Album Review: Vampyre Anvil – Tetsuo
Back in my high school years, I was turned onto the mainstream industrial canon (NIN, Marilyn Manson, Gravity Kills) by my older step-brother who wisely knew there was more to the world than nu-metal. But it was at the point that he started getting into more esoteric, “traditional” industrial (Velvet Acid Christ, VNV Nation) that I went in a totally different direction; I became obsessed with digital hardcore, which came by an industrial-sounding aesthetic from the direction of punk, fusing molten, mutilated dance music with the obnoxiousness of punk turned to 11. Not that we didn’t share those obsessions but we had our respective specialties. Vampyre Anvil is somewhat of a marriage of those two obsessions and yet harkens back to those “mainstream” industrial icons whose music we both appreciated deeply.
This comes as no surprise; one half of Vampire Anvil is Jason Novak whose career in industrial music began in the late eighties with Acumen Nation, a prolific and well known industrial duo focusing on bringing industrial to the dancefloor. The other half is the equally prolific, if newer, Sean Payne aka Cyanotic, whose style is ferociously hard hitting and influenced more by metal and digital hardcore than dance music. Like I said, Vampyre Anvil is a hybrid creature, as the name so unsubtly implies.
As a hybrid though, Vampyre Anvil is quite at war with itself and the carnage wreaked on their debut album Tetsuo (no word on whether it’s the live action or animated one) is sometimes magnificent but always chaotic. At times, tracks like “Million Mutant March” and “Stupid Is As Stupid Is” are messy, lurching abominations that try to meet halfway between the two styles and trade the difference. It’s on songs like “Carry A Knife To A Gunfight” and “Eclipse” that the power of their combination stands out; on the former, Novak appears to be infusing Payne’s crushing style with catchy rhythms and melodies, while “Eclipse” could be a limp and passable instrumental section if not for the depth of Payne’s sound sculpting.
While neither artist is known for their darker sounds, Vampyre Anvil bears more than trace of the sullen bitterness of early Nine Inch Nails, the distorted roar of FX-laden vox repeatedly receding through the album in favor of muted, gothic mourning. By focusing on this meeting point outside the typical wheelhouse of both musicians, Vampyre Anvil finds its own place in their canon, spinning a moodier and deeper take on the industrial dance music both artists are known for. Still, this is unashamedly a contemporary industrial album and there are many moments where the beats dominate the entire sound, alienating anyone looking for something more complex or old-school. But those who hear the big drum sounds and dismiss this immediately are missing out on a deeper experience than one listen can provide.
Melody + Intensity
"Huge" Drum Sound
Heavy Vox FX