Sunday, 31 January 2016

BRAND-NEW FIXT SIGNING: THE ALGORITHM

Anything new on FIXT is a big deal, and this French signing ( formed in 2009 by programmer and composer Rémi Gallego, with drummer Mike Malyan added in 2011 ), is no exception. 
A mixture of Mathcore, Melodic Metal, and Prog Rock, The Algorithm's complicated soundscapes are perfectly encapsulated by their band logo: An unreadable piss-take of a 'Black Metal' insignia guaranteed to generate interest from the modern metal hardcore...as well as great t-shirt sales!




Wednesday, 27 January 2016

2016 ELECTRONIC ROCK SPECIAL: SYBREED, ZARDONIC, BLUE STAHLI, CELLDWELLER, JUNKIE XL!!

The following edition contains fantastic new interviews with Thomas from SYBREED, giving us the low-down on the demise of that band and the formation of his new one, OBSYDIANS, PLUS we have more ZARDONIC, ( tour interview and album review ), AND comprehensive reviews of the new FIXT releases by BLUE STAHLI & CELLDWELLER, plus a BRAND-NEW JUNKIE XL DEADPOOL MOVIE TRACK!




FUTURE-ROCKER IS THE HOME OF FUTURE DESIGN, ART, MOVIES, AND ELECTRONIC ROCK.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

NEWS! : DEADPOOL SOUNDTRACK...SPOT THE ( highly apt ) 'BEAT IT' SAMPLE!




The ever-dependable Milan Records* are releasing the Deadpool digital soundtrack on the same day that the film is released ( February 12th ), with the physical version arriving on March 4th. Junkie XL ( who also did Mad Max: Fury Road ) will be scoring the movie. As with other recent films, you can use the tracklist to attempt to figure out the film's plot in advance of its release. Although we here at Future Rocker HQ, are slightly puzzled as to how the story goes from 'A Face I Would Sit On' straight to Wham's schmaltzy 80s disco classic 'Careless Whisper', at the movie's finale..!

1. Angel of the Morning – Juice Newton
2. Maximum Effort
3. Small Disruption
4. Shoop – Salt-N-Pepa
5. Twelve Bullets
6. Man In A Red Suit
7. Liam Neeson Nightmares
8. Calendar Girl – Neil Sedaka
9. The Punch Bowl
10. Back To Life
11. Every Time I See Her
12. Deadpool Rap – Teamheadkick
13. Easy Angel
14. Scrap Yard
15. This Place Looks Sanitary
16. Watership Down
17. X Gon’ Give It To Ya - DMX
18. Going Commando
19. Let’s Try To Kill Each Other
20. Stupider When You Say It
21. Four Or Five Moments
22. A Face I Would Sit On
23. Careless Whisper – WHAM!

Below: Yes, this poster is real! Another classic from the exceptional DEADPOOL marketing campaign.


*Future Rocker has very happy college memories of the fantastic HARDWARE soundtrack, featuring Pil, Ministry and Pavarotti.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

CLASSIC TRACK: SYBREED'S 'EGO BYPASS GENERATOR', FROM THE ALBUM 'ANTARES'





CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL
ELECTRONIC ROCK SPECIAL!

OBSYDIANS IS THE NEW SYBREED: INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS 'DROP' BETRISEY

''I think 'Antares' is my fave too. I want to go more that way for OBSYDIANS.''


A rather nice but somewhat bittersweet aspect to the internet culture, is that you can unwittingly become a fan of a band years after they've stopped operating. So, while there are undoubtedly people out there still writing fan letters to Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison, you also get people like us at Future-Rocker getting massively into bands only to find, after a few Googles, that they no longer exist.

So it is with the monumental SYBREED. Formed in Switzerland in 2003 by guitarist and producer Thomas 'Drop' Betrisey, they were a virtuoso industrial metal band whose sound encapsulated tight-as-a-gnat's-arse metalcore riffage and the best use of a melodic/harsh vocal style since Ihsahn of Black Metal legends Emperor ( whom the singer Benjamin sometimes resembled vocally ).

Sybreed's four albums each built upon and refined their big, layered sound, but for us at Future-Rocker, it is the glorious 'Antares' ( the second album ) that is a true rock classic. Crushing industrial grooves, and screamed vocals contrasted with soaring, stadium-shagging choruses, cloaked in an otherworldly cosmic atmosphere, it is a truly uplifting sonic experience.



