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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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Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral Review

General Information:

Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: The Downward Spiral
Genre(s): Industrial, Industrial Rock
Subgenres(s): N/A
Released: 1994
Length: 105 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Nothing Records, Interscope Records

Track List:

01. Mr. Self Destruct
02. Piggy
03. Heresy
04. March of the Pigs
05. Closer
06. Ruiner
07. The Becoming
08. I Do Not Want This
09. Big Man with a Gun
10. A Warm Place
11. Eraser
12. Reptile
13. The Downward Spiral
14. Hurt

Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral Cover

Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral Cover

Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral Review

The Downward Spiral is a volatile beacon of industrial music by Nine Inch Nails. Released 2 years after the break through Broken EP, it seems as though Trent Reznor forsook a lot of his rock influences in favour of raw industrial aggression which actually led to a more sonically diverse album.

Songs like Ruiner, I Do Not Want This and Eraser are all characterised by thumping industrial drum patterns, layers of processed sound effects that are incredibly hard to identify and have enough distortion and noise meshed together to make you think that you’ve blown out your speakers. The guitar is still present in these songs at times but the rock influence is significantly less pronounced when compared to Heresy or March of the Pigs, both of which have an easier structure to follow because a lot of the time the songs don’t follow a particularly strong verse/chorus format.

While challenging sounds are a given within the industrial music scene, one can’t help but question the need for or motive behind some parts of the album. Particularly the minor noise music influences heard at the end of Mr. Self Destruct, which becomes unlistenable when it devolves into a formless mess at the end, or the chaotic end to Big Man with a Gun that is so layered up and loud that the only thing that can be picked out clearly is Trent Reznor’s frenzied shouting.

This isn’t to say that the processed sounds and distortion don’t always work because for the most part it is done well and it plays a major part in making The Downward Spiral what it is. In contrast to the dense noise, Big Man with a Gun is followed up by A Warm Place which will keep you on edge the first time you hear it because you can’t help but expect a loud burst of noise to chime in out of nowhere. This doesn’t end up happening and it makes this short ambient piece the most reserved part of The Downward Spiral.

Despite the length of The Downward Spiral, it rarely feels as though anything gets dragged out and if anything should have been cut out the first thing that comes to mind are the inflammatory lyrics revolving around rape on Big Man with a Gun (“held against your forehead/I’ll make you suck it/maybe I’ll put a hole in your head”). Reptile and Hurt both have crass lyrics as well but aren’t comparable to Big Man with a Gun and aside from that, the rest seems to focus on inner turmoil one way or another and are delivered through shouts, whispers and singing – all of which get at least partially buried under the uncompromising music which was a surprising commercial success. The vocal highlight of The Downward Spiral has to be the cheerfully sarcastic singing on March of the Pigs when the piano is introduced briefly.

The technology used to produce this album has dated surprisingly well and without knowing beforehand, you can’t pinpoint it to a certain decade like you can with a lot of other electronically produced music. The Downward Spiral is the musical equivalent of a torrent of verbal abuse that encapsulates self-loathing surrounded by a relentless gourmet of industrial rhythms which makes it an ideal introduction to the genre.

Performers:

Trent Reznor: Vocals, all other instruments
Mark “Flood” Ellis: Hi-hat (Closer), synthesizer (The Becoming)
Chris Vrenna: Drums (Hurt), programming, sampling, additional drums (Burn)
Adrian Belew: Guitar (Mr. Self Destruct and The Becoming)
Danny Lohner: Guitar (Big Man with a Gun)
Andy Kubiszewski Drums (The Downward Spiral)
Stephen Perkins: Drum Loops (I Do Not Want This)

External Links:

Nine Inch Nails Homepage
Nine Inch Nails on Wikipedia | The Downward Spiral on Wikipedia

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Various Artists Flowers Made of Snow Review

Various Artists Flowers Made of Snow Review

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Flowers Made of Snow
Genre(s): Ambient, Folk, Industrial, Neoclassical, Noise
Subgenres(s): Dark Ambient, Martial Industrial, Neoclassical, Neofolk, Power Electronics
Released: 2004
Length: 55 minutes (CD 1), 63 minutes (CD 2)
Language(s): English
Label(s): Cold Meat Industries

Track List (CD 1):

01. Coph Nia – The Oath
02. The Protagonist – The Sick Rose
03. In Slaughter Natives – The Vulture
04. Olen’k – Season of Tears
05. All My Faith Lost – Sleep Now
06. The Last Hour – Into Empty Depth
07. Apatheia – Safehouse
08. Ataraxia – Incabala
09. Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio – Yesterday Brings But a Serpent of Ash
10. Hexperos – The Warm Whisper of the Wind
11. Sibelian – The Sin Eater
12. Sanctum – Lie Low

Various Artists Flowers Made of Snow Cover

Flowers Made of Snow is a Various Artists compilation by the Cold Meat Industry label. Presented as a sampler of the labels current artists, the compilation covers ambient, folk, industrial and noise music across 2 CDs and 23 different artists. The first CD focuses largely on the more accessible side of Cold Meat Industry with a diverse set of neofolk, martial industrial and neoclassical songs.

