A couple of months ago, I picked up the debut album from Dead Beat Project, the electronic solo project of Olivier Goyet from the cult UK doom band Esoteric. The album was released by Aesthetic Death, the UK label that had also released several of Esoteric's early albums, but this was far from the mindbending extreme doom of Esoteric - Dead Beat Project's sound was firmly planted in the soil of 80's EBM and darkwave, a kind of orchestral darkwave like In The Nursery streaked with bits of subsonic doomy heaviness that betrayed Goyet's deathdoom roots. As far removed as Dead Beat Project's sound was from that of Esoteric, I still loved it's lush dark textures, electronic beats and bits of dark heaviness that appeared in the later half of the disc. I guess it also helps that I've been a fan of old school darkwave, EBM, and industrial rock since the 80's, so I've always had a soft spot for that sound.
And then I get word from Stu at Aesthetic Death that he's got another Esoteric-related side project coming out, this time it's a project called Lysergene and it's the alter ego of Esoteric guitarist and founding member Gordon Bicknell, and I can't wait to hear it. The release was hung up for a couple of months due to pressing plant delays or something, but we just got it in this week and I'm in fucking love. Again, we've got a member of one of the heaviest doom bands on the planet going off in a completely different, electronica-based direction, but Lysergene's sound is one that I think even hardcore Esoteric fans will want to check out. The core of the sound is definitely EBM and techno/industrial, with lots of pounding, thumping beats and crushing breaks, and it sounds at first like this came right out of the Wax Trax era of heavy dance industrial. Think early Ministry, Front 242, Skinny Puppy, Velvet Acid Christ. Lots of dark electronic textures layered over one another, pounding 4/4 beats, lush dark ambience, with a clear nod to the classic EBM sounds of the late 80's/early 90's. But as Critical Mass unfolds, I'm hearing undercurrents of heavy, distorted guitar drone beneath the pulsating electro rhythms, as well as awesome vintage kosmiche sounds that are right out of the 70's. The track "Twisted And Evil" is a perfect example, a ten minute dancefloor epic filled with creeped out black ambient textures, buried metal solos, glitchy techno beats, and ELP-esque synthesizers. It's followed by "MOnolith", which sounds like a heavier track off of Ministry's Twitch, and the awesome Depeche Mode-meets-Front 242-meets ambient space doom of "L.S.D.". "Neon Flow" and "Network TV" are throwbacks to the hardest industrial dance music of the late 80's but with an advanced level of noise manipulation and malevolent black energy. It's enough to make a fan of the old Wax Trax and Nettwork sound (like myself) go completely apeshit. These tracks are amazingly constructed, super catchy and dark and cybernetically funky, it's some of the best EBM/industrial I've ever heard, for real.
But then the album throws a MASSIVE curveball with the seventh track, "The Groke". Where the previous tracks were all scorching drone and metal-laced dancefloor assaults, "The Groke" rises up out of a distorted noise loop, clanging machines grinding in the background, and suddenly an incredibly distorted guitar riff takes form, total glacial DOOM, a monstrous crushing doom metal riff that begins to lumber forth over that distant machine rhythm. Gradually, voice samples and electronic noises begin to enter the fray, and for the next eleven minutes the track goes through a series of subtle changes, blossoming into a monolithic wash of blissed out blackened industrial cosmic doom, a mix of Tangerine Dream and Esoteric, fuzzed out to obliveon, huge droning powerchords cruising through space like sheets of black ice. Completely unexpected, and fucking mindblowing the first time I spun this disc.
After that comes "The Becoming", and we're back to the dark EBM of the previous half of the album, shimmering black electronic drones underscoring pulsating electronic beats, but the EBM is dronier and darker than before, a steady distorted buzz continuing throughout the entire track. And then comes the closer, "Shock Treatment", which seems to rip through the sonic fabric of the preceding track as it begins, a deep, distorted burst of subsonic unlight that flares out over a massive industrial rhythm, even heavier than "The Groke", a nine minute industrial deathdoomdrone that finally brings together the EBM and industrial and cosmic extreme doom together into a stunning display of heaviosity that'll blow you out of the fucking water. As awesome as all of the previous tracks on Critical Mass are, this closing track is a showstopper, so insanely heavy and rhythmic and grooving and trippy, a black hole fusion of Esoteric and Megaptera, Tangerine Dream and Thergothon, Front 242 and Black Boned Angel.