 We discovered 'Antares' thanks to French metal singer Rachel Aspe's heroic cover version of the album's opening track, 'Emma-O', on France Has Got Talent. We ask Thomas what it was like to see Sybreed gather a new following after the band sadly imploded.

FUTURE-ROCKER: First of all, we have to ask – what did you think of Rachel Aspe’s performance on France Has Got Talent?

I think it was pretty cool to see this on local television. I know a lot of people have been impressed by her performance. Also it's great to hear Sybreed's music on prime-time TV, and that would have never happened without this kind of performance. I would have liked it more if she were singing the chorus with clean vocals, but it was about a woman with a male voice so it would have been less impressive for a certain type of person.

Did you know that she was going to be doing it?

Yes. She wrote me a few months before, to ask if I could provide an instrumental version of Emma-0. I had to reopen the old Antares sessions and make a really quick mix before sending it over, but I think that was worth the time. And also I'm happy for her, I think this has contributed to her being hired by the French band ETHS.

How do you feel about it getting your music so much attention, given that Sybreed is no longer functioning?

It's always great to have your music broadcasted and liked by people, even after the band's death ... Anyway, I would prefer having less attention, and Sybreed still on air, but life's what it is, the balance between good and bad needs to be in the middle. Really great things happened since the split, things that would have not been the same with Sybreed alive.

Sybreed were a fantastic band, whose stature has probably grown since you split.

Thanks!

For those that don’t know, why did you split up?

The singer Benjamin decided to quit the band right before a huge European tour with Soilwork. He had some personal problems, and he had no other choice. I decided to not continue the band without him. I think the singer is more than 50% of the bands identity. I prefer to start something new, it's called Obsydians, it will be Sybreed-like music, with other singers.

Explain how you started out. How did you get to be both a great musician as well as producer?

My father is a musician, so I was kinda born with a guitar in my hands. I remember he has a Casio guitar that was making helicopter noises, a good thing to make your little boy start playing guitar, haha! I started writing songs at ten years old, recording with a tape machine he also bought for me. So I assume if people like my music, they have to thank him first.
I started my first band, Rain, in 1997, releasing a demo, three albums and two EP's until 2003. During these years the line up evolved, becoming Sybreed's line up. We decided to change name in 2004 and recorded our first album 'Slave Design', then 'Antares', 'The Pulse of Awakening', and finally, 'God is an Automaton' in 2012.
Besides that, I started producing bands since 2003, the first studio was called The Drone Studio, in my room. It all started when Rain's producer had to find a better job and he told me to finish the last EP on my own. And since 2011, I have Downtone Studio with two friends, a much bigger one this time. I'm really busy on it.

What’s the music scene like in Switzerland? - Along with Samael, Apollyon Sun ( Tom Gabriel's first band after Celtic Frost broke up ), and Young Gods, it’s seems that industrial rock and metal is quite prominent there.

I'm not really aware of the scene in Switzerland but I know we have a lot of great bands. Samael was my favorite band when I was a teenager, they changed a lot my way of making music, they were the major influence of my first band Rain.
I record a lot of bands in my studio Downtone Studio in Geneva, some good industrial metal from Switzerland, bands like Clawerfield and Nakaruga, that all the Sybreed fans will like for sure, check them out.
Also, my friends Promethee from Geneva are becoming big right now, I'm happy 'cause they really deserve it!

Are you also a permanent member of Samael, or was filling in on bass just a temporary thing?

Yes, I'm a permanent member now, I exchanged my guitar with a bass and let's go. I'm really happy about it, as I told you it was my favorite band some years ago, so it's like a child's dream coming true.

Below: Thomas ( left ) with SAMAEL.



 What are your influences?

I'm influenced by music, all kinds of music, from metal to electronic, I also really like rock music. I prefer melodic things. When I go on tour or on holiday, the traditional music of the country I'm in can provide some ideas too. I like to jam, but usually I have a melody or a riff in my mind before starting to record it. Everything needs to be done really quickly, without thinking a lot. I like honest things, the ideas of the moment. All Sybreed songs were composed really fast. Sometimes I don't even remember the song the day after, and that's good because I can be the external ear myself, haha!

