Review Summary: Detroit Diesel aren't going to win any awards for their typical harsh EBM sound or their steadfast adherence to a specific formula, but at the end of the day this is still a great album.
Detroit Diesel are a relatively new electro/industrial band out of Canada (the land of great electro/industrial). The band formed in 2006 and in just four years they had already released their first full-length album, Terre Humaine
. Terre Humaine
had initially been the band’s 10-song demo, but it was deemed good enough to simply re-release. It’s hard to disagree with that decision as Terre Humaine
is a solid album with a powerfully crisp sound. It is an album that seems to have a single goal: to get your body moving with a continuous barrage of pounding beats, pulsating synths, fleeting melodies and dissonant vocals.
The best way to describe the band would be to call them harsh EBM (which it seems that most do), but more specifically they could also be referred to as harsh TBM. Although the differences can generally be considered minor, EBM is known for creating a groove whereas TBM is much more straightforward and mechanical. Detroit Diesel’s use of a simple ‘four-on-the-floor’ dance beat on every track places them firmly in the latter category, and also severely limits the album’s diversity. The band’s use of distorted vocals only contributes to the album’s homogeneous sound and leaves the synths and samples with the job of creating any kind of variation between the songs. It would be nice to say that this is where the band truly shines and that the synth pushes them to the next level, but it simply isn’t true. The synth pulls from a very limited pool of sounds for the duration of the album and is more likely to be pulsating with the beat than to be creating anything truly memorable. So, with diversity and innovation out the window the only real question is whether or not this is good anyway. The answer is yes.
It was mentioned earlier that the album’s sound is full, powerful and crisp and that helps to deliver each track with maximum efficiency. The beats, too, are full and powerful and can truly shake the room with a good enough system. I mention these things because music like this is truly meant for the clubs, driving or even a bit of cardio and it fits the bill perfectly. The synths, while nothing out of the ordinary, deliver their undulating melodies with command and even occasionally drop a surprise or two through the use of a quick, catchy harmony or a new sound that hadn’t previously been heard on the album. Also, there are quick sections or sequences within most of the songs that provide the slightest bit of diversity, although they are almost always short lived and tough to grasp during an initial listen. Terre Humaine
’s shining moment is the track, “All Lost Before Dawn”. “All Lost Before Dawn” deviates from the album’s formula by utilizing a wailing female backing vocal (think Program 2
or Electric Skychurch
), a strong melody and even a slightly different rhythm in a few parts. These might seem like minor differences but in an album with a very set formula, it is enough to make it stand out.
While Detroit Diesel aren’t going to win any innovation contests or wow people with the diversity found on Terre Humaine
, it still turned out to be a great album. What they lack in ‘extras’ is more than made up for with a singular commitment to the beat and an infectious synth delivery that is very appealing despite its homogenous nature. The thing that should keep people coming back for more are the subtle nuances that make only brief or fleeting appearances during certain songs, but end up becoming the standout elements during subsequent listens. When everything is said and done, Terre Humaine
can be thrown on during a long run or drive and there isn’t a single thing that feels out of place – from the unrelenting beats and shrill synth to the dissonant vocals, the album just seems to work at the right times.