Tuesday Ten: 182: Tracks of the Month (July 2013)

I was thinking about marking ten years of blogging with something special this week, but then I realised that I had a big list of great new songs to mention, so the usual pattern prevails for now. So I’ll return to that subject a bit later in the month.

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So in the meantime, here are ten of those great songs. There are absolutely loads of new albums coming, it seems, and these ten tracks seem only to be scratching the surface.

Track of the Month

Youth Code
Carried Mask
Youth Code

There has been some pretty amazing hype for this new band out of LA’s apparently fertile EBM/industrial scene, and the release of this track for me finally delivers fully on said hype. An astonishing, punchy beat, stabbing synths that sound like falling pieces of metal, a perfectly judged build and roaring, spinning vocals that all make for a disortientating, but thrilling look into the abyss. Anyone who tells me EBM is a relic from the past nowadays is going to get pointed at this to prove them wrong. EBM is thriving, evolving, and frankly is sounding a whole lot healthier than it has in a while.

Be My Enemy
Kill Your Television
Weapons Of Mass Distraction

OK, so one thing to get clear – this is not a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin cover. Instead, this is harder, faster, better and indeed stronger than the first album’s worth of Be My Enemy material, storming through at christ-only-knows what BPM, touching on drum’n’bass a little bit – but broadly this is simply shit-kicking industrial metal played at hyperspeed. Phil Barry’s vocals have gained more of a sneer, and while, yes, the sound of Cubanate still looms in the background, he is clearly taking things that bit further. Bring on the album! Also, Be My Enemy play only their second live show this coming Saturday at Electrowerkz.

Last Life
Revert to Type EP

I’ve already mentioned the (wholly unexpected) return of Lesley Rankine’s nineties project Ruby earlier this year, but it is worth another mention as a whole new EP has been released, and it is quite great. Three new songs, and three remixes, and the three new songs are all quite different. Fireweed has the grimy, fuzzy sound of the Salt Peter era (no bad thing), while the sweep of Lush matches the title. But this track is a bit of a shock. An uptempo, colourful, positive(ish) sounding track, made all the brighter by the fun video that features Lesley Rankine and sockpuppets larking around…

Captive Bolt Pistol
Surgical Steel

The first new recorded output from the grind/thrash masters in eighteen years, and this blistering return appears to place them back around the time of Heartwork, which frankly is absolutely fine by me! A grimy riff dominates the track, galloping drums, and growling, menace-filled vocals make this pretty much exactly the return I was hoping for. Here’s hoping the new album is as good as this…

Tales of Us

Goldfrapp – Drew from Mute on Vimeo.

Changing tack somewhat…Gosh. The ever-changing sound of Goldfrapp returns to it’s lush, orchestral sound with the first taste of their forthcoming album (out next month), and this is glorious. An acoustic, sparse song that spreads it’s wings later into something far grander, as per so many Goldfrapp songs, it is Alison’s soft, sensual voice that steals the show. Until this, I’ve wondered for some years which suited Goldfrapp better – the more mellow, orchestral material, or the upfront sexuality of the electro work – and frankly on the evidence, it is the former all the way. The black-and-white video is equally lush, by the way, and also may not be quite safe for work as it shows an awful lot of nudity.

Chelsea Wolfe
The Warden
Pain Is Beauty

I’ve been banging on about Chelsea Wolfe’s near-unique material for some time now, a ghostly, near-ethereal folk-doom hybrid that is informed as much by the textures of extreme metal (and goth) as much as it is the folk tradition – and the result has been a number of pitch-dark, intriguing albums. New material played in recent shows has suggested that there might be a shift in emphasis a bit, and the first two tracks made available online have made this very clear indeed. While We Hit A Wall keeps a thematic link to prior work, with forbidding, echoing drums thundering away under her wail, The Warden sees Wolfe go almost fully electronic, and it is a shift that works brilliantly, the pitch of her voice working well with the bubbling, sparse beats. I’m now awaiting the new album – and the following tour with post-metal band Russian Circles – with even greater interest.

Western Rust
Western Rust EP

I was fascinated by Blume’s electronic sound last year when they supported Seabound on their return to London, and this confirms what I thought at the time – they are really rather good. The release of this is well-timed, too – with the return of Covenant, Apoptygma Berzerk, Seabound and Neuroticfish this year, there appears to be something of a resurgence of futurepop, and not before time, either. This track is a glorious slab of wistful synthpop that while not blazing a trail for others to follow, deserves a good audience and on open-minded dancefloors should do quite well.

Fuck Like a Movie Star
Music for Military Torture

“pro-sex and anti-war”, goes the bio, and Jim Marcus (ex-Die Warzau, of course) appears to have backed this up with a project that appears initially to be dancefloor-bound electro-industrial with a fixation on sex. But dig a little deeper, and there are rather more political, angry messages behind the initial horny-teenager posturing. This track in particular has the headline-grabbing title, but is actually a shit-kicking dancefloor track raging against the “erectile dysfunction industry”. There is a video, but it was banned off most sites within minutes, which might give you an idea which route they took. The album is actually great fun, and while not likely to win awards for originality either, is well worth a listen.

Dawn of Ashes
Poisoning The Steps of Babel

One of the few “harsh” industrial, hellelektro, whatever-you-want-to-call-it bands that took steps out of their comfort zone, Dawn of Ashes have always been a bit on the edge. Some of their stuff is almost comical in how nasty it wants to be – an industrial Cradle of Filth, if you will – but then there is a seriously malevolent edge to some of their material. And then there is that clear Black Metal influence that sweeps through some of their material (and they went almost totally BM on one recent album). But here, on their latest album, they are back to what they do best. And at it’s best – like on this track, they sound truly evil, backed by a snappy, clean production that brings every element to the fore, churning up a devilish, snarling electronic maelstrom, and the nastiness is backed up by the entertainingly gory and silly video that must have been a hoot to make as they appear to have turned everything to 11 (and again, doesn’t half remind me of Cradle of Filth, particularly their From The Cradle To Enslave single). A surprisingly good return…

All That May Bleed
The Wild Hunt

Talking of Black Metal, probably the finest example of the art in the present day have returned with their new single, a prelude to a new album later this month. Quite a return, too, with a bombastic, thundering intro that moves into a thrashing, snarling beast of a track that frankly sounds like Dimmu Borgir always should have done. So, keeping the key elements of black metal, but uniting them with a neck-snappingly clean production that makes the track sound utterly huge. And this time, I really must make sure I see them live when they play in the UK again – I understand that their live show really is quite something…

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