HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

...And Oceans - Cypher
(Century Media)

Much more metal screeched and cerebral black metallic than the band's last album (a techno question mark conundrum called A.M.G.O.D.), Cypher is still a provocative, almost annoying claptrap of signals, starting with big, belaboured song titles, each housing at least one colon, many of them three phrases and two colons, which simply... cannot be done! But these misanthropic Finns most certainly are about breaking rules, Cypher sounding like some cross between Arcturus, Zyklon, Peccatum, Rammstein and The Kovenant, turning in songs that are surprisingly accessible, most churning on angular guitar patterns at relaxed groovy speeds, even if the cold, stainless steel production values and the nu-black vocals of Kenny keep you grimly frown-gowning. I dunno, it's weird, many of these songs ('Opaque' blah blah blah for example, as well as 'Debris' blah blah blah, which houses the album's best Zeppelin riff) possess the magic that seeped from the big thorny Ministry Psalm 69 album, a record that scared people with its mechanical sin din. Cypher is pretty much emotionally relentless and existential like that, and somehow in the spirit of Tomas Lindberg's The Great Deceiver, Cypher being this parched collage of machine-stamped signals that sound Important but dangerous to one's sense of hope.
Rating 8

Filter - Amalgamut

The 'Hey Man Nice Shot' NIN-breakaway band are back and rocking with a thick metallic vibe, somewhere between doom, grunge, nu-metal and the angular industrial of Pitchshifter or before that, Killing Joke. Add in a taste of the band's recent acoustic pop sheen and the end result is, well, smart, major label pacings and sequencings and productions that add up to the enigmatic. Faves would be the sinister 'My Long Walk To Jail' and the explosive slam of 'So I Quit', both evidence of a band capable of fiery metal riffing when the urge presents itself. And it's cool how the acoustic material offsets the power chords, the band sounding lush and elegant like the early '80s romantics (see 'God Damn Me', a goddamn beautiful ballad) crossed with the prog of Tool and the prog of... prog. Provocative songs put through killer production, Amalgamut runs the... y'know, unfortunately falling off into a couple of drones at the end, but before that, courting loud/soft dynamics that will have you scratching your head, not your butt.
Rating 7

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