Jonathan Hill Dot EU

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Laibach Spectre Review

General Information:

Artist: Laibach
Album: Spectre
Genre(s): Industrial
Subgenres(s): Electro-Industrial
Released: 2014
Length: 57 minutes (including bonus tracks)
Language(s): English, French
Label(s): Mute Records

Track List:

01. The Whistleblowers
02. No History
03. Eat Liver!
04. Americana
05. We Are Millions and Millions Are One
06. Eurovision
07. Walk With Me
08. Bossanova
09. Resistance is Futile
10. Koran
11. The Parade (Bonus Track)
12. Love on the Beat (Serge Gainsbourg Cover) (Bonus Track)
13. Just Say No! (Bonus Track)
14. See That My Grave is Kept Clean (Blind Lemon Jefferson Cover) (Bonus Track)

Laibach Spectre Cover

Laibach Spectre Cover

Laibach Spectre Review

Spectre is the eighth studio album by Slovenian industrial collective Laibach. Released eight years after their last studio album, Volk, they have taken their music in another direction with most of it being in the electro-industrial vein.

Laibach have a history of using authoritarian political ideologies and themes in their aesthetics and lyrical content but any overt use it is largely absent from Spectre. The only explicit mention of politics is the Occupy Wall Street movement in No History. Other song titles such as The Whistleblowers and Koran hint at political themes (whistle blowers such as Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning and Islam in the West respectively) but the lyrical content doesn’t reflect this. In fact, The Whistleblowers title only seems to refer to the literal whistling performed throughout this catchy martial industrial track which immediately draws the listener in. Koran on the other hand is a quasi-ballad and as it picks up the male and female singer having a back and forth about a belief “in brotherhood, equality and freedom” and “happiness for all” to which the bass-level spoken response observes that “words are substance for tomorrow/they are weapons of our mind/words can take us far away/they will leave us all behind” as though to say that it’s a nice idea but in reality it’s not quite that simple.

On the inverse of this we have Eurovision, obviously named after the annual karaoke train wreck that plagues Europe, in which the band says that “there are crowds in the streets/they are crying to be heard” and that “Europe is falling apart” in the dramatic chorus. The second example of this is Bossanova, named after the Brazilian music genre Bossa Nova, which features a blend of raw authoritarianism and self-aggrandising nihilism in another booming proclamation of “I want torture/arms and corporations/no control, president or parliament!/feed my hunger with poverty/feed my anger with children/feed my lust with bikini food!/feed my ego with luxury/I’m having a good time/and I want my nation to break down!”

By using their history of political imagery and themes Laibach have simply put the shoe on the other foot to give the illusion of depth when in reality there isn’t that much to begin with. The music starts out strong with the first three tracks and then Americana is introduced as a slow burner to break up the pace in true pop fashion. The lyrics are overly repetitive here, as they are in other songs, but at the same time they offer some truth about activism and rallying people to your cause by saying that “if you wanna change the world/you’d better do it with a thrill/cos’ if you don’t – no one else will.”

Resistance is Futile is a seven minute sci-fi odyssey into Laibach itself and it’s impossible to tell if it is a tongue in cheek parody or a sincere use of Star Trek’s Borg collective theme between their use of laser beam noises, digitised voices repeating “we are Laibach/resistance is futile” and the familiar bass voice chanting “blitzkrieg” as there modus operandi to achieve assimilation. The song ends with a long, atonal industrial soundscape with digitised voices fading in and out which, to the bands credit, is executed well and gives enough breathing room to introduce Koran without upsetting the flow of Spectre.

There are also four bonus tracks available on most versions of Spectre and with the exception of The Parade, which features a trumpet that seems at odds with the rest of the track, they’re done in the lively vein of electro-industrial like Eat Liver is. Just Say No is an aggressive synth-driven stomper with a memorable mantra and the other two songs are covers. One of them is See That My Grave is Kept Clean by American acoustic blues musician Blind Lemon Jefferson and aside from the lyrics it really doesn’t have anything to do with the original version and Laibach clearly aren’t wanting to mimic their inspiration here. Love on the Beat was originally performed by French musician Serge Gainsbourg in a funk-influenced new wave style and while it was sung in a low pitch with samples of someone shouting mixed in, it is Laibach’s unique reimagining that gives it a dark twist and really makes it into something else like it was always meant to be an industrial song.

In some ways Spectre is Laibach in pop music’s clothing as found in the inversion of their provocative image and lyrical themes so where it really counts, the musical content, the question is do Laibach deliver? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes despite some of the content being a little bit uneven in the middle with some overly repetitive lyrics thrown in because on most counts there is excellent content that strikes a healthy balance between accessibility and artistic integrity all while pulling on people’s strings in their own provocative way.

Performers:

Luka Jamnik
Matevz Kolenc
Milan Fras
Mina Spiler
Saso Vollmaier
Slavko Avsenik Jr.

