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19 February, 2014

In_zekT - Artifex

In_zekT - Artifex |self-released, 2013| 5/5

01. Strain Reactor, 02. ARTIFEX, 03. Sub-Humanist, 04. Overman, 05. Dialling the North Code, 06. Ionize, 07. Termination Sequence, 08. No Fate But What We Make, 09. This is Not an Exit, 10. [0]

Norwegian metal is best known for its straight-forward, merciless sound. It's no different here. This is one terrific album that takes what's best in industrial/cyber metal (raw anger, repetitions, sampling, SFX) and djent (atonal, down-tuned, stretched, syncopated guitar riffs) to a new level, creating a fresh, yet to be named genre.

In_zekT was founded in Norway in 2002. They started with a slightly different line-up, and their music initially sounded differently, too. A chance to meet Ministry's founder Al Jourgensen in 2003 had resulted in having Luc Van Acker (his mate from Revolting Cocks) produce In_zekT's debut release back then. Also Chris Vrenna (Tweaker) was involved in mixing one of the band's albums. Artifex however, begins a new, more extreme chapter in the band's career with two musicians in the line-up: Peter Vindel (lead vocals, guitars, synth, programming, sampling) and Kjetil Ottersen (vocals, guitars, synth, programming, sampling).

The first song leaves no space for guessing how the new chapter is being developed. "Strain Reactor" is a deeply guitar driven track, but the riffs are distorted by various effects and modifications making them sound industrial. Also vocals, delivered by guest vocalist Secthdamon, are slightly altered. The arrangements change and build up a solid, tight composition without overwhelming the listener.

"Artifex" starts with alarming, howling sirens. Then, electrifying guitar riffs along with drums and distorted vocals jump to the fore. The density of riffs, but also the combo of drumbeats and synths resemble motifs better known from newer Ministry and older Nine Inch Nails songs (the latter is specifically audible in the final part). The arrangements vary throughout the track, and the composition method makes it possible to avoid excessive repetitions. The bands operates with anger, tension, turmoil and silence very well.

"Sub-Humanist" erupts with no pause between the tracks. In fact, the rhythm keeps pumping so dynamically, that you'll probably begin headbanging right away. There are elements of thrash metal and a very little bit of electro, stimulated with modified, screamed vocals as well. The whole set is energizing and memorable, therefore I personally vote for "Sub-Humanist" as the best song on Artifex - at least when speaking of its 'metal' flavour.

After such a big dose of aggression, you may think that the musicians reached their limits and the next track can't be performed even more fiercely. Wrong. Each following song seems to sound angrier. "Overman" takes you on the first excursion into the world of dark tunes on this album - only at the beginning though, because wicked ferocity quickly breaks through the cinematic atmosphere. Buzzing, feedbacky, noisy industrial effects are sampled into the song, matching the other arrangements perfectly. Technically, some themes were gently borrowed from Fear Factory, but spiced up with In_zekT's own flavour.

Possibly to avoid a further escalation of mad energy, "Dialling the North Code" suddenly appears in a strangely fitting place on the tracklist. It's a dark ambient soundscape partly kept in vein of Mark Morgan's music (think of soundtracks to such classical video games as Fallout or Planescape: Torment). The cinematic, cold mood is enriched with deep thumping drones and undoubtedly reflects a story - one your mind may create when inspired by these dark sounds. Test your imagination. It's also an excellent track for a science-fiction movie or an artistic installation.

After the dour break, buzzing guitars make a return. "Ionize" begins with a shattered wave of mechanical drumbeats (there is no human drummer present in the band) followed by distorted vocals, guitars and minimally present synths. The beginning of the song sounds rather monotonous, regardless of its expressive fury. However, the track grows in time thanks to tempo changes, arrangement placements and guitars that occupy increasingly more space within the composition. There are powerful riffs in the middle of the song, while its ending is marked with significant fade out and silence.

Now, it's time for the apogee. A composition of "Termination Sequence" is long, for a reason. At first, it reflects what's labeled as cyber metal or futuristic metal thanks to specific sound effects mixed into the guitar driven arrangements (with a guest solo by Archaon) and a fiery performance. It then falls into an intriguing abyss of dark ambient soundscapes - drones, tiny buzzing, haunting passages, motifs of ocean and outer space, etc. - the mood changes drastically. The musicians deserve a standing ovation for the way they morph the end of the dark ambient part with the arrangement that follows, seamlessly leading through industrial tunes into metal again. The band accumulates all the features present in previous songs - diversified arrangements, a murky atmosphere and an explosive blast in the darkness. Not many metal artists can do it skillfully but In-zekT prove themselves. "Termination Sequence" is the other best track on the album, in terms of its overall value.

