Aug 2011 09

16volt - Beating Dead Horses
16volt
Category: Industrial Rock
Album: Beating Dead Horses
Stars: 4
Blurb: Riding the second wave of success high, the champions of coldwave present a lean and mean album that secures their place at the top.

 

One wave of success is already difficult to attain for any artist or band in any genre of music, but to actually have a second wave is a rare occurrence that almost never happens. Fortunately for rivetheads and fans of industrialized rock & roll, 16volt is riding this second wave rather high, having released FullBlackHabit in 2007 and AmericanPornSongs in 2009 to much acclaim from critics and audiences alike. With Beating Dead Horses, the band continues to breakdown the mechanics of the industry and offer up a powerful set of machine rock anthems that are as brutally aggressive as they are musically satisfying.

While the preceding albums were produced for the most part by a full lineup, Beating Dead Horses is a much more stripped down affair for 16volt. Produced and performed entirely by front man Eric Powell and mainstay Mike Peoples, the album is every bit as rich in its mechanized textures and rock & roll energy as past albums, but with a rawness of style and sound that recalls the band’s early days. Beginning with a distorted sample that evokes the best memories of industrial rock, specifically Chemlab’s “Neurozone” or 1,000 Homo DJs’ “Supernaut,” the title track starts off the album rather straightforwardly, wasting no time to pound the listener into submission with caustic guitars, beats, and bass lines and Powell’s venomous vocals. In typical 16volt fashion, the balance of melody with malignance plays out in songs like “The Wasteland that is Me,” “Burn,” “Breathing Water,” and “The Carrion,” with the latter song being an especially ambient moment on the album with its expansive pads underpinning the subtle layers of vocals as the beats play with just a hint of breakbeat shuffle. Other songs are much more vicious, with the thundering percussion and guttural guitar riffs of “Ghost” sounding very minimal and muscular, while “Sick Sick Sick” pummels by like a mechanical battering ram on steroids, and “Fight or Flight” thrashes by with slithering guitar chugs and squeals, a fast-paced beat, and Powell’s most scathing vocal performance on the album.

In many ways, Beating Dead Horses is a rather typical album for 16volt, demonstrating that Powell and Peoples have long established a formula for the band’s music. However, this is hardly a detriment for when a band masters such dynamics to be called a signature sound, it’s something to be admired. With Beating Dead Horses presenting a leaner, meaner, more stripped down and more amped up 16volt, the band stands tall at the forefront of machine rock.
 
Track list:

  1. Beating Dead Horses
  2. The Wasteland that is Me
  3. Fight or Flight
  4. Burn
  5. You Will All Go Down
  6. Breathing Water
  7. Ghost
  8. We Disintegrate
  9. Dissembler
  10. Sick Sick Sick
  11. The Carrion
  12. Veins
  13. Somewhere New

 
16volt Website http://www.16volt.com
16volt MySpace http://www.myspace.com/16volt
16volt Facebook http://www.facebook.com/16volt
16volt Twitter http://twitter.com/16volt
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2011-05-10
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

KMFDM - WTF?
KMFDM
Category: Industrial
Album: WTF?
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Aside from some nuances of production and sound, WTF? is KMFDM by-the-numbers… and that’s not a bad thing.

 

There comes a point in the progress of a band’s career when the evolutionary imperative slows to a lull, the fuel to the experimental fire starts to run dry, and all audiences can hope for from said band is work of some level of quality consistent with the best already offered. After all, when one has been making music for a considerable length of time and has already churned out at least a handful of albums that have earned the status or label of masterpiece, one can’t truly expect to maintain that level of excellence perpetually. Fortunately, KMFDM is a band that has managed to do so over the course of 27 years thanks to constant shifts in lineup personnel and/or dynamic, incorporating new styles and techniques, all the while staying true to an aesthetic and creative philosophy established since its inception. With WTF?, KMFDM gives fans another hard-hitting dose of industrial rock that is as familiar as it is unusual, sounding unlike any album the band has released but still possessing that signature Ultra-Heavy Beat.

