One of my all-time favorite sounds is industrial-death metal, stuff like Crawl, The Berzerker, Landfill, and the really early Fear Factory stuff. Oh man, nothing beats that older-style death metal riffing and crushing massiveness being welded to a gruesome, blighted structure of programmed drumming and electronic sounds. For me, the dehumanized clang of industrial music makes for a potent bedfellow with the monstrous heaviness of death metal, but even back when it was a "thing", too few bands attempted to combine the two, even less managing to pull it off successfully. So unfortunately, there's been a real dearth in this kind of stuff since the late 90s; I'm very stoked on the whole "industrial metal" revival that seems to have been going on these past few years with newer bands like Uniform and Black Magnet, both of which I love, but that doesn't seem to have extended into the writhing, tentacled realm of death metal lately. Enter the Swedish duo Megascavanger, who have tapped right into this sound with their As Dystopia Beckons, and boy am I here for it.
This nine-song disc hits with ioncredibly killer, crushing stuff, and apparently quite different from the band's previous releases. The other Megascavanger releases I've listened to have been pretty firmly rooted in a classic European death metal style, so this album here looks like an anomaly or one-off experiment. I dunno. But regardless, their penchant for the sound of pummeling Swede-death riffage and saturated guitar distortion is definitely a constant carryover from the rest of their stuff, as is their use of multiple guest vocalists. Their brand of cudgel-crushing, blood-spattered heaviness and looming dark melodic hooks ports right over from previous album At the Plateaus of Leng. But that sound is now joined by a host of electronic and industrial elements that transform the band's hulking caveman death into an abrasive, machine-infested mutation; it's all Borg-ed out. The songs are still straightfoward, rooted in traditional Swedish death metal chuggery, with the occasional mid-tempo melo-death diversion, and an awesomely abominable bass guitar tone. But all of that is also surrounded and layered and grease-smeared with an array of sputtering drum machines and pneumatic mecha-rythms that punch a hole right though your skull, tossing out bursts of frenzied slithering drum n' bass, clanging steelworks, Sega-esque orcheestrations, slobbering technoid chaos, blasts of vintage techno synth and trippy electronic effects. It's alot to take in. And the band closes this whole blast of short-circuiting synthetic barbarity with the title track that, more or less, turns into a kind of bestial power electronics assault. Man, I've been waiting on something like this. It sounds colossal. And it's catchy as hell.
And yet there's a lot of variety happening here. For starters, you've got the constantly changing lineup of vocalists that add a certain manic energy to everything; the roster is pretty wild, with Sven Gross (Fleshcrawl), Aadrie Kloosterwaard (Sinister), David Ingram ( Bolt Thrower / Benediction ), Jocke Svensson (Entrails / Birdflesh ), Teddy M√∂ller (Anima Morte / F.K.√ú. ), Kam Lee (Massacre / Mantas), and of course regular Megascavenger frontman Brynjar Helgetun. The songwriting is pretty eclectic: standouts include the rocking death n' roll of "As The Last Day Has Passed" and "The Harrowing Of Hell", both of which sound like they could have been an Edge Of Sanity b-side, the latter tapping into what sounds like a Fields Of The Nephilim/Sisters Of Mercy infatuation (with Kam Lee doing a heluva job of channeling Carl McCoy ! ). The savage kill-droid blast of "Steel Through Flesh Extravaganza" threatens to morph into gabber-like violence. And so on. Those synthetic and electro elements might turn off death metal purists (as might the occasional "gothy" touch), but at the same time this album isn't nearly as fucked-up or warped sounding as bands like Whourkr or Noism, nor as overall mind-blowing. If you were to scrape away all of the alien electronic textures, violently fracutred beats and clanking rhythms, you'll find an unmistakebly atavistic death metal attack underneath it all. That also means that as an album As Dystopia Beckons is a little uneven, some of the electronic elements working better than others, but being a total sucker for this sort of mechanized cyborg deathroar, I went nuts for this.