Combichrist is back with “This is Where Death Begins”. It seems like the line-up has been shuffled around;this time with some new face backing Andy. The guitars opening this one are way more traditional metal leaving the synths on the edges of the song to really stand as the only industrial element. LaPlegua’s vocals working much better when yelled than when he attempts more melodic moments that are more spoken than sung. There are some catchy riffs on the opener.”My Life My Rules” finds the vocals improving, but it could be one of the 69 Eyes more cock rock moments without the faux goth vocals. The guitar solo further punches this point home. “Glitchteeth” is the first EDM like song. The vocals work better when layered in gang style over dubs, on the verses Andy’s raspy rap is far from Trent Reznor. There is a little more soul in this one.
We begin to dig into actual industrial on “Exit Eternity”. The really biggest chorus works well and this is the first song that works for me on every level. The more questionable vocal approach returns on “Skullcrusher”. If you are a fan of the band’s more experimental glitch filled work then this will come across like a Marilyn Manson tribute to you. It does carry the same big glam arena strut that post- Anti Christ Superstar Manson often offered. The first glimpse into that side of the band is not seen until midway into the album on “Tired of Hating You”. Even here is almost of Stabbing Westward thing going on. They songs takes it’s time going anywhere. Then when it does it’s almost more of a punk explosion. They get a little darker with the bass leading into “Time Again”. ;I think if the band was honest with themselves it’s a song like this that plays more to who they are than the more rock n roll moments. The vocals aren’t screamed but emoted with conviction and everything creep along with room to breathe.
The groove has a throbbing pulse that makes this one of the album’s strongest songs. It’s hard to tell if the drums here are programmed or Joe Letz, which speaks to Letz’s ability to blend in with the electronic side of the band. Letz has played with every one from Mortiis to the Genitorturers so he knows his shit. A sample of Ted Cruz kicks off “Destroy Everything”. Here their heavier side is more fittingly embraced. The song’s title is chanted like a nu-metal song, but it works here. The narrative is more challenged on “Don’t Care How You Feel About”, but the more traditional industrial groove helps. “Blackened Heart” has more of a Rammstein thing going on, but with out some of their militant stiffness and more of a metal groove. It’s another one of the album’s darker moments so that works for me. It’s fairly simplistic in it’s arrangement, but keep it simple stupid can be the most effective motto for this genre.
“Slakt” is more bombastic. The drum sound is really big. It locks into more of a thrash attack. It feels more German than Norse, but the band is mostly comprised of Americans so that is not surprising here. There is a nice melodic synth break in the middle. The first part of “Black Tar Dove” is more of a noisy intro paves the brimstone path for the more apocalyptic march. The more spoken narrative lays atop the machine stomping. It is one of the album’s harsher moments.If you miss the glitchy noise then here is the moment you have been waiting for. The album ends with “Homeward”.It is the first moment on this album that I would call gothic-industrial. So it is one of the album’s darkest songs. It has strong moments that I think other songs could have been built around. The more rock n roll moments detract what could otherwise be a strong dark album of industrial music. So in other words they can’t really touch Youth Code, but aren’t faking the funk.
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Review by Wil Cifer