Review Summary: Freakangel have a goal in their sites, they just have a little further to go before they reach it. Until then, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Although originally born as a side project for D. Darling’s full time work in Suicidal Romance, Estonian industrial outfit Freakangel has taken on a life of its own recently. Originally following a similar form of EBM to Suicidal Romance’s trademark sound, over time Freakangel have shifted focus more and more onto the guitars and metamorphosed into a veritable industrial metal machine. Their latest effort, How the Ghost Became, is the latest step in their evolution.
Industrial beats and mechanical rhythms are the name of the game on How the Ghost Became. Everything is delivered with precision aggression as D. Darling spits out the venom with his barking vocals. The danceable elements of his older output feel considerably more subdued this time out, though, as the electronics are reduced to a backing role in the music, providing the atmosphere and adding a cold and unwelcoming tone against the crushing guitars, such as in the single “In the Witch House”.
In this respect, Freakangel feel like a more gothic interpretation of the brand of industrial music that Cyanotic presented on their 2015 effort Worst Case Scenario. Songs like “Make Me Disappear” have a real lack of industrial elements to them, almost becoming straight up metalcore if it weren’t for the oh-so-subtle synths adding an extra texture to the track. The creeping progression of “Hell and Back” is another standout moment that really works to Freakangel’s strengths, with the addition of female vocals giving it something different and standing as an album highlight.
The only real concern I have over this album is that I’m not sure that Freakangel have yet been able to strike the right balance between their EBM origins and the industrial metal approach they want to head down, in order to carve out their own identity. Too often I find myself comparing this to other industrial acts I’ve heard before (such as Combichrist and the aforementioned Cyanotic, or even Coal Chamber’s more industrial influenced moments), but they have elements in there which I believe they can utilise to establish their own sound. D. Darling is a solid vocalist and the occasional gothic flourishes can add an extra dimension to what they’re doing, if they added more of those melodies they would stand further apart from their contemporaries.
Overall, this is another excellent step in Freakangel’s development. Still some rough edges and at times feeling like they’re at a crossroads, but delivered with such precision and immersion that you don’t really have the time to notice these flaws when you’re submerged in their industrial anarchy. Freakangel have a goal in their sites, they just have a little further to go before they reach it. Until then, just sit back and enjoy the ride.