Without wanting to limit what you do by labelling it...how do you describe your music?

Metal with electronics, cinematic influences and athletic riffs - ( producer ) Rhys Fulber found this last description, I think it's funny and true at the same time. I like a lot of layers, the music needs to be as wide as possible.

Give us your Top 5 list of classic albums, any genres.

This is not easy to chose, so I will write the first 5 that comes into my head, but you have to know there are around 100 more to add to that list :

* Samael "Passage"
* Depeche Mode "Songs of Faith and Devotion"
* The Smashing Pumpkins "Machina - The Machines of God"
* In Flames "Whoracle" or "The Jester Race" (impossible to chose here)
* Katatonia "The Great Cold Distance"

What are you listening to at the moment?

At this precise moment I'm under a palm tree in Mexico, listening to Soilwork's "The Ride Majestic" which is one of their best records to date, I really like it.
Ghost's "Meliora". For now it's my album of the year, so great, but a bit short. I love this band since the first album.
The new Soulsavers album ( Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode's side project ). I like the German electro producer Paul Kalkbrenner, he just released his new album "7" and I really like the vibe.
Leprous "The Congregation" what a great surprise, finally something fresh in metal.
Otherwise I like almost everything Ulver does, also the British band White Lies and also Foals, they both have they own style and it's hard to beat their melodies. And the list goes on and on.

What famous artists would you like to produce, and why?

Sevendust! I really liked their albums "Animosity" and "Seasons", and I think it went down since then, the albums need a wider sound and better arrangements!
Depeche Mode, that would be THE dream, and then I will be allowed to die in peace hahaha.

By the way, we're reviewing the Celldweller 'End of an Empire' box-set in this issue. We notice that you've done some great Celldweller remixes in the past. Have you actually met Klayton, or was it all done over the internet?


Thanks !! Actually I never met him, I never even got in touch with him at all, hahaha. The remix kits were downloadable on his website. I know, I just exploded some of the magic, but that's what it is!

( Just thinking out loud, how great would it be to hear a Drop-produced Samael album, or maybe even a remix album...that would be too good to be true! ).
Finally, bringing us fully up-to-date, we heard that your new band, OBSYDIANS, is apparently going to release an album soon. True?

Mmm, I would have loved to say yes, but we only have a few riffs, and my schedule of the past two years has been really tight, and we didn't have the time to write properly. But I'm planning to start it before the end of the 2015. Anyway, don't expect anything before fall of 2016.

Below: An early selfie of OBSYDIANS ( l-r Thomas, Ales & Kevin ).



When the band debuts, what can the fans expect from your new music?

Sybreed! And the concept is to have different singers on all the songs, a really diverse album, with a lot of different influences. I already have some ideas written down in my phone, so now we just need to start writing songs for the singers we'd like to be on board.

Your second album 'Antares' was / is an all-time classic.

Thanks a bunch, man. I think 'Antares' is my fave too. I want to go more on that way for Obsydians.

Are you on a label yet?

No label for now. And I think we'll start releasing songs on BandCamp, then we'll see.

Any tours lined up?

Nothing for now, Samael's schedule is really busy too, and I don't want it to collide, 'cause I know Obsydians will have to cancel shows. And with a different singer in each song, that would be hard to tour. But we want to make some shows for sure, so this will happen before the world ends - I need to be quick, I think!
Also, I forgot to mention that Ales and Kevin from Sybreed, respectively bassist and drummer are permanent members of Obsydians. So when I say Sybreed as the key-word, I know I'm right.

Your next live appearance with Samael will be on the '70,000 Tons of Metal' tour in a couple of weeks. Sounds like a great excuse for a paid holiday, with a who's-who of mostly European metal. Your thoughts?

I'm looking forward to it! I know some people that already did this experience, as a band or as a fan, both sides told me it's something extraordinary. Samael already did the trip a few years ago. So yeah, I'm really excited about it. Metalheads in Jamaica, what an interesting concept!

Fantastic, thanks for bringing us up-to-date, Thomas!

Thanks to you!!

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CLICK HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T YET HEARD OUR CLASSIC SYBREED TRACK 'EGO BYPASS GENERATOR'

ZARDONIC'S GUIDE TO DJ-ING - PLUS NEW STUDIO MIXTAPE!

