Feldgrau was a short-lived industrial black metal trio from the Tampa, Florida area whose existence lingered for only a few years in the mid-2000’s, during which their first and only album, Mechanized Misanthropy, was released on Agonia Records. The album would find a new home, five years later and long after the project’s departure from the black metal underground, on Satanic Skinhead Propaganda in the form of a 12″ LP. Most notable for the inclusion of Pete Helmkamp (formerly of Angelcorpse, Order from Chaos, and, most importantly in reference to this release, Terror Organ), Feldgrau’s ephemeral nature was a undoubtedly in direct correlation with their own dedication to chaos — a dedication that would pierce every aspect of the project’s aesthetic, composition and production for the duration of their activity. The other two members of Feldgrau operated under the aliases of Destruct (Bill Taylor) and Vhex respectively, the former of which was also previously a member of Angelcorpse as well as Acheron, and has been a member of Nuclear Blast‘s Immolation for well over a decade. The latter member was a leggy, mohawked female whom disappeared from music as quickly as she entered and whose inclusion in this project has left me bewildered as she seems to have been primarily an aesthetic decision.
Regardless, this project whom dedicated their conceptual aesthetic to the militant German green-grey of the period encompassing both World Wars accomplished, in some form, what they set out to do in one release: the aversion to anything even remotely pleasing to the eye or ear through Nazi war themes, grey-scale art of munitions factories and smoking mortars, disparate production and composition, and the inclusion of the famous 1924 painting by German Expressionist Otto Dix, Stormtroopers Advancing Under Gas. Mechanized Misanthropy marks the creation of a filthy, ugly, war-ravaged world bled dry of color and hope — perhaps the world as a disparaged realist would have seen it within the depths of collapsing buildings and explosive bombardments in those decades of global turmoil. Of course, an absolute dismantling of artistic pleasure would have required the absence of human expression, a point unfortunately missed by the inclusion of the all-too-familiar seething inaudible vocals that exist within the confines of raw black metal — a missed point made all the worse by the occasional, almost laughable backing vocal approach of Vhex, which thankfully was used very sparingly with this debut, and final, album.
What you’ll find on Mechanized Misanthropy is exactly what the title implies: Industrialized black metal that is geared towards human suffering, towards genocide, the descent of blackness upon the world. This is certainly not the more celebrated post-black metal electronic style that you’d find alongside Aborym or Anaal Nathrakh, however. Pummeling unprocessed drum programming fills the background of tracks, if actual rhythmic programming is present at all. Instead, in most tracks you’ll find simplistic martial electronics buried in the mix and sparse experimentalism that is either used for accent texturing or background filler as with some of the more gutteral, bowel-churning industrial sounds. Lyrically, the album borders on the esoteric at times, occasionally — as with “Stormfront” — weaving a narrative that is far too beautifully written for a release this grotesque. The guitar is certainly on the industrial side, taking on an almost entirely choppy, rhythmic role with the occasional melodic line that is used as a bridge either between tracks or verses. The tone only rarely, if ever, changes and stays on the piercing high-end while a distorted bass guitar inhabits the low-end, leaving little room for a warm mid to take hold of the mix.
There’s certainly a lot missing from this lone official release from Feldgrau, however. For those, like myself, whom come from a background that includes power electronics and harsh noise, much of Mechanized Misanthropy seems tame in comparison. The angle that the project took is obvious, and they were well on their way to finding somewhat of a unique sound despite the already long-championed war themes, but as with most bands whom try to incorporate this abrasiveness into a noisier form of metal, they don’t seem to take it the extra mile. These artists never seem to understand that creating something that is fully unrelenting requires the usage of noise as something more than simple filler sound. It has to be utilized, formed as an instrument within itself to strike, to pierce, to obstruct and destruct. In the end, this absence of a truly devastating sonic attack leaves the album feeling dreary and not nearly as violent as intended. There’s also the question of the image used for the sticker on both sides of the LP itself which originally comes from a Spanish propaganda poster that was meant to show a unity between several political factions during the Spanish Civil War: JL (Juventudes Libertarias — anarchists), JSU (Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas — socialists), and JIR (Juventudes de Izquierda Republicana — republican socialists). This sort of subliminal leftist propaganda obviously brings a lot into question — or perhaps it points to an approach the includes nothing more than pure aesthetic devoid of actual politics. Either way, something isn’t quite clear at the end of this one.
A2) Strong Arm Faction
A4) Industrial Winter
A5) Wolves of Flame and Shadow
B1) The Black March
B2) Iron Law Iron Will
B3) Conflagration Total War
B4) Putrid Stigmata
B5) Bacillus Satanas