Fans of industrial rock and metal aren’t easy to come by nowadays. With industrial music’s popularity ebbing away since the late 2000’s, only some of it’s biggest stalwarts like Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails soldier on. Well, one band you can depend on for some thumping industrial metal is Absenth, especially with their latest release, Erotica 69.
Formed in 2001 in Voronezh, Russia, Absenth started out with doom metal before experimenting with gothic and industrial over the years to form their signature cyber-metal sound. That coupled with their striking visuals and power-packed performances have made them one of the toasts of Russia’s metal scene.
Erotica 69 kicks off with “Absenth”, which starts with a piercing horror-movie scream and soundtrack before progressing into crushing industrial riffage, sharp drums, lead synths and some very deep vocals with applied effects. The album immediately picks up the pace with the energetic title track, which has a White Zombie feel to it, especially with the sex sounds in the background. The next track “Wishmaster” continues in the same brutal vein.
Throughout the album, Absenth’s music presents itself as a curious entity, especially where industrial metal is concerned. With liberal doses of synths and programming with their industrial grind, listening to them really feels like a moshpit and rave rolled into one. At the same time, the gothic influences are very much clear in tracks like “Virus” and “Rose and Bat”. You can even enjoy a blistering guitar solo in “Left Click to Play” and even the speed-metal flavor of the aptly named “Motorfest”. The tight unit of Oleg Govorov on vocals, Andrew Bolotov and Vladimir Usatsky on guitars, Dmitriy Abramov on bass, Dmitriy Bolshepaev on drums and Constantin Death on synths & programming take us on a wild ride through their realm of cyber-metal à la Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Rammstein, etc. One personal qualm of mine is the excess of effects on Oleg’s vocals, which is great in it’s own pure form.
And we approach the end of the album with the third-last and second-last tracks “He, She and Pistols” and “To Ram!”. “He, She and Pistols” is a melancholy mid-pace piece with liberal synths and programming, while “To Ram!” has a very catchy industrial groove. However the vocals of both tracks again have a little too many effects for this reviewer’s liking. The album finally ends with the russian version of “Absenth”, a reprise in the band’s native language.
So there you have it. Absenth have played to their strengths and then some, to produce the headbangable and at the same time danceable cyber-metal sound of Erotica 69. It might not necessarily appeal to everyone, but give the album a few spins or even see them live and you’ll understand how they rightfully dominate the russian metal scene. Let’s hope Absenth spreads it’s wings worldwide sometime soon.
Sairaj R. Kamath
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