In the increasingly populated world of extreme music, it gets harder and harder to stand out. There’s only so many novel ideas out there, and there’s no guarantee that musicians have the requisite talent to properly convey what they have to express. It’s this context which helps make american seem an all the more startling prospect. Their mix of black metal, industrial, and harsh noise already sounds exciting on paper, but what Violate And Control demonstrates is that the duo have both the ideas and talent to take this combination in to strange new places. This results in an album that feels remarkably fresh, even as it indulges in some of the most horrific music committed to tape whilst still remaining listenable.
From the offset, american make it clear that they will take no prisoners, and that this album is not intended to be an easy listen. The combination of industrial and black metal presented on opening track ‘Vision Of Great Faith’ draws from the nastier, more extreme ends of both genres, touching upon death industrial at points. Whilst many of the riffs may possess a cold melodic edge, and at times come close to modern post-black metal style movements (as on ‘Bedsheet Ossuary’, where the riff starting at around 2:56 is not far removed from the likes of Deafheaven), it’s that contrast which helps make Violate And Control all the more effective, and helps give listeners something to hold on to amidst the musical onslaught. Combine this with some harsh noise flourishes, and the same sort of nihilism and despair The Body express so well – such as the speaker-destroying ‘Submission Psalm’, or ‘Forever A Wicked Form’ which possesses a Leviathan-esque sense of darkness – and it all adds up to something remarkable.
The influences american draw from may feel familiar, but they put them together in ways that feel novel and exciting. This is perhaps best expressed on ‘Amorous And Subdued’, a stormer of a track that morphs from harsh industrial metal in to the kind of confident blackened swagger that Satyricon were reaching for with Volcano (albeit done here with far more success). It then twists this in to a direction more reminiscent of the likes of Ash Borer, drawing to a close in atmospheric, captivating style. The song is an absolute triumph, and the high point of an excellent album.
Given that the band draw from so many different sources of inspiration, it means that Violate And Control is a diverse album, full of different sorts of audio torture and violence. Yet despite this, the atmosphere and emotional tone of the album is remarkably consistent – at no point does it feel like one influence is fighting against the others, and when they clash, it is done intentionally. It’s very easy for albums dealing with so many different shades of extremity to end up becoming disjointed, unable to hold attention as they jump from one idea to the next with no sense of overall direction or focus. That’s not the case on Violate And Control – this is an album that knows what it wants musically, emotionally, and atmospherically, and absolutely succeeds on all counts. That the band have managed to craft such an uncomfortable listen and have it all hang together in an addictive manner speaks highly of their talent.
Understand though, Violate And Control is a hugely uncomfortable listen for long periods, and intentionally so (just listen to the emergency call sampling ‘Ischemia – The Longing Agony’ for proof, if you can stand to do so). It is an album that demands a lot from the listener, but has plenty to offer in return.
Violate And Control is set for release on June 23 2017 on vinyl, cassette, and digitally. All formats can be pre-ordered via the Sentient Ruin Bandcamp page. Physical versions can be pre-ordered via the Sentient Ruin shop, and the Fragile Branch Recordings shop. European customers may wish to follow Shove Records on Facebook for ordering info from there once the album is released.