As Dave McAnally had once referred to Derision Cult not as a band but as a journalism project, his fifteenth album under the moniker presents a scathing view of mass media’s deleterious effects on society at large. Set to a vicious onslaught of thrashing guitar riffs and rhythms, mangled samples, and subtle yet powerful electronic textures, Charlatans Inc. follows in the tradition of socially and politically charged industrial/metal, with this writer finding much in common with the late ‘90s and early aughts era of MINISTRY. One need listen only to the opening track, “The Great Reset,” as the barrage of drums and guitar underscores McAnally’s grizzled roar occupying a timbre between Al Jourgensen and Lemmy Kilmister; a simple and straightforward melody enters with an intrinsic hard rock energy that is augmented some nicely layered synths in the chorus and a shrill wah-wah guitar solo that is sure to remind many a metalhead of the late Mike Scaccia. On the other hand, “Worlds Collide” sees McAnally scaling back the growl and grit in favor of a more sinister and throaty spoken tone, the chants of “Don’t play games you can’t win” sounding almost akin to Prong’s Tommy Victor once he gets fired up; add to this another hot guitar solo, along with the themes of the profitability of emotion over intellect, outrage over objectivity, and you have a recipe for a grate slice of industrialized social commentary. The same can be said of “This is Control,” in which restrained electro beats and seething vocoder fills are offset by some rather bluesy vocals, the stutter of the gated tremolo effects adding tension that is only released by the sudden appearance of the next track, “Charlatans,” where vicious drumming and screaming guitar explode with fiery metal fury. It’s perhaps ironic that “View From the Cross” is the catchiest track on the album, its themes of rampant consumerism and materialism eroding the human soul all too palpable in late stage capitalist society, while the insidious and insipid chants of “Call a Man God” make the track all the uglier, the chainsaw guitar riffs and ferocious drumming giving way to a sardonic melody conveyed through synths, bass, and samples buried in the mix. Drawing on the tonal and thematic tenets of industrial/metal, Charlatans Inc. would have an almost throwback feel to it if not for its relatability and continued relevancy of its subject matter, coupled with production values that are deliberately grimy as they are fresh. While this writer would personally prefer more variety in the vocal tone, one can’t fault Dave McAnally for channeling his rage accordingly – lyrically ugly topics delivered through sweet melodies just wouldn’t ring as true, would they? Like the masters that preceded, Derision Cult offers no solutions, but asks the hard questions in the hardest manner possible… just be ready to adjust your speakers lest they get blown.