In an era when most artists tend to focus on quantity with numerous singles and EPs, there’s something refreshing about a band like Morlocks taking its time to forge Praise the Iconoclast. Arriving more than a full decade since 2012’s The Outlaw of Fives, this new album sees the trio of J.Strauss, Lamashtu, and Innocentius Rabiatus pulling all the stops to bombard the listener with a contingent of industrialized metal ordnance.
Every track is a carefully coordinated assault on the senses, full of the kind of pomp and grandeur that Laibach has been revered for; it’s a comparison that is all the more palpable with the epic and martial opening of the introductory “Naš Tretji Uvod,” the Slovenian spoken word of “Our Third Introduction” immediately informing the listener what they’re in for. From here, Morlocks induce a sharpened mechanical thrust more akin to the bombast of KMFDM; in fact, Sascha Konietzko appears on “Mean World Syndrome” to lend his voice to a gargantuan displays of blistering rhythms and guitar riffs, the lyrics full of a similar self-referential fury that it’s no wonder the band jives so well with the Ultra Heavy Beat. Other songs follow suit like “I’m the Payload” with its distinctly ‘80s-esque synth energy and kitschy and choirlike vocal accompaniments, or the boisterous chants of “One for the hand grenade and two for the show” on “Instigation,” set to a rebelliously anthemic onslaught of machine rock force, while “Dicks in Tanks” marches through the speakers with a poignant diatribe on the correlation between sexual inadequacy and warlike machismo.
Other songs possess a more discernibly melodic potency, particularly in the interplay of male and female vocals that adorn “The Golden Goddess” as Karin My’s lovely tone amid acoustic guitars create a lush atmosphere. The same can be said of the brassy “Inhuman Genome Project” as the lockstep rhythm of sleek synths and guitar riffs underscore vocals that shift from sneering and unhinged to a harmonious soar, while the immersive pads of “Not Far into the Future” seem to evoke Vangelis’ Blade Runner score, the percolating leads and faint voices enhancing a tightly arranged composition upon which a dystopian narration takes centerstage.
With its themes liberally drawing on the cold war dynamics of 40 years ago, some might find the liberal messaging of Praise the Iconoclast to be somewhat quaint, even for a genre that is so historically enmeshed with such social and political commentary. Also, the record often threatens to overwhelm the listener with its opulent production values and generous runtimes; however, this is hardly a detriment, as Morlocks treat the songs more like movements in an operatic epic, and are clearly not devoid of a sense of humor. It’s an ostentatious affair, but boy, is it fun!