Label: Metropolis Records/Dependent Records
I stopped paying attention to industrial around 2005. It wasn't so much the fact that I didn't care about industrial music anymore; it was more that industrial music had left me behind and had become a monotonous ball of sameness. I awaited another Hate Dept. or Flesh Field or Penal Colony album, while the rest of the industrial scene was busy masturbating and producing endless revisions of Suicide Commando.
Years have passed and, despite my waiting, nothing had caught my attention as particularly worthwhile or indicative of a return to something meaningful.
After seeing Dismantled live with Front Line Assembly, I picked up the new album and, almost surprised with myself, I couldn't stop listening to it. I don't think that I've had an occassion to have an album so firmly entrenched in my head since 2004. This is not to say that "The War Inside Me" is a work of staggering musical genius, but it struck a chord in me that hasn't been touched in the slightest in far too many years.
I had listened to Dismantled in the past; though my study of the Front Line Assembly-influenced self-titled album and "Post Nuclear" was little more than cursory, there were several tracks from "Standard Issue" and "When I'm Dead" that had ended up on my regular playlist for years. I had heard "Anthem" and "Breed To Death" dozens of times. I was familiar with the tone and content of Dismantled's work, or at least I felt I was.
"The War Inside Me" is a new breed of Dismantled. Whereas "Standard Issue" took on the cliches and cliqueish bullshit of industrial music with a sarcastic, bitter bite and "When I'm Dead" rode a line between standard industrial electronics, garnering comparisons to Nine Inch Nails, and more melancholy notes, "The War Inside Me" is filled with aggression in a way that even the angered undertones of the previous albums hadn't foreshadowed.
Some might say that "The War Inside Me" bears more in common with the tone of Combichrist's work than with Dismantled's. It's true that the shift into pounding, noisy rhythms was not foretold in the previous albums, but the lyrical tone and undercurrent was. And it's an insult to Dismantled to even compare this album to Combichrist's semi-literate horseshit.
I can't say that I appreciate the "blood and knives" aesthetic of industrial music that has arisen over the past several years, nor would I trumpet this album for its lyrical achievements. (Hearing a preview of "The Bathroom Floor" well before the album's release had me declaring that the whole thing would be a stupid piece of shit.) It could easily be argued that it's a juvenile album, full of misogyny and violence against women. Sure, whatever. But there also exists a thread running throughout the disc that connect its tracks in a story of sorts; somewhere between an album about serial killers and songs written in hyperbolic metaphor about the disappointments and rage of relationships is where you'll find these tracks. Maybe it's just a bunch of ditties about people being run over by cars, committing mass murder, killing their girlfriends and burying them in the woods, or unleashing Kafka-tinged rage in gouts of violence. You can write them off as heavy-handed or insensitive, but I think you'd be missing the point.
The music, on its own, is a totally different beast than the de rigueur Dismantled. While minimalist in construction, the perfect layering of driving beats and noise create the perfect backdrop for a wall of hoarse-throated screams. I appreciate plenty of albums, but I found myself with the tracks stuck in my head for days and the constant urge to listen to the album yet again. It's a special kind of song that keeps you awake at 5 AM because you can't stop it repeating in your head. And while several of the songs are less than stellar, foregoing the fast, hard pace of the earlier tracks for dark soundscapes, the overall product is more than worth the investment. Songs like "Insecthead", "Kill Or Be Killed", "Dead On Impact", and "The War Inside Me" (or "The Whore Inside Me", if you have the European edition; I don't know what's up with that) will immediately jump out at the listener, but, over time, you may find yourself going back to tracks like "Disease" or "Excess" that you may have initially written off.
Despite the fact that the content can seem, on the surface, to be purile and that many may be turned off by the "I'm going to kill everyone, you're a whore, I'm going to be covered in blood" overtones that the album beats you with, mercilessly, it's hard for me to imagine it not drilling into the listener's head and taking hold. It may not be perfect, but it gives me hope that there might still be industrial music that will surprise me and keep me listening in the future.