Matt Fanale’s rise through the ranks has been steady and impressive. From self-released/his own label early on, via some high-profile live slots, to this album being released on Metropolis. The steady change in styles has been notable, too. From early material having more of an industrial noise slant, to dabbling in what can only be termed industrial punk, other electro-industrial realms, even aCaustic (arf) ballads, and more than anything putting aside the goofing around for something a little more serious.
The Golden Vagina of Fame and Profit
Label: Metropolis Records
Listen on: Spotify
So, pigeonhole Matt’s work at your peril – as it’s long been clear that he couldn’t give a fuck as to where he fits in, instead enjoying poking fun and thumbing his nose at those who must try desperately to slot in every item of music into some “genre” or another. Which makes the job of a reviewer like me doubly hard.
Still, I’d suspect that this is the way that Matt would rather it was.
Initial comments dropped about the forthcoming album, as it was at the time, suggested that this was going to be the Caustic “club friendly” album, and when opener and single 666 on the Crucifix was released in advance of the album, this was made all the more obvious. A marvellous skewering of the ridiculous proliferation of “harsh industrial” club hits in recent years, taking deliberate, light-hearted potshots at a number of recent tracks and along the way making a better club track than many of the artists being ribbed managed in the first place.
There are other great dancefloor tracks, too. Hiroshima Burn – clearly not about Japan, natch – is another Caustic-does-club-industrial track that has a hell of a lot of power, while Darling Nicky’s Gnarly Dicking is really cool, funky electro that really deserves more than to be wasted on industrial dancefloors that will simply ask for more Combichrist instead. Floor Whore Disko sees Matt delivering a Rob Zombie-esque vocal over a driving, pounding beat that’s actually a whole load of fun.
It’s not all club-friendly – industrial for the masses, if you will – tunes, though. Carpe Rectum is a slamming, old-school industrial rhythm turned up to eleven kinda track, Front 242 without the seriousness (just refer back to the title), while Bulletproof Lolita and the brief interlude of I Play Computer! seem a bit of a directionless throwaway, really.
The one black mark for me, though, is that guest appearances have a habit on the album of becoming more the guest featuring Caustic – and this happens too many times. As good as the four tracks featuring guests are, they really don’t sound a whole lot like Caustic. The biggest offender here is the club monster White Knuckle Head Fuck, which Sami from Faderhead has basically taken over and turned into a Faderhead track. Lock, stock and barrel. Which is very nice, and is a cast-iron dancefloor hit in waiting, but it’s not really what I bought this album for.
At least Generate Chaos (with Bitch Brigade) remembers to include more of Caustic. A great 4/4 rhythm, with what appears at first to be a BB track, before Matt metaphorically blasts through the door and bellows his contribution to fantastic effect. Churn the Waters (featuring Ned Kirby from Stromkern) uses a psuedo-dancefloor-reggae rhythm, tips it’s hat to General Levy (!), but with Ned Kirby dominating the vocals…it still sounds more like Stromkern goofing around than Caustic.
Unwoman‘s collaboration, Orchid, is perhaps the biggest departure of all, though. A trippy, languid track with Erica Mulkey’s regretful vocal about a relationship that wasn’t quite what it first appeared to be, it’s marvellous, but feels somewhat out of place. However it’s done one thing, and that’s to encourage me to go and hunt out more of her work (somehow she’s passed me by previously).
Matt Fanale makes a point of being somewhat dismissive of his own music, either in jest in press releases or in general conversation. As a result, in the past, he may have actually undersold his own talents, as a number of potential fans may see this as being something that isn’t worth their while if he’s just pissing around. Well, that time is perhaps over – after this many high-quality releases, Caustic is now a respected artist with an ever-growing fanbase, and his talents are clearly on display here, when given the chance. I just wish he’d given himself more space to shine rather than relying on so many guest appearances.
Yeah. So, a great album, it’s just not all Caustic. Or at least it doesn’t feel that way. Or maybe we can look at it the other way – this is Matt calling in the favours of various famous friends, and I won’t begrudge him that. Speaking of which, I’m still kicking myself for having to miss Resistanz recently and the Caustic cover of Oxyacetalene. Still, at least it should see a digital release soon.