Future-Rocker caught up with Zardonic between recent gigs, to get the inside scoop on touring and album production.  

''People go there to see Zardonic. And Zardonic they will hear''



It takes some balls for a DJ to compose and record his own music and then DJ it at a gig. What was it like the first time you played your own tunes at an event?

It sure does, and Zardonic has BALLS OF STEEL!! Nukemisms aside, it was interesting! Especially because when I started, I was still on that trial and error process any self-taught artist and engineer has. Monitors? I barely had some Maxell headphones and some Hi-Fi speakers. With enough time and practice, I mastered my own sound, but you don't expect to have a club-ready mix with your first few tracks. I think the very first time I played my own tunes was at some house party in the middle of nowhere. And I remember being extremely excited about it. All I wanted was to play. I didn't care about any of the business side of it. Just me playing shit out of Traktor v 2.0 on my old ass Pentium D computer. Oh, did I mention I didn't have a laptop? Yep. Me, my computer monitor, my PC tower, some old ass keyboard and mouse. No fancy stuff. Just me and my passion and nothing in between. Good old days!

What do you do onstage to your own tunes to make them different from just playing the CD as it is?

I've started to add little toys to my setup to make it all more fun and interesting. I don't really use the sync button either, as convenient as that might be, but might have to start doing so, if I want to do what I want to do - which is having a semi-live act so to say. That's why it's so easy for a lot of DJs to play four decks and market themselves as veterans. It's all in the sync button. And I'm not against it. People need to understand that being a DJ is exactly that. It doesn't make them better or worse than the next musician. It's simply a different art and a different delivery. Go ahead and get on stage and do the same shit and see if you can do it any better. And whoever knows how to do it and can deliver a powerful result whatever the method, that's perfect in my book. I don't think the main stage at Tomorrowland would benefit from having Zakk Wylde playing the guitar instead, the same way Wacken wouldn't benefit from having Calvin Harris on it. Or would it? Zardonic ft. Zakk Wylde. Hmm. I like the sound of that.

Describe the composing and recording process for the album.

Lots, lots, lots, lots, and lots of experimentation. And then some. Until I have gigabytes worth of sample-packs I designed on my own. Then I choose whatever inspires me from there, and that works as the main spark for an entire tune. "Pure Power", for example, the intro loop, that was pretty much where the song was born from. Everything else derived from there. "Raise Hell", the first guitar riff you hear. "Antihero", the bleeping loop. I try to find a midpoint between the composition ethos of an EDM producer and a Metal composer. It all starts with a loop, and then I add enough variations and things to it, so it maintains that human touch most dance music has been lacking for a long, long time.

Describe how you plan a gig. For instance, how audiences differ, and how you plan in advance.

Planning for every single crowd you play for is not something I exactly agree with. I'm not a DJ that plays what people like. People go there to see Zardonic. And Zardonic they will hear. I think that's part of the misconception of a DJ these days. I was talking to Savant about it the other day, I remember him and his manager Josh saying "Fuck being a DJ". Best quote ever right there. What we obviously mean is not to ditch the CDJs or the turntables if you will, we simply mean fuck being what people think a DJ should be. We are artists. We play our shit, we play what we like and you follow or leave. I've never cleared a single dancefloor in my entire career. I've played Electro at Drum & Bass shows, Hardcore at House festivals, you name it. It's just me and I go with the flow. Eventually you do know that some people like certain things, others like other things. Russians LOVE their hard music but don't like Hard Techno, for example. Venezuelans love it. Florida is all about the four-to-the-floor, so my Industrial Electro works better there. Holland is all about crossbreed. Atlanta is more about trap and dubstep and whatever. That doesn't mean I haven't played Hard Techno for the Russians or Electro for the Polish. And again, not a simple complaint. It makes perfect sense. If you keep the crowd grabbed by the balls at all times, there's no time for them to rest, then you burn them, and I don't mean that in a good way. If there's something I've learned in 11 years of career is that people also like to listen to music, not only dance to it, and are more appreciative of an interesting set than a bunch of drops one after another.

Any chance of a full DJ set being released on CD, such as the excellent Moscow World of Drum and Bass gig..? - You should definitely sample that Russian announcer saying ''ZAARRRDONNNNNNIIIIICCCCC'' for a future song!


