Review Summary: Another rather bland offering from the Italian trio that once again fails to make the listener want to revisit the album.
There has never been a time where I found myself wanting to listen to any of Dope Star Inc's albums over and over again. The industrial rock trio has yet to release anything bad per say, but I always come away from their albums with a sense of loss; there is something missing that blocks the group from taking that next step and becoming memorable. While 21st Century Slave
had a few tracks that almost tipped this precarious balance in the right direction the rest of the album failed to impress, leaving the “cyberpunk” group ample room for improvement. While Ultrawired
certainly has DSI's signature feel it does not step up to the plate, nor pass their previous efforts.
One of the first things that DSI albums have in common is energy, and Ultrawired
is no different in this regard. The excellent balance in volume is a real highlight, allowing the music to ebb and flow naturally rather than having the forced breaks that so many bands in the genre seem to employ. Victor Loves vocals still retain their slight distorted tinge throughout most of album, allowing the listener to focus on more than deciphering what each track is about. Love even occasionally surpasses his previous synth efforts with those on Ultrawired
as each synth line is varied and complements the drum machine's work quite nicely.
Initially it seems as if DSI have missed the point of an opening track as “Better Not To Joke” begins. A relatively simple variable pitch synth line starts and increases in volume before falling under the line “we have the turbo right to say/we want the music not to pray.” While the track possesses energy the lyrical content ultimately fails to impress; given the wriggle room the band has created by labeling themselves cyberpunk one would hope that they could have used better wording. While the lyrics fail to improve as the song goes on the chorus does show an inkling of hope, allowing “Better Not To Joke” to rise from bland to passable with lines that are easy to sing along with, albeit not being very intelligent. This mediocrity is present in the vast majority of Ultrawired
tracks, begging the question of where the talent found on 21st Century Slave
Not long after the first few tracks end the album start to drag on, and even being slightly over the 52 minute mark 14 tracks seems like a daunting listen. While tracks such as “Get Young” with its loud synth intro and prominent beat try to break the monotony they fall short due to the effort of Loves lyrics and choice of mixing; repeating lines like a broken record player only works so many times in one setting. Unique among these however is “No Life Belongs To You,” which is actually quite good in its own laid back way. Here the band excels in a relatively low key track, and the high cleans spattered throughout show a bit of DSI's 80's rock influence.
There is only one track on Ultrawired
that stands head and shoulders above the rest, and as “Lies Irae” begins it becomes apparent that not all talent has left the album, it's just hidden in this 3:35 offering. Opening up with a sample of an orchestra complete with choir the song immediately distinguishes itself from the others, really grabbing the listeners attention. As the choir fades and the drum machine starts in time with the orchestra the low key synths rise slightly to lead into the proclamation “I want to leak the name of eternal wrath/I want to leak the name of a new era” and the bands cyberpunk nature really starts to show. While starting with such a stunning, striking sample could have easily overshadowed the rest of the track DSI pulls out all the stops, making “Lies Irae” the first true industrial rock song on the album. The keyboards and synths work in perfect harmony as the drum machine and guitar start to become frenzied, while throughout Love gives his best vocal performance calling the audience to action with lines such as “wake up/this is not a sick war game.”
For a band inspired by 80's rock/pop to become a rather popular industrial rock group is surprising, let alone for the Italian trio to decide to embrace a cyberpunk label and feature the theme strongly in their albums. Ultrawired
is an album where a few key moments really shine through, and similar to the bands previous record 21st Century Slave
these are the tracks the listener will find themselves coming back to if they come back at all. I've often wanted to like Dope Stars Inc more than I do, sadly Ultrawired
is not enough to break through and change my opinion of the band.