by Ben Hudgins
For me, industrial music has always been about percussion. From the early days of Einstürzende Neubauten banging on the undersides of overpasses and Throbbing Gristle grinding into your brain through the cold, robotic anthems of the late eighties and nineties and on to the crushing noise hybrids of the present day, the emphasis of all the best tracks has been on the percussive nature of almost every sound. From pounding drums to stabbing, staccato melodic lines, everything pushes. Sure, toss in a wash or two for background texture, but up front? You’re getting pummeled.
STCLVR’s Predator is a perfect example of this glorious approach to sonic punishment.
Upstate New York’s “heavy noise” monger George Moore packs eight brutal, harsh industrial-noise tracks into just over twenty minutes, each offering filled to the brim with grim stabs, abrasive textures, and thick, overdriven rhythmic patterns. There’s a grimy, claustrophobic atmosphere here, as everything is right up front, relentlessly pressing into your ears. This lends the proceedings an almost 8-bit feel, as if the material had been generated on some GameBoy from hell. A noted exception is the vocals, which are treated heavily with reverb, dragging them out into the distance, a far away howl in this maelstrom of sound.
The album was mixed and mastered by Chthonic Streams label head Derek Rush, and you can definitely hear hints of his Compactor project on these tracks, but this certainly does not mean that STCLVR’s material is in any way derivative. If anything, there is more structure here than on some of Rush’s more improvised works, giving things a more strident, martial feel.
As with many death industrial releases, the aforementioned vocals are mostly here to add additional texture as opposed to any lyrical content, as distortion and effects render them down into a demonic snarl. Likewise, there are not a lot of complex melodic elements on the album, but that’s just fine; pretty songs were not the intention here. This release is all about abrasive, percussive aggression, and it succeeds overwhelmingly at that, making it a must-have for any fan of rhythmic destruction.