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The Blood of Heroes

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cover image I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of glorious nostalgia when I heard of this project.  Justin Broadrick on guitar, Bill Laswell on bass, and Dr. Israel on vocals immediately brought me back to circa 1996-1998, where nearly every non-noise album I picked up had Laswell involved in some way, and I was pretty heavy into the Wordsound catalog at the time.  Also, once I realized there was a distinct drum ‘n bass presence here via Submerged and Enduser, I was hoping for something great, but fearing something too rooted in the past.  Luckily, my opinion is the former.

Ohm Resistance

The Blood of Heroes - The Blood of Heroes

Recorded in no less than seven different locations in the UK and US,  there is a bit of disparity in the sound, because it is the product of long-distance collaboration.  It’s never distracting though, but it does lack the cohesion of a few of Broadrick’s other “super groups”, Ice and God.  Instead, it is more reminiscent of some of Techno Animal’s best moments, before they became too heavily reliant on running breakbeats through distortion pedals.

Perhaps this is personal bias, but I think Broadrick’s presence is the most individualist here.  The guitar tone is unmistakable, and is more reminiscent of the earlier grind influenced Godflesh than the more shoegazy Jesu sound.  Tracks like "Blinded" and "Breakaway" have that dirty, feedback-ridden tone that could be from Pure-era Godflesh, easily.  However, "Transcendent" and "Repositioned" show the newer, more textural side of his playing that’s in line with the more pop leaning sound of Jesu stuff.

Dr. Israel’s presence is also a definitive one, his vocals alternating from hardcore dancehall toasting to spoken word, to more traditional hip-hop influenced vocalizing, sometimes within the same track.  "Blinded" alternates between dancehall and almost metal influenced vocals, matching the track’s shift between ragga drum and bass and industrial textures.  The aforementioned "Repositioned" sees the good doctor speaking the lyrics more than anything else, and the rhythms taking a more Middle Eastern turn.

The electronics and production courtesy of Submerged and Enduser are definitely worth mentioning as well.  Other than Broadrick’s singular guitar sound, the dirty, grimier take on drum and bass definitely brings the 1990s genre into the 21st century.  Tracks like "Breakaway" features hyper-speed rhythms that wouldn’t have been out of place on an old Digital Hardcore record, but with far more depth and variety in production, leading out to textural sound collages and raw synths.  "Wounds Against Wounds" alternates between machine gun snare blasts and slower, more traditional electronica oriented rhythms.

I’m not sure if this is really just a one-off project or something that portends future albums, but I’m hoping it’s the latter.  Perhaps it was just the participants that gave me warm memories of tracking down releases on Wordsound and Subharmonic back in high school and feeling giddy whenever word of a new Techno Animal 12" was announced, but it doesn’t just feel like rehashing old ideas.  While I do hear parallels in the sound to the likes of early Techno Animal, Ice, and Scorn, never does it sound like anything but a product of the modern era.



Last Updated on Sunday, 16 May 2010 21:45  


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