Thursday, November 3, 2016

Army Of The Universe - 1999 & The Aftershow (2016)

Italian born (now based in LA) Army Of The Universe are back with their first record in three years, even though just by judging from the band's last album title The Hipster Sacrifice (2013), I'm going to have to go back and check that one out. Getting back to the recording, I find that it seems to be a mix of electronic dance music and rock, much in the vein of earlier Prodigy. Yet then again, there are some more gothic moments as well, like we'll hear on “Late Detroit Nights.” Yet then again, we'll hear some rather annoying dubstep influence in the background on “Down Till Dusk.” Thankfully, that's the only song on the record that really contains that kind of influence, or as least so much of it. I can do with a little dub, but too much is too much. There are thirteen tracks on this disc though, so one dubstep track isn't exactly going to kill it for me and the band offer enough of a varied mix of styles to keep me interested.

“1999” might come in like a roaring inferno, but most of these pieces seem to take a little bit more of a groovy and more dance-laden KMFDM nature, which definitely keeps the listener's attention as there's nearly something for everyone. When you pick up this disc, you're not getting the same song every time and it'll often sound like several different types of electronic acts. On “Another Escape” we get electronic Europop with nary a guitar riff in sight, which might turn off some fans, but that's okay. It's pretty catchy and shows that they can do more than electronic rock. “Digital Slag” comes in right with guitars however, certainly reminding me not only of KMFDM, but E1M1 from Doom. It doesn't stay that way however, as beats come in and the piece takes a more commercial vibe. That's fine though, as this is the kind of commercial electronic pop-rock I can stand. Also, those small clean sections (they have a watery feel to them) played by the keyboards almost have that spacey Super Metroid vibe which reminds me in part of the game's intro theme right after you start a new game (this is essentially the music that plays during the briefing section of the game and describes the events of the past two titles) which is something that might even surprise the band when they realize how close those keyboards sound to the piece. I'm not sure if this is intentional or not. We also have “The Aftershow” which has radio single written all over it. That chorus reverberates more than is entirely necessary, but I'd be a fool to tell you that I didn't enjoy it. Perhaps some of the verse material there is kind of filler, but they have to throw something in there to balance out the chorus.

“Snake Was Right” seems to be an anti-censorship cut, and in the age of PC culture, we could very well use it. Unfortunately, it's not really so much of a song as it is a long interlude with KMFDM inspired spoken word pieces. “Nobody 2.0” gives off that kind of electro-goth feel, which once again comes off a bit unexpected, as with anything else on the album. I can't say that I'm crazy about the disc's last track, “The Albert Hotel” but I can't say that I loved everything on the disc either. I will say that I found the majority of it easily digestible and for the most part, it's a solid act who've been at this for a long time. I can't really talk about their prior releases, so I don't know if this is departure from that kind of material or not, but I can say that I'm quite pleased with such a uniquely diverse electronic act. Metropolis has a great one on their hands, that's for sure. Check these guys out if you haven't.

(13 Tracks, 48:00)


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