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This fourth outing from the French industrial black fiends is another excellent installment in their catalogue, even if at times it feels like 'Solarkult' mk. II.
Blacklodge are unfortunately somewhat of an unknown name in the realms of black metal with people only seeming to know of them once they are making an effort to get into the industrial side or they find out about the band from other projects such as TAOS or Vorkreist, this is a travesty because Blacklodge offer up some of the hardest and heaviest industrial black that will have even the most disparaging of the inorganic influence metalheads pleasantly surprised.
Blacklodge are a band that for me have two of the big things I love in black metal and marry them up perfectly, namely, they're industrial and they're French. Anyone in the know of industrial black from France will tell you that this combination is devastating with acts such as Spektr, Neo Inferno 262, Reverence and sickeningly weird Diapsiquir showcasing my point completely.
Blacklodge are a band whom I hold in high esteem and each release of theirs is always one marked down on the calendar, their brand of industrial black is primarily defined by their programming of drums which have a vary dance-focused aesthetic characterised by thick, dense pulsing bass that most think of when electronic music comes to mind. After the drums most of the electronics are subtle and don't carry melody in the way bands like Aborym or Mysticum do, the guitars are razor sharp adding to the clinical industrial feel and the vocals provided by St. Vincent are harrowing and original, allowing for more normal vocal delivery to be channelled through his growls producing a very sinister delivery.
The biggest downfall I can pick with this album is that it sounds like a companion piece to 'Solarkult', Blacklodge over the course of their three previous albums managed to evolve and change what they did whilst still retaining what makes them good, from 'Login:Satan' where they had light speed and guitars steeped in treble, then came 'Solarkult' which was brilliant, it gave a new lease of life to industrial black and was an intricate and very heavy masterpiece, truly defining Blacklodge as a current black metal band not to be trifled with, then 'T/me' which kept parts of 'Solarkult' but also showed a more progressive side, with songs and soundscapes taking up far more minutes than they ever had done before; through all of these Blacklodge have proven time and again they know how to keep things fresh and expand their own musical ideas, until Machination, which unfortunately leaves me wanting. Do not get me wrong, it is still stellar and is one of the best albums I've heard this year, but it leaves me wondering where they will go next and if this is all they can manage to produce from now on. I won't be a happy bunny because it'll be 'Anaal Nathrakh' syndrome all over again.
I highly recommend this album to anyone looking for variation in their black and as a good starting point to listen to Blacklodge for the first time, as it demonstrates their 'sound' perfectly whilst also showing what the band are currently doing and producing as opposed to earlier efforts which aside from 'Solarkult' are different (somewhat).
(Originally written for baileysmmcreamy.blogspot.com)
Genres mixing have caused some of the most important stylistic innovations. Throughout the ages, visionary artists have had the foresight to cross sounds that might initially appear incompatible. Of course, black metal also had its share of crossbreading, most notably with hard rock, folk, and even classical music. However, some amalgams are rather confusing. This is exactly what French band Blacklodge is offering us with its fourth album called MachinatioN. Founded in 1998 and led since then by Saint Vincent, who also screams for Vorkreist, the group brutalizes its audience with an ultra-fast cold and mechanical industrial black metal. Surprising results are obtained when Satan meets the machine.
Indeed, black metal is usually an organic music, bathed in dark feelings, far from artificial or electronic sounds. However, Blacklodge reverse this perspective with a style closer to those practiced by bands like KMFDM or Atari Teenage Riot. Battery / drum programming is based on an infernal rhythmic that starts right from TridenT and slows only on rare occasions. Result is dense, with very catchy techno loops. On several occasions, I even had the impression to listen some songs written by Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly) and Michael Balch (Ministry). Even if it is rhythm that is in control, guitar also adds his two cents with great riffs, effectively scattered throughout the album, especially on Neo.Black.Magic, that makes you want to furiously break your neck. However, and this is a complaint that I address the entire industrial style; album’s second half is much weaker. The inspiration seems to be missing and a title like All Seeing Eye seems like filler, while The Other Side seems to pump from some Skinny Puppy experiments.
However, hybridized music lovers, do not spoil your fun. Black metal and industrial share many common features which add and complement each plot. Quick and nihilistic, this record offers no respite. And for the skeptics and other scum, just admit that such a crossing is probably preferable to a terrifying Black n ‘Hop! 7/10
Originally written for Métal Obscur.
Spreading their brand of industrial-influenced death metal since 1998, France’s Blacklodge this year releases their fourth full length album, MachinatioN. The heavy science fiction and technological influence that the band has had in their releases thus far are still present, with the futuristic album artwork, fused with the Satanic imagery in the music. This being my first encounter with the band, MachinatioN promises to be a rather interesting album, though expectations could be rather high with my idea of industrial black metal being bands like Poland’s Iperyt.
The industrial elements are immediately obvious as the listener is battered with the heavy electronic percussions on opening track TridenT, and the entire album will be drenched in such heavy electronic elements, providing a rather (intentional) synthetic feel to the music, though the rather bassy production quality does cause this to falter somewhat, not allowing the sterile atmosphere to really shine through the music. While often the idea of using programmed drums are rather frowned upon, Blacklodge thrives on their usage of the industrial segment of their music, often assaulting the listener with a barrage of relentless and suffocating beats, and instead helps to enhance the destructive feel and atmosphere of their brand of music and even gives a somewhat martial feel, leaving the surrounding in tatters and ruins. Songs like Industrial Temple MysticA also make use of the jarring effects to leave a more memorable impact on the listener. And more often than not, this allows for the band to send their message of destruction and violence more effectively than most bands out there.
