The Rearview Mirror: 009: Cubanate – Brutalism

I can’t remember whatsoever when I first heard Cubanate. It was in my early teens, and was either Body Burn or Oxyacetalene first. And then lots more Oxyacetalene, as it was everywhere for a time. I do remember picking up the single for Joy in the rather awesome Badlands record shop in Huddersfield, though. You know, back when every reasonable-sized town had at least one great record shop, maybe even two. For a while Huddersfield didn’t even have an HMV (it’s re-opened since, in a smaller unit). Read more “The Rearview Mirror: 009: Cubanate – Brutalism”

Best of 2016: Gigs

This has been a quiet year. Read more “Best of 2016: Gigs”

Cold Waves V – Metro, Chicago – 22/23/24-September 2016

For the third year running – although it was a bit touch-and-go this year with the wedding and everything else, and my wife chose not to come along this time – the last weekend of September meant a trip 3,960 miles to the west of London. To the city of Chicago, to catch up with friends from far and wide, to enjoy a cool city…and attend Cold Waves, a festival of industrial music that commemorates, and celebrates, the life and loss of Jamie Duffy. It also raises a ton of money for good causes, and is generally a hell of a good time that has become a fixture in the calendar for many of us, no matter how far we have to travel. Read more “Cold Waves V – Metro, Chicago – 22/23/24-September 2016”

Marc Heal – 2015 Interview

Took a bit of time to arrange this one, but I’m thrilled to be able to post a recently completed interview with Marc Heal. For many readers, his name will instantly be recognisable. But for those who it isn’t…Marc used to front industrial/techno terrorists Cubanate, and was also involved with C-Tec, Ashtrayhead and PIG in the late-nineties too. Since then, he’s busied himself with other media pursuits, and very soon will release his first book, The Sussex Devils, as well as a return to music with a collaboration with Raymond Watts (The Compound Eye EP). Read more “Marc Heal – 2015 Interview”

Tuesday Ten: 078: 90s Industrial Metal

The 90s were a heyday for industrial metal – let’s be honest, few bands have been able to continue a high quality output of this style into this decade, and fewer more recent bands still have been able to keep the flame alive (with notable exceptions being the likes of Interlock and Cyanotic). To confirm what I mean by industrial metal – lots of industrial electronics, and lots of metal guitars and rhythms. Exactly how bands have interpreted this – and how they have balanced the two – is what makes this genre so fascinating.


Bands that I didn’t include in the final, umm, twelve (I couldn’t squeeze everyone in…): The Young Gods / KMFDM / Strapping Young Lad / Dope / Rammstein…Other suggestions welcome, of course, and the usual playlists cover as much as possible. So, here goes.

Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck

Let’s start with the monster that began this list in the first place. An, oddly enough, probably the most “metal” of all of the tracks here. Prong started out as a metal band, and gradually added more electronics and industrial textures as they went along, but Cleansing remains their brutal tour de force – the opening three tracks in particular are absolutely bulletproof, of which this longstanding metal dancefloor anthem is the third. The electronics are relegated to the background, but the mechanised rhythm is stripped to it’s bones and overlaid with an awesomely clean guitar riff. Add to that the roared chorus, and really, this track still deserves to be heard.

Misery Loves Co.
Kiss Your Boots
Misery Loves Co.

Starting out deceptively quietly – the first verse is all but whispered above a pulsing heartbeat, before Patrik Wiren bellows the title one more title and the hulking beat tramples through the speakers like a stampede of very large mammals. At least four remixes of this track exist (the Pitchshifter ones in particular are worth hearing), but for me it’s the original every time – this track sounds monstrous loud, and even better on a club PA.


Speaking of Pitchshifter, before they went a little more punk and, perhaps, a little more mainstream – even so, rightly remains a landmark album from that period – they were a grinding industrial metal band that had a lot of power, a lot of rage, and not a lot of metal-mainstream appeal. The first sign that this was changing was this brutal anti-fascist single that got them a lot of attention at the time (and indeed was the first song I heard by them, on John Peel’s late-evening show on Radio 1). I’ve seen them fifteen times since the mid-90s, and they’ve only failed to play it once or twice – pretty much the only song they play from this period any more, which is a crying shame as there a number of other killer tracks from this time. Still, altogether now: “Like Never/Like No…

Like Rats

I’m cheating a little here, seeing as this track was actually released on Godflesh’s debut album in mid-89 – however the band were such a titanic influence on the entire industrial metal genre that this deserves it’s place here. Slower and most likely heavier than just about anything else here, Like Rats grinds it’s way through nearly five minutes of densely-layered beats, riffs and a filthy, pulsing bassline that anchors the whole track. Justin Broadrick’s heavily-treated vocals – which sound truly fucking evil – just add to the oppressive atmosphere.

