"Implements of Hell" (Album, 2010)
Out of Line Records
The harsh electro scene's hardest working artist returns. Having settled nicely into his new home on label Out of Line, Johan Van Roy is back with his 12th album. Just in case you thought his comfy new surroundings may have had a softening effect on the Belgian, you need only take a glance as the song titles for your answer: Die Motherfucker Die, Death Cures All Pain, Severed Head, etc. No, the leading exponent of harsh industrial EBM electro has lost none of his edge, meaning fans should be well sated by this latest long player. More than that, this is the first Suicide Commando release in some years that I would personally suggest those less well versed in Van Roy's dark world check out.
He's always had an ability to write strong melodies but for some time they've very much taken a supporting role, if they've appeared at all. The emphasis seemingly being on creating ever harsher, ever more aggressive, thumping club beats. Implements of Hell sees Van Roy back at the top of his game mixing the dance floor friendly higher BPM entries (he's one of very few artists who continue to list the BPM rating for each track in the sleeve notes) with his more distinctive and for me personally rewarding, mid-tempo and slower entries.
Whether it's the chanting choir backing to Come Down With Me, the crunching vastness of Death Cures All Pain or the throbbing, juddering beats of Hate Me, there's more depth here than we've heard for some time from the Belgian. This is the first time that I've thought there is a tangible connection between this and Rudy R's 'Wumpscut: - a project I've always respected and thought superior to Suicide Commando. (The two recently hooked up with Van Roy remixing a track for :wumpscut:'s latest album Siamese, and a :wumpscut: remix of God Is In The Rain appearing on a limited digital single from this album.)
I would like to see the project spend less time exploring the endless depravity found in the world of serial killers (something of an obsession for Van Roy it seems). Having said that, if one goes beyond the superficiality of the subject matter, title and artwork, and you have a penchant for the genre, you will be well rewarded with some of the most creative Suicide Commando writing so far. 7/10
Rob Dyer (March 2010)
"Fuck You Bitch" (Promo EP, 2007)
Noise Terror Productions
If nothing else, you've got to give Johan Van Roy credit not only for his staying power and energy but for his persistence too. I've still a handful of Suicide Commando releases to get through but the review copies just keep on coming - meaning the SC 'to do' pile never really decreases. This five track promotional digipak contains three mixes of the title song: TB mix by Suicide Commando is a competant floorfiller; the Soman remix is, as one might expect, very Soman-ish and more to my liking than I expected (see Infest 2007 review for more on my lack of connection with all things Soman); the Combichrist remix is an underplayed and dark take.
As well as the above, there's the 2007 re:count version (by SC) of Body Count Proceed which is a fairly typical mid-tempo affair, and a track called Retrace (by db.F) written by Van Roy and David Kirvel back in 1998. For a remix single, where an idea is frequently exhausted beyond all its means, it is the remixes rather than the additional tracks that deliver the goods and value here. The three versions of Fuck You Bitch are very different from one another and each has something new to add the the original concept. 6/10
Rob Dyer (December 2007)
"Bind, Torture, Kill" (Album, 2006)
Noise Terror Productions/Dependent
Album six for Suicide Commando and the first whose release is split with Dependent splinter label Noise Terror Productions. (NTP was established by Suicide Commando's Johan Van Roy and Dependent founder Stefan Herwig to give free reign to the kind of 'hard electronics' that Suicide Commando has been producing since the mid 1990s.) Having tackled the concept album idea with Axis Of Evil Johan Van Roy has attempted the same thing a second time around.
Bind, Torture, Kill apparently explores the psyche of a serial killer, namely American Dennis Lynn Rader who was responsible for ten murders over a period of 30 years. If that information stimulates you then you might find this worthwhile. However, if you simply shrug your shoulders and sigh "How original is that!?" then you'd probably best steer clear. Regular readers will not be shocked to find me in the latter camp. There are a few moments (like on Dead March) that manage to turn your head, if only briefly, but it's difficult to summon up much enthusiasm for this latest collection of Suicide Commando songs. The phrase 'one trick pony' becomes ever more pressing, especially in light of newcomers like Dioxyde who easily steal Suicide Commando's concepts from right under their noses and show what can be done in this field. This was preceded by the Godsend/Menschenfresser EP. 4/10
Rob Dyer (March 2007)
"Godsend/Menschenfresser" (EP, 2005)
Archetypal Suicide Commando song Godsend demonstrates Van Roy's fixation with 'muffled production' style mixing and a couple of simple ideas joined by marching bass lines and lead synths. This six track EP, a taster of things to come on the Bind, Torture, Kill album, alternates between mixes of Godsend and of Menschenfresser.