The music on WTF? is certainly recognizable as KMFDM as the signature blend of industrial rock with various other styles is ever present. “KRANK” begins the album with a slow buildup of heavy beats and synthesized atmosphere that explodes into industrialized dance fury, presented in a much more engaging and powerful version than the single version. Indeed, some songs are almost too recognizable as certain elements are reminiscent of past releases, which is par for the course for KMFDM. Obvious examples include a synth refrain on “Come On – Go Off” sounding remarkably similar to “Bait and Switch,” while “Take It Like a Man” bears a strong resemblance to “Strut” from the previous album. Similarly, just as “A Hole in the Wall” was an English translation of “Liebeslied,” “Panzerfaust” revisits the lyrics, this time in Italian, which is exemplary of KMFDM’s recent exploration of a new language on each subsequent album since Hau Ruck. Among the more exceptional musical moments on WTF? is “Lynchmob” with its guitar and synth assault in the chorus sounding extraordinarily punchy, along with some contemplative piano and guitar ambience in the verses, while “Dystopia” evokes the short-lived MDFMK project as Lucia’s voice takes an eerie and alluring tone before a powerful chorus, the overall effect making for one of the band’s most melodic tracks. Ending the album is “The Death & Burial of C.R.,” a nightmarish soundscape of pitch-bent pianos and heavily manipulated vocal layers based on an English nursery rhyme, not unlike the hidden track on XTort, though far more sonically experimental.

Just as KRANK was the band’s first single release in nine years, WTF? offers listeners perhaps the most diverse lineup of guest performances since 2002’s ATTAK. Koichi Fukuda of Static-X lends his guitar skills to “Come On – Go Off,” a song that is sure to be a crowd pleaser in live performances, while the vocal interplay between Lucia Cifarelli and Kidneythieves’ Free Dominguez on “Take It Like a Man” balancing toughness and femininity gives the song – and the band – an added depth and dimension reminiscent of the days when Dorona Alberti and Christine Siewart were regular collaborators. As well, Sebastian Komor offers his programming skills to the caustic and raw atmosphere of “Rebels in Kontrol” and the highly danceable “Amnesia,” while longtime associate Bill Rieflin appears to provide some chatter and shivers on “Dystopia.” As he did on “Day of Light,” William Wilson of Legion Within brings a sinister and almost malevolent vocal ambience to “Spectre,” helping to emphasize the song’s thunderous industrial percussion and politically horrific subject matter.

KMFDM fans are among the most devoted and most opinionated in any music scene, with many denouncing the band for continuing well past its arguable prime, while others continue to support and follow over with each new release. WTF? is an album that will likely do little to mend this divide, but it can’t be denied that KMFDM has succeeded in maintaining consistency of excellent production and continuity of style and content. Some of the album’s nuances call for repeated listening in order to truly appreciate them, while still not devoid of elements that are instantly appealing. In short, it’s KMFDM by-the-numbers, and after 27 years, that’s not a bad thing at all.
 
Track list:

  1. KRANK
  2. Come On – Go Off
  3. Rebels in Kontrol
  4. Lynchmob
  5. Take It Like a Man
  6. Vive La Mort!
  7. Dystopia
  8. Panzerfaust
  9. Spectre
  10. Amnesia
  11. Death & Burial of C.R.

 
KMFDM Website http://kmfdm.net
KMFDM MySpace http://www.myspace.com/officialkmfdm
KMFDM Facebook http://www.facebook.com/officialkmfdm
KMFDM Twitter http://twitter.com/kmfdmofficial
KMFDM Store Website http://www.kmfdmstore.com
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2011-04-26
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

KMFDM - KRANK
KMFDM
Category: Industrial
Album: KRANK
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: The band’s first single release in nine years is unfortunately marred by banality, although the B-side is among the band’s strongest efforts.

 

KMFDM has earned its place in the annals of industrial rock as one of the most influential and most popular acts in underground music history. Currently in its 27th year of conceptual continuity, the Ultra-Heavy Beat continues to stomp its way through the speakers with the band’s signature mix of styles and personnel. With the KRANK single serving as a teaser for the band’s 17th album, WTF?, listeners are treated to a veritable assault of EBM-inspired rhythms and bass lines, powerful industrial percussion, and grating metal guitars in the title track, with ringleader Sascha Konietzko proudly proclaiming “KMFDM is the drug for you.” This statement certainly evokes elements of the band’s past, particularly the infamous “A Drug Against War,” with Steve White’s six-string grind sounding very signature KMFDM, along with a slight vocal moan from Lucia Cifarelli reminiscent of Abby Travis’ appearance on “Megalomaniac.” In short, “KRANK” is KMFDM by-the-numbers, and the song both triumphs and suffers for it. It revels in its consistency and familiarity, yet it proves a weakness as the song bears little to distinguish itself from other, better songs in the band’s history. The two remixes by Komor Kommando and sometime collaborator Tim Skold are equally disappointing, both doing little to deviate from the song’s pounding EBM atmosphere, with only some searing synth lines added to Komor’s mix and a few glitch effects for added interest in Skold’s. On the other hand, the de facto B-side of “Day of Light” proves to be the single’s strong point as the 24/7 mix presents the vocals of William Wilson of Legion Within into the KMFDM mix, his throaty gothic intonations adding a sinister twist to the song’s already dark and creeping atmosphere of minimal guitar flourishes, pulsating synth bass, and the indecipherable echoes of a child’s voice. Longtime cohort Bill Rieflin transforms the song into a bouncing display of trippy, jazzy abstraction in the Revenge mix of the song as atonal pianos evoke the spirit of Mike Garson, the overall effect of the song being rather off-kilter. As the band’s first single release in nine years, KRANK is at least energetic and engaging enough to prepare listeners for WTF?, although the song itself seems perhaps too typical of what we’ve come to know and love from KMFDM thus far. Had a more diverse set of remixes been assembled, on par with the two mixes of the B-side track, KRANK could have been a more momentous release for the band; as it is, it’s rather middle-of-the-road for KMFDM.
 