The Land of Rape and Honey

Even earlier – from 1988 – but also here due to it’s enormous influence, is this, the opening track from the album where Ministry suddenly turned very heavy indeed and set the template for twenty years more of industrial metal. It’s distorted, heavy, and fucking ace. If, somehow, you’ve never really listened to Ministry, you could do worse than starting here.

Die Krupps
The Dawning Of Doom

Watch on YouTube

I think we have Metallica, of all people, to thank for the style of Die Krupps’ 90s output – in the 80s one of the early EBM acts, following the release of a tribute EP covering Metallica songs, suddenly covered their already muscular sound in guitars. Which is where I discovered them, and have been a fan ever since. This track – one of their more anthemic tracks, really – was also one of the (many) highlights of their live set when they played in Sheffield a year or two back.

Front Line Assembly

Another band who took on guitars to their mainly electronic sound were these guys, and the change caused something of a split with the fans at the time, although in hindsight Millenium remains one of FLA’s best albums (and the first two tracks – Vigilante and the title track – have been fixtures of live sets ever since they were released). The guitars didn’t remove anything from FLA’s power – in fact they provided something of a turbo boost, and again became immensely influential.

Fear Factory
Self Immolation (Vein Tap Mix)
Fear Is The Mindkiller

Nowhere was FLA’s influence (although from before Millenium!) more clear in the metal scene than with Fear Factory in the early 90s, after they hired Rhys Fulber from FLA to remix some of the tracks from their debut, death-metal-based Soul Of A New Machine, the result of which was this EP, a vicious, industrial-death-metal hybrid that sounded like no-one else at the time and sounded fucking immense. An extraordinarily brave experiment at the time, it remains an intriguing stepping stone towards the all-but-perfection of following album Demanufacture, and I’ll probably find people disagreeing with my choice of track from this EP (in all honesty I could have picked anything from it). I do wonder how much the work on this influenced Fulber in his work on Millenium, actually…

White Zombie
More Human Than Human
Astro Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head

While Rob Zombie achieved greater success with his solo work, he has never bettered his work with White Zombie, and in particular the sample-and-electronics-stuffed Astro Creep album. Every single gap is filled with whatever crass B-movie or pr0n samples Zombie could find, and they all add a twisted humour and sense of fun to many of the tracks. Of the, what, five, tracks that still fill metal dancefloors now, this is of course the best known, underpinned by the pulsing electronics and John Tempesta’s drum rhythms that sound like they are being beaten out with clubs.

Nine Inch Nails
Natural Born Killers OST

I could barely miss NiN from this list, really, seeing that they were probably the band that helped push the genre into the mainstream the most – even if Pretty Hate Machine is, in the main, electro as they come. It was with Broken that they really moved to being industrial metal – it’s seething fury overlaid with masses of guitars, which then got broken into jagged pieces for The Downward Spiral. Burn followed this as a seperate release on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, and as such other than being played live frequently it’s otherwise a little forgotten – which is a shame, as it’s probably the heaviest track NIN ever wrote. Again, best played very loud indeed for the right results…


Cubanate were one of the earlier industrial bands to include guitars from the outset, and over four albums seemed to get heavier and heavier with each release, despite seemingly using less in the way of guitars! Nowhere was this clearer than on this brutal opener to their final album, a drum’n’bass monster with a bassline that could take down buildings (and you more feel as opposed to hear). I rarely dare to risk this when DJing nowadays – one, not many people know it, and two, I don’t want to scare all the kiddies away!

Kill II This

The final band – and twelfth, I know – are Kill II This. They were one of a number of bands that roared into life in the late 90s in the UK who were not afraid at all of using industrial electronics to bolster a chunky metal sound. Sometimes a little contrived – and sometimes not all that great (most of the first and last albums) – the two albums in between were ace, and live they were even better. Their crowning moment was this, the gabba intro morphing into a fast-paced moshpit filler that was pretty much as close as anyone got to matching the heights Fear Factory reached few years before.

Tuesday Ten: 054: The London Astoria

A friends’s posting of this link over the weekend provided me inspiration for the subject of this week’s Tuesday Ten.

As the compulsory purchase order process enters it’s final stages (the venue and pretty much most of the block around it is going to facilitate the upgrade of Tottenham Court Road station with the coming of Crossrail), it’s time perhaps to look back at a venue I spent an awful lot of time in back in the late 90s while at University in London (and a handful of times since). The Astoria, while grubby, a bit grotty and pretty expensive, has always been one of my favourite gig venues by miles. While another old cinema venue, it was always just the right size, offered great views of the stage from just about anywhere in there and generally had a fantastic sound, too. So in something of a retrospective, here are ten bands/gigs that I remember seeing at the Astoria or the smaller LA2 downstairs. Feel free to add other gigs worth mentioning that you’ve seen at the Astoria over the years…

September 1996

This was the first gig I saw when I moved to London, and the first gig I ever reviewed – for ROAR, the King’s College London student newspaper – starting what has now been over 12 years of me writing about music. As I recall, it was a pretty awesome gig, too. Downset are kinda forgotten now, but were in the mid-90s one of the leading lights of a rap-metal scene from the west coast of the USA that was, lest we forget, actually interesting (and had something to say) prior to the gonzoid likes of Limp Bizkit and Crazy Town took over the world.

