"Defcon 1 - Industrial Dawn" (Album, 2001)
Like their Canadian counterparts Dystopian Records, UK-based Armalyte aren't interested in just promoting 'industrial' music. All the music they release must be in keeping with their views on how the genre should sound. In Armalyte's case, that's nothing that falls into the dance, trance or techno labels that some think appropriate when discussing what industrial music is actually about in 2001. Personally, I don't subscribe to their manifesto for simply keeping it hard, but I'm not gonna knock 'em for fighting their corner. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly endorse their views on those records labels who continually rip off punters, those businesses they so accurately and eloquently describe as "greedy, corporate whoring record companies". The first AI live showcase earlier this year gave some indication of the direction this lot were interested in pursuing. It was a great gig and introduced me to some interesting new acts - some of whom can be found on this, the label's first release. Defcon1 then, is an introduction to some of the scene's lesser-known acts and a whole bunch of newcomers.
A track a piece by fifteen artists, seven of whom were new to me. Six songs are remixes, the remainder unchanged. Normally this wouldn't be much of a deal - in my view most compilations require exclusive tracks or exclusive or rare versions of familiar tracks. That idea holds true if the artists are largely well-known. Here that isn't the case and it's unlikely that anyone going out to buy this will have heard of every band included - even more unlikely that they'll have heard every track. The biggest name has to be Cubanate. After that many people will have some difficulty recognising most of the other names. Although still unsigned (at time of writing) Britain's Sulpher, having quickly built up a live following will be a main attraction for some. Their Fear Me being one of the six remixes. K-Nitrate offer up the A.I. Club Mix of fan live favourite Fat America. Saints of Eden also caught my eye on the live circuit last year and their Crushed Remix of Slow Stay isn't bad.
The Pain Machinery put on a good show at the AI event earlier this year, as did Punishment State. The Pain Machinery's Escape stands out as trying something new and yet retains a very harsh edge that the Armalyte crew are so keen on. Punishment State's Deficiency Unborn mix of Efficiency Born is welcome. Of the rest, the noteworthy entries include Cubanate's Razor Edge, Needleye's This Machine and Oxime 187's pumping, rhythmic Biomechanic. The latter seemingly very close to the so-called chart techno that AI wants to overturn. Perhaps most satisfying about this collection is that it provides ample evidence that hard industrial need not be either tuneless or unimaginative. It's also broadly free of screeching, toneless voices trying to pass themselves off as vocals. In spite of the tedious doomongering that dogs the industrial scene here in the UK, the Armalyte Industries movement (along with others), and this début album, provides plenty of ammunition to those who'd like to see the whingers silenced. 7/10
Official Armalyte Industries website: http://www.armalyte.co.uk