Written by Pamela Bellmore, posted by blog admin
Wasting no time on a subtle set-up the debut album from New York/United Kingdom gruesome twosome, Cyborg Asylum screams to life with the sound of a city becoming a police state; air sirens, machinegun fire, harrowing screams and other freakish samples. The name of the track of “Blitz” and it does exactly that; blitz the listener with squealing synths, broken break beats and digital madness. It’s an even bigger surprise whenever the second track “Synergy” actually turns into an out and out song with squelchy keyboards splattered across a canvas of mid-paced programmed bump n’ grinds, strongly sung vocal and a literal net of distortion draped over every instrument. Musically, it reminds me of some of the more graceful tracks on Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile and sounds all the better for it. With numerous synth melodies unfolding at once, there are a lot of intricacies to attract the ears, giving the music a psychedelic touch not found in a lot modern of industrial/electronica.
The album itself Never Finished, Only Abandoned has the trappings of a concept album with numerous segues and interludes breaking up this 12-track accomplishment yet also connecting each track to the one that precedes it. This is an album that is best listened to from front to back cover without interruption. Loss of love, emotion, reality and humanity in general seems to be an overarching theme. “My Metallic Dream” grooves and glides over craggy, riff-driven undercurrents and lurching bass lines that are offset by trembling and nearly falsetto-kissed vocals; all the while the keyboard leads graft crystalline melodies upon this industrial mutation. “War Machine” pushes, slams and thrashes with confrontational drum patterns and Psalm 69 burst fire guitar riffs that definitely aim and hit the target on the metal end of the spectrum. Borrowing from Fear Factory’s cathartic, power ballad expressionism (akin to “Resurrection” off of Obsolete), “Weightless” relishes high wire vocal theatrics, stormy seductive beats, hypnotic synths and a finish where heavier riffs provide relief and resolution.
Several instrumentals offer different levels of respite as the album careens over vast sonic terrain. These instrumentals reckon of movie soundtrack scores and it makes sense since instrumentalist David Varga has composed for both film and television; “Angle of Incidence” sports a battle scene vibe with warring metal guitar abandon duking it out against orchestral strings, “Ion” is suspended in Italian slasher movie pathos and the nervous, rave beat energy of “Pale Green Dot” remind this former gamer of Straylight’s flashy work on the Unreal soundtrack.
“Steampunk Highway” rips through dirty, roadhouse rock n’ roll riffs and rhythms brimming with funky bass licks, acoustic guitar flourishes and walloping percussion; in a well deep with digital quirks, this rings of an eclectic 70s rock tune. “Fragments as Illusion” takes this stylistic hard rock left-turn and sprinkles industrial elements on for a picturesque blending of the two while closer and album standout “Paradigm Shift” drifts into somber new wave waters until a ragged industrial assault ends the track with a big bang.
Cyborg Asylum are a heartfelt nod to the 80s/90s industrial greats with their own distinct flavors laced into the brew. They’re accomplished songwriters that possess a keen knack for melody but also have an ear for the harder stuff too. Anyone from fans of NIN to Ministry should be able to dig on Never Finished, Only Abandoned.