:CD Review: Hardwire – Insurrection (The Oontzcast Album of the Month)

Hardwire – Insurrection
Label: Glow:Room Records/Danse Macabre
Digital Release Date: December 20, 2011
Website: hardwirecentral.com

Review by: William Dashiell Hammett

Originally formed in 1999 as a duo, Hardwaire expanded into its current line up as a quartet in 2006 consisting of Ryan Hutman, Mike Marsh, Xiån Austin (Alter Der Ruine), and Jonah Foree (Ikonoklast). Having released two studio albums and scoring the soundtracks of The Great American Snuff Film in 2006 and Death of a Ghost Hunter in 2008, at the end of December, their latest effort Insurrection was released digital from Glow:Room Records and an expected physical release in February 2012 with distribution in Europe from Danse Macabre. Having in the past describing themselves as “KMFDM meets Slayer” they certainly are serious hardcore industrial.

The first track, “Stand and Cower”, begins with a fanfare reminiscent to some of the more bombastic Laibach tracks. But this is only the start. The song evolves (or perhaps devolves) into a strikingly harsh, chaotic and melodic track dripping with aggressiveness. The heavy beats and synths carry the song forward until the imploring, and highly political, vocals come in. The track really kicks off after the first “bridge” adding an almost metal like scream growl to the vocals, and while generally not a fan of this whole metal growl, it does work very well with Hardwire’s music. This is demonstrated exceedingly well in the second track, “Plague”, where this vocal style dominates a supremely well crafted, extremely fast, industrial metal song.

The third track, “God Help Us All (Feat. En Esch)”, slows things down a bit during the introduction. The guitar and beat come in hard and aggressively and the vocals follow the tempo perfectly. The growling vocal returns throughout the song accenting the main vocal well with the staccato beat dominating the track and keeping the pace. “Taste of Flesh” opens with a vocal sample (all good industrial albums have at least one of these) before a high tempo beat starts up, accented by an electro-like pulse for a bit. The beat grows with the adding of additional sounds. Another vocal sample echoing the song’s title kicks the song off fully, joined shortly by a terror EBM like vocal. Easily the most danceable song on the album so far, I found myself carried away by the beat and synths.

“Expired” slows things down again with a more methodical synth progression and beat. A nice guitar riff comes in to kick the track off properly just before the heavily effected, metallic vocal takes dominance. The spotlight shifts back and forth between the organic guitar and metallic vocal effect creating a nice contrast and the steady pace of the beat amplifies the intensity until everything get blown away with the screaming vocals of the refrain. Starting with a glitchy synth line, “No Regret” gets down right groovy once the beat and vocals join in. The chorus begins with a whispered vocal but gets bigger with the main refrain screamed repeatedly until transitioning to the second verse. This second verse is much more aggressive than the first, but the established groove is maintained nicely.

The next track on the release, “Lust for Pain” changes the mood of the album from aggressive overload to almost darkwave in nature. The track is darker, the synths down, the whispered vocals creating a feeling of unease to the whole mix. The latter half of the song is mostly instrumental and it is easy to get carried along with the groove. The track “Deceit” comes next and starts off as a traditional EBM track. The first thing that came to mind to this reviewer was Nitzer Ebb until the vocals came in and made the track something else entirely. A nice guitar riff comes in after the first chorus really adding an incredible dimension to the song. As happened in several earlier songs on this release, the effects on the vocals transition throughout the song, at one point sounding like a Cylon warrior (the original Cylon warriors from the 1978 series and not those CGI mockups). About two-thirds of the way through, the song kicks into overdrive and the tempo takes off with very aggressive hard beat accompanied by growling vocals. An exceptionally well crafted synth scale accompanies the guitar during a bridge that works really, really well.

“Burn It Down” keeps the tempo going, starting with a staccatoed synth opening mirrored throughout by the drums and guitar riffs. The vocals transition from a more melodic almost spoken word scream to the more growling singing to a monotoned harmonization during the chorus. A nicely crafted break adds dimension to the track and really shows the creativity and care that was taken into the composition of the music. While more EBM in sound than the preceding track, “This Virus” definitely keeps the aggression going full bore. The shortest song on the release, it nevertheless packs a strong punch that the listener cannot help but feel.

The release wraps with the track “Timebomb” which starts with a slower tempo synth progression coupled with a steady metallic beat. The vocals come in quietly but build up quickly until the song really kicks off with a heavy guitar riff and beating drums. All of the great transitions that made the individual tracks on this album stellar are repeated elegantly in this track. It is the perfect culmination to the album.

Rarely does one hear a release that is as well crafted and creative as Insurrection in the industrial metal genre. Most entries do one thing well: either they are fast, aggressive, heavy, etc…. However, with Insurrection Hardwire has found the perfect balance of elements that make the aggressive EBM/Industrial Metal genres what they are. There is a shit load of awesome in this release and as an “aficionado” of industrial metal it has been added to my daily mix along side Oomph!, Rammstein, Laibach, etc… and works perfectly.

Tracklisting

1. Stand & Cower
2. Plague
3. God Help Us All (Feat. En Esch)
4. Taste of Flesh
5. Expired
6. No Regrets
7. Lust for Pain
8. Deceit
9. Burn It Down
10. This Virus
11. Timebomb

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