posted on 7/2006 By:
It’s the same old thing from Cold Meat Industry, and by that I’m referring of course to the usual unusual and eccentric non-metal offerings that challenge, reward, and/or agitate the piss out of the MetalReview.com faithful. This time around the square peg in question is the unfortunately named but actually quite solid Infernal Affairs from MZ.412. This is the first effort in seven years from the Swedes, who shortened their moniker from the original mouthful of Maschinenzimmer 412. It also appears that this is the band’s swan song.
MZ.412’s dark industrial ambient style is probably outside the tastes of the majority of our readers, but the band does what it does quite well. Well enough that genre enthusiasts will no doubt rate this much higher than I have, but not well enough to avoid an equal amount of points deducted by those generally wary of affairs such as these. What makes this album more appealing than most in this style is how deftly the band employs the major tools of the genre to give the disc a shape that is often lacking in the work of their peers. They never overplay their hand, and the judicious use and placement of these elements creates payoff and helps give the songs more identity. During the opening duo of intro track “Preludiumh” and “Infernal Affairs I” MZ.412 set an ominous tone with horns and what sounds like an industrialized alien death march. More of the same would have been welcome, but from there the band moves into less structured and sparse dark ambience. This is the element of the style with which so many metal fans struggle, but although these moments are frequent, these guys at least bracket them with fuller and more active periods. At times, such as on tracks like “Vredens Skvadron”, the band uses hypnotic rhythmic jarring noises, while at others (“Point of Presence”), they build nightmarish walls of throbbing dissonance. Vocal samples, varying from digitized, watery voices that would sound at home as samples on a Skinny Puppy album, to whispered, conversational, and tortured screams are interspersed throughout the album frequently enough and appropriately unobtrusive in the mix, to add quite a bit to the album’s menacing tone. “Unhealing Wounds” combines most of the weapons in the band’s arsenal and is probably the best song on the album. Opening with samples of a tortured female crying and then male voices conversing over the top (can’t make out the language), the song moves into a humming, undulating repeating rhythm that’s heavier and somewhat tribal. It’s dark music for dark minds. Every collection should have at least a handful of albums like this, and Infernal Affairs is an album that I see myself revisiting occasionally after reviewing, and that’s always a welcome find, regardless of genre.
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