Over the past few years, the idea of “Harsh” EBM has been a popular route to take for many acts. Usually heavy of beat, with hissing vocals (the most effective often being in Spanish), sweeping, prominent synth lines and stuffed full of samples, the big problem of late is that the genre has descended into something of a cliche, a trap that even genre forefathers Hocico didn’t entirely escape from with their last album Memorias Atras, which while being a solid album hardly offered anything new.
Madness In Abyss
Label: Out of Line
Listen on: Spotify
So how do Amduscia fare with their new album? Well, their last album From Abuse To Apostasy was solid enough, with a handful of cracking dancefloor tracks that certainly made it worthy of note, so I had reasonably high hopes for their new release.
What is immediately clear from the first few seconds of opening track Kill, Inc., Motherfuckers is that not a lot has changed. All the elements you expect appear quickly, in an impressively dense production that balances all the disparate parts well, and is often the case with this genre the lyrics are hard to decipher. Although in this case, this is perhaps a good thing. The chorus goes “Killing Motherfuckers / Kill, Inc., Motherfuckers / Killing Motherfuckers“. Er, thanks for the insight, folks.
After that solid, but unspectacular start, DecisiÃ³n Inminente makes things rather more interesting, with a striking trick with the vocals that phases the multi-layered vocals between the speakers for the chorus, making for an unsettling effect and a point of note on a track that otherwise feels like Harsh-EBM-by-numbers – something that the title track is also guilty of.
By the time you reach track four – Perverse Party, another track where the lyrics are perhaps unintentionally hilarious (You’ll have fear when you dance at this party / Dead Men and perverse party running – huh?), and it begins to dawn that the pace of the album has not yet changed at all – and indeed, some analysis (using MixMeister’s BPM analyser) suggests that the BPM for the first four tracks is all between 128 and 136 BPM.
Things finally change course a little with Animal Instinct (Part 1), where the pace finally slows a little and provides some variety of sorts, but the real pick of the entire album is PerversiÃ³n, PerdiciÃ³n, Demencia, a snarling beast of a track where all of the parts come together spectacularly to prove just how good Amduscia can be when they try, rather than just falling back on the same ideas.
By the time Animal Instinct (Part 2) comes around, we are back to the by-numbers approach, and I honestly can’t say why the two tracks that share this name are linked, which doesn’t say a lot for the first part (mainly as just five or so minutes on, I’d forgotten it). Rather more memorable is Ashes of Betrayal, another stomping track that is light on words and heavy on club-bound rhythms, and is also a track that has appeared on at least one compilation previously, meaning it offers at least some familiarity.
War On Me uses a sample I’ve heard used before in another industrial song somewhere (“How’s your faith these days, father?” from Stigmata), but otherwise doesn’t offer anything else especially of note – and then Schizo Dance uses another prominent sample to open the track, before bulldozing through another five minutes of the same as before. La Muerte (The Death, in other words), is kinda an apt closing statement for the album, which tails off pretty damned quickly with track after track of “Harsh EBM” that is so devoid of new ideas by this point that is almost laughable.
Which makes closer What all the more surprising. A pounding, slightly-slower paced instrumental that sounds noticeably different to what came before it. When the band can come up with great tracks such as this, it makes you wonder why the album is stuffed with so much that is little more than filler material.
So going back to the original question, how have Amduscia fared? Sadly, the answer is not very well. Despite the few flickers of light and progress, this sticks to the rules of “Harsh EBM” so rigidly that if you have previous releases in this genre there really isn’t much point in recommending this. It’s devoid of much in the way of depth and invention, and hasn’t stood up to repeated listens very well either…although it is worth mentioning that the second CD that came with some versions of the album is actually pretty good, in that there is some impressive experimentation – but it begs the question as to why some of this wasn’t included on the main album instead of all the filler.
“Harsh EBM”, with every cliched release like this, is being driven further into the ground, and it’s perhaps time to move on. There is so much more in the industrial scene to admire at present, particularly in terms of creativity.