20 April, 2016

Heretics in the Lab – Exit

Heretics in the Lab – Exit |self-released, 2016| 5/5 industrial metal

1. Death, 2. Atrocity, 3. Precious, 4. Forever, 5. Special, 6. Sorry, 7. Rise, 8. Away

When you listen to an album that begins with a mix of looped, agitating sounds of hammering and machines, supported by quick and heavy guitars, then you’ll recognize the genre straight away. Indeed, Exit is a direct trip into the mainstream industrial metal music of the 1990s, just as fans memorized its best characteristics back then, with a distinctive sound that created a whole subculture.

Heretics in the Lab (the original spelling is hERETICS iN tHE lAB) is a one man band from Virginia, US formed in 2004. Thomas Morgan, who uses "h3" as his artistic moniker, is a self-taught passionate who does everything literally from A to Z. Both recorded songs and music video singles that promote various tracks from the band's discography come from him. Obviously, additional live musicians are hired for live shows, but the entire studio work is done entirely by h3.

The newest album brings eight, highly (and equally) energizing songs. If you, the 90's industrial rivethead, had lost hope for the arrival of any flooring albums by once recognizable industrial rock and metal artist such as Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails or Powerman 5000, then Heretics in the Lab will make your dreams come true, in lieu of these bigger names. People new to the genre can find the album entertaining as well, thanks to its dynamical, aggressive vibe.

Let's look into the tracks in detail now. 'Death' is the intro to the album, with a plainly industrial theme mentioned before. It is also enriched by sampled speech. The track sounds mighty thanks to a skillful blend of briefly scratched, predatory guitar riffs and drums laid only in places where the composition requires and allows that.

Sonically, the introduction's foretaste shouldn’t mislead you, since 'Atrocity' begins with a closely packed, pulsing sound of some device, of possibly a medical purpose. Medical references – nurses, syringes, hospital, blood, scars, drips, patches, and bandages are often utilized in modern but not less mainstream industrial music, thus you've got a bit of a refresher here. The high beat is then empowered by a deeper drumbeat and the listeners are taken into a twister of all kinds of overlapping sounds. These are still kept under rigid control by the overall composition, which can be witnessed in the song's very end when the wall of sound is slowly cleaned and pulled down, leaving only the buzzing guitar to accompany you on your way to the next track.

The industrial opening of 'Precious' sounds very haunting. The song is accompanied by a promotional music video single (check out the band's YouTube), full of rapidly firing, thought-provoking images - long-time industrial music fans should be familiar with such visuals. Since they are matched with the song's aggressive theme and rhythm very well, I don’t think many viewers can complain. The sound effects and memorable vocal lines combined with raspy guitars will guide careful listeners back to ”the best of NIN” and act as a strong reminder of the vibe known from the now legendary Broken and The Downward Spiral albums.

'Forever' brings a lot of clicking electronica in the beginning, but then lashes out with metal through slow and heavy guitar riffs. Surprisingly, vocals are kept rather high and peaceful here. After hearing the intro, metal fans would obviously expect growling, expressive screams or other emotional explosions found within the verses. This changes a bit when the chorus comes, the vocals however are mixed with a voice effect that makes the song's overall vibe mechanical. When accompanied with spoken rather than sung lyrics (similarly to many other songs on this album), the track becomes a good reminder of Manson's mortuary, somber, tormented music, not deprived of memorable dynamics either.

'Special' is a potential hit with its clearly and rhythmically spoken lyrics, dynamic bass, drums, and noisy guitars - as well as highlighted moments of anger. It’s very memorable and will definitely work well during live performances. After that, 'Sorry' arrives with a bit more of synths, making it sound like an 8-bit game music memorabilia at times. Aside of distorted vocals, edgy vibes and a slightly 'outer-space' atmosphere (through the aforementioned synths), you'll also come across a sweet electro-pop melody appearing in choruses.

'Rise' is a track partially different from the others. Not only is it entirely instrumental, but also driven by a distinctive, graded, simple and recurring bassline. This, blended with a melancholic piano gives the song a flavour of NIN, Primus, and Joy Division smelted together. Listeners would perhaps expect more of that theme to be extended further, since the melody and mood progress in an intriguing direction.

The grand finale of the album titled 'Away' is a lovely tribute to NIN with its typical setting within arrangements made for lyrics and shortly outlined guitars, as well as a groovy, haunting background including synth and drums. Everything in 'Away' is pure synergy spiced up with matching vocal expressions and yet, it's skillfully connected with 'Death', the album's opener. This is an excellent potential hit that deserves either a music video single or serving as a soundtrack to a short movie.

