ARTIST: Carphax Files
Carphax Files haven't put out an album in four years, and the wait was worth it. If their 2004 debut was workmanlike if unexceptional EBM, their sophomore release absolutely redeems it. Admittedly, opening track "Constitutionalize" doesn't get things off to that promising a start; it's solid terror EBM, heavy on the distorted vocals and reverb-drenched snare, but nothing you haven't heard before. "Landmines" picks things up a bit, the vocals much more raw, less a burst of vocoder distortion than a hoarse bark that makes you want to scream along. It's "Murder" that really takes off, though, combining the band's classic electro influences with clean, rapidly fired staccato vocals reminiscent of Stromkern founder Ned Kirby's industrial hip-hop rhyming backed by a more classic vocoder sound. "No More Man" and "System Collapse" keep things going with solid club-friendly aggression and dense sequences of drum machine and synthesizer, and "Laser Beams" adds a touch of industrial rock guitar for flavor on top of multi-tracked vocals that hang loosely together like a protest chant. Proving to have put as much thought into the album as a whole as they did to individual songs, Carphax Files relent a bit at the end, the hard-hitting club tracks giving way to heavier but slower atmosphere, "Sanity Clothes" offering the crunchy stomp of processed beats and "God 3.0" finishing things off with a melancholy arrangement of minor-key piano phrases, mournful processed vocals, and trudging beats that's similar in its sense of existential melancholy to Skinny Puppy's "Killing Game." Carphax Files' debut stuck to safe and familiar formulas; this release, on the other hand, makes use of those formulas to keep DJs and genre purists happy while still offering enough innovation to keep listeners interested. Hopefully the next stage of the band's EBM "Revolution" will be here before 2012.
For more information, visit the band on MySpace at www.myspace.com/carphaxfiles.
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