Review Summary: An excellent darkwave outing by one of today's most talented guitarists.
All genres of music have a relevant factor: a lot of it is trash. This can be truer for some genres than others; arguably, genres like metal and pop-punk may have the highest amount of awful material. Perhaps the most terrifying pieces of music are created, however, when someone tries to “experiment”. Often, going outside the normal boundaries of one’s own musical capacity is good for growth, but the potential for disaster is so high that many never attempt it. Listeners are often greeted with results of the validity of this rule, as is apparent with bands like Katatonia
. Sometimes, however, there are the precious gems that make giving something new a try all worth it; someone who decided they would try their hand at another genre. Professor Fate
is the one man project of Anaal Nathrakh
and Mistress (UK)
guitarist Mick Kenney, also known by his stage-name of Irrumator. Instead of the typical melt-your-face riffs deal, Kenney has branched into a genre entirely unassociated with his typical black metal outings: darkwave.
, Professor Fate
’s first release, is a cacophony of melodies and harmonies accompanied by diverse instrumentation and a heavy dose of symphonic elements. String based instrumentation is kept to a bare minimum, as there are only 2 guitar-centric tracks on the whole album. Even when Mick Kenney does show off his skills, the focus has been shifted from the 'shred' to melody and atmosphere. Rather than bludgeoning you with a thousand notes, Kenney instead uses his acute sense of melody to add a layer of emotion to the songs he chooses to play on. He has instead turned his attention to the keyboard, which dominates most of the album’s running time. It’s evident from the get-go that Kenney has put a great deal of thought into the songs on this album, as all the keyboard parts ooze with feeling. The album’s focus, travelling through hell, dictates the vibe given off; usually, it’s one of discord and unease. Compositionally, however, Kenney does not focus on the keyboard; it’s just evident that it’s where the most thought was placed. As is commonly expected from Kenney, the drum work is programmed and absolutely marvelous. Fitting the mood perfectly, his beats and rhythms match the songs perfectly, keeping everything moving forward without missing a step. No faux-technical flair has been added; the drums have been kept as minimal as possible while retaining a subtle interesting and catchy element.
Accompanying the live instruments is a wide range of samples and elements, ranging from a chanted choir, to carefully programmed drums, to something as simple as a recording of raindrops on a window. Rather than throw these various elements together into a gigantic darkwave melting pot and hope they come out together, Kenney has carefully placed each piece, each element according to where it will have greatest effect. Nowhere on the album does a certain sound, a certain noise feel out of place; everything is as it ought to be. With such a large variety of audible instruments and melodies to digest, however, it can be a little overbearing. First time listeners may miss subtle textures that Kenney has added to back up what seems to be a solo keyboard line. Regardless of this, it becomes apparent the end of the album that Kenney has obviously studied the genre, rather than simply try his hand at it out of the blue.
Acting as one of the biggest focal points of the whole album are Kenney’s vocals. His vocals are melodic and natural; no effects are applied, in stark contrast to the rest of the album. This can also be the greatest flaw to the album, as his vocals may take a little getting used to. They sound natural, but they also sound a tad untrained; this is obviously his first attempt at singing for awhile now. However, making it all worth it is a guest appearance by Ulver
’s very own Kristoffer Rygg, more commonly known as Garm. Newcomers to Garm’s vocals will notice there is a distinct similarity between his and Kenney’s vocals; indeed, it is most likely that Kenney took lessons from Garm. It shows, as Kenney utilizes a wide range, though there is a distinct slight nasal tone to his standard singing voice. He hits a cleaner, higher tone as well as a somewhat baritone low. Accompanying both Kenney and Garm is a guest appearance by Kenney’s former bandmate Dirty Von Donovan, adding the more sinister and angry tones to the album.
is an excellent solo debut by one of today’s up-and-coming greats; Kenney is a master at creating an interesting melody, and anyone who is a fan of Anaal Nathrakh
, or good music in general, should check it out.