I'd like to start by saying that this isn't usually the sort of thing I listen to - anything with "dance" in its description I normally avoid like the plague. Alec Empire is different - he is possibly better known as the man behind Atari Teenage Riot (whose material I also like, although its probably less accessible than this album), and comes across as a dance/electronica kinda guy with a political agenda, using messed up riffing and drums to compliment his electronic beats, and, far from the one-line lyric sheets beloved of most of the dance nation, has "full" lyrics and lyrical themes (although usually with a political twist).
Therefore, I'd recommend anyone into extreme music (or "sonic carnage", if you prefer) check this album out, as its not a pure dance record - the closest thing I had enjoyed previous to Empire was Mike Patton's work with Merzbow as Maldoror, and Merzbow himself, but I rather like it. Anyway, onto the tracks themselves; Intelligence and Sacrifice is a 2 disc album, so, disc 1 -
1 - Path of Destruction (4:29)
My personal favourite track from the album, and a traditional kind of opening feel to it. It has Alec giving a bit of spoken word over an ominous note for the first minute, then launches itself, via a powerful scream of "Path of Destruction!", into one of the fastest beats of the album, with interspersed lyrics and a chant of "Destroy - Destruction".
2 - Ride, The (3:49)
This slows down from the breakneck PoD, with more relaxed vocals and beat - its not necessarily bad, just nothing spectacular, and is a welcome break between PoD and Tear it Out.
3 - Tear it Out (1:56)
Short and sharp, this track starts with a statement of defiance ("Alec Empire - you ain't killin' me.."), and returns to the screaming, vocodered vocals (well, moreso than usual - the entire album's vocal track is vocodered) and speed of the first song, although with speedy riffing instead of beats. Only complaint is that the vocals seems to have been given a bit too much in the production, so that they sometimes override the guitars, which is a shame. Still earns full marks though.
4 and 5 - Everything Starts with a **** (1:57 + 2:30)
Despite being rather provocatively named, this is one of the most noticeably political songs - the lyrics revolving around an idea of "the land of freedom and hypocrisy". This is one of the songs which attaches itself to an untitled track (hence the two song lengths), but the two meld seemlessly (the second even retaining the "Everything Starts with a ****" line), so I can't see the point.
6 and 7 - Killing Machine (3:53 + 1:18)
One of the catchier songs of the album with an infectious guitar part dominating the the track (though it retains Alec's screeched vocal style in "She's a killing machine, but she won't kill me"). One of the least dynamic album tracks, it still has huge appeal as a fun song rather than a political one. It segues into an untitled, which mainly consists of weird electronic noises, though it has the Killing Machine riff in it.
8 - Addicted to You (3:51)
The first and, as far as I know, only single from the album, this is a slower song compared to many of the rest of the tracks. While it has a large drum beat in the background throughout, and naturally revolving around the line "Addicted to You", it also samples from the Matrix (Trinity saying "It doesn't matter what I believe" and later, some of the film's theme music).
9 - Intelligence and Sacrifice (3:39)
The title track, even after hearing the rest of the album, though it is slightly less user friendly (closer to PoD, complete with "Intelligence and Sacrifice" shouts and heavier guitars and beats), is still a fantastic song.
10 - Death Favours the Enemy (3:50)
Possibly the loudest song on the album, and with one of the most chantable chants. One of my favourites.
11 - Buried Alive (3:06)
Although good, Buried Alive seems a bit generic, having heard the previous 10 tracks. Not recommended as a starting point, though it still has a good chant going for it.
12 - ...And Never Be Found (4:21)
Features the quietest, most relaxed vocals on the album; this is almost certainly a "coming down" from the high of the rest of the album. Nothing too spectacular, but more relaxing than the rest of the first disc.
13 and 14 - New World Order (3:24 and 10:28)
Not one of my favourites, but something of a return of energy after track 12, and one of the most discernible actual songs on the album. After it moves into an untitled, it becomes just a big electronic experiment bit, which is good in the background, but grows a little monotonous on its own.
This is a short review of disc 2, as it has no vocals - though longer than the first disc (by 20 minutes - it is 72 mins long). The second disc is much less metal than the first, and more just Alec experimenting with his technology. The first track is 30 minutes long, and after that they simply fluctuate in length - the whole disc is essentially an instrumental. Alec's Ladder is one of the highlights for me.
The second disc has its first track reprised in a much shorter version at its end, designed so that, when set on repeat, the disc will almost seamlessly repeat into itself, forever, if you want. Its fun to have on in the background, but basically grows boring on its own.
Overall, 3.5/5 - strong, but not amazing.