Of course, there is the black metal aesthetics that are present, with the cold atmosphere that it provides. Saint Vincent’s shrieks are tortured, sounding like a lone man’s plea in a post-apocalyptic setting, and the repetitive riffs that are unleashed by himself and Narcotic easily put the listener into a trance, and one soon finds himself joining the band on this dark and psychotic journey like on Neo.Black.Magic. Songs like Antichrist Ex Machina would have easily stood as good cold, bleak black metal tracks without the industrial elements, and display the band’s songwriting prowess. Effects are also used on Saint Vincent’s vocals to enhance the industrial feel, at times giving him a somewhat robotic voice. That said though, despite MachinatioN being a mostly jarring and abrasive experience, the band manages to include some sweeter and slightly easier-listening moments like on Industrial Temple MysticA as well, though this does not necessarily mean that the haunting and uneasy ambient is compromised at all, but merely more easily absorbed by the listener and ultimately, serving the intentions of the band.
Overall, MachinatioN is an extremely violent record, especially so since the most destructive elements of each of the genres that the band are influenced by are put together, with each complementing the other, and MachinatioN is a nice and perfect fusion of two rather distinctive genres.
Never has there been a stronger inner urge to see the pinnacles of our society crumble and fall in their own decadence. Technology is spiralling out of control, and increasingly we are a sedated hive of drones under an elite, untouchable class. A glance to the future only reveals a dystopic post-apocalypse: a mechanized existence void of meaning and human sufficiency. Few understand or elucidate this feeling more than France’s industrial black metal machine Blacklodge. A force that slowly evolved out of the touch-and-go early days of drum machine based black metal into the fully actualized genre leaders that they are. Rooted in high-technology themselves, the band presents a foresight through the medium of their message – what is they use to present the word of Satan will one day bring evil incarnate into our world. Appropriate. In their uncompromising view, even once the throws of human scum are subjugated the spark of Luciferian ambition can still exist. Never has this guiding sentiment been as clear or as proficiently executed then as on “MachinatioN”, Blacklodge’s latest chapter in psychoactive-induced, spiritual warfare against the unseen, crippling enslaver.
It is so easy for metal elitists to instantly slag off a band for utilizing a drum machine or including experimental, electronic elements. Black metal with break beats or dance rhythms is completely unheard of, and should be dismissed without a second thought, right? Beyond such simple-minded reactions, however, does exist a vast expanse of material in great need of culling and sifting, for most of these projects are admittedly utter garbage. There are a select few that can preserve the truest and essential spirit of the genre while expanding into electronic territory. Thankfully we have a shining example in Blacklodge: uncompromising adherents to Satan but very capable of offering a completely unique take on the stagnant black metal genre. A song title such as “Neo.Black.Magic” brings to mind the exact metaphor that fully reveals the nature of a band so ahead of their time. How will sinister occult worship exist in a cold, mechanical wasteland? The paradigms are in great need of a shift, but the essence will remain the same. Blacklodge is that shift, as they hold fast to traditional spiritual tools with unique ends in mind.
“MachinatioN” is a furious and endless mind-warp in service to the Devil, proliferated in an unimaginable future. The riffing preserves the tradition of the black metal sound and never strays too far from the simplistic, buzz-saw assault, aside from the occasional few twists and turns. This is exactly where traditions and expectations are thoroughly muted! Drums are unapologetically programmed without any attempt to hide it, as several projects tend to do – almost embarrassed to be doing so. The percussive approach is not just typical programmed black metal drumming. The electronic aspect is exploited to its fullest: utilizing the expected beats, double kicks and blasts, but never letting a heavy industrial rhythm escape or relent. The possibilities are endless. Everything from a full-speed bombardment of blast beats to glitchy break beats to simple 2/4 dance beats, and every possible variation in between are on display. A multitude of subtle electronic effects are tastefully injected to enhance the dark synthetic atmosphere. Limitless, the aura slips into otherworldly, psychedelic realms without ambush. Only through these metaphorical, shamanic moments can we reach the other side of wisdom. Blacklodge extends beyond the confines of rock-based music structures and achieve a certain nebulousness that few are exploring. The balance is struck perfectly as all dissimilar elements and styles work together to transmit the pointed sonic attack. Exaltation of the spirit with total machine-like efficiency. Objective achieved.
In this bleak forthcoming future, so envisioned on “MachinatioN”, only in the final moments of humanity’s swan-song will we actually awaken! Doomsday is a slowly creeping and evolving process, not an explosive moment. Only when the last strands of life are starting to sever will our Luciferian/Promethian spirits arise. Despite the level of fantasy at work on this record, it is a relief to explore these unimaginable scenarios in a controlled environment. It is our current climate pushed to the extremes, but shreds of contemporary truth are still perceptible. Frighteningly close to the truth! Extreme topics translate best into extreme genres, especially when the music itself functions as another level of symbolic meaning. It is only natural that technological apocalypse and dystopian Luciferianism finds a voice in Blacklodge’s fine-tuned and executed industrial black metal. Fear not! For Satan still has a place in our future, and it may be our only source of salvation when the towers crumble and system self-destructs!