††Machination is the most recent album from French industrial black metallers Blacklodge, having come out back in 2012 on Season of Mist; I initially sold out of the album so quickly that I didn't bother taking the time to put together a review for the site, but now that we finally have it restocked (available both in digipack CD format and double LP, limited to five hundred hand-numbered copies) I finally have an excuse to ruminate a little on just how badass this disc is.
†† I've long been a fan of Blacklodge's drug-fueled vision of blackened Satanic raver violence; there are few bands that have bridged the void between classical black metal and furious electronic music as adeptly as these maniacs, and with each new album their music has evolved into more complex designs of mechanical evil and digital pandemonium. True, Blacklodge have never enjoyed the level of recognition as some of the more well-known industrial black metal bands like Dodheimsgard, Aborym or Mysticum (at least here in the U.S.), but these guys have produced some of my all-time favorite albums of electronically-enhanced blackened violence, especially in recent years, often fusing a heavy drum n' bass influence into their fractured and abstract mecha-metal hallucinations. Machination maintains that manic, warped vibe that has coursed violently through their recordings, the production filled with all sorts of weird little production tricks and odd effects that make this sound a lot more fucked-up and otherworldly and alien than many of their industrial/techno-infected black metal peers. Could be their Frenchiness, of course. There's definitely some of that baroque quality that seems to come along with most French black metal bands; Machination shimmers with some of that Deathspell-style discordance that has permeated most corners of the French black metal underground. But the way that sound intertwines with the frenetic, constantly changing electronic rhythms and violent drum programming ends up turning this into something quite unique. The songs are fast and ferocious, each one a complex blast of ripping black metal riffage and discordant tremolo swarm welded to spastic jungle rhythms, bizarre Whourkr-esque glitchery and crushing distorted breakbeats, the influence of various forms of ultra-aggressive European dance music seeping like opiate residue and black bile into Blacklodge's electro-Satanic blasts, rife with the sound of screwed-up drum n' bass and pounding 4/4 techno beats that relentlessly jackhammer at your skull. Clanking mechanical rhythms and vicious bass drops are utilized alongside jittery samples and pounding pneumatic sheet-metal percussion, and tracks like "NeutroN ShivA" and the punishing "Order of the Baphomet" even start to resemble some perverted black metal version of Ministry or Front Line Assembly, at least up to the point where strange layers of chirping nocturnal frog sounds start to appear over more fractured blasts of juddering mechanical heaviness. When the album comes to a close, its with an awesome slithering mecha-dirge titled "The Other Side", a bizarre droning nightmare of jazzy bass, wailing operatic female vocals, ultra distorted synths that bore gaping black holes straight through your brainmeat, malevolent whispers and some supremely dissonant guitar creep; it's a nightmarish dub-flecked descent into total drug-drenched delirium that starts to resemble Skinny Puppy more than anything remotely black metal, but with a pulsating evil energy that is unlike anything I've ever heard on any of my Wax Trax or Nettwerk 12" singles. It's a deeply dystopian atmosphere that Blacklodge evokes here, fueled on narcotics and flickering digital images of worldwide atrocities, visions of leering Baphometic demons, their visages lit by the dull neon tracers from twitching glow-sticks, tuning in to lycanthropic incantations hidden in the garbled scream of malfunctioning modems, heavy doses of 21st century paranoia that feel as if they could've been lifted from the pages of a William Gibson novel splattered in black goat's blood.