Overall, Exit is a pleasant and engaging listening experience. All tracks are pretty short but it's almost required for catchy and potentially popular songs to stay under the five minute mark nowadays. In addition, many of these tracks could make a good match with s/f and adventure movies (think of the Marvel series or David Lynch's weirdness). Special attention should be paid to the vocal work of h3, who perfectly catches up with any tempo changes present throughout the album. Industrial metal and rock music fans are highly advised to get this album and support h3's endeavours – you won't be disappointed.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 18th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

06 April, 2016

Ethan Pell - The End Is Now

Ethan Pell - The End Is Now (song review) |self-released, single, 2015| 4/5 soundtrack

Nuclear weapons and their use resulting in mass destruction have been a source of inspiring fear for many authors since its proven, long lasting effects have been historically witnessed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As if the weapon's impact hadn't been already tested enough, rocket makers permitted by governments have kept trying out their products through 'nuclear tests' which affected the Earth's natural structure, its people, oceans and stratosphere most negatively. A post-nuclear tremor does also leverage the planet's natural energy/vibration - therefore, sensitive people who are not even close to the test site can still feel its friction, which is just as disturbing - we all are vibrational beings after all.

A number of sci-fi writers, video game developers, movie directors, graphic designers, musicians, and other creative individuals have been trying to illustrate life's development and its limitations if such bombs were simultaneously unleashed in many locations around our planet. The idea of post-apocalyptic survival behaviors and all life aspects being turned upside down (or often reverted) feels both fascinating and terrifying. It also resonates with Ethan Pell - a Canadian musician from Montreal, who tried to depict such an event through his 'The End Is Now' song. His direct contact with musical instruments started when he was a child, but he still keeps trying to learn more each year. Currently, he's studying at a music school, specializing in jazz, and focusing on playing the guitar, hoping to utilize some of the gained knowledge through writing progressive and space rock compositions.

The song starts with a moment of silence followed by a sad piano leitmotif, supported by electronic, vibrating sounds. Both are then joined by a raspy, weeping guitar solo with a slow, well matched drum and bass rhythm in the background. The guitar solo receives a hard rock ballad-esque tone later on.
The song may seem purely instrumental in the beginning, but vocals appear after the track's fourth minute. The voice is distorted, as if the vocalist was only a shadow or suffered from radiation illness in the post-apocalyptic world. The vocals are skillfully transmuted into noise (or wind) at the end. This allows listeners to imagine the 'before & after' landscapes – the same area, once alive and covered with fresh grass and flowers, now a dead and barren wasteland with specks of ash lifted by the wind.

The song and its dramatic mood obviously refer to a post-event reality and bring themes such as loss, sorrow, hopelessness, ending, surrendering, and a monochrome scenery to mind. These motifs touch the heart and soul, turning very memorable when the song eventually stops. Thus, 'The End Is Now' can be a great song for a short movie with a matching theme or setting. The composition and arrangements are very accessible - they don't bring any unnecesary, knotted complexity within. On the production side, the whole track was put together on an iPad with Garageband.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 2nd, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

Buy on: Bandcamp

Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

15 February, 2016

Interview with MSHAA

February 13th, 2016:

Interview with MSHAA (industrial metal, electro metal, Poland)

NINa: Which acronym of the band name's meaning resonates with you best?

CS (Cien Soulwhore): They are two equally important acronyms... The first meaning - Mary Should've Had An Abortion - is to criticize religion and encourage people to do their own research about the real history of Christianity...
The Catholic Church started persecuting and killing non-believers as early as the 4th century. The slaughter of heretics, Jews, atheists, agnostics and pagans was supported by Vatican for over a thousand years. The cult of Jesus has been used to create the false empire, built on slavery, torturers, murders and pedophilia scandals. Prevailing religions were implemented by way of violence, which makes the Christians at least as adept at mass murders as the Jihadists. Holy Inquisition murdered nine million women, worshipers of the Great Mother, accusing them of satanic witchcraft. The native population of what is now South America was literally massacred going from 80.000 to 10,000 people. They've destroyed the pagan cultures, dissipating the real legacy of first holidays. So if people cannot draw any conclusion from the life and death of their "messiah", then perhaps the "holy birth" propaganda was just a waste of time.

Read full interview here 

Dystopia album review: here

Interview by Fabryka Music Magazine

MSHAA - Dystopia

MSHAA - Dystopia |self-released, 2015| 4/5 industrial metal, electro metal

1. Dystopia (intro), 2. No Way Back, 3. Nuclear Fallout, 4. Beyond The Lambs, 5. The Earth Is Bleeding, 6. Suck My Gun, 7. Dealer, 8. We're Used To The Rules Of The World We Made Up, 9. Walking In My Shoes, 10. The Imperfect Gods, 11. Delusion, 12. Dehumanized Society

MSHAA was founded by Cien Soulwhore (vocals/synths/programming) in Poland in 2011, who was afterwards joined by cEndyman on drums and Darth on guitar. According to the musicians, the acronym can be translated to Mary Should’ve Had An Abortion but 'msza' also means 'holy mass' in Polish. MSHAA's sound can be described as a blend of dark electro, industrial, cyber metal and horror, traditionally inspired by music of Ministry, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Skinny Puppy, or early Nine Inch Nails. When it comes to the subjects covered on the album, the songs describe degradation of the human kind, media manipulation, as well as enforced theocracy.

