Subzone – Paranoid Landscape

Subzone
Paranoid Landscape

I’ve been getting a lot of electronic music lately. It seems these things come in spurts. Perhaps electronic music is becoming more popular now, not that it has been less popular since the invention of the Casio keyboard. But my problem with electronic music, especially the kind that is more rock-related, is that it all sounds the same. Subzone doesn’t sound like everyone else, despite having a highly electronic feel, and they manage to keep their originality through their crunchy, hard-rock elements as well.

Subzone definitely play electronic music, but by including guitars and drums into the mix, they manage to create a very interesting analog/synthetic dichotomy, and that’s where the band’s originality lies. These nine songs are mostly long instrumentals that don’t quite get into the dreamy, atmospheric electronic side of things that I’ve been hearing lately. Rather, they have a more industrial sound, the way industrial started out – all electronic and piecemeal. That’s Subzone, the industrial for the new millennium, fusing blistering guitars, pounding drum beats, and electronic drones and noisy washes of sound to create something blaring and powerful.

“Tunnel Vision” starts tepid and rather boring, with an electronic beat and synthetic noises, but when the guitars really kick in, crunchy and coated in feedback and distortion, the song takes on a blistering rock feel, something like old Stabbing Westward and Nine Inch Nails without boring choruses and mainstream nods. “Try Again” has even more of that angry industrial feel, only now biting, distorted and mostly incoherent angry vocals come into the mix. The song doesn’t change things up from the first track, unfortunately, but the guitar is given a bit more focus. It flows effortlessly into “Somewhat Forgotten” and “Flood (Get Out)” before I even realize that one song has ended and another begun. The vocals in “Flood” are eerie, with screaming way in the background and very muffled vocals. Finally, silence, as “Stuck Inside” begins. This track is slower, more moody, with a more electronic feel to it, with clearer but still incoherent vocals, and it’s a nice break midway through this album. But, like previously, it flows into “Gamma Echo” before you know it, and this song sounds almost the same, except with more computer-sounding vocals and a bit more guitar bits. “Laugh” takes on a more plodding, ominous feel, at least until it ends in swirls of electronic warbles and other sounds. “Order” has a much more up-beat tempo and less of a dark sound, and it throws in some very spacey samples that are kind of cool. I’d have to say this is my favorite track. And finally “The Others” closes things up as another unique track, starting off slow and quiet and building to a very cool, very stylistic song, with some nice guitar in the background and various beats in the foreground.

My only problem with Subzone is that this album feels like one big song. Why continue the blaring guitars and noisy feedback and distortion forever without changing things a bit. The first four tracks, for example, are one seamless song, and that continues again later on the album. Regardless, this is cool stuff. It reminds me of early Stabbing Westward, early NIN, early Ministry, early Throbbing Gristle. Loud, angry guitars, tons of distortion and feedback, and incoherent but eerie vocals. Cool stuff.