I think I’m in love.
Okay, maybe I’m not really in love. Maybe I’m just in lust. Not with a person, but with a voice. With the voice on DyNAbyte‘s new album 2KX. Which will be released on Sunday — two days from now.
You might think Sunday is an odd day for an album release, but only until you realize what Sunday is. It’s 10-10-10. There’s probably a name for dates like that, but I’m too lazy to track down what it is. We’ll have two more like it in the next two years (11-11-11 and 12-12-12) and then we’ll have to wait until 2101 for the next one. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be here to see that one.
Fuck, come to think of it, I may not be here to see the one next year either.
There’s probably some Mayan astrologer who predicted the world would end on 10-10-10. I doubt that will happen, but we’re not there yet, so who knows? It’s safer to just blow it all out for the next two days. That’s my plan, at any rate. Better to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission.
Where was I? Oh yeah — the new album by DyNAbyte. They’re from Italy. They’re also giving a big Italian “fuck you” to all the usual distribution channels for music (at least for now). They’re releasing their album exclusively on a USB key, which you can order only from them.
Why bother?, you may ask. Well, that’s the point of this post, idn’t it? To tell you why to bother. Because you should. Because of that voice (among other things). (more after the jump . . .)
I first took notice of DyNAbyte on one of my ridiculously random MISCELLANY forays, because the band is fronted by a woman named Cadaveria, who I’d heard about from her adventures with Opera IX and a second band that bears her name, and because DyNAbyte also includes bassist Killer Bob from Necrodeath (and Cadaveria). The final member of the band is guitarist L.J. Dusk. Their previous album, the debut Extreme Mental Piercing, was released six years ago.
At first, I heard only a song from the forthcoming album called “The Mummy”. I liked it. Because it was part of a MISCELLANY foray, I would have written about it even if it turned out to be shit. But it wasn’t. And one thing led to another, and Cadaveria gave me the chance to hear the rest of the album in advance of the release.
And, although the deck was stacked against me liking this album, given the peculiarities of my tastes in metal, I’m fucking nailed to the wall by the music. 2KX is a marriage of cyber-industrial convulsiveness and futuristic-yet-Gothic melodies that works, even for our extreme tastes in metal, and Cadaveria’s vocals are simply a tour-de-force that shouldn’t be missed.
Why was the deck stacked against 2KX on the poker table of my tiny brain? Well, because at a 10,000 foot level it’s a marriage of Goth-rock, cyber-metal, and industrial aggro (in the vein of bands like Fear Factory, Ministry, and Sybreed). I do like those bands named in the parenthetical of the previous sentence, but only in short doses, and the cyber/Goth thing? Not so much.
So, what’s different about 2KX? Well, let me count the ways: L.J. Dusk and Killer Bob have a knack for executing riffs that bend your body to their will. They relentlessly hammer and chug and pulsate and grind. Combined with the programmed drum tracks, they lay down rhythms that compel movement, sometimes closer to the techno/dance end of the scale (as on “Normal”, “Artmix”, and “Cold Wind of Fear”), sometimes smack in the middle of Fear Factory-style industrial pummeling (as on “Hereditary Neuronavigation” and “Stones”).
On “The Mummy”, the riffs and rhythms effectively create the image of a horde of linen-wrapped, red-eyed Boris Karloffs lurching forward, arms extended, hungry for your embrace.
Is that riff-mastery the difference? Well, not really. It’s cool, it’s good, but it doesn’t set DyNAbyte distinctly apart from those other bands I mentioned above.
All the songs are laden with varying degrees of electronic samples and effects: futuristic game-techno keyboards at the outset of “Equilibrium”, sci-fi shimmering and skittering in “Normal” and “I’m Not Scared”, 8-bit pulsing at the beginning of “Cold Wind of Fear”, and tinny, robotic pinging in the intro to “Blinded By My Light”. And to greater or lesser degrees, all the songs are infected with machine-generated tones, pulses, and ambient noise.
Is that the difference? Not for me. All the cybernetics that infuse 2KX are essential to DyNAbyte’s musical identity, and they increase the density of the aural effect, but cyber-metal ain’t really my thing. Too much tech runs the risk of sapping all the soul from music.
No, for me, the two features of 2KX that enable it to overcome the deck-stacking in my poker-table brain are the songwriting skill and Cadaveria’s voice. In my book, much industrial metal falls prey to the defect of sameness — there is a tendency for the songs to become indistinguishable and ultimately monotonous. DyNAbyte largely avoids that risk. Despite the general stylistic uniformity in DyNAbyte’s sound, each song has its own identity.
For example: Interleaved with the industrial hammering and the techno dance beats, you’ll find in “F.T.L.” a dramatic anthem with a melody that emerges from the hammer-and-crash and rings in your head long after the song has ended; and “Hereditary Neuronavigation” is ominous and dark, with a mix of rapid, groaning riffs and bursts of high-pitched guitar squeal. I don’t love all the music on this album, but listening was never dull, because some new surprise waited around the corner of every song.
