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The Best Industrial / Cyber / Electronic Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2021


Total votes:
477



It's not every day you find genre mash-ups as bewildering as Autarkh's debut, Form In Motion. Made up of a couple of ex-Dodecahedron members recruiting two more folk to shape up into a quartet, Autarkh play around the dissonant and intricate forms of their previous band, but shaping them into more of a blackened death metal band whose building blocks are splattered with electro-industrial and djent, creating a sound that is both mechanical and oppressively ambitious. With a sound designed to be as manic as possible, there's guaranteed that there's at least one piece of their entire sound puzzle that is unwelcoming to everyone. Form In Motion, while masterful in performance, still feels like a sound in its infancy, but rarely has a band's debut sounded so bold in its electronic injections and genre fusions.

Bandcamp / YouTube (full album)
The leaden procession of Beneath The Sod is a terrifying glimpse into the mouth of madness, sometimes a clanking conveyer belt of filthy, doomy metal, sometimes so overwhelmed by the perilous deeps it has glimpsed that it becomes a foul, retching belch of screaming noise. There’s little in the way of a conventional structure on this album, which yields its melodic inclinations to the spine-chilling vibrations of organ-like synths and the distorted screams of aimless insanity. The album vacillates between instilling cold dread and blatantly attacking the senses, but no matter where its volume and its rhythm lie, Beneath The Sod always sounds like something you’d find at the end of a long, dark, dead-end hallway in the basement of an abandoned asylum.

Bandcamp
If the name "Borgne" sounds familiar, that's likely because you might have seen their previous album, Y, nominated for black metal album of the year in our awards last year. Something happened in the meantime for us to switch their nomination category. Even if Borgne's music has had an industrial side since as far back as 2015, Temps Morts is where the scale finally tips more towards industrial than black metal. But Temps Morts does feel like an industrial metal album done by an atmospheric black metal band, so there's a lot of dark ambiance and massive atmosphere in addition to the cold, mechanical feel of the void slowly beating you into submission.

Bandcamp

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Fange have been wild category-hoppers, from sludge to hardcore to industrial; Pantocrator finds them not hopping genres, but perfecting their approach. While 2020's Pudeur shifted their rhythmic hardcore sludge to more industrial territories, Pantocrator extends them over two 15-minute-long tracks. More fixed on the industrial sound then ever due to their newfound drummerless lineup, Fange find a way to make Pantocrator feel both meditative and bludgeoning, often at the same time - not as explosive, but more focused on ambiance, post-punk tones, and noise walls. They shift and spew over 30 minutes of a long-form industrial sludge monstrosity, one that manages to introduce a new quality to Fange's music: patience.

Bandcamp / YouTube (full album)

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The road to Fear Factory’s longest-delayed album was a troubled one that cost the band a great deal, including the involvement of vocalist Burton C. Bell, who provides his last recordings as a member here. If it comes as any consolation for the lengthy wait, the backroom drama, and the unfamiliar horizon that now faces the band, Aggression Continuum is a mechanical monolith of an album fit to stand as the end of an era, if it must be so. Fear Factory’s whining, repetitive riffs and precise percussion still snap spines, now reminiscent of the high-gain bounce of modern djent as much as of the groovy, technical thrash of old; the contrasts between the pummeling roar of furious verses and the dramatic goth-punk requiem of robotic clean choruses are testament to the band’s ever-robust songwriting, which operates equally well on rhythmic and melodic levels. This is a brutally heavy way to part ways with the past, but if aggression does indeed exist on a continuum, then this won’t have to be Fear Factory’s “End Of Line.”

YouTube (single)

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On the surface, one could be hasty in classifying Glaube (German for "Belief“) as just another rather unnecessary product of some random one-man black metal bedroom project, hundreds of which are formed each year to continually release new albums that only few are in dire need of. But already after the first tones of the opening track, "Ruf", you can feel with every fiber of your being that Isor's second album is quite a different story, as you are immediately drawn into a hypnotic maelstrom of trance-inducing beats, short intermezzi of furious black metal, and electrifying eruptions of eerie electronica. Interludes of dark ambient, embedded with great sense for timing and atmospheric depth, let you catch your breath for a moment, just before you are seized and carried away by the mesmerizing rhythm again. After exactly 40 minutes, the spooky pandemonium is over, and only your accelerated pulse and the beads of sweat on your forehead tell you that you have survived this trip through the electronic limbo in one piece.

Bandcamp / YouTube (full album)
“How dreadful that Master Boot Record didn’t release anything in 2021!” we said. “What are we to do for our Industrial/Cyber/Electronic category? Listen to other bands?”

“Not so fast,” said Keygen Church, charging up a hangar-sized bank of pixelated synthesizers splashed with red and purple light. It’s a different name, but the same mastermind – presumably a cube-shaped manifestation of a time-traveling AI that can actually read what the album title says – and just like Master Boot Record, Keygen Church invites us to consider an alternate timeline where chiptune evolved out of the war chants of our cybernetic overlords instead of classic arcade games. True to the suggestions of its name, Keygen Church has a taste for the ecclesiastical that Master Boot Record doesn't, so there is a purpose behind the reskin; organ and piano dominate the aggressively distorted synths, creating an entirely new flavor of retrofuturist ambiance. ░█░█░░█░█░█░ explores half the extant forms of metal without ever once playing them the way you're used to hearing them, once again establishing Victor Love as an especially unique creative voice in heavy music... but you don't have time to stop and appreciate that. Come along now. It's time for your reprogramming.

Bandcamp / YouTube (full album playlist)
After putting the project on hold in favor the purely electronic NeuroWulf, Wulf decided he wasn’t quite done with metal yet, and thus Solace came to be. Picking up mostly where he left off, Solace is every bit a Neurotech record, from the depth provided by the low-end industrial metal chugs through to the array of electronic approaches employed to conjure up feelings of bliss. Whether it’s in the form of ambient backdrops, gentle melodic hooks, or pounding rhythms, Solace is an electronic metal album that knows its way around the various avenues that electronica offers and knows how to utilize them within a metal framework.

Bandcamp / YouTube (full album playlist)

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These vicious Aussies really take their sweet time with each release; a lot can happen in 8 years. Fortunately for us, each iteration of The Amenta has been a great, albeit different, entity within their industrial death metal sphere. Revelator may not be as abrasive as some of their previous works, but it will win its audience with an expanded sound palette. It focuses more on pummeling the listener with a dark, intoxicating atmosphere rather than with brute force alone. The brooding synth work enhances the songs' mechanical structures, adding the necessary oomph to the already oppressive riffs and drumming. It is the vocal delivery, however, that draws the most attention. With plenty of effects added, Cain Cressall's growls, screams, and clean vocals hit the perfect balance between human and machine, thus painting a very negative futuristic worldview in the process.

Bandcamp / YouTube (full album)
On this collaboration, industrial EBM duo Youth Code joins up with hip-hop producer King Yosef. The latter's monotone hardcore screams seem to be all that keeps the hellish electro-industrial noisescapes on A Skeleton Key In The Doors Of Depression from imploding under their own weight. At its heart, this is dissonant industrial rock, but the distorted guitars and abrasive dual vocals recall Godflesh as much as they do Nails and Skinny Puppy. It's heavy on the beats, heavy on the lyrics, heavy on the dissonance, and, most of all, simply heavy on the heavy. To sum it up in one word: blistering.

Bandcamp / YouTube (full album)