Track list:

  1. KRANK (Käpt’n K Mix)
  2. KRANK (Komor Kommando Mix)
  3. KRANK (Knark Mix)
  4. Day of Light (Revenge Mix)
  5. Day of Light (24/7 Mix)

 
KMFDM Website http://kmfdm.net
KMFDM MySpace http://www.myspace.com/officialkmfdm
KMFDM Facebook http://www.facebook.com/officialkmfdm
KMFDM Twitter http://twitter.com/kmfdmofficial
KMFDM Store Website http://www.kmfdmstore.com
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2011-03-08
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

Cynergy 67 - Regeneration
Cynergy 67
Category: Industrial Rock / DVD
Album: Regeneration
Stars: 4.5
Blurb: A marvelous DVD that goes above and beyond what most bands, underground and mainstream alike, are willing to release.

 

Few bands in the underground manage to survive the pitfalls of life in the industry; financial stress, changing lineups, lack of resources, etc… any number of factors can break the spirit of a burgeoning group looking to make it in the world of music. Hailing from Wisconsin, Cynergy 67 is one such band that has endured all of these hardships and more, yet still trudges on to be one of the more exciting and independently successful entities in the electro/rock scene. Regeneration marks the band’s second DVD release, spanning the band’s evolution since the debut album release of Project: Assimilation and presenting more special features than most established bands dare to present.

Clocking in at three hours, the documentary portion of Regeneration is a cornucopia of energy and personality. Primary band members VX-5, Evo-1, and Mundayne, along with their retinue of co-musicians and crew display a powerful drive for success and recognition throughout, all the while with a sense of humor so irreverent at times that one could imagine you’d have to be there to get the full effect of the laughter. Everything from backstage antics during load-in and sound check to interactions with fans and promoters demonstrate the band’s professionalism, tenacity, all the while never taking things so seriously as to not simply enjoy the chaos that is life on the road. Interspersed throughout is live footage, giving viewers a glimpse of the industrialized powerhouse that is a Cynergy 67 performance, with all the smoke, gas masks, black lights, and cybernetic clothing and lighting one could ask for from a modern industrial rock band. Naturally, there are the bare essentials to any band’s DVD release including photos and band history, along with the not necessarily obligatory but always welcome interview. Not typical for a DVD, though, is the inclusion of several audio tracks, featuring two remixes and three tracks from Project: Assimilation.

Next to the documentary, the real treat of Regeneration is the three music videos. “Alive Inside” displays a distorted mélange of computerized visuals complementing the band in a standard performance that hearkens back to the late ‘90s era of industrial rock and metal, giving the video a classic and familiar feel. The same can be said of “Project: Assimilation,” which in many ways acts as a preview for the documentary; composed of various clips of the band live, backstage, and on the road, this video alone offers an effective summary of what Cynergy 67 is all about. The real gem of the videos is “Escape the Violence,” featuring the band in an animated form that while cartoonish and somewhat limited in the range of motion is aided by more cybernetic enhancement making for a highly original and enjoyable music video presentation.

Cynergy 67 is exemplary of the lengths to which perseverance and determination will prevail, taking what they as a band do seriously without being completely serious. Never ones to release anything hackneyed or not up to standard, Regeneration is a marvelous DVD release for Cynergy 67 and can only serve to aide the band as they strive for success in a scene ready for new heroes to emerge.
 
