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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.