I’m beginning to wonder if the internet age has actually begun to do good things rather than being simply a drain on music (and the money involved). At least in the so called lesser corners, those where sales were less important, perhaps, and where creativity is paramount.
The fruits of this in the industrial scene are beginning to be seen, anyway. The more democratic nature of the internet and social media means that word of mouth is important again, and a number of breakthrough successes in recent times all owe of their exposure to this, and 3 TEETH are latest to reap the rewards.
It all started with the release of one intriguing, shadowy track last year (Pearls 2 Swine, featured on the album), and other tracks, videos and a slew of great remixes were drip fed onto the internet until there was a hell of a buzz. Even then I still knew little about the band, and my interview with them in January only really sketched some of the details.
Some things that are clear: this four piece are a band of the now. Their artwork and videos have revealed that they are accomplished multimedia artists, with an ability to flesh out their message with much more than just words. Not only that, but the message as a whole is one of distrusting and questioning authority, of subverting social norms, and unleashing a torrent of fury at injustice.
Ok, so these themes are not new, but this isn’t a question of new school vs old school, this is a question of how you breathe new life into a genre that many have wondered if it was reaching a dead end. They do this by taking familiar building blocks, and adding a sense of punk terrorism in imagery, samples and themes, not to mention savage riffs and a mosh friendly feel that should work rather well live.
Despite the drip feed of tracks prior to release, it was surprising to find that only four tracks we’d heard before are on the album, and there are some real surprises in amongst the hitherto unheard material. That we have to wait for, for a while longer, though, as the album opens with three of those we know in quick succession.
NIHIL opens the album in brooding, punishing style – an ominous synth tone, a choir of wailing voices, a monstrous, hulking beat, chopping riffs and that refrain of ‘bound by flesh / freed by blood‘. Despite the comparatively sedate pace, it has been a popular track in my dj sets so far, too, and the video (from legendary doc film Baraka) is an impressive work in matching the rhythms of the song.
Consent is perhaps the one track I’m still not sure about. The themes I can get with – a society where you must buy whatever marketeers want you to buy to get ahead, see also many of the band’s mashed up images of advertising – but something about the rawer feel of the track doesn’t quite sit. It doesn’t quite have the dense, oppressive feel of the rest of the album, and so sits as a bit of an odd man out.
But that might be down also to the quality of the tracks that sit either side of it. Debut track Pearls 2 Swine follows it, and a testament to how awesome the track still is is that I’m fairly certain that it is still the same version we heard in the first place. So, some fantastic synth lines dominate the mechanical rhythm, and appropriately robotic, distorted vocal surfaces from the murk when needed, before the track breaks into a quite brilliant, industrial-metal breakdown and then repeats. One part fear factory, one part skinny puppy, if you want a reference point.
Elsewhere on the new tracks here, there are lots of surprises and unexpected moments. Dust is dominated by a fantastic cyclic guitar riff and a mix that phases between the speakers (by the way, listen to this album loudly, on headphones, there is lots hidden in the mix that you might not catch otherwise), while Dissolve starts off as a sample-heavy, electro-industrial track, before guitars kick in and we’re suddenly enjoying a track that wouldn’t have been out of place on Rabies or Millennium. Even better is the rampaging X-Day, three minutes of full-on industrial metal that peaks with the heaviest chorus I’ve heard in industrial in a long, long time. It also appears lyrically to be a comment on Fukushima, but I might be misinterpreting it.
The flipside to the brutal heaviness of these tracks comes with the startling Unveiled, a surprisingly successful ballad, showcasing a more reflective side to the band that none of us could have guessed from the work before. A slower pace, Alexis Mincolla’s vocals are backed by a subtle female voice, and the chiming synths and ringing guitars sound like nothing else here. Also, being at the mid point of the album, it does a good job of working as a palate cleanser before the more metal tracks follow on.
There are more tracks worth mentioning, too. Eradicate has a punishingly heavy beat made even harder hitting by guitar riffs that kick in sync, not unlike Cyanotic’s heavier moments, in fact (another band I’m looking forward to hearing more of this year), while the vocals seem to push Alexis to the limit, before being even further distorted. Final Product has a fantastic synth-heavy groove, with another killer chorus (that riff! Man….).
After that barrage of tech-industrial-metal heaviness, the last few tracks slow things down a bit. Antiflux is still a densely constructed electronic track, but the emphasis here is more on the vocals, while Chasm introduces a tribal rhythm that a sample early in the track correctly describes as ‘organic mechancial’. An age-old industrial theme, of course, the merger of man and machine as one, but as the wailing vocal samples weave in and out of the beats, it becomes clear that this is a well executed take on the topic. Things close with Too Far Gone, a guitar-led march into the darkness, aided by choral samples and drums beats apparently beaten out with very large hammers, and here no vocals are necessary as it culminates in an impressive, near-symphonic climax.
An album of unexpected depth and variety, all told, it turns out that the tracks we’d heard prior to the album release were only half the story, and rather than just being another band influenced by Skinny Puppy, their well of influences is far wider and indeed stretches way beyond industrial norms.
Indeed, this is the joy of many of the recent breakthrough artists in our so-called scene – those making the best and most progressive music right now in industrial are refusing to be pigeonholed, taking risks and doing what the hell they like, and crucially not just aiming for dancefloor fame. 3TEETH do all of this and clearly have immense fun doing so, pushing their sound into whatever arena they see fit, resulting in a fascinating, multifaceted album that should appear to more open minded metalheads as well as those curious to see what can be done with the building blocks of industrial music in this age.