Track list:

  1. Documentary
  2. Music Videos
  3. Interview
  4. Photo Gallery
  5. Audio Tracks
  6. Band History

 
Cynergy 67 Website http://www.cynergy67.com
Cynergy 67 MySpace http://www.myspace.com/cynergy67
Cynergy 67 Facebook http://www.facebook.com/cynergy67
Cynergy 67 Twitter http://www.twitter.com/cynergy67
Cynergy 67 ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/cynergy67
Digital Transmission Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/digitaltransmissionrecords
FiXT Music Website http://www.fixtonline.com
FiXT Music MySpace http://www.myspace.com/fixt
FiXT Music Facebook http://www.facebook.com/fixtmusic
FiXT Store Website http://www.fixtstore.com
 
2010-12-28
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

OK•ZTEIN•OK - PROLET•KULT
OK•ZTEIN•OK
Category: Industrial / Noise
Album: PROLET•KULT
Stars: 3
Blurb: A form of experimental and noisy industrial music not often heard in the modern era, from one of the genre’s pioneers.

 

If one were to listen to the industrial music of three decades ago and compare it to what is often considered industrial today, the differences would be so staggering that the two would bear little if any resemblance to each other. Since the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, industrial music has undergone so many alterations in sound and attitude, transforming from an experimental statement of unorthodox instrumentation and musicality to an almost microcosmic reflection of the formulaic mainstream. Since 1984, Sascha Konietzko has gone through a similar transition as he has taken KMFDM and his various projects through the landscape of underground musical styles; yet, in all that time, he has never released a solo record… until now. While every one of his past releases involved a number of collaborators, OK•ZTEIN•OK is pure unadulterated Sascha Konietzko. With PROLET•KULT, listeners are treated to six tracks that recall the early experimental spirit of industrial, the likes of which haven’t been heard from Konietzko since the earliest KMFDM releases like OPIUM and What Do You Know, Deutschland?.

Listeners searching for some danceable industrial rock with commercial slogans and political irony along the lines of KMFDM or even Excessive Force will be disappointed with PROLET•KULT. From the synthesized static charges and growls overtop a sparse and slow beat on “664-668” to the repetitions of offbeat electronic distortions and metallic clamor on “O.T.2.0” and even to the funky bass guitar offset by atonal synthesizer loops on “MAO ART,” OK•ZTEIN•OK is old-school industrial from one of the genre’s pioneering talents. Gone are the chugging guitar riffs that dominate much of Konietzko’s primary outlet, replaced by a more abstract and minimalist mix of atonal melody, noise, and sound collage, especially evident on the album’s de facto title track, “PROLETARSKAYA KULTURA,” on which a ghostly vocoder voice slithers beneath scathing samples and slowed breakbeats. Written, produced, and performed entirely by Sascha Konietzko, OK•ZTEIN•OK presents rivetheads with an experimental and noisy form of music that isn’t often heard in the modern era, making PROLET•KULT an occasionally difficult yet always intriguing listen.
 
Track list:

  1. 664-668
  2. OK•ZTEIN•OK
  3. O.T.2.0
  4. MAO ART
  5. PROLETARSKAYA KULTURA
  6. STOP!

 
KMFDM Store Website http://www.kmfdmstore.com
 
2011-04-04
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

The Megadrives - Continue
The Megadrives
Category: Electronica
Album: Continue
Stars: 4
Blurb: Running the gamut from trance to dub to breakbeat, The Megadrives release an appealing sophomore album that takes their diverse style even further.

 

As technology moves forward into an age where convenience and speed are seemingly essential, the abundance of laptop DJs and artists to emerge has been staggering. As the state of the art calls for a greater reliance on software, it should come as no surprise to see a group like The Megadrives taking full advantage of the trend. Based in Baltimore, MD, the duo of K-Rai and Sheephead have for the past several years been building up their reputation as a dynamic force, playing numerous festivals and events covering the spectrum of electronica from techno, electro, breakbeat, and all points in between, and releasing their Press Start debut in 2008. After three years, the Megadrives unveil their sophomore record, appropriately titled Continue.

From the opening breaks and throbbing synths of “Unite,” the group kicks into high gear right from the get go; wave upon wave of electrified bass and sparse melodies intertwine to create a highly energetic opener that immediately calls to mind the likes of The Chemical Brothers and The Crystal Method. Such is the case with every track on Continue, with the throbbing pulse of “Neon Tokyo Night” launching us into a danceable frenzy as each sequence builds upon itself to create an infectiously appealing track. Similarly, “Ears of Pain” assaults the listener with a distorted, almost guitar-life wave of arpeggios and thrums of atmospheric bass, while the stabs of ambient synths and distant manipulated vocal samples help to give “Enlighten” a trancelike vibe, making it easy to get lost in a psychedelic haze. Other tracks slow the pace without diminishing the album’s progressive energy, from the slower tempos of oscillating ambience and gritty bass lines of “Welcome to My Side” evoking a neon-lit urban soundscape, to the shimmering acoustic guitar accompanying warbling bass and relaxed and occasional glitchy beats of “Crunk Dub,” to the more hip-hop style groove of “Of What Magnitude” as whistling synths underscore rolling arpeggio melodies too catchy to not get stuck in one’s head for hours. “Idealism” is perhaps the eeriest track on Continue as its crystalline ambience hovers in tandem with glitch-laden samples and beats that could serve as soundtrack to a dark acid trip, while “Moose Tail” ends the record with a pastiche of the chiptune trend with rapid fire arpeggios of rudimentary synth tones akin to 8-bit video games before breaking down into a hard-hitting finale of pulsating techno.