First two are mixes by Johan Van Roy himself and play down the voice. The remaining four tracks are tackled by guest remix artists. God Module serve up their Necromantic Mix of Godsend, Reaper (who I discovered at the 2006 Infest festival) take on Menschenfresser. Lesser names Amduscia and Agonoize go for Godsend and Menschenfresser respectively. Reaper and Amduscia turn out the best work on an otherwise very run-of-the-mill set of songs. This was a digipak limited to 4,000 copies worldwide. For devotees only. 5/10
Rob Dyer (March 2008)
"Cause of Death: SUICIDE" (EP, 2004)
Extended single release to push the solid Axis Of Evil track - the sort that keep's Van Roy's Suicide Commando project always on the radar, if rarely dead centre. Some heavy genre hitters have been recruited to assist with this six-track exploration into the darker aspects of mankind, with Feindflug, Converter, Hocico and Grendel all providing their services. Only Hocico don't take on Cause of Death, going instead for the album track Sterbehilfe to reasonable effect. New track Disposable Paradise is another example of Suicide Commando at their best where Van Roy let's his music do most of the talking instead of his vocals. A worthy addition to any Suicide Commando fans armoury. Also released as a limited edition sister EP with other songs and remix artists includig the mighty :wumpscut:. 6/10
Rob Dyer (March 2008)
"Axis Of Evil" (Album, 2003)
"Each year approximately 1 million people die from suicide." is the repeated opening refrain on this fifth studio album from Johan Van Roy's Suicide Commando, and Cause of Death: Suicide does see Van Roy on good form: the eight minute-plus running time passing easily enough. Although SC's distinctive brand of distorted vocal club-focused EBM electro has never been a genre I've found much to get worked up about, Axis Of Evil at least stands out by seemingly delving into one subject in more detail than Van Roy has ever attempted before.
If there is at least one thing to be grateful for about George Bush Jnr being in power it's the amount of creative reaction it has spawned across the planet, be it documentary filmmaking or, as here, the reactionary concept album. It's not quite as cohesive as it could have been, but nevertheless the intent itself is to be applauded and it almost manages to hold my interest throughout. Standouts include The Reformation, One Nation Under God (Anti US Mix) and Plastik Christ the intro of which sounds like it might have been co-written with John Carpenter. Whilst the Blind Rage Mix of Face Of Death reminds us of the infectious nature of some of Van Roy's hooklines.
The horror-film jabbing string sounds are a recurrent motif and the by-now-familiar thumping digital percussion and steady repetative sequencer patterns see the Suicide Commando formula being well worn. This was also released in a limited edition digibox format with an additional DVD which all good Suicide Commando fans have probably long since gotten their hands on. 6/10
Rob Dyer (March 2007)
"Face of Death" (Single, 2003)
Teaser for the Axis of Evil album sees four versions of Face of Death do battle with the out-numbered sole version of Deliver Us From Evil. On Face of Death, van Roy has conjured up a lead sequence that that's hard to shake. The four interpretations here (three by guests) all go in their own direction but its the Tactical Sekt remix that stands out the most. Although only included in a supporting role, Deliver Us From Evil is, to my tastes, the best song here. A slower-than-standard entry for Suicide Commando, it has another strong melody and a refrain that resembles Kraftwerk's Trans Europe Express. Also released at the same time was a limited edition 2CD version with a further three remixes of Face of Death and a Dioxyde remix of Love Breeds Suicide. 5/10
Rob Dyer (May 2006)
"Anthology" (Compilation Album, 2002)
Dependent's two-disc retrospective compilation Anthology provides a nicely packaged overview of the previous decade and more of Johan van Roy's output under his Suicide Commando moniker. Anyone unfamiliar with the Belgian's work or missing some of his earlier releases will find this album the perfect solution.
I recall the impact See You In Hell had on me when I first heard it. Something of a club classic at the time (1995) it is perhaps van Roy's most famous early song. That other memorable entry of his early period Dein Herz, Meine Gier is, of course, also included. The booklet doesn't give anything away, not even the original year of release for each track. More details on the background to the tracks on disc one would have helped those less well acquainted, otherwise this is a pretty good package.
Disc two contains seven rarer, deleted or unreleased songs. Over the years, van Roy and the others who've worked alongside him have examined the outer, sharper edges of EBM, bleeding into noise. Anthology perfectly summarises that journey. The original release comes in a nice card slipcase and includes a S.C. sticker too. 6/10
Rob Dyer (September 2004)
"Love Breeds Suicide" (EP, 2001)
Just what you need to see you through those difficult relationship moments not! Three accounts of the title track, two of Dein Herz, Meine Gier, and one each of Dead Call and Cry For Mother make up this seven-tracker. For Suicide Commando fans this is undoubtedly a worthwhile purchase. The remixes of Love Breed Suicide and Dein Herz, Meine Gier differ sufficiently to warrant their inclusion and provided you can pick this up for little more than a single price then fair value is assured.
Johan Van Roy's project has never really engaged me but more recently his longevity has begun to pay off with more development in his songwriting and definite progression - within limits. He's certainly not abandoned all the hallmarks of the EBM/industrial genre. There's still plenty of regulation harsh vocals, distortion and thumping beats but the last few releases have definitely seen Suicide Commando (either consciously or otherwise) soak up some of the anthemic synth stylings of its future pop Dependent stable mates. Still, anger is still the dominant force and there are thankfully no 'sing-along-choruses' so far - so don't panic just yet.
Love Breeds Suicide is certainly one of the Belgian's strongest songs to date and the bell-like intro evokes John Carpenter's scores for Halloween and The Fog. The Final Edit version is correctly titled as it gets all the elements, and crucially, the build, just right. The Lights of Euphoria remix of Love... opens up those modest anthemic qualities and throws them firmly at the dance club crowd. The instrumental Arzt & Pfusch TIZ remix of Dein Herz, Meine Gier hints at a direction that Suicide Commando could pursue that would remain true to his past yet see even more advancement. 6/10
Noise Terror Volume One
Noise Terror 2: World Wide Electronics
Official Suicide Commando website: http://www.suicidecommando.be