Review Summary: Tristan Shone further refines his trailblazing fusion of industrial and doom metal.
Author & Punisher is a stage pseudonym of Tristan Shone, a scientist, sculptor, designer and, most of all, musician hailing from San Diego, CA. His previous release Ursus Americanus
surprisingly occurred on numerous metal lists last year proving that the demise of industrial some are increasingly often willing to proclaim is far from imminent. What makes this project so note-worthy then? Shone's secret lies in the seamless synthesis of styles, and the way he renders his music is utterly trailblazing.
An immense set of four devices he calls dub machines can be conveniently manipulated to produce a multitude of sounds, loops and rhythms. This approach to crafting music that combines musicianship with engineering (or even robotics) is so unique and forward-thinking that transforms Shone's live shows into unforgettable futuristic spectacles of one man confronting a machine. The fact that in the process he's capable of composing the most exciting industrial music in years cannot be undervalued.
Women & Children
shares many similarities with Shone's previous record. For starters, the artist has worked with the same set of devices, which makes both albums sonically alike. It's still an agile amalgamation of doom and industrial metal that places an emphasis rather on a stifling atmosphere than perfectly timed songs. No matter how raw and devastating the sound can get, it never ceases to feel organic due to the sheer physical force that has been utilized to create it.
Just like its predecessor, Women & Children
consists of seven divergent tracks that are linked by carefully dosed aggression. Shone's much improved songwriting is what makes his new endeavor even more tense and unpredictable. The album's way more than a constant sonic assault that's lacking in focus. Instead, the songs ebb and flow with admirable precision swiftly building up from atmospheric to bombastic passages that in turn often unexpectedly dissolve into darkness. “Melee” does just that with its masterful symbiosis of overpowering soundscapes and a killer beat to boot. In consequence, the track feels both immediate and darkly mysterious, much like the majority of the disc's content.
The album also sees Shone expanding his melodic sensibilities, which makes his performance more accessible than ever before. The musician uses his natural singing voice along with distorted screams that propelled his previous effort. This newly acquired vocal diversity makes its presence felt in splendid “In Remorse” which juxtaposes a memorable melody with deranged screams to a gradually unraveling accompaniment. Another novelty for Shone is Trent Reznor-inspired reliance on piano that adds an eerie vibe to the album's latter half. This instrument is employed to the most exquisite effect in “Pain Myself,” a bitter ballad that finds the artist merging a conventional song structure with sudden outbursts of harsh noise.
Overall, Women & Children
is an all-consuming trip into the realm of mental destruction that amazes with its potent use of musical machinery. Shone certainly knows how to draw from many influences without making them painfully obvious, and this new album only refines his knack for crafting electronic music that's chiefly ingrained in industrial and doom metal. Both greatly daring and innovative, the record is destined to be one of the most coveted underground releases of the year.