because I'm not a person.
I'm a fucking disease."
-- Dismantled, "Disease"
Having made the scene such a central part of my life of late, I seem to have a rapidly growing set of albums that I'm picking up at live shows or from the internet or even, very occasionally, from a local retailer.
And thanks to the life issues that have been keeping me from clubs and shows over the lat few weeks, I've had a paucity of grist for the blog-mill. Then my friend Draeden (webmaster of Songs of the Goddess and a blogger on That Devil Music) suggested, in his infinite Zen-like wisdom, that I start writing reviews of some of this music that has started to come into my hands.
I feel kind of foolish for not having thought of that myself.
So here's the first of my album reviews -
Artist(s): Dismantled (a.k.a. Gary Zon)
Album: The War Inside Me
My Thoughts: I was first introduced to Dismantled via Digital Gunfire Radio (an excellent, and free, online station for industrial, EBM, and futurepop music). Once I heard that Gary and his tour-band were doing a pair of shows in San Francisco earlier this year, I took advantage of the opportunity to see both performances (one at the Red Devil Lounge opening for Front Line Assembly and the other at DNA Lounge as the headlining band promoting their new album). I was seriously impressed in both cases and on the second occasion was able to pick up Dismantled's newest album: The War Inside Me.
The War Inside Me is a solid piece of work, with most of the early tracks exhibiting a heavy industrial and aggro-tech sound and more than a little noise, while the later tracks sort of mellow a bit while still maintaining the mood. And speaking of mood: the entire album seems to carry an overarching theme of visceral self-loathing, sensual hedonism, and the urge to do gruesome violence. In many ways, the tone feels very reminiscent of NIN's masterpiece The Downward Spiral, while still treading new, distinct, and oft-times darker ground.
Highlights: While I am quickly finding myself a fan of this entire album, some pieces do manage to rise out from the rest as even more excellent.
"Insecthead" moves with a frantic, frenetic, and buzzing beat, with the lyrics sounding like Kafka's Metamorphosis but gone all wrong - instead of submitting to and accepting his devolution, the insect-headed narrator is going to "fuck my way out of this mess" and wants "your blood on my teeth".
"Disease" sticks with a solid industrial pace and is, perhaps, the piece most suggestive of Trent Reznor's early work - but where Reznor seemed apologetic, Zon comes across much more exalting and, at best, advising caution (as noted in the quote at the top of this post). He winds it up screaming an epithet, throwing any blame for his state on the unknown target of his vitriol.
A few songs later, we get "Excess", which is about exactly what it sounds like: an epicurean gluttony of sensations taken to the point of self-destruction and oblivion - while the speaker's partner is forced to watch and deal with the fallout of these episodes to experience the singer's "love". The fairly direct beat and repetition just reinforces the never-ending cycle of binging and co-dependent nihilism to which the speaker and partner subject themselves.
At the end of the album we get "Black Heart", a soft-spoken piano piece which strikes me as Gary Zon's loving homage to Nick Cave's darkly dreamlike Murder Ballads.
Final Thoughts: I'm not sure how I want to rate albums, given that tastes range so far and wide. A rating seems almost silly. Would I give something 5 Skulls? I guess I'll figure it out eventually.
Anyway - The War Inside Me is a top-notch album. If you like your music dark, aggressive, and very intense, Dismantled has served up a steaming plate of it. Definitely a part of my regular listening right now as it fits my mood almost perfectly.
-- Mr. M.