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domenica 23 agosto 2015

Last Avenue - Integration Protocol

#FOR FANS OF: Industrial, Rammstein
The last French industrial metal band I listened to were dreary, sloppy and boring. Without naming names (*cough*Voron*cough*), I will admit that said band at least had the decency to pump their latest album full of meaty riffs to distract from the general dullness. This time round, however, it is a different French industrial metal band - Orlean's Last Avenue - who have the task of gracing my ears. Fortunately, these guys have also decided to insert many hefty riffs into the heart of their newest record, 'Integration Protocol'. But, even more fortunately, there is more than just the one aspect that makes this effort so rewarding to listen to... Firstly (and quite unusually for an industrial metal band), this album is injected with a youthful vibrancy that boosts the energy up and prevents it from dragging along at a snail's pace (you listening, Voron?). There is plentiful variety of tempos throughout 'Integration Protocol', making the whole affair sound like Pitchshifter on steroids. The tracks, "Wireless Ghost" and "Pieces of Metal Planet", are masterclasses in energy. They contrast satisfyingly with the mid-tempo stompers like "Fear To Stay" and "Spying From The Future". The band names their primary metal influence as Rammstein - and nothing else is made more obvious! The ball-crushing riffs pound away exactly like Lindemann & co. and the electronic backbeats add another brilliant dimension to the music. This is an area where many industrial bands have failed, but Last Avenue appear to shine. The synthesized keyboard effects are always present; either carrying a discernible melody, or providing the wonderfully mechanical atmosphere. They never feel irrelevant or segregated. The vocals are also impressively diverse. Déj's distant wailing is always tuneful and atmospheric, whilst his screams are fully-rounded and downwright pissed off. The digitized vocals in "The Factory" and "This is Personal" are also surprisingly effective! Usually this technique is innately annoying, but Last Avenue pull it off in a remarkably Kraftwerk-esque way. The only disappointment in this area is that the vocals are few and far between. Quite often, minutes can fly by with no voice and this only forces the riffs to try and hold the focus. Luckily, the riffs are the highlight of 'Integration Protocol'. From the chromatic ascendancy of "Self Made Drone", to the chunky chugging of "Kill The Past" - every riff is packed with energy, variety and 100% headbangability! The opening riff of track 2, "Wait", is quite possibly my new riff of the year - and the breakdown of the previously mentioned "Kill The Past" is a close runner up! There are even guitar solos on this album, and impressive ones at that! Are you listening, every industrial metal band ever? It CAN work! Some of the song titles and lyrical themes may be a little too clichéd towards the 'factory/mechanical/futuristic' concepts, and the whole effort may be a song or two too long. But all in all, this is my industrial hit of the year, and any fan of Combichrist, Kaos Krew or Pitchshifter should get with the sound laid down by Last Avenue. (Larry Best)

(Self - 2015)
Score: 75