And that brings me to the real difference-maker on this album: that voice.
Cadaveria has the ability to sing in a multitude of vocal styles. Her natural “clean” voice is in the alto range, and reminds me of The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, but she has great upward range. Her clean singing is powerful and clear, but she can also turn up the intensity dial and belt out the lyrics with grit and soul. And that’s not all. Cadaveria can deliver death-metal style howls, growls, and gutturals that are the equal of the world’s best-known extreme metal vocalist, Arch Enemy‘s Angela Gossow. And on almost every song in 2KX, to varying degrees, all of Cadaveria’s diverse vocal styles are on display, both the clean and the harsh. Cadaveria is what keeps the soul alive in DyNAbyte’s sound — even though at times, it’s a very dark, cold soul.
Here’s the first single from 2KX. See what you think, if you didn’t catch it the first time around in our previous MISCELLANY post:
More about that USB music-delivery device: According to the band, it will include the 12 songs on the album, both as high-quality cross-fade wav tracks and also as high-quality mp3 tracks; an exclusive DigitalBooklet Flash animation; lyrics; high-quality band photos and logo; wallpapers; readme files; and a “How-to-navigate the DigitalBooklet Flash animation” tutorial.
For 13 Euro, you can order the USB device from the band at the official DyNAbyte web site (here), where you can also get a sneak peak about how that animated digital booklet works.
Her clean vocals and some of the more dancey music reminds me of the band collide…I’m not sure if they exist anymore. It was pretty much just dance goth. (gothic dance.)
For this reason only the music sounds kind of not new to me. The heavy guitars and growls were pretty good, but the gothicness distracted more than expected.
I still liked it…but it wasnt as titillating as I’d hoped. Hahaha!
I applaud their alternative distribution scheme…but why no downloadability??
Collide still exists and in fact are recording a new album now. They’re soliciting donations to help finance the recording, in return for providing donors an unreleased mp3:
I’m also wondering whether DyNAbyte’s USB-only distribution scheme is going to last. It’s a cool idea, but seems like they’ll be missing out on people who would be happy to pay usual prices for a download but won’t fork over 13 Euro (more than $18) for the USB. We’ll see.
I only have one of Collide’s albums and, while I did enjoy it when I was 19, I don’t think I need to have another album from them. Still, I wish them luck! But I’ll be saving my donations for other things.
I honestly don’t understand why EVER band doesn’t have their entire discography available for download
directly from their website. I’m not interested in the physical stuff personally (though I don’t think it should be ignored), but I do want to help support bands. How does offering an album download for 8 or 10 dollars NOT immensely help the band???
Anyway, I do like the USB idea, because it’s simultaneously physical and digital. Which is what any good cyberpunkmetalgothicrock band should do. In my humble opinion. I just don’t want to buy it myself.
Well, I’m like you. I would like every band to have their entire discography available for download from their own sites. I assume that bands who have label contracts can’t do that because it could prevent the label from getting its cut. But I don’t get why unsigned bands don’t do that, or at least set up a Bandcamp page or a BigCartel page that makes downloading and payment easy.
I agree. It’d be nice to have an easier way to get hold of some material from bands without having to go through different outlets.
As Islander said, contracts and such can get in the way, particularly when it’s not clear who actually has the rights to an album – which should be the band, but that doesn’t mean anything goes, either. Those conditions aside, some bands may not even want older material to be available anymore. It could be because they think it sucks, or maybe they want to keep the focus on the new stuff and having older material could cut into that. Name changes, linuep changes, demo versions and other factors also play a role.
DyNAbyte going with an USB only distribution is an interesting move, but given shipping costs (even if it is just a flash drive) and conversion rates, I do not see this as working well for a worldwide audience. I doubt that the band expects to make a fortune, but the price is going to be a barrier. A download only option would serve the band better, I would think. From what their site says, the albums takes up 800 MB of a 1 GB drive, which is a bit of a hurdle, even with broadband. Take out the .wav files and you’ve got something more manageable, yet still comes with more content than over 99% of digital releases.
Hello guys, many thanks to all of you for the interesting suggestions. Anyway, our first album is available for free download through our web-site, last.fm or jamendo. We’ll think about a way to buy the new album as download.
John – DyNAbyte
Hey man, thanks so much for writing, and best of luck with 2KX.
I am now the excited recipient of the DyNAbyte USB stick. I still don’t know how many people will spring for this, but it’s very cool. It’s got cross-fade .wav files you can burn to CD and HQ mp3 files for other purposes, plus photos, wallpaper, and a bunch of other goodies. And the Digital Media Booklet on teh USB device is way cool. You launch it on your computer and it generates a flash player in your web browser that serves up animation and lyrics for each track, with superb sound quality. A lot of care and effort went into this thing. I love it!