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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mind & Flesh - "Martyr Generation"

Artist: Mind & Flesh
Album: Martyr Generation
Year: 2012
Label: Force Majeure
Genre: Death Industrial, Power Electronics
Website: http://www.nuitetbrouillard.com/

I don't know anything about this project, other than what the press release tells me. Apparently he had a couple of other projects before this one, and one of them released on Slaughter Productions. This seems to follow suit and be minimal, classic death industrial.

From the start I'm already dreading having to review this. The first track "Walking Target" is terrible. It's simply some garbed vocals talking over a ultra simplistic crunchy loop for the entire 3 minutes and nothing else. Things start to pick up a bit on "From The Cradle to the Grave"; this time we get traditional death industrial in the form of minimal dark atmospheres, a crunchy percussive loop and the typical quasi-tormented vocals. I enjoy the elements presented, but this track showcases the main flaw of the album which is complete lack of dynamics and direction. The track is basically the exact same thing for 6 minutes, the only difference is that the background ambiance gets slightly louder as the track progresses. The rest of the album follows the same sort of template. Abrasive bits of noise and loops run through a ton of reverb which gives it a dark and old school feel, and occasionally vocals. "Blodskam" is a bit more ambient and "atmospheric" - as much as you can be with a total of like 3 different sounds. It sounds like a blackened operating room that sits lifeless and dormant, but hey, maybe it was used for something scary in the past. "Destroyers", "Purgatorium", and "Learning to Hate You" are all pretty good. They employ some heavy industrial sounds, plodding rhythmic elements, and some buried droning sound(s) all drenched in verb. The sounds and textures are promising, but again they don't change or evolve whatsoever. It's like being in a situation such as Hostel where you are about to become the victim of a guy who indicates that he will brutally maim and torture you, but instead the guy gets kind of nervous and just holds a chainsaw towards you for an hour and you lose any fear you had and wonder when the hell the guy is actually going to do the damn thing. Then ultimately the dude ends up wussing out and departing, leaving you very much alive and intact after the ordeal. The final track, "Clashing Icons" is a nearly 11 minute piece that is purely ambient; it contains a few hollow droning sounds and no noise or abrasive bits. A fitting closer for an aggressive album, but it could have be equally effective in less than half the duration. This is the part where you're sitting alone after the dude has left; sure the room still holds an air of the macabre, but there is nothing to fear since you're about to go home unscathed.

Ok so, I like the overall atmosphere of this record and I like what he was going for. It's incredibly dark and claustrophobic. It's filthy and creepy and evil. It is successfully able to build and sustain that murky, primal "death industrial" feel. However let's be real, there is no songwriting here. Every track is a couple of things looped ad nauseam until the track arbitrarily ends. There are no significant builds or changes within any track; any tension or atmosphere built up wears off after you've heard it loop 25 times in a row with no variation in sight. It feels like this type of music tries way too hard to cling on to the past, with a deathgrip on an antiquated sound. Maybe this kind of thing made sense in the early 90s when people had minimal equipment and this was really all they could do. But it's two decades later and it would be so easy to make this music SO MUCH MORE. There is so much that can be done with this genre, but unfortunately instead we have albums like this which refuse to leave the safe-haven of familiar ground & overly simplistic composition, and ultimately bring nothing new or innovative to the table. As a guy who has been composing since the mid 90s, you'd think he would be able to come up with a little more than this.  While this type of thing is probably very enjoyably and cathartic to make (and perhaps even play/experience live)...it's much less fun to listen to on disc.

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