Kollaps – Mechanical Christ

Melbourne Industrial trio Kollaps has something of a reputation for incendiary live shows bordering on the violent, so involved are the band members with the apocalyptic noise they produce. Second album Mechanical Christ (Cold Spring Records) is the depiction of a hopeless, senseless world society, and a progression from debut album Sibling Lovers (Silken Tofu).

Opening salvo ‘Ankara’ is a brief scene setter but its sampled, increasingly harrowing verbalisation is the angry expression of a heartbroken. The initial sub-machine gun beats of ‘Crucify’ are suddenly gripped by outbursts of squealing and screaming, effectively a shot of compatriots Portal but with the brakes slammed on, and made all the more human, more tense, by that anchorage. The tribal drums of the mid-point mimic that gunfire in the distance before returning without warning to the present: an innocent civilian squirming in the crossfire, the howls a display of fear and searing pain.

There’s a Hardcore feel to the rampant, repetitive echoes of ‘Fleshflower’, the synthesised but monstrous undercurrent a constant stabbing in the ears: while the outset of the ensuing ‘Blood Premonitions’ slow the pace dramatically, having a strange dizzying effect and in turn increasing the strain on the nerves. The disdainful drone of vocalist Wade Black is temporarily substituted by an artificial swarm of crickets before returning to a more emphasised, laconic chant. Each metallic blast cuts the listener to shreds, the hostile resonance not a million miles away from the chilling rasps of labelmates Khost.

The slower edge certainly adds a dimension to the band’s sound, doubtless assisted by the Doom sensibilities of percussionist Robin W. Marsh, and the pace perfectly complements the aural massacre during the early stages of ‘Traducer’: each malevolent morsel of gossip accompanied by shattering squalls of electroinc noise, a lack of pulse ensuring the focus remains entirely on the clanging, amplified horror. The terrifying title track begins with singular beats and Black feeding parseltongue through a megaphone, the sudden screams and stark atmospheres leading to involuntary nervous ticks in the listener. Again the base is largely devoid of rhythm, merely the dying pulse of that sparing beat, meaning that the seconds of pure ambience add to the fear. As Black hisses “Your Mechanical Christ, eyes shut” the bitter malice bleeds with lascivious intent from the speakers, the crashing coda the denouement of this delicious example of less being more.

Closer ‘Love Is A War’ begins with a touching acoustic strum which is still given a devilish edge by that fuzzed backdrop and Black’s undiluted pessimism: his constant refrain “Love is a war, forget what you’re told” robbing the desperate of one last hope. Kollaps don’t want you to feel good: they want you to wallow in their distress but, bizarrely, Mechanical Christ is a pretty enjoyable way to join them.

7 / 10