It’s amazing how things change. I’m all for bands evolving, and changing, and perhaps even maturing. It isn’t always all that popular with the fans, who may like the first album or whatever, and want them to continue in that vein. The creative process doesn’t always work like that, though, and some artists vanish into directions that we as the fans could never have forseen.
And so is the case here, with the continuing move away from the original sound that we associate with Dismantled. When Gary Zon first appeared with his debut album, it was hailed as the album that Front Line Assembly should have been making – an awesome industrial album emerging from the wreckage of some post-nuclear landscape. The second album Post Nuclear pushed away from that a little, with more in the way of tunes and even rock. But the pulsing industrial core was still there, just a little bit evolved and less slavish to the FLA-sound.
Where are we now? Well…Gary Zon appears to have wanted to move away and do something different. The EP that arrived before this album, the Breed To Death EP, contained a cover of the almost forgotten Straight Up by Paula Abdul – hardly what you would expect from an industrial artist. But then, even on the myspace page the description now reads “pop/electro/rock”.
Not that you’d notice much difference from previous releases with the opening track. Anthem builds and builds through the incessant repeating of just seven lines. It works, though – and should and could be a dancefloor filler, except that it is way too long. Things start getting a little odd with the second track Get It Through. It starts with an almost standard EBM intro, and then the lyrics explain why – writing a standard 4/4 tune with insubstantial lyrics will get it recognised, and more people will buy it. All very knowing, all very clever – shame it is such a dull and unimaginative track. Or maybe that is the point…?
No Effect pulls the trick of sounding like old Dismantled, but with more pop sensibility. And almost works. Breed To Death has been around a while now, and sounds it – it would have fitted far better on the last album, but stomps along well, if you ignore the slightly angsty-teenager lyrics.
Preset is another of the “pop”-orientated tracks on here, with a vocodered chorus that is just infuriating, or catchy, depending on how you look at it. Fields lumbers on, with nothing really to recommend it at all. Things perk up a little for Recall – phased vocals return, as does an interesting musical backing, except for the slightly forced-sounding chorus, although it is all saved by the staggering climax to the track. The title track – a piano ballad, of all things – is, I’m afraid, skippable, which is good as Attention is another meaty track that is worth your, ahem, attention.
There is one more track, Thanks for Everything. It feels oddly like, in parts at least, a reprise to Anthem, and so bookends the album nicely.
The most maddening thing about the album is how inconsistent it is. There are flashes, reminders, of just how great Dismantled can be – but Gary Zon’s apparent obsession with writing pop hooks for music that really doesn’t need it lets it down time and again. This new direction is rapidly turning into a dead end, but there are signs that if only he would realise this there is a chance for future work to be worthy of note again.