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Headbanging on the Dancefloor

Headbanging on the Dancefloor: Electronic Grit

Samples, distortion and metallic percussion define an overlooked genre.

Each week, CMN’s Kevin Ashley delves into the vast expanse of metal and electronic music, bringing recommendations, reviews, and news. Do not expect to find safe, chart-topping music here. Welcome to Headbanging on the Dance Floor.

Last week, I “re-discovered” a subset of industrial that kind of brushed me by: electro-industrial. This subgenre is characterized by a layered sound, featuring the use of samples, distortion, metal percussion, on top of the synthpop-esque base of electronic body music, or EBM. Some well known examples include Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy, Front 242, and Velvet Acid Christ.

I never really delved too deep into electro-industrial, because the too-often thin production put me off. Granted, this genre emerged in the 80’s and left around the mid-90’s, staying underground the entire time, so production value was generally secondary. Now, imagine my surprise when I discovered there are modern bands that still pine for the classic cusp-of-the-90’s sound, while bringing modern production values. 

Seattle’s Chrome Corpse, California’s INVA//ID, New York’s STATIQBLOOM, and Ohio’s Flesh Field are a few I have discovered recently that embody electro-industrial’s atmosphere. Two that I knew about already are Spain’s Electro Synthetic Rebellion, and Serbia’s Mind Teardown. INVA//ID’s “Worm” hooked me immediately, so I searched out how to purchase their music. I found it’s only available on a limited release cassette, currently. Not one to be put down by this, I inquired further, finding out they have a digital release planned but not completed yet. Amazingly, they sent me a copy of the unreleased digital version. I purchased the cassette anyway for two reasons, even though I have no way to listen to it. One, to support them, and two, the cassette release is exclusively mixed by Kevorkian Death Cycle and will never see digital release.

On an off note, I recently found out that the eurobeat master Dave Rodgers released a new version of “Space Boy” and “Deja Vu” back in 2018. Both are what one would expect from him, full of energy and masterfully produced. “Space Boy” sounds like a revitalized version of the original, while “Deja Vu” – now called “Deja Vu (1:04 Mix)”, a meta reference to the start of the famous chorus – features a couple new elements, while keeping the spirit of the original. If you love eurobeat, these are must-purchases.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

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