All too often, you need to be reminded about something you love.
Despite this being a trope associated with dire romantic comedies, it’s very true with music.
All too often, a genre that produces some of the most thrilling and challenging music can quickly be oversaturated with the most hideous, Johnny come lately and getting the wrong end of the stick, impotent shite.
Of course, when we’re dealing with the underground, that’s to be expected. But it can be quite a hindrance, having to wade through so much dross to find something worthwhile.
Pushed Into Consciousness
Industrial is a genre that has come a long way.
From it’s roots in the avant-garde art world (Situationalist International, William Burroughs) and music (The Residents, Stockhausen), the first band to actively proclaim their music as ‘industrial’ were Hull / London art terrorists Throbbing Gristle.
By merging repetitive electronic beats, noise, distortion and lyrics about serial killers, paedophiles and power, they set the template for what industrial was meant to do: rub society in its own vomit and force it to look in the mirror (to misquote J.G Ballard).
By the late 80’s, the genre had started to encompass everything from synth pop, gothic leanings and metal.
Bands like Ministry, The Young Gods, Brainbombs and Godflesh epitomised the diversity of the new breed. And the chart success of Nine Inch Nails pushed it further into the consciousness of the mainstream.
All good things pass, and we quickly found ourselves having awful bands like Rammstein, Marilyn Manson and Icons of Coil (who have undoubtedly never listened to a Coil record in their life) being shoved in our faces as “the new breed.”
But, over the last few years, there has been a re-investigation of the roots of the genre, leading to bands like Pop 1280, Khost and Hateful Abandon producing records that are not only out of this world, but also know their roots.
And Uniform also fit this billing.
Originating from Brooklyn, New York, Uniform have been putting out records of plummeting intensity for the last few years. This album follows the slightly disappointing 12′ ‘Ghosthouse’ (with a rather average take on ‘Symptom of the Universe’).
But thankfully, they’ve pulled out the stops.
‘Tabloid’ is a heavily distorted opener that takes a simple formula (drum machine and a three chord riff) and makes it sound utterly exhilarating. The vocals are buried in the mix and distorted beyond recognition as well, but it does a job of conveying the claustrophobia and hopelessness of modern life.
In this context, ‘Tabloid’ is a reaction to that.
‘Habit’ is a moodier number. Opening with an indefinable, yet undeniably sinister, sample, we then get programmed hi-hats and the bass joining in.
An unsettled feeling engulfs the listener, not helped by the vocals which (due to their proximity in the mix) are stark verbalisations on relapsing. Here the guitar acts as a weapon of mass destruction, being precise on where to play chords in order for maximum effect.
Around the half way mark, the tempo picks up before fading back into the drum machine and a smidgen of feedback. Simple stuff, but highly effective.
‘The Lost’ is probably the weakest track on this LP, due to a sequencer that sounds like something Cold Cave would reject. But the anger in the vocals cannot be denied, nor some near guitar work.
But things are brought back on track swiftly with ‘The Light at the End (Cause)’ which is just flat out aggression. ‘Bootlicker’ is a gnarly, trashy and dirty number that is glorious, and ‘Night of Fear’ exudes menace.
Appearing on the shelves in January, ‘Wake in Fright’ has been on constant rotation ever since. Once you get past the immediate power on show, you begin to marvel at the song writing and just how great lo-fi productions can be in generating raw, sinister sounding atmosphere.
This album reminds me why industrial rock/metal hit the mark with me all those years ago and why, given the right record, it still does.
4 / 5 - Christopher Owens ::: 11/03/17