Review

497 posts

Angst – Tar Ner Skylten (2014)

Angst - Tar Ner Skylten (Cover)You can always trust Swedish musicians with synthesisers. Be it synthpop, EBM, dance music or whatever-you-call-that-stuff-Cold Meat Industry-used-to-put-out, Sweden has always been a go-to nation for those with a taste for synthetic aural texture (oh, and Brutal Resonance originates from there, too!). And one of the countries most creative exponents is Henrik Björkk, known to me for MZ-412 and Pouppée Fabrikk, possibly known to you for one of his numerous other projects, but known to all of us for the next few paragraphs as Angst. Mathias Pettersson forms the drumming half of the project, but I can’t tell you what bands he’s been in as this is a far-from-uncommon Nordic name! Continue reading

Borghesia – And Man Created God (2014)

Borghesia - And Man Created God (Cover)Borghesia, forever consigned to being Slovenia’s second most-famous industrial band, are back. And if you’re expecting yet-another review of an old EBM band returning after many years away and delivering a well-produced but unoriginal and derivative revival of their old sounds, well, that is not the review I have for you. This one needs a little more critical attention. But first a little bit of history. Continue reading

Cryo – Retropia (2014)

Cryo - Retropia (Cover)I reviewed the ‘taster’ for this album, the In Your Eyes EP, a few months ago, and it was good enough to whet my appetite for the forthcoming full-length. The band have been well favoured on these pages in recent years, but with several releases behind them, I was hoping for something more to say than ‘if you liked the last few you’ll like this one’. And sure enough, they’ve come up with something. Several somethings, in fact. Continue reading

Fleisch & Waffeln – Svin (2014)

Fleisch & Waffeln - Svin (Cover)“Learn From Your Mistakes” is a often-repeated mantra, and when a Brutal Resonance writer tears your release apart on these pages, the message is not to give up, but to produce something better next time. And having vented my disappointment at Fleisch & Waffeln for their terrible ‘Meat EP’, it seems the band agreed with my appraisal of this piece of juvenalia and promply submitted their new EP for review. And I’m happy to give them a second chance. Continue reading

Various – Swedish Old School EBM 2013 (2013)

Swedish Old School EBM 2013 (Cover)This isn’t the first compilation I’ve reviewed for Brutal Resonance with Swedish and EBM in the title (that honour goes to Swedish EBM: The Collection), but as one seeking out the hotspots still practising the ‘true’ form of electronic body music (as London ain’t the place to be for it right now), I’m always willing to give such things a go. It’s a limted edition 7″, but I’ll confess I reviewed the thing in digital form.

As compilations go, this isn’t fully representative of the country’s scene with a mere four bands (about as many as you can fit on a 7″), but they did at least pick a quartet of relatively big names. The Pain Machinery kick off with a disappointinly static “Surface”, a dull bassline and generic vocal snarl proving to be a poor showing from a band who I know can do better. Turnbull AC’s put in a typically unsubtle showings with the thunderous drumming and Doug McCarthy-esque vocalisation on “Boys”, shamelessly playing to their strengths and better for it as a result. Continue reading

Presto Fervant – Banzai (2013)

Presto Fervant - Banzai (Cover)The history of this project’s creative force will take longer to describe that it will to review the two tracks on this single, so for reader of this sites, I’ll simply say that it’s the vocalist more recently known for Container 90 (Ronny Larsson, aka Ron2-D2) alongside Fredrik Lundvall (from all sorts of bands). And even that’s longer than the shortest possible review I can manage, which is ‘typical Swedish EBM’. They’ve just dug up a couple of unused tunes from 1992 and pressed them onto yellow vinyl.

