On this latest outing under the moniker of Helvete Inc., the enigmatic being known as S.T.R. Helvete applies years of experience in the Baltimore underground; conceived not as a work of dark flights of fancy or imagination, but rather as a series of grim observations of a world in decline, The New Flesh is as theatrical and provocative a force as the artist that created it.
The opening “Plague Nation” bludgeons the listener with samples referring to the current global crisis, the reminders of a dark reality hitting with almost as much force as the pummeling percussion and guttural guitars while the insistent pulse of the synths keep things in a somewhat danceable realm, but only slightly. “Genophobia” then enters with Neineleven’s acidic bass tone and shrill manipulations that belie the passion behind Helvete’s vocal performance, the rhythms steady and powerful, but just off-kilter enough to keep the listener on edge as a frigid display of sparse piano and synth arpeggios make for a brief but lovely moment. By the same token, the title track is pure ritualistic dance floor abandon as its infectious bass synths and dynamic percussive flourishes topped off by the familiar samples from Cronenberg’s Videodrome, while the triptych of “Technocynicism,” “The Death ov a Delusion,” and ““”” descends from a morose but melodic bit of industrial dance into a chaotic and glitch-laden barrage of spastic percussion, unhinged shouts of social discord, and hollow ambience. And then there is the cover of Prince’s “Controversy,” presented in an extended and single edit, and while purists may balk at the dissolution of the original’s funky rock elements in favor of Helvete Inc.’s more aggressively gothic electro style, its themes of racial and sexual harmony in the face of adversity augment the record’s narrative and are as potently relevant as ever.
A truly independent effort with S.T.R. Helvete also helming the mix and mastering, The New Flesh is not likely to be considered a groundbreaking record by anyone, but this is not to say it’s not a finely crafted set from an artist with an abundance of drive and potential – strong lyrical content and solid production and performance, all making Helvete Inc. a band worthy of attention.