"No Fate But What We Make" begins with a healthy heartbeat, followed by sampling and altered, piercing guitar riffs as heard in some djent compositions. Vocals are slightly modified with distortions and SFX. The overall dynamics resembles a thunderstorm, yet changes throughout the track, including ambient passages. The middle of the song is melodic and memorable, with soft and gentle vocals. Yet another excellent conjunction between this and the return of guitars calls for respecting the musicians' skills.

The final two compositions, "This is Not an Exit" and "[0]" include a fair share of electronic and experimental sounds with additional samples provided by Vegard Dølerud. Guitars and metal arrangements appear throughout both compositions.

"[0]" is a noisy limbo, as experienced by someone attached to a rotary drill digging a corridor in a coal mine. The noise however slowly loses its dirty, confusing power to gain a dark ambient atmosphere in the end. It's a 22-minute long composition (that's how professional noise composers do it - check out i.e. the maestro known as Merzbow) - it may sound tiresome for most, but fans of experimental music should appreciate it.

In_zekT's artistic need for expression forged into Artifex resulted in a powerful, yelling blast and cold furious sounds penetrating deep enough to re-program your DNA - all that to make you remember their songs for a long time. Artifex keeps a perfect balance. The trick here is that both passionate and dark sounds build up a contrast which makes arrangements/songs emphasize one another. Moreover, this creates an acceptable tension, a method commonly used in classical music compositions.

This release is available in both digital and physical formats (digipack). Don't steal it, buy it. Support the band, because they turn their brainstorming into innovative music, successfully. The high quality of mastering and production (done by Peter and Kjetil with an additional engineering of Ronny Furuseth Kaasa) should help the album climb high in alternative music rankings.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Magazine, February 18th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Buy this album: Bandcamp | Big Cartel

Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

07 February, 2014

Dead of Day - Sick and Twisted

Dead of Day - Sick and Twisted (song review) |self-released, single, 2014| 4/5 metal

Dead of Day is a British one man metal project formed by musician/songwriter Rikki Siddle in late 2012. Inspired by music of bands such as Machine Head, Pantera, Killswitch Engage or Metallica, he released Walk in the Shadows EP in 2013.
Wrapped with heavy arrangements and angry moods, "Sick and Twisted" is his brand new single. Its beginning is exemplary of the exact sound that develops throughout the whole composition. Some bands prefer to utilize the so called 'wall of sound' (played in unison or individually), usually in the third part of a song - just before the end. Instead, Dead of Day uses a heavy mix of downtuned bass, chunky guitar riffs and dense drum beats in the first part of the track.

The arrangements smartly repeat and there are similarities to what we've heard so far on older Metallica albums. Guitar riffs entwine with bass and drums quite often within the song, weaving a stitched pattern. This type of composition keeps listeners energized and ready for headbanging.

The lyrics express disappointment being mislead by someone’s false self-presentation, perhaps due to a friend’s betrayal: "You're not the person you portrayed / Routine life your masquerade", "Your moral compass is corrupt / Shouts for forgiveness are unjust / The thoughts of what you could have done / Sick and Twisted pass the gun".
Rik doesn’t sing here - he rhythmically utters the lyrics with a haunting, hateful voice. This vocal method is quite characteristic of metal and hardcore music, yet well matched to Dead of Day's sound.

"Sick and Twisted" could definitely benefit from a better mastering and production process. It’s understandable that an artist in this genre would want his music to be rough, grainy and noisy. Yet even a reliable 'garage quality' tune can be cleaned from unnecessary noise, then polished to keep the original sound, with much improved quality. Such mastering services are usually pretty expensive, but there are many on-line & print resources that allow for a bit of sound engineering DIY.

Regardless of that, "Sick and Twisted" does sound catchy in its own heavy way, thanks to a lively dialogue between choruses and responsive guitars. They fit in the groovy background created by bass and drums very well. It's also nice to hear the riffs cut abruptly at the end of the track, where one would expect one more repetition.