AGREED!!! Dude, I fucking love those voices. They use them all over Russia. I might actually do that for next time. I'll hit them up about it! I would love for a full set to be released on CD, who knows man! That's a great idea right there for sure!


REVIEWS: ZARDONIC, BLUE STAHLI & CELLDWELLER

Rock groups can be a nuisance. They’re costly. They need feeding and watering, and constantly exercising. Occasionally they’ll piss themselves or sh*t on the carpet. Worst of all, they have a tendency to expire at really inopportune moments. Which is why, since the advent of electronic music, some musicians opt to go out alone and save themselves the hassle of sharing royalties with a bunch of annoying, sweaty idiots on a bus.

The autumn / winter of 2015 / 2016 is unique in that it has seen three acts at the vanguard of electronic rock-n-roll releasing important albums within weeks of each other. Whether it’s a bonafide musical movement, electronic rock / metalstep / MetaLectro or whatever the hell you want to call it, has garnered hundreds of thousands of diehard fans and generated a growth industry at a time when the conventional music industry is flatlining.

ZARDONIC – ANTIHERO ( eOne Records, CD / download )


Zardonic’s album ‘Antihero’ feels like both a political manifesto, as well as the soundtrack to a running street battle. Even though the album’s subject matter amounts to nothing more than an emphatic twenty-first century fight for your right to party, the politics comes from the knowledge that the DJ left a precarious existence in Venezuela to bring his singularly unique Dance Metal hybrid to the rest of the world. Put it this way – attitudinally, this album is closer in spirit to Sepultura’s ‘Refuse/Resist’ than Limp Bizkit’s ‘Rollin’. 

Opening with the sound-montage ‘World at War’, we are ushered into a futuristic soundscape of crunching metal riffs, loops, FX and crisp beats. In fact, the production as a whole stands out, having a clean modern metal vibe backed by punchy drums that are upfront and clear - as you would expect from what is essentially a dance album. On the two-disk version you have the choice of tracks both with and without lead vocals. Personally I prefer the ones with vocals, simply because they give the song context, although after a few plays, you may feel like hearing the music unadorned with vox.
This album is not afraid to shred either, as guitar solos are plentiful. Zardonic clearly does not try to anticipate or second-guess what a dance audience thinks. As he says in the interview: ‘People go to hear Zardonic and Zardonic they will hear.’’

It’s difficult to isolate a standout track, as the album works cohesively either as a collection of singles or a whole work of sonic art, but mention must be made of the fourth track ‘Vigilante’, which sounds like a 21st Century update of KMFDM’s stomping industrial metal - with an added dash of Pantera's 'fist-skull-break!' ferocity.




A tortuous electronic loop intro opens the next track, into a Laibach-style industrial stomp-fest, before ushering in the kind of Dubstep that sounds like a 300-foot tall robot kicking over the Empire State Building. The titles give an indication of the general thrust of this album: ‘Vigilante’, Override’, ‘For Justice’ and ‘The Time Is Now’ - one gets the feeling that Zardonic knows he is in a unique place and time where pop culture taste is finally catching up with him, and he’s the one that seized the moment.

BLUE STAHLI – THE DEVIL ( Fixt Music, CD / download )


Bret Autry, AKA ‘Blue Stahli’ is definitely a musician from the ‘more is more’ school of sonic bombardment. After an atmospheric intro, opening track ‘It’s Not Over til We Say So’ assaults the listener with a Cradle of Filth-style barrage of riffs and artillery drumming, before segueing into the typical pop rock mode he’s known for. With a guest bass and backing vocal turn from four-string virtuoso Emma Anzai ( of Sick Puppies fame ), ‘It’s Not Over’ sets out the battle-plan from the get-go: Wall-of-noise rock, busy electronica, leavened brilliantly by the most insanely catchy pop-hooks you’ll hear all year. ( Although, this listener would love to hear a remix with Anzai’s bass skills brought to the fore ).


Once acclimatised to the full-speed ahead approach, the listener may be able to appreciate the cheeky humour of the composer, his skill with instruments, and the myriad sonic flourishes ( the album was produced by Celldweller mastermind Klayton, with additional mixing by industrial music veteran Rhys Fulber ), and also marvel at his facility with what we used to refer to as ‘a tune’.  

