The first new music coverage of 2012 from me (the best of the past month or two, anyway). So new stuff, and a dusting of the old, too.
Track of the Month
The star track from the stellar new album, a glorious, glittering ballad in the same realms as Fear. Yes, that good, and it has a chorus to match. A yearning, pretty song that like all of this bands greatest tracks, takes it’s own sweet time to unfold, before delivering that killer chorus – and there is barely a vocoder in sight. Those remarkable live shows over the past year have clearly had a considerable impact on the band’s sound, too – while the theme is similar, there is perhaps a bit more of a human touch to the sound, and this is one of a few songs on this album that clearly has been created for live performance at some point. A full review of this album will follow once I have time, but it is worth noting that this album is a real grower – give it a few listens and you’ll see what I mean.
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo OST
Yeah, so this dates from the close of 2011, but it is so awesome that it is worth mentioning here. A monstrous, industrially re-tooled revisit of the Led Zeppelin classic, this genuinely adds something new. The atmosphere is less of the fantasy world, more of a dark night and the rush of fire towards you as Karen O sends her howls into the darkness. There are, of course, nods to Nine Inch Nails in the guitar work in particular, and this only serves to remind that as Reznor’s stock seems to go up with every soundtrack release, his return to whichever of his bands he chooses to work with next can’t come soon enough.
This Is The Life
American industrial band Inure finally announced their long-awaited new album recently, the title track of which I featured ages ago in a companion list to this – Tuesday Ten: 030, in fact – so four years ago. The time has clearly been put to good use, as the lead single is a storming, guitar-fuelled industrial dancefloor attack. Pretty much, actually, what KMFDM should be doing nowadays but so aren’t.
Vultures (Let Us Prey Mix)
Another long-awaited return was completed recently, with the release of the new Mindless Faith album, about five years after the last. Not a great deal has changed, actually – there are still thundering beats and crunching guitars, all with a production that sounds that much brighter, and a whole lot louder, than just about anything else on the scene. The thing is, there is a bit of a dearth of the tunes compared with before – while the previous album had Bound and, in particular, the monstrous I’m Pretty Much Fucked, there just isn’t the same accessibility here. But much of this redeemed by the astonishing industrial roar of the final track on the album, where it all comes together at last and shows off what Mindless Faith really can do.
New Age of Reason
ArtOfFact Records Industrial Music Sampler
Frustratingly not available outside of the US – this is on a free compilation, but Amazon still see fit to region restrict it. If ever you wanted yet more evidence of how parts of the music industry keep shooting themselves in the foot, here it is, although I’m sure Artoffact are not at fault – this is the first new material proper from DWIFH since their quite brilliant debut Harm’s Way. And if this is a pointer to the forthcoming follow-up, it should be very interesting indeed. Still in the broad realms of Skinny Puppy’s eighties output as a primary influence, once again it is warmer, less confrontational, but this time also it has an energy to it that might see it work on dancefloors. Remarkably, this wouldn’t be the first time I’d consider DWIFH for my DJ sets – Fixer Fixed has become relatively popular, judging on the reaction to it of late…
Bleeding Muddy Water
Eight years since his last album proper – as opposed to the countless other projects he has been in since – and Lanegan has returned to the murky, electronically enhanced blues of Bubblegum, and while not a lot has changed in the meantime, seemingly – the subjects are still similar, and proceedings are no happier – it is a sound I’ll willingly wallow in. And this lengthy track is an immediate standout. Dominated, as usual, by his deep, gravelly croon, this is the sound of a man who has seen more of life than he ever needed to. And in this age of bright, overproduced pop music, this dark corner is a good place to retreat to.
A Still Light Sun
A warm welcome back to Cyanotic, who have returned in early 2012 with their first new EP in a while, which takes them in an entirely downtempo, mellowed out direction. I’m assured this is not a permanent route, but is certainly a worthwhile diversion. Other reviewers have also picked up on the apparent Future Sound of London influence – the languid beats and mechanic, stark samples certainly point that way. What this and the rest of this EP – which I will review in full soon! – do show more than anything, though, is that Sean Payne and his band are a multi-dimensional band that are clearly willing to explore different sounds, rather than ploughing the same furrow all of the time. And this is most certainly a welcome trait in industrial in 2012.
Probably the most high-profile, and biggest selling metallers of the age are apparently not letting their relative success affect their sound. Oh no – this new album is just as punishing as the previous ones – and indeed is more in the style of their breakthrough Ashes of the Wake than the albums in between. This is a good thing – that album was a blistering groove attack, and this takes up that mantle too. Pick of the album so far is this three-minute brute of a track, that doesn’t let up for a second, has a monster of a riff, and a kicking breakdown too. LoG may not be reinventing the wheel, but the wheel they are using is in rude health.
A SCREW (HOLY MONEY)
What an intriguing cover (thanks Greg). Covers of Swans tracks, particularly their brutal earlier period material, is few and far between, probably as most artists wouldn’t even dare to go there. But this artist – who I’ve no idea about other than that it has been termed “industrial witch house” – has gone for an intriguing choice of song, and comes out very well. It starts out more restrained than the original – particularly the vocals, but surrounds the funereal beat with a fog of static. The killer moment, though, is when the ritual chanting of the title as the song closes out rises out of the murk.
The Man Machine
Yes, I’ve finally got the remasters box, and oh my god…it sounds amazing. Picking favourite Kraftwerk material is, frankly, rather hard, seeing as their material is broadly peerless and forward-looking. But I’ve always loved this track, a look at the use of robots by humans for all kinds of tasks – and it was of course rather prescient on a number of fronts. But never mind the future, the song itself is still glorious. An early synthpop gem, the remaster makes the beat that bit punchier, and the synths shimmer even more. Perfect robotic pop.