Review Summary: A debut that barely avoids some genre specific issues, but still manages to retains its identity.
While many bands have undergone a “cyberpunk” revolution in both dress and lyrics (Dope Stars Inc. comes to mind) none have pulled it off as well as the Columbian EBM act Psyborg Corp. Their debut 2010 album The Mechanical Renaissance
is laden with sci-fi imagery, pulled off in such a way as to refrain from being cheesy or taking itself too seriously. The groups aesthetic add immersion to the idea of a technological revolution in the future, with some of the most unique costume design I've seen in recent memory. I was intrigued by the direction the band seemed to be headed in, but good intentions and interesting ideas only take a band so far and are not directly correlated to an albums musical prowess; luckily enough Psyborg Corp. rises to the bar set by some of the debut albums in the genre.
On first listen it was easy to compare lead singer p5YbORG's distorted vocals to those of a tamed down Nero Bellum of Psyclon Nine fame. While both feature heavily distorted vocals p5YbORG refrains from going towards the near intelligible offerings that Bellum occasionally reaches, allowing the distortion to add to the music instead of stealing the audiences attention. On certain occasions he does employ a gravel type effect however, spoken word lines often sound as if they are being spoken like he is underwater. Another aspect worth noting is that the majority of the tracks seemingly want you to move, featuring heavily dance beats and simple beat structures that allow many tracks to be easily primed for the dance floor. One thing I did notice is that, being a debut release, the synths seems to only have two dimensions and if one listens closely enough the flaws start to show. If this were a sophomore effort it might prove a bit of a deal breaker for some, but being a debut album it just shows that the group has some ground to cover before their next release.
Starting into the album the listener comes to“Technocracy,” the lead single, and a good choice that showcases what the band has to offer. Starting with a fast paced synth line featuring softer lines of distortion underneath it clearly wants the listener to get up and move, and as the simple 4/4 beat enters underneath the layer of electronic distraction it becomes clear that the track was made specifically for that purpose. While lyrics along the lines of “mega corporations/took control of our nations/persecute + follow =/population diminished is hollow” are nothing exactly new they are offered up in such a way that the beat and synths wouldn't come off as well without them. One highlight for me was at the 3:04 mark, when p5YbORG finished a line with a distorted chuckle. Moments like these endear albums to listeners and make for memorable moments at live shows.
After the initial energy rush dies away the album starts to blend together, falling into the pitfall that many a ebm/industrial struggles to rise out of. The track placement seems to be aware of this hazard and so three tracks are placed strategically, or otherwise, in hopes of adverting monotony. “Biopunk Lab” “Interdimensional Hyperdrive” and “Hateneration” all feature the use of samples, and this combined with their slower tempo do manage to put a halt to what could have otherwise been a major issue with Psyborg Corps debut.
As the album comes to a close the slow, almost peaceful synths of “In Our Chaotic Network” make the listener more attentive, and as the song builds it really shows promise for the future of the band. Gone are the dance synths, the energy that is both life and death to the electronic genre in general. P5YbORG speaks rather than screams, and as the beat and electronic elements come together the various samples start, proclaiming freedom and the power of ideas in a time of ultimate corporate control. While being a simple concept it is almost masterfully done, making the end of the album a beautiful moment to behold as the synths fade into oblivion.
The Mechanical Renaissance
is a well put together debut and shows promise in many directions, though being filled with tracks meant for the dance floor almost leads to it growing into a monotonous blob. Whether by clever track placement or random chance it evades the majority of this issue, and ends with the strongest track on the entire album. While I can see the band wanting to invade the club scene like Combichrist did a few years ago I can't help but feel that if their focus is placed on making tracks similar to “In Our Chaotic Network” they could be something truly unique in years to come.