That’s not an insult – Sweden has produced more than a few EBM bands of note and this single is a worthy contribution to the canon, no matter how long ago it was recorded. The lead track “Banzai” includes the usual body beat essentials, including vocal staples such as “Lock The Target!” and “Crash and Burn!”, but captures at least some Japanese cultural influence with a recurring oriental melodic motif, with some spoken-word history lesson material worked into the mix. It’s a strong showing from a project that outputs music only intermittently. Continue reading

Escalator – Out Of My Ego (2011)

Escalator - Out Of My Ego (Cover)I’ve had something of a revival in interest in anything associated with old-school EBM and other early electronic styles of late, which is a pity as interest in said genre seems to be dying a death in my native London, which not only means I have to look further afield for live shows (and indeed potential DJ set opportunities!), but also need to spread my net wider in order to search out new territories where interesting bands may be located. And Escalator from Hungary, despite being a quarter of a century old, have escaped my radar until now. Even then, this eight-song collection is a couple of years old, but that’s no reason not to give it a go and offer my opinions here.

First things first, every classic EBM album needs at least a couple of unsubtle, in-your-face, energising anthems in it’s tracklist, lest the collection as a whole get mistaken for some analog-elitist hipster art-wank project, and this collection has “Rew Stop Play” and “Shut Me Off”. They both deliver the punchy beats, throbbing rhythms and vocal snarl that make a legitimate EBM classic, with enough variation throughout their length to remind everyone that classic EBM isn’t just a case of programming one synth line, one drum loop and shouting over the top. Yes, I tried that trick myself to be sure. Anyway, that’s the DJ selections sorted out. Now to see if there’s any variety in their sound. Continue reading

Individual Totem – Kyria 13 (2013)

Individual Totem - Kyria 13 (Cover)It’s been a while since I had a release this hard to review. I have a degree of familiarity with Individual Totem’s on-off existence, this being their first album in six years and only their second of the 21st Century. And everything I’ve heard from them before (not every album but a representative sample), follows the same pattern of not keeping to a pattern at all! You’ll have to look elsewhere for obvious club anthems or accessible song structures.

That’s no bad thing of course. Industrial music started out with the intention of breaking down the standard techniques of the music industry. But you still need to understand why the rules are there in the first place before you break them, and on opening track “Croxxers”, they fall short of mixing the immiscible. The cries of the song title combined with disembodied murmurs of “We Are Immortal” and various other statements, set to an unobtrusive beat and little melodies SHOULD be a route to a decent dark electronic soundtrack. But it doesn’t quite work out in the final mix. And I can’t quite put my finger on what’s wrong. Continue reading

Red Mecca – You Were Never Here (2013)

Naming your project after a cult Cabaret Voltaire album is a pretty daring move, as it sets expectations high for something genuinely creative. The band themselves made their first move towards enigmatic obscurity by providing their press pack in the Swedish language only. I guess I could have asked Patrik to translate it, but as he’s busy with the site rework I turned to Google Translate, which gave me enough knowledge to properly review their work.

The bands imagery focuses on singer Frida Madeleine (with musical maestro Jan Strandqvist very much in the background) standing in desolate locations, an image highly befitting the opening track “Overlord” – nine minutes of echoed drum hits and intense synth growls set to a disconcerting chord progressing. Listened to on iPod, it doesn’t amount to much, but played through a decent soundsystem (yes, some of us still value such things) and it’s intended purpose is clear. Continue reading

Cryo – In Your Eyes EP (2013)

Cryo - In Your Eyes EP (Cover)My attention was first drawn to Cryo when I heard them described as being like ‘Sequencer-era Covenant’. That guaranteed my attention given that the production style of that album was somewhat unique in the canon of mid-90’s industrial, being an album similarly laden with noise yet unusually melodic at the same time (i.e. damn near impossible for a reviewer to describe). And on hearing Cryo’s material for the first time, I generally thought the description was pretty close, at least in terms of defining who might like this, even if their songwriting wasn’t up to the standards of their fellow Swedes.

This 5-track EP is intended as a precursor to a forthcoming album ‘Retropia’. The title track appears in three versions, with the “Club Version” the most definitive. The mid-tempo kick drums, bassline throb and Euro-snarl vocals ensure this song classes at the harder end of Cryo’s spectrum, with a synth in the chorus that hints at the darker fringes of 90s rave. Whilst it falls short of being a dead-cert anthem, this is certainly good enough for the club play the title suggests, and flies a flag for a production style that is often sidelined in the ‘Oontz Arms Race’ that seems to be going on in some quarters. Continue reading