Review Summary: The internet….is it worth the creation of a black hole that sucks up our time, creativity and friendships?
Within every genre there is mixing, blending, and unification of other styles to create offshoots that sometimes end up being better than its starting point. Digital hardcore or “cyberpunk” can be seen as a silly term of sorts, but when looked at from the actual retrospect of the two elements, it makes perfect sense. Blending the beats and synths of industrial, and the screams and yelling of hardcore, we’re left with exactly what’s described: a scarce, but developing genre. Atari Teenage Riot could be seen as the forerunner of this genre, releasing their first album in 1995 amidst the booming industrial dance craze. Their newest album, Is This Hyperreal?
, which is their first album in 11 years, is not only their comeback album, but one of the definitive industrial albums of the year.
Whether it was the amount of work they actually put into this album or just the time since the breakup, Hyperreal?
could be the most focused work of ATR’s career. The vocal work notably of Nic displayed on this album is more than a step above the work on any of the group’s previous releases. Even Alec Empire sounds more confident and outgoing when he sings; this definitely doesn’t sound anything like any of his solo material folks. Additionally, since bringing CX KiDTRONiK on board the band has also gained another vocalist and expanded with an influence towards drum ‘n’ bass and house.
In traditional ATR fashion the album starts off with a bang. “Activate” is best described as the perfect Nic/Alec duo song. The music is fast paced, the beats pound, and Alec spits the lyrics out almost as fast as a rapper. The ending of the song best showcases the digital side of the band’s sound with the beats pounding off the drum machine as they melt over Alec’s fading vocals. The second track is a solo fare by Nic and she absolutely nails it. Her high pitched squeal over the drum machine and the deep synths makes for one of the albums finest tracks. “Codebreaker” is the first vocal appearance of new member CX KiDTRONiK, backing up Alec with another distorted bass pounding track.
However, they wouldn’t be very punk without a little bit of anarchy or political lyrics in the mix would they? Back in 1995 when they released Burn, Berlin, Burn!
that was a good majority of their lyrical content. With this album they have refocused it and put it into just a few certain songs. One of them is “Rearrange Your Synapases”, and it’s easily the heaviest of the ten songs on the album. It displays Nic and CX’s screaming vocals over heavy blast beats and a weird siren sample. The album closer is more downtrodden and slower than the rest of the songs. It’s a fresh change of pace from the rest of the songs while still remaining a very solid ATR song. Harrowing vocals over the chorus and the lack of punk vocals lead into the last minutes of the album which is ironically an 8-bit voice describing the last details of the album.
Is This Hyperreal?
has everthing a trademark Atari Teenage Riot album would have. Have they been missed for the last 11 years? Absolutely. After losing co-founder Carl Crack to a drug overdose in 2001 they took a long hiatus, refocused and released an album they can be proud of. Many fans of the band will be pleased with their newly established sound and new fans alike will be able to appreciate their creative and catchy upbeat songs.