Weird Candle is like an exorcism, a demonic being unleashed in a furious display of emotional energy. It’s almost like a giant release of tension. Alter Ego, Weird Candle’s third album, is an impassioned endeavour, fueled by raw synths, pounding drums and a huge vocal presence.
The Vancouver duo of Robert Katerwol and Kaleb Blagdon impressed hugely with their previous album Regeneration, and the release of Alter Ego was, for me, somewhat unsuspected and caught me by surprise. It was however, an instant purchase. And not a single ounce of regret was found. From the very first synths of album opener “Wanderlust”, this album is an absolute riot straight through to the finish.
If ever there was a band to encapsulate whatever the hell synthpunk is, Weird Candle is that band. The 80’s sounding analogue synths, the simple yet forceful drum patterns and punk vocal delivery – this is synthpunk, and its fantastic. Alter Ego clocks in at just over 22 minutes. Weird Candle don’t mess around, its down to business with no long intros or outros – melodic 80’s punky EBM that sounds in no way dated. I struggle to pick out a highlight because every track is solid, although “Animal Magnitism” adds a slightly different tone to the album and provides welcome diversity. Closer “Midi Club” is a gem, with its quirky, bouncy synth lines.
Alter Ego is an incredible album, full of energy and completely unrestrained. Weird Candle have to be admired for doing their own thing with 100% conviction and impeccable execution. Buy this album if you love electronic music. Very highly recommended.
Available directly from the band here.
Ritual Howls are not here to cheer you up.
Ritual Howls are here to soundtrack your nightmares, whether you’re asleep or awake.
The Detroit, Michigan threesome return with album number three, Into The Water. For those unfamiliar with the sound of Ritual Howls, imagine an amalgamation of Nick Cave, Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus with a dash of Skinny Puppy. It’s a beautifully gloomy sound, honed to perfection on previous album Turkish Leather with exquisite, catchy goth songs. Into The Water sees the band progress musically with more complex and deeper songs. While the immediacy of the previous album has diminished slightly here, what is gained is a more mature performance with perhaps songs that have greater longevity. What remains is that intense gloominess. Both musically and vocally, this is just incredible goth music.
“Scatter The Scars” starts the album, its NIN-esque opening segues into stunning Bauhaus/post-punk guitar sounds, with the deep, husky vocal chords of Paul Bancell reverberating from the speakers. It’s a perfect recipe. “Nervous Hands” maintains a sombre and restrained atmosphere. “Bound By Light” has a more insistent rhythm with a prominent synth atop. “Coils And Magnets” showcases the album’s beautiful guitar sound – production wise, the quality has been stepped up since Turkish Leather. With a catchy melody and impeccable bass-line, “Park around the Corner” slightly lightens the tone. “A Thoughtful Beast” seems to echo sentiments of death, special note on the bass here, stunning. “Spirit Murder” is Ritual Howls showing off, it’s actually too good, infinitely alluring. “Going Upstate” is glorious, a nine minute journey through pristine darkness, demonstrating the necessity in rating Ritual Howls with the greats of the goth genre.
The music of Ritual Howls’s Into The Water is a meditation on death and the pain of everyday life. It’s exquisitely beautiful, poetic in sound. Very highly recommended.
Available on Bandcamp from the Felte label here.
KONKURS is a project constructed from minds of two of the most prolific electronic producers currently around. Joey Blush of Blush_Response and Emad Dabiri of SΛRIN deliver us an EP of industrialized techno EBM of the highest calibre. Its dark, its heavy, its unrelenting.
First up is “Face The Target”, possibly the most EBM-centric song on the EP, it’s a huge beast of a track. Like the rest of this EP, it seems the goal here is to crush all that steps in the path of KONKURS. Hearing Blush_Responses’s cyberpunk experimental sounds mesh with SΛRIN’s sample focused grooves is fantastic, everything syncs so well – it really sounds like a match made in heaven. Next up, “Scarab” may or may not be a reference to my favourite video-game, Halo, but its a punishing track nonetheless. The trend continues with “Burning Images” and “Body Harder” both set to annihilate dancefloors.
Notably, despite the rhythmic insistence of this EP, there is a huge amount of detail and nuances to be enjoyed with a good pair of headphones. Not only does the immaculate production come into focus, but those aforementioned details elevate this EP into new territory. This is both club and headphone music. Highly recommended.
