CD, BitRiot Records, 2010
Remarkably, it’s now nearly five years since “Transhuman” first made its splash into the industrial world, and “The Medication Generation” takes up similar lyrical themes (scene apathy and fashionistas, medication, politics) to before but advancing the lyrics and the music that goes with it to a striking degree. It is perhaps most interesting that the best of the songs are the ones previously unreleased.
So, those new songs. “Med:Gen” introduces things with a mash-up of samples setting the stall out, working nicely as a little breather to get you ready for the slug in the gut that is “Dose Responsive”. If you had any reservations that Sean Payne’s band couldn’t match the heights reached on the first album, here’s your answer. A short sample, and the blastbeats then come through the walls at you. It’s really loud, brutally heavy, massively anthemic, densely packed with samples and bleeps, and has an awesome cyclic riff across the chorus that would suit Fear Factory in their prime.
What else is new? “Dissonant Dissident” grinds out a slower groove, and it doesn’t appear to be that impressive a track to start with. But give it a few listens on headphones and all kinds of details become clear – a recurring theme through many tracks on this album. The level of detail and intricacy in the mix of this album is truly extraordinary. Nothing goes to waste, no sample is out of place, and the heaviness, of which there is a lot, is never overdone.
The real gems of the new tracks, though, are a run through the middle section, begun with the searing, snarling “f@5h10n v1k+um5”, a tirade against the type of industrial club whose punters are rooted in the one style along with the music. Appropriately enough, musically it’s as far from a standard “industrial” dancefloor track as you might find, drenching the pounding beats in reverb and twisting guitar lines, and stretching out the pauses between verses and choruses to breaking point.
It gets better. “The Same” is effectively the intro to “Programmed”, and the pair are astounding. Bass drops abound amid a surging beat that picks up pace into a monster of a chorus, that reminds me of Pitchshifter at the peak of their powers, while lyrically continuing to tear into those who stick with what they know rather than pushing forward.
A reminder that Cyanotic don’t do everything at full pelt comes with the dubby, lengthy “Monochrome Skies”. It starts out delicately enough – well, aside from the masses of bass – with a dreamy guitar line, but it’s swiftly put to one side for the awesome, chugging riff that dominates sections of the track. Things end kind of strangely, too. “Comadose” is mellow and languid, and feels like the track that should be ending the album, but it’s followed by the most overtly metal track here, “Sentient”, where Sean Payne unleashes his inner Rob Flynn to impressive effect – just check that monster of a riff that tears out of the speakers.
What of the tracks already heard? After all, some of those songs have been kicking around for a good couple of years now – and some of them have had significant reworkings. “Alt.Machine” has been shortened a little and toughened up to sound every inch the armour-plated dancefloor stormer it should be, “The Static Screens” is now actually the sensory and media overload it is meant to represent, while on “Brutal Deluxe” they’ve somehow pulled the trick of making it much, much heavier: it’s dominated by a thunderous breakbeat that socks you in the gut, hard.
Sean Payne and the rest of the band haven’t wasted the last five years – in fact, it’s been quite the opposite. They’ve reached for a form of sonic perfectionism that in some hands would sound like they were trying too hard, but in these hands it’s resulted in an astoundingly detailed and rewarding listen that brings new treats every time you listen, as the sheer depth of the production means there is a lot to explore. Do I really need to tell you this is to be best played very loud indeed? I’m going to be playing this to everyone I know to remind them that cool new bands are there if you look and listen for them. Industrial just got a fresh shot in the arm.
— Adam Williams