At the very beginning, listeners - citizens of Earth - are greeted with a message from aliens or ancient spiritual guides. The spoken words are floating in a cloud of airy, noisy, modulated sounds and accompanying SFX. Initially the first full track on the album - 'No Way Back' - continues this motif from 'Dystopia (intro)', but then a high electro synth comes in at full force and takes the lead. Since the song's subject and mood sound uneasy, the synth is joined by drums, guitars and vocals simultaneously, adding more heaviness and torment.

'Nuclear Fallout' seems like an evergreen theme amongst industrial music fans because it conveys both fear and fascination with the possibility of global annihilation and the curiosity of what would happen next. The song makes for a neat reminder of 90's simplistic aggro-industrial as it's based on a marching rhythm, guitar riffs and hateful vocals. Another classic theme - organized religion with its close-mindedness and superstitious fears - appears in the form of 'Beyond The Lambs'. It begins with agitation, thanks to the fast tempo and modern vibe provided by the mix of heavy guitars, jumpy drum beats and synths. Verses and choruses sound much more distinctive and separate when compared to the previous track.

'The Earth Is Bleeding' sounds hooky from the very beginning thanks to its dynamic 'phat' beat and aggressive vibe - a solid reference to 90's industrial music in the vein of Skinny Puppy. The song warns against a foreign nation draining natural resources such as oil in other countries under the cover of bringing peace and protection. The choruses are memorable, and the general production is very sharp, both making this track a true hit. The bouncy rhythm continues into 'Suck My Gun' as well, which is an 'electro' reply to Marilyn Manson's music, with equally explicit lyrics about a psychopathic murderer looking for revenge due to a failed relationship. The atmosphere feels dense and sluggish with the song's heavy instrumentation, though the choruses are catchy. 'Dealer' has a lot of hit potential too and will be instantly noticed by fans of industrial metal. This composition is one of the best on the album because all arrangements are equally distributed throughout the track, instead of being simply collected and repeated. Plus, the guitar riffs use in the track infuse the body with a nice vibration.

The multi-layered melodic lines and sounds along with declaimed lyrics engage both ears nicely in 'We're Used To The Rules Of The World We Made Up' which mirrors the naive yet twisted atmosphere known better from Skinny Puppy's music. The subject matter here refers again to false spirituality that provides no care to its supporters, but is focused on own financial gain first and foremost.

If you're looking for an earworm, 'Walking In My Shoes' is a very strong candidate. Not only does it have a memorable melody line together with wicked vocals aligned to an average tempo, but also a clearly dystopian atmosphere and grim lyrics. Next, 'The Imperfect Gods' speaks about gods of technology whom the narrator blames for arrogant and spoiled humans, triggering wars based on fearful survival instincts. A high-pitched, disturbing synth starts it all off and continues throughout the track. This motif is layered with down-tuned guitars, a damped beat and distorted vocals, although the synth occasionally comes back to the surface.
Obviously, love as a topic couldn't have been skipped on the album, since that emotion is an inseparable part of the human life. 'Delusion' speaks of a romantic disappointment, accompanying the album's joyless atmosphere. It sounds more electronic than guitar-driven and the song lyrics match the instrumentation very well - they leave space for both parts to balance and then combine together.

Finally, gadget lovers should pay attention to 'Dehumanized Society', which also provides more beats, industrial noises and vocals rather than guitars, ending the release on a lullaby-like note. The vocal style suggests that we can sleep safely now since there's nothing to worry about - we have been reduced to files in a human database, notoriously tracked and controlled by various electronic devices, deprived of privacy, comfortable alternatives, and the liberty of opting-out.

Dystopia, just as the title suggests, is not an uplifting release and it clearly wasn't meant to be one. The depth of drums usually sounds alike in most songs, perhaps to reflect a lifeless society's tedious rhythm. The endings of most songs could have been re-worked to intrigue listeners a bit more, as they sound a bit too plain. Also, some tracks include too many vocal parts and may feel over-saturated. Cien Soulwhore uses a distorted, ugly, and vile voice on the entire album. It sounds as if he turned into one of the human monsters-to-be to send a warning to the modern civilization, pointing out the issues threatening Earth and people. Explicit lyrics are not a rarity on this album. However, despite of such wake-up calls, the lyrics do not offer any solution, except for questioning authority or simply making a noose for yourself. In fact, Poland seems to be a fertile ground for establishing such a project - an artistic protest against organized religion with its bigotry and clearly financial directives, the misuse of which has also been supported by the current right-wing government.
Songs like 'The Earth Is Bleeding', 'Suck My Gun', and 'Dealer' show the band's expressive potential the best. Buy this album if you wish to get a taste of hopelessness, although a few songs on the tracklist may give a solid boost to industrial and electro dance-floors too.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, February 13th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

Read also: Interview with MSHAA (2016) here

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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine