Brian Elza of Czar Picks the Top Five Industrial Songs by Metal Bands
Considering that the band members' roots lay in the Chicago industrial scene, with the now-defunct band Acumen Nation, Czar surprised listeners with 2011's excellent Vertical Mass Burial, an album of angular alt metal that suggests bands like Mastodon and Helmet more than it did, say, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails. Still, despite the stylistic shift, Czar maintain a love of industrial music, a passion they will get to indulge when they hit the road with Killing Joke this spring. Here, Czar guitarist Brian Elza picks his Top Five Industrial Songs by Metal Bands.
1. Nachtmystium, "No Funeral"
"I remember a lot of people hating on this song when it debuted, but it's probably my favorite on Addicts, amidst all the blast beats, trem-picking, and post-punk. With synths up front, drums so distorted they might as well be programmed, and monotone barking, this song sounds closer to dance goth like Electric Hellfire Club or even The Faint than USBM. And at the risk of sounding totally un-kvlt, 'No Funeral' is also the most memorable song on Addicts, boasting the album's catchiest riff--played on a synth! Good luck finding a live clip of this one."
2. Torche, "King Beef"
"Yes, this is one of those lava-slow Torche jams, but it's the inclusion of what sounds like a 16-bit steel drum from a Dr. Rhythm that really makes Torche's debt to Godflesh stand out. Instead of 'doom pop,' you get some seriously repetitive and unwelcoming shit, with minimalist drum patterns, zero guitar heroics, and a plodding second half that devolves into downtuned sludge. If you like this, check out the noisier, more organic industrial of Pigface, Young Gods, and, of course, Godflesh."
3. Gojira, "A Sight to Behold"
"A synth, vocoder, and basic rock beat set 'Sight to Behold' off from the rest of The Way of All Flesh. It might sound like the least industrial song on this list, but given Gojira's penchant for precise, tactical, mechanized chops, they have arguably learned the most from industrial. The verse starts with a slinky Sister Machine Gun-style groove before giving way to the guitar hammer-ons, punishing double kicks, and syncopated curveballs that are Gojira's trademarks."
4. The Dillinger Escape Plan, "Phone Home"
"After DEP's EP with Mike Patton, there were signs that new singer Greg Puciato would continue putting spazzy vocals over the band's spazzy mathcore. Cool. But for fans who were 43% burnt out on mosh jazz, he didn't just bring Patton's vocal range. He brought some mainstream tendencies, like good-cop choruses and Nine Inch Nails worship. This started on Miss Machine, especially with 'Phone Home,' a glitchy, sinister tune with a trip-hop beat, lurching choruses, and more dynamics than any other track on this list. It also kills live. Later songs like 'Parasitic Twins' and 'Widower' could've come right off The Fragile."
5. Blut Aus Nord, "Epitome XVII"
"This is a hard band to pin down, literally and musically. Over 10 albums, Blut Aus Nord have mixed black metal, industrial, darkwave, and more into something very 'other.' Which is why Cosmosophy took me by surprise, adding shoegaze to their minor chords, programmed drums, and howls. 'Epitome XVII,' the fourth song, takes the French band into shimmering, epic territory, sounding something like an uptempo Jesu or Bathory covering Tears for Fears. If this showed up on a Cleopatra Records comp in the early 90s, a lot of black eye makeup would've run for the chins."
Honorable Mention: Harm's Way, "Becoming"
"They might come from Chicago's hardcore scene, but the production on Isolation is metal as fuck. 'Becoming' takes Harm's Way to another extreme, adding industrial flourishes to an already slammed mix of kick, snare, dirty bass, and buzzsaw guitars. Now throw some echo on the vocals? Delay on a couple drums? Gain and gates on the others? "Special hi-hat programming"? Is that a synth towards the end? You could put this song on Filth Pig and no one would notice. Sold."