CD, Artoffact, 2005
I hadn’t actually heard any of the German act Steril prior to being asked to do this review. A quick search on Google revealed that they have in fact existed for more than a decade, and have five full releases in their discography. This latest one – a sort of remastered greatest hits compilation – named “400 Years of Electronic Music”, released on Artoffact, is a sort of forerunner to their upcoming album to be entitled “Realist”.
One of the things that immediately caught my attention when listening to this CD was how (European accents not accounted for) American it actually sounds. By “American”, I mean that it genre-wise follows the style of cyberpunkish industrial rock fused with techno, breakbeats and hip-hop that was especially characteristic of the late 80s up through the late 90s, and is notably still featured in many of the more action oriented sci-fi movies and computer games of this day and age. Bands like Pop Will Eat Itself, Front 242, Frontline Assembly and many now broken up pop-industrial-rock acts seem so obviously influential to Steril that I found myself waiting for the mandatory Die Krupps, KMFDM, 16 Volt and Birmingham 6 remixes while listening to the record the first time. And that wasn’t too far off, as – lo and behold – another look at the track list revealed a Swamp Terrorists remix (which is actually decent, I might add) at the end of the CD!
The first track on the CD, “Strange Pusher”, is one of the newer ones, and actually stands out in the way that it is compositionally interesting compared to so much other tripe that gets released in the industrial/EBM scene today. It’s a sort of hard electro/goa style song with some unconventional vocals. It vibes in a way that brings back memories of the days of White Zombie techno remixes galore, as well as the “Bible of Dreams”-era Juno Reactor. While the vocals are kind of cool, I don’t really get the lyrics. I’m not sure if I’m really supposed to either.
The second track that I found above the rest was track #12, “Temper” – a punchy, aggro-industrial metal type song from 1994, with a sound close to both Numb and Die Krupps. I found the rest of the songs to be so-so: Very catchy, well made and decently produced, often with good, heavy guitars, several layers and synthlines… but a bit too much like P.W.E.I., and a bit too dance-floor oriented.
In conclusion, without having heard any of Steril’s other releases, I would say that this is probably a very good introduction to them. Despite most of the songs not being that original or innovative, they’re in no way bad, and it’s made me interested enough to want to check out their upcoming album.
— Jonas Mansoor