Review Summary: A punishing experience, and not in a way the band meant to deliver it in.
There’s a double edged sword when it comes to seminal bands of a specific genre of music; even though their music is ground-breaking and fantastic to listen to, the price of admission is suffering through the legion of rip-offs that follow suit. But this far into a genre’s life, it’s hard to imagine bands today trying to rip off a style the pioneers were messing with some 15 years ago, right? Well, evidently not with industrial metal/rock it seems. The last couple of years has seen a resurgence of the sound in question, and even though the comeback has been largely positive -- with more great iterations than bad -- the rotten apples are still relatively noticeable in the basket.
So we’re still at the very start of the year, and my first dabble into the industrial metal scene of 2017 is not a pleasant one. I’d never heard of anything from Aborym previous, but I can’t say I was expecting a lot from Shifting.Negative
if we’re judging the book by its cover: the artwork reeks of the most generic and clichéd aesthetic you can get. Hell, even the album title tries its best to ensure you know this is an industrial record before you even listen to a note of it. But the content found within is far more severe than that of first appearances. As soon as you get through the first three tracks of this album you’ll be flabbergasted by how shamelessly these guys rip-off Nine Inch Nails -- having a particular hard-on for The Fragile
era -- with other artists of the genre such as Marilyn Manson, Dope and latter day Skinny Puppy and Ministry being unfortunate victims of influence to make this tripe. From the moment Shifting.Negative
starts it suffers terribly from fatigue, largely due to the vocals. The contrived, and frankly corny, “gruff” vocal performances are similar to the misfires Mortiis made on his comeback album last year; it’s the kind of style that tries dearly to make you think you’re listening to an authentic and genuine industrial metal album, but the end result is something that sounds tired from the moment it begins. But then, even with Mortiis’ shortcomings on his comeback LP he at least gave you something redeemable to take from it. This is far, far worse.
The biggest offender is the compositions themselves -- the way it’s all laid out. Tracks are so ham-fisted and awkward to sit through, there’s no tonal balance, only polar extremes being smashed together. The likes of “10050 Cielo Drive” and “Slipping Through The Cracks” showcase this album’s flaws best: these songs in particular try and use the same kind of dark, ambient approach to their electronics as Skinny Puppy did with one of their exceptional early 90s records, but this idea quickly loses its focus as it smears the vibe with forced thrashy guitars and double bass kicks set at break-neck speeds. This is all awkwardly done before finishing you off with some of the most stupidly out of place fret-wanking solos I’ve heard in a while; the kind of narcissistic self-indulgence that would make you think the guy was looking at himself in the mirror when he was recording it, and then see him patting himself on the back after he’d finished playing. They are that obnoxious. There’s really no context for any of the solos on this album other than to feed the clearly talented musician’s ego. They all feel out of place and hold no merit to the songs themselves: there’s no crescendo building, nothing set up for them, it’s just one jarring idea after the next before throwing in a few crazy solos. Taking the way the tracks are built to one side, other irritating aspects come from the vocal dynamic throughout: there’s the horrible, nasally squeal and gruff he mostly utilizes, but then we occasionally get these horrific Trent Reznor -- sometimes Jonathan Davis, NU-metal-esque -- impressions that attempt to give variety to the album. Bringing songs like the aforementioned and “For A Better Past” to even dire lows. These soft spoken sections (complete with all the hallmarks of the NIN sound attached) are basically rip-offs of what Reznor was doing on his more gentle tracks for NIN -- think “Hurt” and you’re pretty much there. The problem is these parts are vomit-inducing and are terribly placed in songs, adding nothing to an already rotten foundation, other than creating a bigger sense of confusion to these muddled tracks.
It’s rare that I stumble across an album with nothing good to say about it, but I really didn’t get a single good thing from Shifting.Negative
, other than anguish and despair -- ironically core ingredients needed for an album of this sort, and something Aborym has nothing of. If you’re looking for your latest dose of industrial metal, look else where. In fact, run away from this cookie-cutting piece of garbage, you’ll do yourself a world of good for it.