Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sterilizer - Sterilizer tape

Sterilizer is the soundtrack to the dystopian present the cyberpunks warned us was coming.

Sterilizer is the sound of Tetsuo's Metal Fetishist hacking a Model 101 Terminator into pieces for scrap parts.

Sterilizer is the sound of a desolate industrial planet populated entirely by mindless drones, who have long since abandoned communication for the numbing glow of the parlor walls.

In reality, Sterilizer is the latest musical outlet for Kansas City-based artist Brandon Duncan, who has been exploring both the audio and visuals of sci-fi and horror for a while now under the banner of Expiring Sun. This latest recording marries martial programmed rhythms to jagged shards of distortion, while stripping each song of anything that might identify them as recorded by an actual human being.

Opener 'Vasectomy's hyper-distorted chugging riff blasts out of the speakers with near decapitory power, interspersed with cymbal taps that clatter and clank like spent shell casings, while the glitches, whirrs and pneumatic hisses throughout the track further highlight the industrial edge to the material. It soon becomes obvious that the songs were written with plenty of space for vocal lines, however Duncan has declined to include the vocals in the finished mix. While I'd be very interested to hear that version of the album, the lack of vocals actually serves to heighten the inhuman, mechanised nature of the tracks.

There are no great deviations from this template throughout the rest of the recording, yet each song has its own identity and standout moment, such as the riff shutting down at the tail-end of 'Depopulator', the frantic, scrambling fretwork of '[Dis]content', and the ominous yet danceable processed beats on 'Domination'.

Everything about Sterilizer, from the songs, to their titles, to the visual identity, feels like a singularly dehumanised vision perfectly realised.

In the year 2014 AD... get yourself Sterilized!

Sterilizer on Bandcamp | Tumblr 

This review initially appeared at Echoes & Dust.

Bädr Vogu - Agglomeration MMXIV tape

Oakland's Bädr Vogu continue the grand tradition of Bay Area sludge begun by their filthy forebears in the likes of Noothgrush and Dystopia, while dragging the genre down to new depths of depravity. This summer saw the release of their Agglomeration MMXIV tour tape via Transylvania Tapes, compiling their split with Seattle's Wilt, and two new filth-encrusted tracks.

The first of the new tracks, 'Traitor', kicks off with the wailing of sirens and the howling of feedback, before the drums crash in, soon followed by vocalist Sean's putrid screams. This track has heavy Grief vibes, the main riff allowing the twin guitars to weave in and out of one another to hypnotic effect.

They follow this with 'Anathema Of Time', a truly anguished slab of sludge, the bass growling menacingly beneath the steady chug of guitars and cavernous vocals, which call to mind Thorr's Hammer here. They switch things up a few times throughout the track, incorporating skull-rattling blastbeats and ripping guitar solos into their fetid murk, with neither element feeling out of place. It's a direction they would do well to explore further on future releases.

The few tracks from the Wilt split are as vicious as ever, with 'Gospel Of Greed' is a phrase familiar to anyone sickened by the sort of white-collar criminals glorified in the movie Wall Street, which is itself sampled in the track's intro. The stuttering stop-start rhythm of the track backs lyrics like "Slaving our lives away, the world bled dry for others gain. The many exist in poverty, while the few prosper in luxury". Dystopia themselves couldn't have said it better. Tumbling drums and lurching guitars lead into a downright groovy riff as Sean's scorched-earth vocals implore the listener to bite the hand that feeds. The vehemence heard in this track alone puts Bädr Vogu miles ahead of many other bands plowing similar furrows.

They take things down a notch on 'Apparitions', beginning with sombre guitar and the eerie strains of a lone violin, before a sample I recognise as one of my favourite pieces of dialogue from the show Six Feet Under. It's an unremittingly bleak intro, befitting the track's subject matter of loss and loneliness. The bulk of the song itself is a agonising crawl through the darkest depths of doom, before an almost folkish interlude leads into closing track 'Born Into This'.

The flurry of drums and ripping riffs that comprise the opening minute are far from indicative of the majority of the track, as it quickly shifts down a gear to a driving Brainoil-esque chug, and eventually slows all the way down to a sickening sway before dying in the throes of distortion and feedback. Lovely stuff.

While the tape itself is almost sold out, you can still grab the tracks as a pay-what-you-like download from Transylvania Tapes HERE.

Bädr Vogu on Bandcamp | Facebook

This review originally appeared over at The Sleeping Shaman.