Nov 2012 08

White Shadow - ZugzwangWhite Shadow
Category: Industrial Rock
Album: Zugzwang
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: White Shadow unveils a new direction in this single, but proves great ingredients don’t always make a great dish.


The band’s first release since 2010’s The Wastelands, White Shadow returns with the new single Zugzwang to pave the way for the upcoming full-length album Panopticon. Bringing in some fresh blood and a slightly tweaked style, White Shadow is fueled by heavy electronics and guitar, channeling much of the mid ‘90s coldwave attitude and style of acts such as Chemlab, The Clay People, and many more. However, despite drawing from some great influences, not all the band’s elements come together as well as one would hope.

The single version of “Zugzwang” kicks things off with deep synth lines, a pulsing rhythm, and gritty guitar riffs giving White Shadow a heavier and vicious style, though it also has a bit of an underproduced sound that gives the song a bit of an older feel that may or may not be intentional. Unfortunately, despite the fairly solid musical work, there’s something mildly goofy and offputting about the vocals, particularly when aiming for lower ranges, that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. “No Mercy” suffers from much the same problem, this time with some nice gloomy synths vaguely reminiscent of The Birthday Massacre but an overall more rock centered focus; the song generally works quite well, but the vocals for the chorus just seem to be the entirely wrong tone and sadly neuter the track. “Beyond Flesh and Blood” is the most successful original track of the single, with its guttural and aggressive classic industrial, bang and clang style. The remixes of “Zugzwang” are of highly varying success with the Penkiller mix being virtually unlistenable with its lazily slapped in and downright annoying beat, the Retrogramme remix being a nice, but fairly strong reworking, and the Stubbonly Starving mix impressing with its complex structure and interesting use of dubstep like elements. Wrapping up with a cover of Cake’s “The Distance” conceptually seemed like a great idea, but unfortunately, the execution just comes across a bit flat and lacks the punch or strong hook one would expect based off the source material, ultimately leading to a bit of a disappointment.

It’s unfortunately hard to know what to make of White Shadow from this single. Though strong influences, a retro industrial flair, and solid composition seem like it should produce a sure winner, this single just feels like it should be much better than it is, seemingly largely due to the, at times, questionable vocal performance. It could very easily be that this vocal style is an acquired taste much like many classic industrial acts like Christ Analogue, BiGod 20, or Armageddon Dildos, and it seems a wait until Panopticon’s early 2013 release is in order to find a better answer to that question.
Track list:

  1. Zugzwang (Single Version)
  2. Zugzwang (Penkiller Mix by Ken Pillar)
  3. No Mercy
  4. Zugzwang (Retrogramme Remix)
  5. Beyond Flesh and Blood
  6. Zugzwang (Stubbornly Starving Mix by DJGX)
  7. The Distance

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Trubie Turner (Flexei)

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