The Orb
NME Awards show, January 1997

After a few fallow years, The Orb returned in early 1997 with a new album Orblivion that was their best for some time. The live show they brought to the Astoria that year was really bloody odd. The “band” hidden, in the main, by lots of white canvas, their bizarre, spaced-out electronics confused the fuck out of everybody, particularly when they appeared to deliberately avoided playing the old “crowd-pleasers”…

NME Awards show, January 1997

Talking of annoying/confusing, this gig (the same week as the Orb one) was just as strange. Or that might just have been our state of mind, having been drinking and, er, smoking all day. Mogwai opened that night, and for thirty minutes nearly took everybody’s heads off. Only four songs, of which the last fifteen to twenty minutes were the storm of static and searing noise that is Stereodee, and our ears were still ringing after two more bands when Pavement finally took to the stage. In something of a “difficult” mood, they choose to showcase obscure album tracks and B-sides, pointedly avoiding the “hits”. Frankly, they weren’t very good, but I did get to see them in a much better light at Reading in 1999, at least.

Ben Folds Five
Spring 1997, LA2

I had only heard the still-even-now-marvellous Underground [Youtube link] before this gig, and was invited along by a friend who had a spare ticket. They turned out to be brilliant, too – Ben Folds was a hell of a showman, not to mention an incredibly talented musician, and the tunes were pretty damned good too. His over-the-top rock pisstake with Satan Is My Master (with Folds in a bad wig and outfit, miming on a toy guitar ontop of the piano) was very nearly worth the entry alone. Somehow, I’ve never seen him live again since…

January 1998

The following year, the Deftones had exploded into the metal mainstream with their second album Around The Fur, a far more focused and accessible album than their debut Adrenaline. This gig was mental – I nearly got ripped to pieces in the moshpit when they began with Engine #9 and Seven Words back-to-back. One of the most savage gigs I’ve ever seen (they barely stopped for breath across the whole set), and the Deftones were never this good again.

Super Furry Animals
sometime in 1998

This was a Saturday lunchtime gig for reasons that I can’t remember, and I snagged a free ticket that was being given away somewhere so that I could attend. Despite a reasonably sparse crowd (the gig was at 1300 on a Saturday!), the band played a full set including a seemingly everlasting version of The Man Don’t Give A Fuck. The most surprising thing for me was how different the band were live – less of the laid back attitude, and more of a confrontational electronic base to the music.

Seen at least once in both the Astoria and LA2 in 1998/1999

I’ve seen Pitchshifter more times than any other band – fourteen times at last count – and they have never failed to be anything less than a great live band. I saw them three times, I think at the Astoria venues around this time, supported by Radiator on one occasion…and a couple of other bands who will be mentioned in a moment.

Will Haven/One Minute Silence
each seen supporting Pitchshifter in 1998/1999

Two awesomely good live bands who I only ever saw supporting others. Will Haven were like a wall of noise live, a brutal, unrelenting juggernaut that left gig-goers gasping for air afterwards (and often sent many running to the bar for a break), while One Minute Silence were always great to watch, even if they seemed to be the metal-support-band-of-choice for a good many years.

Cubanate/VNV Nation/Leechwoman
December 1999, LA2

Where and I first saw VNV, and said those famous last words of “It’ll never catch on“. Leechwoman I had not seen prior to this, either, and their very, very loud industrial-noise-metal hybrid certainly left a mark (not least in my hearing), but it was Cubanate that took the honours that night. Their last album Interference added bruising drum’n’bass to their already heavy guitar-laced industrial, and it appears that this was one of the last times that they ever played live.

June 2001 – The infamous gig that never happened

The last gig to mention never actually happened – the gig that we were all in the queue for around Soho Square (it was sold out a couple of months in advance), the big gig of the year…and it was pulled at around 2000 that night. Amid all the confusion after the gig, some facts did emerge, and it seemed that Westminster Council weren’t very happy about the heavy use of pyros. Our group ended up hooking up with my old friend Tanya and her friends for drinks in a nearby pub, before heading back north on the last train. The gig was rescheduled for the following December, at Brixton Academy, and was one of the best gigs of my life (easily in the top five).

Tuesday Ten: 030: Tracks of the Month (January 2008)

So, the first monthly roundup of 2008 – and with there not having been an equivalent for December, this is perhaps covering a longer period than normal, meaning that tracks I would have liked to include have not made the cut to keep it at ten. Read more “Tuesday Ten: 030: Tracks of the Month (January 2008)”