Review Summary: A trailblazing fusion of industrial and doom metal created by the new musical prodigy.
Author And Punisher is a stage nickname of Tristan Shone, an engineering and robotics graduate who uses his considerable skills to design, build and prototype a peculiar brand of home-made musical instruments: a set of four devices he calls dub machines. This Arduino-powered gear can be conveniently manipulated to produce a plethora of sounds, loops and rhythms. Contrary to certain presumptions, the idea of composing and performing electronic music in this manner proves far from gimmicky bringing an organic, physical quality to a style that routinely revolves around synthetic sterility.
By means of his own inventions, Shone explores earth-shattering doom metal that has plenty in common with Godflesh due to its evident industrial inclinations. Even more than his debut album, Ursus Americanus
is ridden with downright disturbing soundscapes which, along with sinister beats and heavily distorted vocals, make for a truly oppressive, stifling atmosphere. With this overpowering approach to sonic assault, the selling point of the album also lies in the immense diversity the seven tracks encompass. Every one of them retains individual qualities that distinguish it from the bunch. The opener “Terrorbird” juxtaposes heavily distorted, metallic passages with frantically paced beats only to achieve an abrasive result, while “Lonely” boasts a less rapid, lumbering sound design that's equally menacing as the first track. With its 10-minute running time, “Set Flames” is an epic centerpiece that relies on brooding soundscapes coupled with bone-chilling screams.
A full-throttle take on industrial is contrasted with two distinctly mellowed-out compositions that, for a change, evoke a sense of serenity. Aptly titled “Mercy Dub” finds Shone verging into a dark ambient territory, whereas “Below And Above You” merges an intriguing orchestral melody with swift overdubs that instantly recall Nine Inch Nails with their restraint. Closer “ILL Consuming” makes great use of quiet, spaced-out sections that work as an ideal build-up for overbearing doom metal outbursts.
With all compositional dexterity on display, Ursus Americanus
is a challenging album that many fans of metal music might find difficult to absorb, especially due to its sheer lack of hooks. However, those who are willing to go beyond formulas will most definitely jump on the bandwagon. Author And Punisher's experimental fusion of industrial and doom metal aesthetics is formidable to say the least, yet it needs to be witnessed on stage to be fully understood and embraced. Tristan Shone is an extraordinary musician whose revolutionary approach to performing may very well be the future of electronic music.