Empire Of The Atom
posted on 1/2008 By:
Peculiar duo, this Art 238, if their oddball moniker didn’t raise that flag already. Their method of aural attack? A scathing, sizzling stew of brutal death metal and jarring grindcore, backlit with harshly industrial undertones. This debut discharge, Empire of the Atom, is a concept album of sorts, chronicling a nuclear apocalypse, the rise of a mutant race from the rubble, and the subsequent annihilation of the remnants of humanity. Suitably, this is one ugly piece of work. Regrettably, it is also insanely frustrating.
Frustrating is a mild description…I suppose grating is a more appropriate adjective. While Art 238 harbor a handful of compelling traits that could be used to create a properly devastating album, none of them are translated into asskickery. The samples and keyboards swirl within a cold, Soul of a New Machine-tainted dust storm, but are largely nonsensical and poorly synched. The drumming (hopefully programmed, for their sake) consists of stock-and-trade blasting, but its effectiveness is hampered by the brittle production. The guitars are armed with a filthy, white-hot tone, belching and buzzing as they mutate; but unfortunately, the riffing lacks a sense of urgency (and, in quite a few cases, flat-out sucks). A frantic sense of exigence should be absolutely paramount when performing a grind-oriented epic about nuclear freaking holocaust, but the moments of true intensity are few and far between on Empire of the Atom. And what, pray tell, the value of extremity that lacks intensity?
Of course, Empire of the Atom shows some flashes, namely on speeding bullets like “Skull-Crushed” and “Guinea Pig”. But their shortcomings in riffcraft cannot be overlooked on slow-cookers “Dusk of Mankind” and “Dawn of Mutants”, which are excruciating in their face-burrowing banality. Surely, if fortified with the kind of low-end heft that The Berserker uses to such a satisfying, wall-bouncing degree, this would be some cool shit…but then it would sound exactly like The Berserker.
Every single one of Art 238’s traits seem sexy on paper: Their image, their concept, the industrial/apocalyptic underpinnings… even their almost alien approach to tonality. However, when all the dust has settled and all the smoke has cleared, this record disappoints. Like most of the Open Grave roster, Art 238 seem to be long on potential, but short on results.
The aural apocalypse has never sounded so bland.
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