Stylistically, during the more mid-tempo parts, this reviewer is reminded of 90s industrial rock duo Filter, while in the heavier parts, the manic intensity of Devin Townsend is recalled. Throw in a nod to Muse on ‘The Fall’ ( with its layered vocal harmonies ), and a wink at Dream Theater for the wah-wah riff on ‘Shoot Em Up’, and you pretty much have Blue Stahli down. On the final stretch we get a superbly malevolent lead vocal from Mark Salomon on ‘You’ll Get What’s Coming’ which allows the album a neat gear-shift away from Bret’s customary yelp.

Subject matter on the album generally covers the gamut of fighting, shooting, and blowing sh*t up, with some spiky religious allusions thrown in for good measure. As a genre you could perhaps label it First-Person Metal - indeed it’s notable that Autry’s main job is providing soundtracks to video games and trailers for films like Iron Man. Because of this, there’s a refreshing economy in his compositions, and, like his day-job suggests, there is no room for filler – only killer. The Devil is an ideal album for people whose idea of relaxation is to watch a Jerry Bruckheimer film while bingeing on a family pack of Skittles and Red Bull. In other words, it’s loud, attention grabbing, occasionally disorientating... but also a hell of a lot of fun.

CELLDWELLER – BLACKSTAR SCORE ( Fixt Music, CD / download )


Without wanting to draw too many parallels, it seems oddly synchronous that Klayton himself resembles a cyber-culture analogue of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, and that this conclusion to his 'Blackstar' song cycle is released within weeks of Bowie's final opus, also entitled 'Blackstar'.
That aside, in terms of CD output, this is a very interesting sidestep in Celldweller’s oeuvre ( although not entirely unexpected, because Klayton has often spoken about how much he would love to score movies such as 'Tron' or 'Bladerunner' ).  Therefore, ‘Blackstar’ is a luxurious exercise in the current trend for cosmic synth-driven faux movie soundtracks.

Opener ‘Retros’ underlines an interest he has in science fiction and synth scores: It is sweeping, cinematic, and greatly reminiscent of Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack. A very impressive opener, which is then slightly curveballed by the following track, ‘Purified’, which starts appropriately enough like a Tron remix, but very quickly lurches sideways into an innard-shaking MetalStep workout that is typical later-period Celldweller. Compositionally though, it is more like a sound-collage and not a conventionally constructed or resolved song, and that perhaps explains why it doesn’t warrant inclusion on the actual ‘The End of an Empire’ album ( review below ). Even so, one suspects it is placed to attract the Celldweller headbanging die-hards who may have wavered over buying this purely instrumental album. Following on, ‘The Possibilities of Purpose’ has a celestial choir backed a synth riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Jean Michel Jarre album, while ‘A Dystopian Utopia’ features an eerie choral effect similar to Ligeti’s on Kubrick’s ‘2001’ soundtrack. It is meant to convey a vast and cosmic presence, and does so superbly. ‘The Undercity’ uses a pulsing didgeridoo-stab chased by some glitch effects while ‘Lost Treasures’ brings to mind another French electronic maestro, Vitalic, from his album OK Cowboy. Revisiting favourite movies, ‘6:17’ sounds like a love theme from the aforementioned BladeRunner soundtrack, and heading towards the album’s conclusion, ‘On the Surface of Scardonia’ is particularly effective: A composition anchored by ominous electronic reverberations, with eerie eastern cadences flitting back and forth across the soundscape. Akin to waking up on the surface of a planet-sized supercomputer and feeling it think



The album brings you back to earth with the concluding ‘Echoes of Time’ a track that would doubtless find itself onto myriad yoga compilations - a great future market for Klayton to exploit!

Celldweller has established a neat ‘look’ to his albums, and this is no different: A very punchy sci-fi concept-art cover that will grab gamers and comic-con fans alike. It does make me wonder what a more unusual and counter-intuitive cover could have done for the ‘feel’ of the album, as the music is certainly powerful enough to stand outside the regular Celldweller branding, and attract a more crossover audience.

All in all, this is an unexpectedly strong album, and as a potential composer for future Hollywood blockbusters, Klayton / Celldweller acquits himself well. 