The Oath by Coph Nia sets the tone with a dramatic spoken word performance. The lyrics act as a proclamation for Cold Meat Industries, which are seemingly the rejection of mainstream culture and more specifically the music associated with it. Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio is the only other martial industrial band featured on Flowers Made of Snow and while the subgenre is sadly underrepresented, together they show what can be offered in their brief but powerful presence.

There are 3 neoclassical nightmares courtesy of The Protagonist, In Slaughter Natives and The Last Hour. The only thing to be said for certain of the neoclassical songs is that the performers are not happy people. Between the hushed murmurs, haunting soprano wails, tense violins and bleak ambiance, you’ll feel as though you’ve found yourself in the middle of someone else’s misery in these emotive pieces.

Making up about half of the first CD is a set of groups playing neofolk music that at times sounds worlds apart from each other despite being under the same umbrella. All My Faith Lost and O’lenk play low key songs with female lead singers that don’t pull any punches. In contrast Hexperos follow suit until their song (The Warm Whisper of the Wind) is warped into another neoclassical nightmare akin to The Vulture by In Slaughter Natives.

Apatheia and Ataraxia both perform uncharacteristically lively songs that are like reimagining’s of medieval folk music. They both have catchy acoustic guitars and more upbeat singing styles (the latter of which sounds like a cross between chanting, yodelling and opera singing) that evens out some of the tension present in many of the other songs.

Sibelian takes influence from both the neoclassical and martial industrial camps for the 9 minute mini-epic The Sin Eater. Some elements of electronic music can be heard through the sound effects and (what sounds like programmed) drumming. This conceptually links to Lie Low by Sanctum, the final song on the first CD. It is a dissonant song belonging to the power electronics subgenre of noise music. It doesn’t fit in with the rest of the music found here and acts as a disturbingly unwelcome prelude to the second CD.

The first CD in the Flowers Made of Snow compilation does an excellent job of showcasing what Cold Meat Industries and the fringe genres of martial industrial, neoclassical and neofolk have to offer if you can stomach melancholic music in this diverse and ever twisting compilation.

Track List (CD 2):

01. Desiderii Marginis – Where I End and You Begin
02. Raison D’etre – Mouldering the Forlorn II
03. Atrium Carceri – Impaled Butterfly
04. Mz.412 – In Hoc Signe Vinces
05. Brighter Death Now – While You Sleep
06. IRM – My Mother
07. Deutsch Nepal – Of Parasites and Disguises
08. Nacht – Death Posture
09. Beyond Sensory Experience – The Trade
10. Sephiroth – Therasia
11. Skin Area – Choose Art… Not Life

The second CD of the Flowers Made of Snow compilation is in stark contrast to the first. It focuses exclusively on the subtle and the abrasive (and arguably hostile) side of Cold Meat Industries in the form of dark ambient and power electronics music.

It starts out harmless enough with Where I End and You Begin by Desiderii Marginis, a dark ambient song fused with soft guitar distortion and what sounds like the slow, distant groans of a didgeridoo. Raison D’etre and Atrium Carceri carry on the dark ambient themes and almost link together to create an interesting 3 part song.

Mz.412, Brighter Death Now and IRM are three noise groups that work together in the same way as the dark ambient trilogy do. Unfortunately these songs are on the opposite side of the musical spectrum and are grating enough to make blood ooze profusely from every orifice on your body. Thankfully Nacht and Skin Area are the only other 2 noise groups on the CD with Deutsch Nepal, Beyond Sensory Experience and Sephiroth stepping in between these seemingly unending harsh songs to offer some relief from the discomfort they cause.

You could just as easily sit in a cement mixer and get someone to bash it with crowbar to achieve the same headache inducing effect that you get from the noise songs. The only difference is that you wouldn’t need to put up with the artistic pretence to get one.

The coupling of these genres provides an excellent contrast in sound if nothing else. The dark ambient songs on the second CD of the Flowers Made of Snow compilation are certainly worth a listen if you have the patience for eerie soundscapes but the noise songs should be left well alone unless you are a masochist or hate yourself.

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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.