Review Summary: Dissonant, varied and catchy; a combination most industrial bands never get right.
I’ve been an industrial fan for a long time, and in that time I’ve learned something very valuable that I’m going to pass on; being an industrial fan sucks. There seems to be more untalented, boring and generic bands coming out of this genre (and more labels willing to release their crap) than any other genre I’ve heard. How many bands do we need releasing the same looped synth line, the same 4/4 redundant beat, and the same interchangeable, no-talent hack to mumble through distortion before people get fed up? I’ve bought so many bad CDs from this genre that it always makes me extra happy when I come across one that doesn’t actually suck. Wasted Sky
by Numb is one of those really good industrial CDs that not only doesn’t suck, but should really be one of the “necessary” albums of the genre.
Right from the start I could tell that there was something different about this CD. The song, “Wasted Sky”, begins generically enough with a high-energy techno beat, but then a synth line materializes swirling around the speakers accompanied by distorted guitar and the processed voice of the vocalist. The vocalist sets himself apart from the norm within a few moments of the first track by not only adding some inflection to his vocal delivery but by also changing the sounds used to process his voice. Over the course of the first song he utilizes a number of processing techniques including the typical distortion as well as a compressed growl and a raw yell. In addition to using these techniques separately the vocalist also layers those different vocal styles together to add even more variation. The dynamic vocal styles combined with the music’s intelligent use of white noise, guitar riffs, synths and tempo changes allows it to go through its five-minute duration without ever becoming redundant or boring.
While the opening song was a driving show of force, the songs following it tend to go for a darker, more eerie sound that incorporates more samples and atmosphere-building style and less direct aggression. The instrumental, “Keyak”, is a good example of what this band can do when attempting to create a dark atmosphere. It slowly fades in with a singular, echoing bell and a strange alien sample. As it progresses various other sounds fade in and out of the song such as a morbid cello melody, thunderous crashes, random, jarring bouts of white noise and finally a crescendo where it finally explodes into a fast beat and white noise from all sides. Every song has something that makes it special and sets it apart from others on the album, so to avoid describing each song individually it would be easier to just point out a few more of the cooler elements.
One of the more surprising elements found on this album was on the song, “Ophelia”. “Ophelia” spends the first half of the song making abundant use of random white-noise, swirling synths, and a funky back beat, but in an unexpected move drops everything but the beat and adds a semi-symphonic keyboard melody to close the last few minutes of the song. It was an interesting move that really set this song apart and made it much more memorable. Another interesting element is the band’s skillful use of white noise. Every song on this album features white noise in some form. That noise runs the gambit from disembodied screams, screeching feedback, chaotic beats that come and go in a flash, and a number of other sounds. This use of white noise is sometimes employed as a rhythmic device and at all other times simply creates a constant sense of unease. These elements combined with the ones I haven’t mentioned are what save this CD from falling into the same mediocre hole as most of their contemporaries.
Every once in a while an album will come along that will instantly have to be placed near the top of its genre, and this is one of them. Everything about this album is done as perfectly as it could be. The white noise is used tastefully to create tension and unease, the guitars add the extra “oomph” without dominating the music, the synth is great and never redundant, the beats are dynamic and the vocals are actually varied and even catchy. If you’re a fan of industrial and haven’t listened to this, I can’t see how you could go wrong by giving it a try.