Die
Take old grindcore and metal tracks, put them in a blender with very, very angry breakcore, and you end up with something that we were amazed hadn’t been tried before. The album is reasonably short, exceptionally heavy, and surprisingly listenable, too. Part of the fun, of course, is working out the tracks that he sampled from, and good luck trying to headbang to most of it. This track, in particular, is the mighty opening track, with appears to start in mono, get quieter for a moment and burst into stereo (and about ten times louder than before) with no warning like a JCB crashing through your lounge wall. In other words, it’s fucking awesome, and if played loud enough is pretty much guaranteed to annoy the neighbours.
Some six years or so since the last album, dEUS reconvened for Pocket Revolution, and while I wasn’t a huge fan of all of the album (the album since, Vantage Point, is much better overall, IMHO), this opening track was quite possibly one of the bands very best moments – seven minutes that gradually, and almost imperceptibly, builds to an astonishing climax that creeps up on you in glorious fashion. Sadly, this band have never had the mainstream acceptance that they always deserved, but all that means in my view is that those of us who have kept the faith simply hold them ever more precious.
/What Used To Be [Short Storm]
/What Used To Be EP
My track of the year for 2008, and with good reason – the first time a single MIAB track was successfully separated out from the lengthy narrative that has tied in all of their songs so far, making them, in the main, a far better “album” band rather than a “single” one. That all changed, though, with this edited release. Dispensing with the lengthy buildup that the eight-minute album version has, and by polishing the production somewhat – more than anything by removing much of the effects on the vocals that have long been the band’s sonic trademark – it turned this into a glittering dancefloor-friendly track that I’m pretty sure gained the band a whole host of new fans.