External Links:

Laibach Homepage
Spectre on Wikipedia
Spectre on Wikipedia

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Front Line Assembly Echogenetic Review

General Information:

Artist: Front Line Assembly
Album: Echogenetic
Genre(s): Electronic, Electro-Industrial
Subgenres(s): Dubstep
Released: 2013
Length: 58 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Dependent Records, Metropolis Records

Track List:

01. Resonance
02. Levelled
03. Killing Grounds
04. Blood
05. Deadened
06. Ghosts
07. Echogenetic
08. Exhale
09. Exo
10. Prototype
11. Heartquake

Front Line Assembly Echogenetic Cover

Front Line Assembly Echogenetic Cover

Front Line Assembly Echogenetic Review

With Echogenetic, Front Line Assembly has fully embraced their dubstep influences that first came about on the Airmech soundtrack from the previous year and they’ve made it central to their sound this time around. It’s a natural progression to what they were already experimenting with so this development shouldn’t come across as that much of a shock to most fans.

The electric guitars featured in many of their other albums are absent entirely and while Front Line Assembly have retained their grotty industrial aesthetic that conjures up scenes from a decaying dystopian city, the direction that the music has taken is accessible without having to latch onto the “brostep” style of artists like Skrillex or Excision so hardcore fans can rest assured that the band are still very much themselves.

A new dynamic within the group has clearly influenced their direction. Along with Bill Leeb and long-time collaborators Jeremy Inkel and Jared Slingerland, they reunited with Craig Johnsen and Sasha Keevill who both contributed to the Airmech soundtrack. For Echogenetic they worked in 2 separate groups consisting of Jeremy Inkel and Sasha Keevill in the first and then Jared Slingerland and Craig Johnsen in the second with Bill Leeb jumping between them. Every few weeks all 5 contributors got together to go over the material to critique it and add new elements to the songs.

Killing Grounds exemplifies what Front Line Assembly is capable of doing within dubstep as this song in particular has plenty of momentum and memorable moments. Some other songs lack the immediate appeal that you easily recognise here so they take a bit more time to grow on you. On the other end of the spectrum is Prototype, an instrumental that could have been accurately retitled Archetype. It’s packed full of interesting twists and turns while avoiding any and all accusations of being comfortable background noise because it is something that commands your attention.

Echogenetic is a focused effort that should have been shook up with more varied tempos or even by bringing back the guitars for a few songs to avoid this pleasant plateau that the band seems to have found themselves on although this unlikely fusion of genres also makes for an interesting album beyond any novelty you could associate with it.

Performers:

Bill Leeb: Vocals, Electronic instruments
Jeremy Inkel: Electronic instruments
Jared Slingerland: Electronic instruments
Craig Johnsen: Electronic instruments
Sasha Keevill: Electronic instruments

External Links:

Front Line Assembly Homepage
Front Line Assembly on Wikipedia
Echogenetic on Wikipedia

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Ohgr Devils in My Details Review

Ohgr Devils in My Details Review

Artist: Ohgr
Album: Devils in My Details
Genre(s): Industrial
Subgenres(s): Electro-industrial
Released: 2008
Length: 42 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Synthetic Symphony

Track List:

01. Shhh
02. Eyecandy
03. Three
04. Feelin’ Chicken
05. Pepper
06. D.Angel
07. Psychoreal
08. Whitevan
09. Timebomb
10. Smogharp
11. Witness

Ohgr Devils in My Details Cover

Devils in My Details is the third album by industrial act Ohgr. After 5 years the duo of Nivek Ogre and Mark Walk return with something unlike anything else in the industrial scene, or elsewhere for that matter. Devils in My Details is a concoction of aggressive marching drums, noise, extensive sound processing and demented vocalisations that have all been mixed into 1 bizarre auditory cocktail.

Actor Bill Mosley finds himself being dragged into the middle of this otherworldly album to perform disenchanted spoken word verses of his own design on songs 4, 7, 9, 10 and 11 while being the most human sounding part of the entire album.

Several songs are linked together with short interludes that grow out of the ever changing soundscapes to create longer, multipart songs. You will find this makes it much easier to find individual parts to listen to, which can be a problem with lengthy songs written by other artists. The only drawback to this is that you will feel like you’ve started listening to a song from the middle instead of the beginning if you do this.

Ohgr changes faces many times on Devils in My Details and never stays in a single place for long. This makes it impossible to get a clear picture of what the album is about from hearing a single song and is best experienced as the sum of its parts rather than individual pieces.

Devils in My Details is as unconventional as it is difficult to digest if you’re unacquainted with industrial music. The scope of vision and creativity used to create Devils in My Details is particularly wide and sounds like nothing else past or present. It is essential listening for industrial enthusiasts and anyone willing to experience something that takes more than a few steps outside the box.