Most definitely not a throwaway side-project, rather, a weighty augmentation to his regular cyber rock-n-roll output.


CELLDWELLER – END OF AN EMPIRE

Fixt Music, 5-CD collector’s edition / download, vinyl )


As a listener who prefers to digest Celldweller in an album format, it’s been a frustrating few years. Not least, because of Klayton’s very generous internet dissemination of standalone songs, as and when they’re completed. This leaves album fans trying to avoid spoilers, and praying that FIXT hasn’t given up on the CD / album format altogether.
Seemingly with that in mind, the label has put together this definitive collection of just about every iteration of track from the END OF AN EMPIRE song cycle.

DISK 1 ( album proper ) & DISK 3 ( instrumental version ).

The human auditory system has so far taken 120-million years to evolve. To completely absorb the sonic bigness of this album, we probably need another hundred million or so to grow an additional set of ears, because it is only when played out of a great sound-system do you begin to grasp the meticulous production that comprises ‘Empire’.

Window-rattling bass frequencies vie for airspace amongst crushing metal riffage, topped off with both lush and screamo vocals, and the now obligatory Godzilla / dubstep FX.
Those of you who may have already absorbed the ‘Empire’ material online may still find something of interest in the ‘instrumental version’ of the album ( Disk 3 ). With the realisation that this disk doesn’t feel like a cheap add-on, it is instead a great way to properly absorb the intricately layered sonics, and furthermore, surprises the listener by how just how complete it feels, even without vocals. In fact, it is so fully-resolved that you find yourself going back to the ‘proper’ album just to remind yourself how the vocals fitted-in the first place.






It seems that Klayton is not just a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, but also a sound designer. Most, if not all, of the Celldweller output has the feel of a futuristic movie soundtrack, hence my mentioning the need for multiple speakers, and an enhanced human auditory system, because sounds attack you from every conceivable angle. Please, do not just listen to this streamed, or on some shitty earphones. Insist on the full fidelity.

Running the full gamut from faux-soundtrack, to stadium-chewing cyber-rock, the only time you step outside the Klayton-sphere is perhaps the track ‘Down To Earth’ whose intro is so like classic late 80s / early 90s NIN that it immediately has you YouTubing Trent Reznor’s ‘Broken / Fixed’ EPs for a second opinion. Absolutely superb, the track is a fitting nod to a much-respected pioneer.

Roughly at the halfway point, ‘Just Like You’ provides a needed respite, as it is the nearest the album gets to a conventional ballad. This is followed by ‘Good Luck ( You’re F**ked )’ crashing the listener back to earth with its jerky electropunk-metal. A couple of tracks later, and never one to miss a marketing opportunity, with ‘Breakout’ Klayton teases the listener with a nod to his other persona SCANDROID, a deliberately trad electronic act he formed with Nick Kaelar, AKA Varien. Namechecking the Scandroid side-project must mean that there is an imminent album in 2016, and that this incredibly productive phase of Klayton’s has yet to lose any traction. The final track, ‘Precious One’ sounds like a Queen vocal harmony mash-up with ‘For Those About to Rock’ grandiosity, and thus closes the album on the appropriate note of triumphalism. Job done!

DISK 2: FACTIONS

'Factions' is a rather intriguing deconstruction of the ‘Empire’ album with added voice-over parts. Re-assembled into a soundtrack album, one can assume it’s a premonition of a future concept album, perhaps in the vein of Queensryche’s ‘Operation: Mindcrime’. Although it’s probably more likely that Hollywood will hand Klayton a real soundtrack project before that. There's some interesting moments on it, and while not as solidly resolved as 'Blackstar Score', for those wishing for more Klayton soundtrack music, it's a nice diversion until he releases another proper album.

DISKS 4 & 5: REMIXES

The final two disks comprise re-worked 'Empire' tracks from notables such as Zardonic, Rhys Fulber, Combichrist and many others. Taken as a whole, the sheer amount of material in the collectors' box means that the now-customary remixes are maybe best left for a rainy day when compiling a new mixtape or playlist, or when you've played the rest of the album into the ground. Nevertheless, there are some great examples that will suit every taste, such as the aggressive version of 'New Elysium' by Zardonic ( below ).





