15 February, 2016
MSHAA - Dystopia
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