Available in digital format on Bandcamp here and on vinyl here.
Straight out of Stockholm, Sweden comes this brand new industrial/EBM behemoth, Lucifers’ Aid. Founded in 2016 by sole member Carl Nilsson, Lucifer’s Aid serves as Carl’s side project to his other band, The Operating Tracks (which, by the way, is also of stellar quality). Self-described as “harsh, beat driven music with minimalistic texts”, Lucifer’s Aid is analogue sounding, dark industrial/EBM music straight from the bowels of hell.
When the news of the emergence of Lucifer’s Aid broke, my curiosity was immediately piqued and as it turns out, deservedly so. While The Operating Tracks relishes in the world of EBM, Lucifer’s Aid does too, but with a much darker and harsher sound, focusing on groove and incorporating that rhythm into a relentlessly grim atmosphere at various tempos. Its noisey industrial EBM and it’s absolutely fantastic. There’s a distinct old school industrial/EBM influence throughout this album, name checking Dive or The Klinik would not be too far off the mark.
Lucifer’s Aid breathes fresh life into EBM by making it as bleak as possible. There are no catchy futurepop melodies here. There are but harsh, punishing beats – this is cold music. Lead single “Deep Inside” is insidious in nature. Murky yet epic. “Follow Me” has insistent, disjointed drums, hitting like a hammer to the head, slightly processed vocals atop a similarly disjointed bass line, highly addictive stuff. When the tempo drops, the darkness increases – “Click Disease” and “Nobody Cares” both have a sinister edge, the former being especially creepy and the latter providing a political commentary with some excellent sampling. All throughout the album, the programming is super tight and the production ultra professional sounding.
New To Reality is an excellent album of cold, old-school influenced industrial music. Very highly recommended.
Available 26th August 2016 from Progress Productions here.
SΛRIN returns with another installment of his brand of techno influenced EBM. Those familiar with Emad Dabiri’s work will know what to expect – Current Conflict is SΛRIN on autopilot. Far from a criticism, SΛRIN on autopilot is light years ahead of most techoid-EBM, and with a distinctly old school flavour, Current Conflict thoroughly satisfies a particular craving.
Built on rhythm, the music of SΛRIN is centers around big bass-lines and very subtle melody lines. With an absence of vocals, the listener’s focus is directed towards that rhythm and also the feel/texture of each track. It’s a skill that SΛRIN has nailed quite efficiently.
Right from the get go, we hear SΛRIN’s sampling skills in full flow – “Spine” is a beat heavy track with an addictive bassline that’ll surely go down well in the clubs. There is a consistent rhythmic attack throughout Current Conflict, perhaps only diminishing on closer “Threshold”, where the BPM dips and we’re exposed to some of SΛRIN’s more intricate programming. Recommended listening.
Available in a limited edition of 500 vinyl copies from Aufnahme und Wiedergabe here and also digitally on Bandcamp here.
From Toulouse, France comes Mathieu Caudron with his second EP as Moaan Exis, INVOK, which is released via Audiotrauma on 12 September 2016. Inspired by a history involving hardcore electro and composing music for his contemporary dance company Revulser Production Compagny, Moaan Exis is an artist here to push boundaries, and demand your attention.
This EP is gold. Opening track “On Fire” is dressed in a beautifully distorted and gritty synth that crunches away at your bones, combined with the crushing beat, it makes for an absolutely savage start. Title track “Invok” has an almost techno-industrial feel to it, and brought to mind the new Blush_Response and SΛRIN project Konkurs. Great stuff. “Substance” is littered with intriguing creativity, little pieces of electronic manipulations scattered throughout a 4/4 beat onslaught. It’s a curiously attentive track in that it grabs your mind and forces to you listen closely. Fascinating. “Spasm” is glorious. A huge beat with another distorted synth line. Its a mid tempo industrial stomper. “Resurrection” again displays Moaan Exis’s diverse and intense programming skills. A sombre melancholia permeates through the electronics in stunning form.
Moaan Exis understands the importance of distortion in industrial and creates some prime examples of abrasive electronics on INVOK. That, combined with the more esoteric sound explorations, makes for a fantastically noisy affair, full of well executed interesting ideas. Despite the absence of vocals, the EP never suffers and the listener’s attention never wanes. This is electronic music of the highest calibre. Very highly recommended.
