The phrase “industrial” when used in the context of music has always been one that has conjured images of cyber goths with plastic dreadlocks stomping along to the likes of Combichrist. Even the grittiness that lies within the heaviest moments of stalwarts such as Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails’ earlier back catalogue isn’t enough to discourage the smirks induced when seeing the bizarre dance moves that accompany some of VNV Nation’s choice cuts. Industrial has and always will be associated with metal, thanks in part to the godfather of industrial metal, Justin Broadrick – the skull crushing intensity of Godflesh is one of the genre’s few saving graces. However, Author & Punisher set a precedent that looks set to rival that of JK and his beloved laptop.
Tristian Shone, the man behind Author & Punisher, brings an entirely new meaning to the term “soundscape” – the San Diego-based robotics engineer with a master’s degree in sculpture designed and fabricated two “drone machines”. Two high-torque motors geared to a pair of throttles with autopilot and force feedback functions are used to elevate the pitch of electronic bass signals. This is literal sonic sculpture at play and lends another dimension to the darkness Shone has been creating since 2005. Eight years and six albums later, Author & Punisher have finally attracted the attention of metal label Relapse Records and makes his debut with ‘Beastland’.
The album is a moody work of suffocating tension and irresistibly sinister beats, incorporating an arsenal of equipment with his beloved drone machines at the forefront. ‘Beastland’ is explosive, drawing influence from a diverse pool that touches upon a myriad of genres trapped inside pulsating frequencies and a dangerously loud sub bass. Tristian’s vocals burn white hot against the blackness he creates; it’s a jarring listen but strangely addictive. Author & Punisher is as much a visual experience as it is audible and the appeal of watching Shone operating his machinery is lost on the record. However, this in no way dulls the edges of the musical delivery that this opus slams home. In a genre full of gimmicks, that’s dominated by Godflesh, it’s refreshing to have another artist that’s genuinely innovating and pushing boundaries. Now finally signed to a mainstream metal label, Author & Punisher is about to get the recognition he deserves and it’s exciting to see what he’ll do with it.
(8/10 Angela Davey)