According to Rik, his main focus has been on songwriting and recording, but he hopes to hear other bands record and perform his songs as well. Whether it’s about licensing, writing or performing music together or just being a passive listener, you should visit his website to give his other work a spin.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, February 6th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

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Buy EP: iTunes | Amazon

Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine

05 February, 2014

Maximum Sexy Pigeon - Unfit For Human Consumption EP v2

Maximum Sexy Pigeon - Unfit For Human Consumption EP v2 |NoiseBastard, 2013| 5/5 industrial metal grindcore

01. Tunguska!, 02. Dave Unlimited, 03. Army Of Arseholes, 04. Mindless Life Siphon, 05. HeadKick, 06. The Pig Welder, 07. NSFM [Messenger Of Shit], 08. Wreck Everything

Maximum Sexy Pigeon is an Australian band that has been active since 2004 thanks to the founders - Yok Rzeznic ('Rzeznic' could be translated to 'butcher' in some Slavic languages) and AD Millennium (also known from bands such as Dream Sleep and Viral Millennium).
They make industrial metal mixed with a bit of grindcore - music they enjoy listening to. Surprisingly for the genre, they put a bit of satire into it. You won't hear popular schematic themes made up to satisfy the masses on this EP. Instead, you'll remember key traits of Maximum Sexy Pigeon's music expressed through intense, mechanically repeating arrangements based on tuned down guitar riffs, groovy bass lines and distorted vocals kept in a rough 'I-don't-care' tone. In this case, their piercing performance can be compared to full force steam hammering.

Tunguska is a place in Russia where extraterrestrial astronomical object fell in 1908, causing large scale destruction. The blast is compared to that of the Little Boy atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, but about 1.000 times more powerful. Inspired by that impactful event, Maximum Sexy Pigeon wrote a song which is arranged for heavy and vibrating guitar riffs, an ear-drilling bass and matching drums. Together, the instruments build up a mighty wall of sound. The song in not overloaded with lyrics, but you may become slightly chased by the chorus line "I remember Tunguska". The overall package is instantly memorable after the first listening - just like 90s Ministry songs.

"Dave Unlimited" is based on a stretched bass line and an anxious mood, as if someone was locked in a loop of torment. Obsessive arrangements gradually step up or down. Vocals are adjusted to the bass while the slightly disjointed drums add another, deeper layer of rhythm. Heavy guitars are present only in parts of the composition. Finally, compulsive repetitions make this track another annoyingly memorable piece.

The next song, "Army of Assholes" sounds even more intrusive, with tuned down guitar and bass combo attacking the listener from all sides. Hateful vocals highlight the ironic contrast with the line 'I don't hate you' repeating throughout the track.
"Mindless Life Siphon" sounds like a jackhammer thanks to its density and speed provided by guitars. Harsh vocals and industrial noises of a shifting mechanism add a matching flavor. Something you won't hear on this EP too often - a groovy melody - arises from the overall turmoil, but it's cast back into the overwhelming sonic vortex quite quickly.

A rhythm based on a repetitive beat and chunky guitar riffs begins the spine of "Headkick", but the tempo changes quite soon. You may notice a familiar sham laugh mixed with non-intrusive screams. Maximum Sexy Pigeon seems to be inspired by the sound of several influential 90s acts such as Ministry, Pitchshiter or Godflesh. Thus, this kind of sampling was most probably borrowed from Ministry's music and plays a big part in this song.
Contrastingly, dark ambient moods open "The Pig Welder", but then are replaced by a grinding mix of guitars, bass, drums, and distorted vocals. Some arrangements may sound familiar if you've ever listened to bands such as Testify or Fear Factory. It's the longest song on the EP, with parts built upon heavy rhythms but also cold, ambient passages. Similarly to previous compositions, the bass stimulates the track.

"NSFM [Messenger Of Shit]" starts with a hammering reminiscent of heavy industry; a sound straight from a steel factory. The song is full of buzzing bass lines and heavy metal guitar riffs supported by drum beats. At times it’s slower than other tracks on the EP which increases the 'weight' of its sound.

Finally, creepy screams open the last, most chaotic and violent track here - "Wreck Everything". Low, aggressive vocals are tightly packed into recurring arrangements based on looped guitar riffs, groovy bass and less exposed drums. Listening to this song feels like being thrown into a fast rotating industrial mixer filled with bricks, metal rods and gluing concrete, with a 100% chance that you're going to be painfully hit by something.

Technically, Unfit For Human Consumption EP is an extended version of Maximum Sexy Pigeon's same-titled (and free) release which appeared in 2013. The duo decided to include three additional songs to the final tracklist. Their "Tunguska! (Water Retentive mix)" was featured on an Aussie electro V/A compilation in 2011 amongst songs by Skrew, Collide, Dismantled or Psyche. The new version provides a slightly lower tempo, while sounding less rough than the older mix. Still, it remains a track you can’t resist headbanging to.

If you enjoy true industrial metal or wish to learn what the genre used to be, grab this CD directly from Maximum Sexy Pigeon (preferably via their Facebook page). It'd be also wise to support the band so they'd come up with the next batch of simple, efficient and mighty tracks, just like the ones on this release.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, February 4th, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

Interview (2013)

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Buy CD via: Facebook (contact the band directly)

Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine