Since 3Teeth blew my mind, soul and body live in 2015, I’ve become something of an obsessive. Their take on early-mid nineties style industrial harkens back to the machine spirit of classic Ministry, alien soundscapes of Skinny Puppy and the ferocity of Nine Inch Nail’s “Broken”. The genre as a whole has had quite the resurgence recently, with fellow Los Angeles based group Youth Code releasing one of the best albums of last year, “Commitment to Complications”. When offered the chance to review 3Teeth’s “Shutdown.exe” I was delighted.
3Teeth are a capable multimedia outfit as much as they are musicians. Their visual works stand proud on top of the cybernetic sonic assault the band deliver. Shutdown.exe’s album cover is a bold mix of black, neon red and chaotic esoteric symbolism. A quick search for 3Teeth on YouTube will deliver a remix of Atrophy, as well as some excellent videos from their debut album. Live, the band combine all these elements into a frightful performance. 3Teeth amp all this up with this album, a new primer for the forthcoming war on reality.
3Teeth have toured extensively since their debut, including opening for Primus and Tool in the US and this album feels more organic for that. Some of this is down to the production by Sean Beavan. Guitars here instantly reminded me of “The Downward Spiral” and Marilyn Manson’s “Antichrist Superstar”. That’s not to say 3Teeth don’t have their own identity though; “Shutdown.exe” is a sinister ritual designed to warp our collective realities of social media humdrum.
Esoteric chants penetrated by stabbing chilling synth lines launch into a mid-tempo guitar crush on album opener “Divine Weapon” and it’s a proclamation of where the rest of “Shutdown.exe” will go. 3Teeth have expanded on their repertoire and “Shutdown.exe” not only feels more varied as a whole than their self-titled debut but individual tracks have much more depth and variety than the more tightly focussed songs produced 3 years ago. This is evident on “Atrophy”, “Insubstancia” and album closer “Away From Me”, where Alex reveals a clean singing voice and the band deliver deep melodies on top of the pummelling percussion and ominous riffs.
There’s more here for the heavier rivethead too, with my personal favourite “SlaveGod” delivering walls of crashing noise over beats and riffs any Godflesh fan will spontaneously whiplash to. The recurring chant of “Crucify Reality!” had me digging out my old copy of Psychonaut to look at the applications of Chaos Magic in an over-connected, ever awake world.
Shutdown.exe doesn’t ignore the club and dance culture which has influenced so many of their idols either. “Voiceless” features sublime female vocals and a beat that will be thundering through many dark rooms at 23:23pm for years to come. The retro-synth sound here wouldn’t be amiss on a Perturbator album but the chorus brings it back to a rock friendly audience. There’s also the experimental noise of “Tabula Umbra”, a track which conjures images of ritually connecting to primordial alien entities before the human mind shatters, recoils and retreats.
Shutdown.exe is a supreme statement of purpose and a call to arms for any action to batter down the drudgery of everyday life. It’s cold leather, occultist chic and a disdained paranoia of how technology has infiltrated our everything. It’s also an album of unsurpassed quality. 13 tracks and it could easily supply 9 singles for any coldwave club. We’re not half way there yet, but Shutdown.exe is almost certainly going to be my album of the year.
(9/10 Stuart McAndrew)