1. Choke, 2. Pure, 3. Ohm, 4. Desolation, 5. Senescence, 6. Chrome Lies, 7. Chronic Atrophy, 8. Plans For Winter, 9. Tentacle Vortex, 10. An Eye For A Tooth, 11. Subduction, 12. Out Of Reach, 13. Under The Dirt
Crash-Scan is a heavy yet innovative band from New Zealand that formed in 2008. Repeat Until False album was released 5 years after the band's debut album Catalyst and is written, performed and recorded by Ron Nobbs (vocals, programming), Bryan Tabuteau (programming, synths), Vivian Stewart (guitar, bass) along with Brad Gallen (additional percussion).
The music presented on the latest release is inspired by a variety of industrial and metal bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Fear Factory, Meshuggah, and Gojira. Crash-Scan however, have taken the industrial metal genre to the next level. There are no melodies, rather pure torment expressed through machines and guitars. They took the core of what heavy steel industry is all about and transferred it into music - repetitions, noise, weight and all the impact you can imagine. The music on the album is about 'processing', 'making', 'transforming' and other associated activities. The atmosphere in all songs is comparable to that on Godflesh albums, though the sound is more modern.
Let's look into the following 13 songs, with average track length varying between 3 to 6 minutes. The tracklist begins with "Choke", which will give you a taste of things to come. It sounds like a slower and distorted sound of the late 90s Ministry and Fear Factory, but flavored with Crash-Scan's own ingredients. It gets even noisier with experimental add-ons but the repetitions and heavy guitar riffs (cut with lighter motifs in a few spots) make the track as memorable as a mantra.
"Pure" involves a bigger share of electronics, reminiscent of Frontline Assembly, but mixed with guitars and beats. The contrast between verses and choruses is accented better than in the previous song, but still almost lacks any melody. Distorted whispers add a sense of thrill.
"Ohm" begins with a set of structured rhythms that are then followed by chunky guitar riffs. A variety of additional effects creates an experimental feel, with the vocal style similar to that of digitized black metal compositions. Heavy guitars create an interesting wall of sound near the end. Since they are digitally processed, there's a strong sense of higher mathematics flowing throughout this track.
"Desolation" involves tuned down guitars and a very contrasty world music motif, as if it was derived from Turkish or Middle Eastern music. The sound may be irritating at first, but at the same time it sticks to your ears and underlines the verses. It is as if a painter splashed a natural color image with neon paint with equidistant spots. Angry, digitally processed vocals, looped effects (used so often by Fear Factory) and the overall sequence of sounds make it a memorable composition. In fact, it could gain even more attention with a matching music video.
Now it’s time for the best track on this album. At first, there’s a creepy, piano-based intro enriched with a digital, gloomy follow-up. Then, it's transformed into amazing arrangements accompanied by a heavy load of guitars and distorted, hellish vocals that you'll love. The composition is complex, but this speaks for the band’s song-writing skills - and Crash-Scan are definitely proving theirs here. Less deformed guitars appear a bit later, and the overall feel of "Senescence" is that of shifting dynamics.
The songs seems to be carefully put in order on the tracklist, and so those heavier are intersected with slower but equally dark moods. This applies for instance to "Chrome Lies". It sounds like it could have been developed better, however. The drums sound a tad too simple and repetitive, with the vocals falling into the background and almost gothic melodies coming out in some parts as well. Fortunately, the end of the track brings an intriguing heavy guitar arrangement.
"Chronic Atrophy" brings atonal, broken rhythms and has quite an experimental feel, still being supported by healthy metal riffs and factory-like industrial tunes. The beat and the drums are perfectly set up for this composition, which is alive & kicking (or even stinging) inside of its dark meaning. You'll probably sense a bit of Ministry's Filth Pig and The Darkside of the Spoon albums in this song.
Likewise, the next track "Plans For Winter" sounds like a mix of "Chronic Atrophy" and "Senescence" in terms of the composition complexity as well as general heaviness. The load of low tuned guitars and altered vocals are what Godflesh fans will enjoy here. If you like sounds accompanied by matching visuals, you may imagine a mining drill or any heavy gear making its way slowly through rather inaccessible terrain.
"Tentacle Vortex" sounds like a heavy take on impressionism mixed with a complicated device manual - open to interpretation despite initial definition. Arrangements here are based on very heavy, tuned down guitars, noises, repetitions and distorted screams. They appear only in the background, so that they are not overwhelming. Besides, "Tentacle Vortex" is a very cool title; not only does it suit this track but also a book, movie or painting.
Then there's "An Eye For A Tooth", another slow'n'heavy composition in case you thought it couldn't get any heavier. The song is not as 'easy' to remember as "Desolation" however, even though a similar high-pitched sound appears in a few spots. Again, classical industrial attributes are treated with a modern approach and, of course, guitars.
You'll relax when "Subduction" appears in your speakers. It's a purely instrumental composition and a short one at that - a dark interlude, one of those you may associate with science fiction movies like Aliens or Event Horizon. It fits here thanks to the silently droning, reverberated sounds which create an atmosphere of both mystery and anxiety.
To trouble your balanced mind, "Subduction" is followed by another heavy song entitled "Out Of Reach", bringing a heap of distorted sounds, feedback and dissonances. There are random low tuned chunky guitars, sampled monologues and angry deformed vocals; things which can be found in Ministry music but ground a bit better.
The 13th song, "Under The Dirt" is the most traumatizing, even brainwashing experience. Not literary, but your brain may feel overwhelmed when reaching just the middle of the track, regardless if you try to fish out separated instrument tracks or understand the entire composition. It presents a combination of everything heard so far on the album but kept even dirtier, noisier, tuned lower, chaotic yet technical at the same time. I'm not talking about diving into a symbolic 'hell', but something way more disturbing.
Repeat Until False sounds haunting and grabs your attention as much as a trip down into an endless spiral, thanks to repetitions and guitar riffs, but also omnipresent atonal rhythms. The beat is not too intense or overused, otherwise the songs would sound too danceable and marching and thus, shallow. The tracks on the album express depth, darkness and gravity, instead. You may find them occasionally chaotic because of the extended use of noise & distortions but the range of chaos is narrowed down by mathematically precise arrangements.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the album is available as a simple digital download as well as a highly customized, sophisticated and limited version on a 4GB USB drive.
Crash-Scan are planning a few more live shows around New Zealand and the release of a new EP with 4 new songs and remixes from Repeat Until False. I urge you to support this band, since they still care for what others have abandoned - creative ideas.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, May 23rd, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
This review on Fabryka Magazine: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=535
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See also: 'Choke' music video | 'Game Over' music video (from Catalyst album)
Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine