Alec Empire : Intelligence And Sacrifice
Arch-noisenik's most coherent statement yet...
The man with the best bone structure in Armageddon has been talking – well, screaming – a great fight for nearly a decade now. As the leader of [a]Atari Teenage Riot[/a], he's rolled out assault vehicle after assault vehicle of electronically-enhanced splatterpunk. That's in addition to his half dozen albums of solo digital noise, and countless other releases on his Digital Hardcore label. It's an impressive and sometimes even excellent body of work; a veritable cottage industry of black leather-clad ire that has, thus far, failed to topple capitalism or end civilisation, despite some cool slogans ('Destroy 2000 Years Of Culture'; 'Riot Sounds Produce Riots') and a lot of assiduous pogo-ing.
'Intelligence And Sacrifice' might just be the one, though. On the first CD of this two-CD set, [a]Alec Empire[/a] reveals himself as the missing link between [a]Slipknot[/a] and [a]Fischerspooner[/a]: an accomplished stylist of
dystopian rock, and a force to be reckoned with. It's all calculated, of course. This, [a]Alec Empire[/a]'s nu-metal album, is his self-confessed "ticket to headlining festivals and stadium tours". Everything is harder, faster, more focused, deliriously well-produced. Next to this sleek industrial cut-up bubblegum gabba thrash metal, [a]Atari Teenage Riot[/a]'s past
insurrections sound scrappy.
'The Path Of Destruction' kicks off with a bleak declaration – "This is our world/it has no future" – before a mighty barrage of bpms indicates the pummeled shape of things to come. "My message is war," [a]Alec Empire[/a] screams like a skinnier Schwarzenegger on 'The Ride', a triumph
of electro menace, extreme as ever. But if the programming on 'I&S' is gleefully unrelenting – 'Everything Starts With A Fuck' is particularly martial – the chaos is powered as much by [a]Alec Empire[/a]'s love for rock 'n' roll as his hatred for everything. 'Killing Machine' starts with a "One-two-three-four," before unfolding into a low-slung riff-fest; the excellent single, 'Addicted To You', drags The Stooges into the digital age. Revolution and ramalama are forever intertwined in the Berliner's aesthetic: "If you don't hit it/It won't fall!" he pouts repeatedly.
If anything, CD2 is even more extreme than CD1: 70 minutes of cutting-edge instrumentals that places [a]Alec Empire[/a]'s love of pure
digital sound in the hands of the fans of his shouty punk. With its atonal freeform dissonance, 'Alec's Ladder' is typical, but there's a rare glimmer of humour in 'Two Turntables And A Moog' and a timely electroclash romp in 'Electric Bodyrock'. For a man so certain that there isn't a future, he looks like one of its most confident architects.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday