Friday, December 8, 2017

Cyborg Asylum - Never Finished, Only Abandoned (2017)

Written by Mike Yoder, posted by blog admin

Industrial noisemakers Cyborg Asylum create a fine mash-up of light and heavy dynamics on their first long-player Never Finished, Only Abandoned.  This type of music literally ruled and commanded the airwaves when I was growing up in the 80s and its rule last until the late 90s.  Cool and creative groups (like King Loses Crown, Kroh, etc) have cropped up here and there over time but largely the style has become a forgotten art form post-2000. 

Along come David Varga and John Tumminia to prove that the genre still has plenty of bite left in its fangs.  Combining stomping digitized percussion, sampled sound bytes, buzzing electric guitars and crooning vocals, Cyborg Asylum creates a fresh take on the genre that sounds as timeless as many of the genres forefathers.  Instrumental lead-in “Blitz” screams and wails like the start of Ministry’s metal era with thudding beats; ominous backbeats and threatening samples (emergency distress sirens, gunfire, explosions, etc.).  These energetic salvos seep into the swirling noise synths, crumbling bass, dirty electric guitars and distorted vocals.  Instead of continuing with the attack element, John’s expressive melodic vocals conjure up huge melodies and the instrumentation restrains itself to a heavier take on the pretty new wave pioneered by New Order if mixed with Ministry’s first attempt a harder crossover, Twitch.   The end result is refreshing and unexpected. 

The record continues to bounce from strength to strength like this; from soft to loud, eerie to angry, experimental to traditional… and it works.  First single “My Metallic Dream” utilizes digital loops, delay and echo as guitar riffs slither in and out of danceable club trance and fuzz-blasted alternative rock.  Stellar vocal harmonies get stuck in your head quickly and magical vocal melodies avoid sugarcoated sweetness, opting for great singing that stays floaty and bewitching even when the music pounds with gusto during the chorus.  “War Machine” kicks off with an ambient wall of layered electronica before going full-bore into a rumbling industrial/metal war march that reaches an incendiary electric guitar finale.  The bleak, drippy synths and soaring vocals of “Weightless” makes for an excellent album centerpiece that slowly creeps and crawls to a caterwauling finale (Tumminia’s powerful vocal range is a delight throughout). 

“Angle of Incidence” shoots for a grand vibe sampling viola, violins and cello; sounding akin to a Disney track from Hell.  Dirty guitar riffs and freaky bass dirges provide the counterpoints to the delectable melodies and despite being an instrumental interlude; it’s one of the record’s most fascinating pieces.  The booming, bombastic duo of “Steampunk Highway” and “Fragments as Illusion” are two of the album’s most techno-inflected compositions with subtle synth melodies and strong vocal deliveries colliding with subsonic house beats and driving tempos.  They are capable of igniting a dancefloor and getting fists pumping at a rock n’ roll show.  “Ion” works the same musical blueprints minus vocals to great effect.  The Jekyll and Hyde, soft/loud attack of “Asymmetry” and “Pale Green Dot” mesmerizes with glorious melodies in its first half but unleashes the rock n’ roll thunder of electric guitar and ruthless backbeats in the second half; leaving closer “Paradigm Shift” to cap things off with a style that meshes Depeche Mode with Stabbing Westward. 

All in all, Cyborg Asylum is the perfect mingling of modern industrial aggro with the soothing new wave soul of Depeche Mode and New Order.  It’s a great combination and one that Cyborg Asylum pulls off without a hitch; these guys are well-worth your hard-earned listening time and dollar.     

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