Available to pre-order from Audiotrauma on Bandcamp here.
Spotlight is a new feature on Damned Industrial.
Spotlight is a celebration of music.
Spotlight is a very simple idea – an idea that the basis of Damned Industrial is primarily built upon: let’s fucking spread amazing music across the whole planet.
So, with that, I bring you the greatness of Kite. A synthpop/electronic duo from the musical wonderland that is Sweden. Using the EP as their preferred method of releasing music and having amassed six of said EPs thus far, Kite are a band that consistently gift us with their glorious brand of electronic music. It’s a level of quality seldom attained by any band. They’re the sort of band where when you hear the first bars of a favourite song you’ve heard 100 times, your jaw will still drop each and every time, you’ll look around the room in sheer amazement and wonder how mankind managed to produce such sheer beauty.
Listening to their discography is an emotional rollercoaster – the naked vividness on display is extraordinary. Moving from Kite I through to Kite VI, one can witness the consistency in quality but also the development in sound. While Kite I might hit you with in your electro pop, Kite VI walks a darker path with more melancholic and gothic tones.
Check out some tunes, here’s where it all began, track one from Kite I, “Ways To Dance”:
Revel in the huge synth melody of “Step Forward” from Kite IV:
Visit Kite at their Facebook page here. Also drop by their label Progress Productions and pick up some great music. Go explore the wonder of Kite.
One of the most important industrial revelations of recent years has been the emergence of Cardinal Noire. Their punishing dark aesthetic brings forward fond memories of Skinny Puppy in their darkest days, and their self-titled album is a remarkable onslaught of grim aggressiveness.
Here’s their awesome cover of Ministry‘s Just One Fix.
From the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre come harsh electro duo Euphorbia. Consisting of Ulisses Righi (voice and programming) and Cirion Barboza (synth and programming), Euphorbia has been heavily involved in the dark electro scene in their homeland since 2005, even landing a support slot to Pet Shop Boys back in 2007. Eternal Lie, their second album, follows the 2010 EP Achromatopsia.
Euphorbia serve up their brand of harsh electro on a silver platter. The production and mix on Eternal Lie is excellent but its their ear for melodic synth lines on certain tracks that makes this release a worthwhile listen – perhaps its their Kraftwerk influence shining through the harsh industrial landscape.
Selected highlights include the opening duo of “Arcturus” and “Miasma”, both mid tempo electro tracks demonstrating that aforementioned penchant for strong melodies. “Moai” walks a similar path. Following these tracks are a series of tunes aimed squarely at the cybergoth conglomerate, the best of which is “Memento”. While there may be nothing inherently wrong with this dancefloor fodder, it could maybe be construed as derivative. I feel that a more diversified approach to songcraft would pay dividends for Euphorbia. Also, a more unique vocal delivery would help the band stand out in what is currently a sea of similarly sounding artists. This is definitely not out of the reach of the band, closing track “Under the Spell” has a dark, sombre atmosphere permeating through the downtempo electronics.
Eternal is available directly from the artist on Bandcamp in both digital and CD formats here.
Houston, Texas duo Bryan and Rachel Jackson take no prisoners on their debut release, Swallow, a mini album of hard-hitting, aggressive 80’s influenced industrial. With noise and punk influences abound, this is not for the faint hearted – this is brutal and savage material. Industrial in its truest sense.
Vile, acerbic, abrasive – Spit Mask is the sound of evil. And its glorious.
“Permission” opens the album with a huge dash of noisy industrial melody. It’s an industrial anthem, already. “Easily Intimidated” has a visceral catchiness you can’t help but bang your head to. The tempo drops slightly on “Blacksheet”, with its BDSM tendencies, perfectly timed sampling and layered mix, it’s a beast of a song. The fetish influence continues on “Hard Commands” with the heavy sampling at the start of the track, it has a persistent groove and an insistent aggression, largely coming from the vocal performance of Bryan Jackson. “Chokechain” has a slightly disconcerting and unsettling feel to it, a disjointed beat, screeching synths and the aggressive vocals working in sync to great effect. “Push of Speech” has a more sombre atmosphere in comparison to the preceding tracks and closes the album with a solid electro groove
Spit Mask are a revelation. Get this album now. Very highly recommended.
Available from Clan Destine Records on Bandcamp here.