Artist: Velvet Acid Christ
CD title: Maldire
Label: Metropolis Records
Reviewer: DJ Kantrip
There are two things that will make me immediately turn away from an industrial band or project. Overuse of movie or television samples, and harsh raspy vocals. These are instant turn offs and I will normally not even give a band a second consideration if most of their album leans heavily on these elements. Of course there are exceptions, and Velvet Acid Christ (or VAC for this review's purposes) is one of those exceptions. Mostly because they are one of the bands that know how to use these things as tools to enhance their music and not crutches. Also because VAC helped kickstart the popularity of movie sampling in industrial music.
Maldire, VAC's latest release, is a nice little throwback album to the band's earlier days. I loved their last album The Art of Breaking Apart as it was a brilliant break from their trademark sound, but Maldire's return to form feels comforting. The vocals alternate from breathy singing to harsh whispers to distorted shrieks in a way that didn't turn me off. Maldire keeps up a nice diversity to its sound as well. There's the frantic yet calming instrumental “Hypercurse”. The trip-hop and sinister sounding “Septic Rinse” and then the very club friendly stomp fest of “Christ Whore”. The track that stands out the most to me is “Dream Curse” which is right at the end of the album. The spoken lyrics clash against synths that sound like something out of an 80's PBS science program. While it isn't the closing track to Maldire, it would be the perfect creepy ending if it was.
While I will admit that previous VAC albums (Fun With Knives in particular) were pretty obnoxious when it came to how media samples were utilized, Maldire has sold me on the band's ability to utilize this as a tool to enhance the music and not become a crutch. I can listen to this album and mentally tune out anything that was clipped from a movie and still enjoy the music. When movie samples are used they are either used at the beginning and end of the track or skillfully woven into the music rather than just pasted on in lieu of vocals. The effect is quite nice as I can cut the ones that start/end with samples out of my DJ sets and the ones where they are woven feel like they are a core part of the song's hook, and as such make great tracks to spin and get people into.
After a few months to mull it over, I can say that Maldire is one of VAC's more memorable releases and definitely one to pick up. It demonstrates the staying power that this band has had over 2 decades, doesn't sound at all rehashed while revisiting an earlier style, and I wasn't entirely annoyed by random snippets of movies finding their way into some bit of an instrumental I was grooving out to. If I were to introduce a new listener to VAC I would play them this album. Especially if that person was about to play me something they just wrote that sampled Full Metal Jacket.
3 out of 5 stars.
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