Review Summary: Cyanotic's latest offers the best things about industrial metal - pounding beats, crushing guitars, cleverly placed samples, and a seething rage that actually has something to say.
In this day and age, there are a great deal of things more rewarding than being a fan of industrial - like picking your nose, for instance. The last decade (some would argue longer) has seen the genre revert to little more than bad techno with more creativity lent to its obnoxious image than the watered down loops of the music. The exception, however, is when a band like Cyanotic comes along. Their debut, 2005's Transhuman, was a proverbial breath of fresh air, utilizing basic industrial conventions but giving them a new, interesting take. Their long awaited sophomore effort, The Medication Generation, is every bit as good as its predecessor, not only capitalizing on what made it great but adopting a stronger sense of adventure as well. Ultimately, it offers the best things about industrial metal - pounding beats, crushing guitars, cleverly placed samples, and a seething rage that actually has something to say.
While the album's themes of overstimulation, drug use, and societal ills are hardly revelatory, their presentation feels highly genuine. For example, drugs are never glorified or lectured over so much as discussed (well, as much as a roaring, distorted voice can discuss). The feelings of alienation and frustration are also expressed quite well; in lesser hands the lyrical template "We are the _____ of the _____" would sound extremely hackneyed, but here it's very easy to get behind. Nothing feels as if handled with a single dimension; even "fA510n v1k+um5," which details a clear irritation with the current music scene, does so with a surprising sense of humor - a few measures after frontman Sean Payne sardonically growls "This beat is merciless" is a sample of Chuck D.'s enthusiastic "Bring that beat back!"
What really sells it is how many different styles are at work. While the pummeling blast beat-led "Dose Responsive" and "Sentient" (by far the most metallic songs on the album) sound great, there are different approaches taken here as well. "Efficacy" is a glitch-heavy left field electronica exploration, but with a dark air that keeps it from seeming out of place. "The Static Screens (In Syndication)" and "Brutal Deluxe" are driven by aggressive breakbeats that call to mind the finest moments of Pitchshifter and latter day Cubanate, with the latter track being one of the heaviest here, despite being one of the least reliant on guitars. Then there is "Monochrome Skies," which is easily the best melancholic industrial metal this side of Ministry's "Scarecrow," with a deliberate build-up, powerful groove, and fantastic layering.
Repeated listens show that The Medication Generation was crafted with painstaking detail, even if judging solely by the samples being used. A Scanner Darkly, Videodrome, processed Slayer riffs, Homer Simpson, and God knows what else is meticulously placed in the mix to help Payne convey his point. And there is a point to each and every one used, which is the beauty of it; nothing is done simply for sake of sounding good, everything is an extension of Payne's social commentary. "Programmed" and its introductory track "The Same" brilliantly use a sample from the film Palindromes to introduce the former track's musing over growing complacence with the idea of helplessness over bettering oneself. The somber "Comadose" is a bit more straight forward, centering around a listless guitar and Payne's murmurings of "I wish I felt safe, I wish I knew my place" and culminating in yet another like-minded sample. Not a moment is wasted here, and the result is a highly dense album which makes it clear that the band has been quite busy for the last five years. This isn't just the year's best industrial metal, The Medication Generation is a lesson in how to make it.