Review Summary: A subtle aggression lends Minus All novelty, but it never completely breaks free to become anything more.
Having opened for VNV Nation in 2005 one's initial thought would be that the latest offering from Imperative Reaction would have more of a futurepop feel, and to be honest I was prepared for that. What the listener gets when they start Minus All
is not some happy tribute to a future utopia with gorgeous monotone vocals however; Imperative Reaction offers a grim look at the reality around us with wonderfully angry, almost screamed vocals and somewhat darker syths. Anger is something that many Industrial bands have woven into their music, but what Imperative Reaction uses is more subtle than Combichrist's lovely curse laden lines. This subtly proves to be a highpoint of the album, leading the listener to wonder what the next track might hold. The aggression is similar to that of someone who keeps trying to make the same point over an over again during a conversation. Eventually the anger would reach a point of no return, their blood would boil and someone would receive an earful of righteous indignation. This never really happens to Minus All
, the aggression lays right beneath the surface leaving the listener wanting more.
The album starts off slowly, giving the listener time to fully appreciate the emotion of tracks such as “Product” and “Torn Down.” The first seven tracks or so feature slower beats an less in-your-face synths than the latter half of the album, which could be considered the more “dance-able” tracks. This brings out the fact that Minus All
is not an album riddled with singles and instant club hits, the album is mixed so that picking one “club hit” would be an overly hard task (though I have heard “Drown” as well as “Functional” during a local club's set). While any of the tracks will have you at least nodding to the beat nothing here screams THIS WAS MEANT FOR DANCING!!! The lyrical content tends to focus on problems facing the population and personal trial therein, making the album a rewarding one to listen to before, say, you head off to an economic/political debate. The wording used fits perfectly with the present or not too distant future, striking nerves such as consumerism and the need to fit into societies cliques. Showcasing this is the track “Functional” with the line “and we only destroy for the greater good, so you can be free to consume more as you should” which leads into the question, “why is functional worth more than sustainability"” “Giving Up” seems to throw in a more personal message with, “and you should know I have nothing to show for all the years I've tried, I'm just a shell inside.” Minus All
is an album that never really slows down, it starts strong an ends rather well with “Panic Cycle” which flounders a bit lyrically but then throws the emotion found on “Minus All” back at the listeners face as a parting gift.
The issue facing this release is the lack of progression, the aggressive tones pique the listeners interest at first but by the time the 13th track closes the audience realises that what was at first a novelty is just that. Imperative Reaction strike a chord with their anger, the lyrics are relatively strong, yet I can't manage to shake the feeling that the album could have been much more. Minus All
stands on the point of almost breaking through the miasma of other Industrial releases but ultimately playing it safe stops it from ever completely leaving.
Head Up To High