Review Summary: "Industrial" is the portrait of one band still living in the shadow of another, but a punishing listen regardless.
Fans of heavy music in the 90s may remember Pitchshifter as that one goofy nu metal band with the Prodigy style breakbeats, but before Pitchshifter made their mainstream breakthrough, they were a much heavier, more sinster industrial metal act. Their debut album, the plainly and aptly named "Industrial," has been mostly forgotten to history; overshadowed by its most obvious influence- Godflesh's "Streetcleaner."
Yes, "Industrial" utilizes drum machines, grinding, mechanical riffs, and a generally oppressive atmosphere that are very reminiscent of Godflesh's opus and it can be easy to accuse Pitchshifter of being rip off artists on first listen. Yet the band do attempt to incorporate enough of their own style and flavour to keep the album at least somewhat fresh sounding. For one, the band take pretty overt influence from death metal with the instrumentals occasionally speeding up into territory very reminiscent of old school British death metal such as on the song "Gravid Rage." The vocals are all delivered in very low death growls as well furthering their death metal connections. The band also aren't afraid to throw out some experiments like the very ominous and repetitive "New Flesh," which is a sound collage of various interviews set against an eerie, droning bassline. Experiments like this help break up the generally mechanical and repetitious pacing of the album and add some much needed variety to "Industrial's" sound. This is about all the band really manage to bring to the table but they at least help to somewhat distinguish themselves from their obvious influences.
Still, it's hard to escape the ever present feeling that Pitchshifter's debut is simply a less mature "Streetcleaner." Take the lyrics for example- "Hate/I Hate/You mother***er, drown/bleed/I wish you would," on the opening track "Landfill" is so edgy and stupid that it feels almost unintentionally funny. While the album does make attempts to distinguish itself, it really wouldn't be until later that Pitchshifter would manage to distance themselves from Godflesh's shadow, recruiting a live drummer, incorporating melody, and experimenting with breakdbeat influences which would help them gain international attention. Nonetheless, "Industrial" remains a punishing and powerful listen, a derivative one, but one worth checking out for any curious fan of industrial metal.