(DGR reviews the sixth studio album by Poland’s Thy Disease, released in February 2014.)
Industrial hybrid genres are an oddball entity to write about when it comes to heavy metal. Often it feels like bands don’t have enough industrial elements and at other times it feels like those are are overwhelming the others to the extent that the remaining piece of the descriptor might as well not even be there. There are people who do get it correct, but it seems to have become the go-to for any band that adds some distorted whirs, buzzes, keyboards, and such, that they wind up with an “industrial” in front of their name.
Industrial Death often finds itself in that weird push-pull dynamic, having morphed into a groove-focused genre with very little of the actual death metal side present — namely, just growled vocals and the occasional blast-beat battering. It’s also a very wide genre that has become a huge umbrella term for bands who might otherwise be characterized as symphonic or something else entirely. Long story short, it’s hard to tell if seeing a band described as Industrial Death Metal actually means anything at first glance, other than allowing you to infer that at some point there will be electronics in the mix.
Poland’s Thy Disease are one such band, a group who have adopted the “industrial death metal” descriptor as part of their image, playing up the “music made by and for Terminators” aspect of it while incorporating many of the aforementioned groove-heavy and instantly neck-bobbing riffs in their music. The band have been long-time staples of my personal Last.fm recommendations — one of the groups that I feel like I’ve listened to more on that site despite having a copy of Anshur-Za (their 2009 release) lying around in my house.
Their 2014 release Costumes Of Technocracy represents something of a big lineup shift for the band, with many of the current members having joined the roster in the two-year gap between 2011 and 2013. Costumes could be viewed as a re-launch for the band, with the only member left from the group’s 1999 lineup being guitarist Yanuary. It’s a story that has been told many times over — a new lineup and a new album, a band with a humongous personnel shift and huge stretches of time between discs, the process sometimes creating a new band altogether. In the case of Thy Disease and Costumes Of Technocracy, it’s a combination of all the elements and the release of an extremely approachable and sharp, groove-heavy disc, buffered by a layer of keyboards, samples, and distorted electronics.
Costumes begins with the song they made a music video for, “Slave State”. “Slave State” is one of two songs that approaches a poppy and catchy realm of music on Costumes Of Technocracy, as most tunes on the album don’t really go for any sort of sing-along chorus or anything outside of a really heavy and focused groove. “Slave State” plays with the common interplay of harsh and heavy vocals and then the half-spelled, half-sung chorus, but the tune is also propelled by a super-fast drum performance and a crushing bellow of a vocal section. Vocalist Syrus plays with a variety of different styles, with a piercing high and a half-spoken style singing voice, but he gets the most mileage out of a thick, low bellow of a growl. Looking at him in the “Slave State” video, you would not expect a low-end growl to come out of him, but he keeps Thy Disease in pretty heavy territory with his roar throughout the album.
Most of Costumes Of Technocracy, though, stays on the heavier side of the industrial death metal spectrum where there is nary a guitar lead to be heard of. Instead, each riff is played out to sound mechanical, in sync more with the banging happening behind the drum kit — almost as if the drummer wrote half the guitar riffs himself and just hammered them out on the guitar like a typewriter. Any sense of real melody outside of the tunings comes from keyboardist and synth player VX — who has a bevy of samples and industrial bells and whistles to play with. Often, he rotates between a sort of faux symphonic keyboard and the occasional ambient note or two just traveling in the background as guitars and bass pound away. He also occasionally pushes forward some more basic keyboard work and even a rave synth or two (see “MK Ultra” for instance, a super-fast blink-of-an-eye song that relies on those synths for its melody).
My personal favorite though is the opening of “Holographic Reality”, with ultra-distorted bass, drums, and some hefty computer sampling — and then the whole song unfolds like a riff typed out by an assembly-line machine in a metalworks shop. It’s also one of the few other songs (like “Slave State”) that has a catchy chorus, as Syrus finds himself backed by a robotic singer that will get the chorus of that tune stuck in your head. Costumes Of Technocracy — along with this spectrum of music in general — is an album for people who absolutely love the rhythm section part of songwriting. Guitarist, drummer, and bassist all form a unified wall of sound that plays into the precise and militaristic nature of this style of music.
We’ve spent a lot of time on NCS with bands that play super-technical, violently brutal death metal — the sort of excess that we’ve come to celebrate with intricate and complicated song structures and unwavering dedication to all things crushing. Yet recently I’ve found that it helps to provide some perspective, and to spend some time with a band who tone it down a bit and keep things a little simpler. This probably explains my sudden infatuation with that Psygnosis disc that I reviewed recently, but Thy Disease are also hitting the same dopamine centers of the brain real hard right now.
Costumes Of Technocracy (pronounced Techno – Cray – Cee across the disc in some songs, and “Technocracy” like Democracy is pronounced, with a tech as the prefix, in others — it’s a fun title) is a groove-filled album. With their drum/guitar sync-up style of songwriting (Sybreed did a similar thing to the same effect), the band have a whole boatload of riffs that can cause instant head-nodding. Sadly, I don’t have enough knowledge of the band to truly state how Costumes Of Technocracy stands up against the rest of their discography. But as a sort of re-introduction of the band and my own first, real in-depth exposure, the disc is a fun listen. It’s not the type of album that aspires super-hard to push boundaries, but as a serving of death metal combined with industrial it plays to those strengths very well. Syrus‘ growl is a great fit for this band, too; he keeps this album grounded in heavy-as-hell territory, and when backed by the precise, machine-like rhythm section and the distorted computer samples of the synth work, Thy Disease find themselves at the nexus of a good combination of music.