Make no mistake – The Megadrives are not just another electronic laptop DJ duo. The intelligent arrangements, intricately programmed beats, and experimental tones at play on Continue show them to be a band willing to think beyond convention, playing with trends and attacking the music with all the bravado of a rock band. There is nary a dull moment as each song moves with such speed and urgency, changing character without losing coherence, creating a seamless flow from track-to-track. Continue proves that K-Rai and Sheephead have no intention of slowing down or stifling their creative drive, and with this kind of energy on display, one can imagine that it won’t be long before they take their place alongside the greats in the annals of electronica
 
Track list:

  1. Unite
  2. Boulder Dash
  3. Welcome to My Side
  4. Nokizaru
  5. Enlighten
  6. Crunk Dub
  7. Kung Foo
  8. Of What Magnitude
  9. Neon Tokyo Night
  10. Idealism
  11. Dankness
  12. Ears of Pain
  13. Moose Tail

 
The Megadrives Website http://www.themegadrives.com
The Megadrives MySpace http://www.myspace.com/themegadrives
The Megadrives Facebook http://www.facebook.com/themegadrives
The Megadrives ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/themegadrives
The Megadrives SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/megadrives
Cytoplastik Website http://cytoplastik.com
Cytoplastik MySpace http://www.myspace.com/cytoplastik
Quantum Groove Records Website http://quantum-groove.com
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
CDBaby
 
2011-03-23
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Aug 2011 09

Cell - Evolve
Cell
Category: Industrial Rock / Electronica / Alternative
Album: Evolve
Stars: 2
Blurb: Talent eclipsed by similarity.

 

Rising seemingly out of nowhere from the dark corners of the internet, Cell has gained a steadily-increasing following through the distribution of his music via social media. His debut release Stop This filled the sidebars of Facebook and was passed around from person to person. Now, Cell returns with his sophomore release Evolve, releasing another four tracks for the fans.

Cell’s musical mixing and instrumentation is strongly executed; “What I Do” and “Can’t Watch Me” are rife with the thumping drums and grinding bass/synth combinations that industrial rock fans can’t seem to get enough of. “Numb” takes a spacey and ambient route that differentiates itself from the other tracks. “Infect” is a good blend of tribal and ambient elements, though it seems a bit too quiet in the mixing compared to the other tracks; additionally, it’s a solid intro track, but when there are only four tracks there’s no need for an introduction track. In terms of musical ability alone, Cell is a solid artist with great music production skills and performance ability.

However, the major impediment to Cell’s progress is, ironically, what has been used as his major selling point to new fans: his uncanny similarity to the industrial rock god himself, Trent Reznor. When Stop This released, listeners were stunned – if not completely confused – by the identical nature of Brian Fabiano’s voice to Reznor’s trademarked style; some even believed that it was Reznor in another side project. With this next step forward, Fabiano has maintained this identical sound. He’ll need to start seriously differentiating himself, though; the similarity of voice distracts greatly from the effect of the music as a whole. It’s nearly impossible to focus on the music at hand when the continuous thought of “BOY, this music and vocalist sure sound like Nine Inch Nails” runs through the mind. The genre already has a Trent Reznor; there isn’t much call for two of them.

Cell is strong in the areas of music production, and the talent is there, though overshadowed by the imitation. The moment he breaks from the dopplegänger identity, Cell will begin to truly rise. The question remains, though: is such a feat even possible? Is there any originality hidden in there? With no demonstration of variation from the current releases, it’s hard to say.
 
Track list:

  1. Infect
  2. What I Do
  3. Can’t Watch Me
  4. Numb

 
Cell Website http://iamcell.com
Cell MySpace http://www.myspace.com/celldividing
Cell Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cell/55290537818
Cell Twitter http://www.twitter.com/iamcell
Cell ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/iamcell
Transparent Studios
 
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
 
2011-06-20
 
Zak Vaudo (Chaostar)

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