Review Summary: Working out the kinks and making some adjustments, How to Destroy Angels are officially their own group just in time for their debut album.
How to Destroy Angels has never really had issues with finding an identity of their own in the industrial sounds they dabble in, nor have they had trouble distinguishing themselves from Trent Reznor’s brainchild Nine Inch Nails. This can partially be attributed to the fact that while there aren’t a notable amount of female front-women in the industrial music scene, vocalist Mariqueen Maandig’s sensual croons and chilling whispers have always given How to Destroy Angels’ EPs a trip hop vibe as opposed to an industrial one.
After two EPs, the group’s long-anticipated debut album Welcome oblivion
benefits from not only progress and substantial growth, but in sporting the key differences that have always separated this outfit from Nine Inch Nails, and Reznor’s industrial legacy as a whole. This is the most minimal and cogitative music that Reznor has ever been involved with. It’s nowhere near as aggressive, or even abrasive as Nine Inch Nails, and instead focuses on noisy glitch music with petrifying build-up that never climaxes and erupts into harsh music, but is instead relieved by soothingly frigid ambient tracks. Those more downtempo cuts are right off their An omen EP_
from last year, whose only flaw was a lack of differentiation in mood, but is corrected on Welcome oblivion
thanks to the new tracks with more busy elements at work. Its things like this that are evident of the refinement to their approach that How to Destroy Angels makes sure to incorporate. Gone is the awkward sexuality of the songs “Fur Lined” and “BBB” found on their self-titled debut EP, improved to a level of seductive entrancement that is boasted on “Too late, all gone”.
succeeds mostly in being a vibrant collage of colorful glitch music that’s vast in its atmosphere, yet claustrophobic in its grip. Maandig takes a few tips out of Reznor’s playbook here as well, providing shouts on the title track that are hushed under layers of distorted and hissing synths. There’s certainly a lot of variety here as well, instead of brooding, both Reznor’s backing vocals and Maandig’s leading opt for a cold and emotionless tone, which makes the last three tracks that drone all the more ominous and unnerving.
The sonic range here is much more expansive than Reznor’s previous experiment in the genre with the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts
, as the ideas here are fully thought through, and the caustic textures have a diversity that seem to take after the experience in densely layered mood music that Reznor gained from his recent interest in score music with fellow How to Destroy Angels bandmate Atticus Ross.
To that end, the similarities between the soundscapes on Welcome oblivion
and Reznor and Ross’s score music are most likely due to Ross’s equal reign over the music as Reznor. There really doesn’t seem to be someone exactly in charge on Welcome oblivion
, it truly feels like a team effort where everyone involved has just as much power and contribution in this collaboration as the other.
is the music that How to Destroy Angels have always showed potential of being able to make in the past, and that potential has now been fully realized. This is music that is unique from most electronica in a post-industrial word, and shows that Reznor and company have acquired and comfortably settled into a state of artistic maturity in which they aren’t trying to put out the chaotic angst of Nine Inch Nails, but instead, mellow and thoughtful mental wallpaper with some gritted teeth lurking just beneath the surface to boot.