On their third full length album, the duo of AJ Cookson and Matthew Rozeik that somehow managed to merge the disparate worlds of black metal and hard-edged electronic dance music have put together another brilliant combination of the two, sounding like no one else in the process, in the best possible way.
If I had only heard the name of the band, I would have likely have written them off as yet another cliché black metal project with intentionally bad production and stupid garbled vocals. However, with a first album titled This Beat is Necrotronic, I was curious to hear more, and I am glad I did. That same defiance of expectations can be seen by the artwork alone: the "almost black on black" graphic design of so many metal albums is here, but rather than demons and blasphemy, there are pictures of astronauts.
There are of course moments where the duo sticks to more conventional metal territory: the digital guitar distortion and screamed vocals of "Led to the Water" and "Theme From Escape" are a bit more traditional, although the stiff drum machine rhythms and ambient synths do their part to mix up the archetype. Similarly, the distorted bass and pummeling riffs of "Arrows" keep things metal, but the synth textures and guest female vocals by Eliza Gregory are anything but the norm.
For me the best songs here are the ones that bounce between the two extremes. "Imperial" begins with grimy guitar and a chintzy drum machine channeling "kvlt" metal before it throws itself into a synth heavy breakbeat collage, which is then broken up by guitar solos and bassy drone. It has the bleak heaviness of metal, catchy electronic rhythms, and memorable transitions to create a track that brilliantly sounds like no one (and nothing) else.
The aquatic bass thuds and filtered synths of "Endless Vertex" exemplify this as well. The slow, pounding heavy layers and heavily effected guitar are paired with lush keyboard passages to create this great juxtaposition of ugly and beauty. Even the heavily processed basement guitar drone of "Wretched Hag" is balanced out by electronics to create a bizarrely heavy take on ambient music.
The Colonial Script retains the joyful genre-bending of its predecessor Music of Bleak Origin, but adds an extra layer of polish and experience, feeling more focused and self-assured. As dark and as bleak as it may come across, there is a perverse sense of exploration and excitement to be found here, something that too many bands simply choose to ignore.
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