Like being sucked into a maelstrom of ravenous intensity and demonic caustic caresses, We Belong Dead the debut EP from US industrial band Varicella is an uncompromising destructive predator with a primal appetite to match its insidious aggression. It is a release which arguably takes longer than other genre releases to persuade its compelling case but emerges from focused attention as a deeply satisfying and thought inciting confrontation.
Formed in 2008 aiming to explore the roots of old school 80’s style industrial having been uninspired by the popular music and the local all synth / EBM based industrial scene at the time, Varicella due to suffering an instability in line-ups eventually took a break from being an active unit. Founder Chris Bollinger (vocals/programming) began working on songs and music for the project again in 2011 and linked up with Chris Pasquarelli (guitar) early last year, the duo taking influence from the likes of Ministry, KMFDM, and Skinny Puppy in creating metallic guitar driven industrial sonic brawls. Their first release explores distinct dark corners whilst intruding on the senses with malevolence and caustic intent; it is not always an easy listen and at times pushes its limits the wrong way but is always a compulsive and inventive listen and emotive encounter.
Released via Bluntface Records on January 26th, the EP invades the ear and consumes the senses first with Where Does Evil Live, the opener a stalking presence of venomous energy and satanic bestial breath. It soaks the synapses with cold inciting aural fingers whilst its resonating heartbeat chills behind the samples and within the corrosive grip of the track. It is a lingering hypnotic piece which sets the album up perfectly, a dangerous and intimidating journey well into its malicious task.
The title track invades next with a pulsating stance and devilish mischief to its initial engagement. The vocals of Bollinger scrape the flesh as intensely as the sounds, a coarse devouring rub reminding of label mates Virus Cycle at times. It is a tsunami of energy which lumbers over its recipient with a mass of sonic depth and raptorial hunger whilst offering enough to grab limbs and heart into a darkened dance.
The excellent All Hail and The Sound Of Four unleash their thunderous growls next, the first an enveloping senses eating festering with hybrid essences of Nine Inch Nails and the second a rampaging encounter with again a primal gait to its rhythms and at times a White Zombie like infection. It is a track you can see any fallen angel using as their soundtrack and deathly dance and its expanse disturbingly mesmeric. The raw nasty vocals offers an extreme to the acidic melodic craft of the song and is destined to make the song difficult for some though with enough rewards from the well sculpted sounds and menace to be rewarding for all.
Obsessed with FleshFuck Slave is a metallic tirade of sonic abuse and intense bruising, the guitars a scouring abrasion alongside the riveting rhythms and beats. It is the least successful track on the EP but has enough to make its vulgar presence welcome and intriguing. The same can be said of the closing song too, though Burning Inside is a furnace of continual sonic flames which incites greater attraction. Musically both songs are as impressive as elsewhere but the vocal delivery is suffering from a lack of variety at this point for personal tastes. It is not bad just the continual unpolished grate of Bollinger across the whole release arguably goes too far in making a contrast and provocation to the heated and often mesmeric yet challenging sounds.
We Belong Dead is a strong release which fans of original industrial music will find plenty of appreciation for as well as those with a need for experimentation in their genre based sounds. For a first release Varicella has set in motion anticipation for and promises of greater things in the future whilst leaving a very contented satisfaction in the now.
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