Song-wise, EMPIRE is a huge improvement on its predecessor WISH UPON A BLACKSTAR. That second album, despite being years in gestation, felt anticlimactic and rather half-baked in comparison to the genre-busting - and much-loved - debut album. Despite the sophomore hiccup, Klayton’s skilful management of his online persona, constant drip-feed of new - and better - material, meant that now this completed album has finally dropped, there is a huge and receptive audience ready and waiting for it. It certainly does not disappoint.

ARTIST NOTES: PAYING TRIBUTE TO MARVEL COMICS' JACK KIRBY

Axel here. You may notice that for this Electronic Rock Special Edition we decided to 'dress' it in the rather vibrant art style of Marvel Comics maestro, Jack Kirby. Kirby specialised in visualising the idea of 'the cosmic' - whether that be alien races ( The Inhumans, The Eternals, The New Gods, etc. ) or worlds and vast galactic vistas. Certainly, the futuristic sounds covered in this edition seemed to warrant appropriately out-there imagery.



Below: KLAYTON [Celldweller] by Axel Ki





Many Kirby enthusiasts acknowledge that his best work was probably inked by Joe Sinnott, who perfectly captured and enhanced Kirby's insanely prolific output at it's absolute peak, most notably in the pages of the groundbreaking comic magazine, Fantastic Four.

One thing I did notice as I started this project, was that I could only do a good imitation of the Kirby style in pencils. It was when I began to ink them in that my shortcomings became glaringly apparent. Having done the pencils on regular drawing paper ( I like to keep it 'organic' and avoid using drawing tablets ), I found that using Rotring technical pens soon 'dug up' the surface of the paper, leaving clumps of inky fibre on the surface. Once I'd gotten round that, I realised that the best I could probably manage was an approximation of the slightly later Marvel artist, Herb Trimpe. Trimpe's art, back in the day, was regarded as a poor man's Kirby and a by-word for the journeyman jobbing artist. This is unfair, because with the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that Trimpe was also an arch stylist who is due more respect.


Below: ZARDONIC by Axel Ki




Scratchy paper and ink blobs aside, I did have in mind that I wanted the artwork to look cheap and degraded anyway, in the same way that comics would have looked back in the day, as the paper quality and ink technology would have given them that reductive 'Four-Color Comic' effect. Which of course - also with hindsight - to us with our modern eyes, looks beautiful and has a charm that modern comics lack.


Below: BLUE STAHLI by Axel Ki




Once the characters of the Kirby-ized Blue Stahli, Celldweller and Zardonic were drawn, abstract shapes were hastily added, in the form of cosmic-looking machines and gadgetry ( also pencil and ink ) and to fill out the background, some random vector shapes.

To complete the cosmic overload, we decided to colour the whole issue like the recent Jack Kirby 'Lord Of Light' Heavy Metal Magazine special ( see the film ARGO for the back story on this ). Finally, experimenting with layers of noise, speckles and blur, we hoped that the final art would come out looking like a cheap comic page.

Whether we succeeded or not is debateable. All I know is that one can't just 'do' an exact Kirby, Sinnott or even Trimpe. They are legends in comic and pop art. The best we latecomers can manage is an homage. Hopefully we succeeded at that.




- Axel



Wednesday, 20 January 2016

FUTURE-ROCKER IS...

ALEXI - Art Direction & Text.

ECHELON - Editing.

AXEL - 'Kirby Homage' Art and Wallpaper.

2016 is the year of the superheroes...comprehensive reviews and new art & music coming soon!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

DAVID BOWIE: STARMAN




At Future-Rocker we were obviously shocked and saddened to hear about David Bowie's passing. He was a British cultural icon, and the original 'Future Rocker'. Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

DAVID BOWIE

8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

REST IN PEACE


Art by Alexi K


Here's an excellent piece of 'lost footage', rescued by the BBC cameraman for his own collection ( in the old days, the BBC were in the habit of erasing over tapes to save money ). Top of the Pops was also known for its lip-synching artists, so seeing Bowie, Ronson and co. do it live makes it all the more special.




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COMING SOON: As well as that, we have interviews with Thomas 'Drop' Betrisey of SYBREED talking about his new project, we'll be reviewing the entire CELLDWELLER deluxe boxset of the new End Of An Empire album, and catch up with a post-tour ZARDONIC.
See you soon.