02 November 2017 (released)
13 December 2017
Industrial music began its life as the demon spawn of synthpop and heavy metal. The sounds of grinding gears and banging anvils gave metal players another way to be heavy while those same clanging elements were able to give synthpop artists an added layer of gravitas to explain their increasingly emotionally turbulent situations. Back then, the art form was just the purview of the insular, black-clad gothic community. Soon, popular artists would start to pick up on it and incorporate elements into their work. David Bowie's nineties output is majorly informed by the genre, spreading its soundscape to a much larger audience. Meanwhile, bands like Nine Inch Nails were slowly cracking into the cultural zeitgeist with dance hits that turned heads like a scandalous dirty secret. Fast forward to today and we don't realize that the genre's influence is everywhere. Listen to a modern movie score, the fingerprints of industrial music are all over it. Listen to hip-hop albums, some of Jay-Z and Kanye's biggest hits have 'industrial' written all over them. Trent Reznor has a fucking Grammy for christ sake. Industrial has become a part of modern music's DNA.
Gemini, the latest EP from Venezuelan-born, Los Angeles based industrial crossover artist Orlando Draven takes us on a tour of sorts of the history of industrial music over the past 30 years. From the incursions the industrial sound has made into alternative pop-rock since the mid-nineties to the ripping breakneck speed metal influenced stuff of the eighties, the short five-song EP covers a lot of ground. Under the pseudonym, Zeistencroix, Draven along with British producer Tim Palmer (U2, Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, David Bowie's Tin Machine) and American producer Bill Metoyer (Slayer, WASP, Six Feet Under) have crafted a compelling EP of tracks that span the range of what this once marginalized style can offer.
The opener 'I Need You Tonight' has a strong euro club beat. Rhythmic synth stabs and trashy-disco beats. Very similar to acts like dancehall industrial purveyors IAMX. 'Valley of Death' plays on a slow, heavy languishing beat. Draven makes calls for help to the abyss. Ringing guitars intertwine with twinkling keys, giving off a darker Cure type aura while the downtuned, muted guitars weigh it down with another layer of gravity. In 'Saturated' Draven takes on the role of jester, calling out “Hey Motherfucker” through a megaphone like something out of a Mike Patton side project. The last two tracks go full-on industrial metal with unrelenting drums and powerful chugging guitars in the style of the king Al Jourgenson's Ministry.
Gemini, as its title suggests, will be divisive among the industrial community for most industrial metal fans consider the more alternative stuff to be a weakened perversion of their bloodthirsty style while fans of the more melodic stuff get turned off by the atonal metal material. However, for those not mired in the minutia of the genre, Gemini has a lot to offer for those who want a good dive into darkness.