Aug 152022

(We had a torrent of reviews from DGR last week, and we have another one to kick-start this new week. The subject is the second LP from Midwestern US industrial metal outfit Black Magnet, which was released by 20 Buck Spin at the end of July.)

It seems only fitting, given the Author & Punisher and Lament Cityscape reviews that have floated across the site (one of which was the fault of yours truly), that at one point or another we were going to find our way to the doorstep of the industrial project Black Magnet.

The group’s recent album Body Prophecy was released at the tail end of July via 20 Buck Spin and is one of those releases where if you were curious in any sense what sort of music they made, you just had to see that the closing track was a remix by Godflesh‘s Justin Broadrick.

Black Magnet have been around for a few years now, though they are still a newer project, and Body Prophecy represents only the second full-length for the band. Arriving two years after their album Hallucination Scene, Body Prophecy tries hard to refine the band’s sound while also indulging in some hefty hero worship. It’s hard not to draw comparisons throughout the album as Black Magnet leans hard into the electronics-driven side of its sound, augmenting its guitar and hammering drums for something that could draw a wall of comparisons to groups like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and yes, the aforementioned Godflesh.

photo by Bekah Scott

Body Prophecy has a few different modes throughout its near-thirty-five minutes with you, and during those times you really get a sense of the groups that have influenced this project over the years. That isn’t a bad thing – it invites a ton of comparisons, sure – but it’s also a very fine line to dance upon, when even the slightest shift can result in more than just shared influences and become something of an attempted emulation instead. Groups have to work hard to maintain their own identity throughout, when so many masks are in play, and there are plenty of cases where that has failed.

Black Magnet seem acutely aware of this, so often you’ll hear songs building up intense foundations and musical structures only to slice through the bottom of it and bring the whole thing crashing down. One only needs to listen to “Floating In Nothing” to hear that dynamic in play. It’s that sort of distorted and chaotic noise break that brings about the punctual world-ending of each song – which is why it’s easy to say that Body Prophecy starts intense with songs like “A History of Drowning”, built out of crashing guitars and thundering drums, and then ratchets up from there during its follower “Violent Mechanix” – which given its short length also feels like an addendum to the album’s opening track.

The hunters for the nightmare machine sound punctuated by heartbeat snare drum should be easily sated by “Incubate” when it pops up. “Incubate” is one of a few slow grinders within the Body Prophecy lineup, though it seems like every time Black Magnet put a song that just lurches forward, crawling by what little strength is left in it, there exists an equally faster and violent track later on. “Wolverine Dreams” and “Body World” play that role in this album’s lineup, so when you start seeing just enough of the slow-grind through the gears and droning repetition that draws the many Godflesh comparisons to this band, there’ll be a sudden adrenaline shock to the system that turns the drumming into machine-gun fire.

Those songs inject some life into Black Magnet‘s latest foray into electronics-fueled violence. When the album seems to be settling into drafting through a modulated hellscape, you get the more direct artillery fire approach for a few. It’s enough to shock you awake even as the album then segues into the haunted quiet of “Sold Me Sad”. Though again, with the dynamic mentioned before, those moments are quickly shattered by the rumbling guitars and yelling of “Last Curse”.

Black Magnet are part of a slowly growing wave of industrial and metal artists over the last few years who are doing an excellent job smashing the two together. We’re at the point in the music cycle where stuff like this from the ’90s seems to be swinging back around in force, put through new filters and seen through new eyes by current-day musicians. While it’s tempting to influence-worship with stuff like this, Black Magnet does a good job acknowledging how many of those styles have found their way into the project throughout Body Prophecy, but they don’t become just another act waiting for their turn to prostrate at the altar. Instead, Black Magnet weaponizes the style and uses it for its own chaotic branch of the tree. Every time the guitar comes crashing down in a song like a meteor falling from the sky, you know the next few minutes are going to be equally jarring and intense.

Body Prophecy isn’t the friendliest album around, but it rocks hard enough to keep a listener locked in while it whips its way through every instrument and noise available to it. It’s a good followup to an exceedingly strong first release back in 2020, and one that hopefully serves as a harbinger of more things to come.

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