Review Summary: Necro Facility merge the best parts of old-school Skinny Puppy with a dominating synthpop edge, and come away with an album that is memorable and engaging.
Industrial and pop can go together like chocolate and peanut butter or peanut butter and dog shit. The problem is that it’s hard to tell which one you’re going to get until you take a bite. If it is done right, the pairing can result in a seamless mixture of cold electronics and harsh beats with warm melodies and infectious hooks. More often than not, though, it seems that industrial artists have a hard time getting the pop part of the equation to work and the results are usually a mess of undeveloped ideas, cheesy choruses, and a total lack of execution – and that’s the risk Necro Facility were apparently willing to take. The band began their career writing songs that were basically modern and accessible versions of Skinny Puppy
’s early sound, and although they were pretty good at it, they never really displayed a propensity to do much more. That’s why it’s such a surprise that Necro Facility have not only moved so far away from their initial direction (and so suddenly), but that they have actually succeed in releasing an excellent hybrid of electro pop and Puppy-ish industrial on the very first try.
Despite this abrupt move to a more accessible sound, the band’s core foundation is still based on old-school Skinny Puppy worship. For one, the main vocal style still owes a lot to the atonal, distorted delivery of Ogre’s “Addiction” days. Granted, Henrik Bäckström’s vocals never become as frantic or grating as Ogre’s, but they’re definitely influenced by those processed shouts that seem to arbitrarily choose when to utilize voice inflection and often come at odd meters. Musically, too, the Puppy influence is still pretty apparent, but with minor differences there as well. Much of the electronics on Wintermute
display an obvious inspiration from the sparse, desolate sounds of Skinny Puppy’s early period, but Necro Facility never end up indulging in the large amount of layering which allows their songs to be much more instant. Even though the band have always had a lot of Skinny Puppy references thrown their way (and for good reason), on Wintermute
they have finally integrated them into their own sound.
In the past, the band have always worn their influences on their sleeves, but that’s not entirely the case this time. The most basic way that they accomplished this was by simply throttling back on their use of dark electronic sounds, and by also limiting the abrasive qualities of the music as a whole. This has laid the foundation for them to introduce electronics that are much more memorable, and also to present a dominating ‘mainstream’ edge to the music that is now the band’s defining characteristic. Musically, this mainstream influence is mainly found in the blanket of synth melodies that now envelope much of the electronics. These melodies come in the form of piano, strings and strange sci-fi sounds help to really lend the album a diverse feel. The final piece of the band’s new formula is the inclusion of clean singing during the choruses. In industrial it’s often the vocals that ruin an album, and clean singing increases those odds exponentially. Fortunately, the band somehow pulled them off on the very first try. They’re clear and catchy without being overbearing, and they’re the main element setting this album apart from your average industrial release.
, Necro Facility have moved away from their blatant Skinny Puppy-lite approach and towards a sound that they can call their own. Granted, it’s a sound that still owes much to the Puppy blueprint, but it’s also much more than that. The band’s integration of synthpop into their dark industrial arsenal has given them a new life, and a sound that can still feel dark and desolate while being hooky and smooth at the same time. The beats are solid and varied, and the electronics provide a cold, yet memorable, foundation that the band’s synthpop is able to weave through seamlessly. Industrial artists are often lambasted for their lack of creativity, and overall it’s a fair criticism, so it’s a total breath of fresh air to hear something as bright and engaging as Necro Facility’s Wintermute