Back in 2018, armed with debut album Tū (Napalm Records) and a reputation for blistering live performances, teenagers Alien Weaponry arrived on the scene with a bang. Fusing groove metal with influences derived from their own Māori culture, the band possess a highly individual sound, but one that in some quarters has also appeared to earn them the disappointingly reductive nickname of “The New Zealand Sepultura”.
You know that feeling… The one when you’ve waited a long time for something and you soooo want it to be great but, when it arrives, it turns out to be less than great and, whilst it’s not terrible, it’s merely alright?
Well, a whole load of THAT.
I had high hopes for The Perfect Cult (Nuclear Blast), the latest album from Sweden’s industrial/pop/metal overlords Deathstars, but whilst it is as efficient as a Volvo it, disappointingly, leaves me as cold as a Scandanavian winter.
If you have been a long term supporter of this band then I suspect that The Perfect Cult will be a welcome arrival in your record collection but, overall, this is the sound of a band just doing their thing. It sounds exactly like what you think a Deathstars album might sound like. And herein lies part of the problem.
Although there isn’t anything on The Perfect Cult that really drives me mad, there just isn’t anything I can get genuinely excited about either. There is a lot more of a pop sensibility (I mean the songs have choruses), and there is a familiar croakiness to Whiplasher’s vocals, but if they aren’t your bag (and they aren’t my bag) then this record is going to grate on you like nobody’s business. Much of the band’s leitmotifs are solidly in place – anyone with a Rammstein or Type O Negative record will probably warm to the riffing on ‘Explode’ or ‘Asphalt Wings’, which chug along quite nicely without really setting your ears on fire.
Performance wise and performance wise, there is a real sense of this record sounding like it was done “as live” in the studio, which certainly brings a different dynamic to the album but surely the whole point of this industrial malarkey is that it doesn’t sound like it was done organically. I want my industrial to sound other worldly, alien, detached and relentless. I don’t want it to sound like a pile of musos throwing shapes in a studio down the road.
On the plus side, the second half of this record indulges a much darker and more gothic persuasion which is quite welcome, and you cannot deny that Deathstars have a very clear aesthetic that they maintain throughout.
The problem for this particular listener is I find the aesthetic not particularly compelling. Their shock rock tactics aren’t particularly shocking and I’m left with a gnawing but undeniable feeling… if I wanted a Rammstein or mid period Marilyn Manson album then I would put on a Rammstein or mid period Marilyn Manson album.
Sorry and all that, but The Perfect Cult is just a little bit meh.