Clocking in at just under 26 minutes, Hallucination Scene is an actually robust album of boisterous industrial/metal from James Hammontree’s Black Magnet. Engineered and mixed by the eminent Sanford Parker, these eight tracks present the artist’s rather sophisticated sense of arrangement and songwriting, wherein a wide range of influences coalesce into a sound both virulent and compelling.
Memories of Nine Inch Nails are sure to abound on a truck like “Trustfucker,” where sampled noise and pulsating synths bellow to a beat that sounds suspiciously like that of “Closer” or “Nightclubbing,” the vocals vacillating between Hammontree’s clean shouts and a shrill distorted screech not dissimilar to the kind you’d hear in terror EBM as the bass and shrieks of feedback add to the song’s menacing vibe. There are tracks like “Anubis” with its excellent and almost danceable rhythms, the interplay of steely synths and guitars along with its vocal layers making for a rather catchy song that is sure to be a killer live, and “Crush Me” with what sounds like orchestra hits reminiscent of the WaxTrax! era, particularly the early sounds of MINISTRY during the Land of Rape and Honey era. “Neuroprophet” and especially “Hegemon” evoke a more cybernetic and cinematic vibe with their swells of distorted ambience and scathing synth tones reminiscent of Caustic Grip or Tactical Neural Implant era Front Line Assembly, the gyrating hums of electronic bass and sharply textural growls of guitar topped off by melodic phrases that are sure to have listeners putting these tracks on repeat; indeed, both are punchy enough that they could be given the extended mix treatment without losing their potency, while the immediacy and urgency of “Punishment Map” with its distorted barrage of percussion and barely audible guitars amid Hammontree’s impassioned howls is a fine display of simplicity used to good effect.
Despite the record’s short length, Hallucination Scene packs quite a punch, never skimping on aggression, with just enough energy paid to the other genre elements of rhythm and melody to inspire deeper listening – a fine showcase of Black Magnet’s strength of style. It may not set the industrial/metal genre on fire, but it’s at least a signal for greater things to come.