Considering Marc Heal's contributions to industrial rock include influential acts such as Cubanate, Pig and Pigface it is hard to believe that 2016 marks the release of his first solo album (discounting his work as MC Lord Of The Flies) in 'The Hum'. But if any album was worth the wait it is this one. Famed for blending rock guitars with techno electronics, Heal's reputation will undoubtedly bring some preconceived notions about how this album will sound. And while he does embrace his signature sound to an extent, Heal is more than happy to confound expectations as well.
Songs such as 'Tienanmen', 'Adult Fiction', 'Model Citizen', 'Johnny Was an Oilman', 'Monoxide', and 'Faithful Machinery' are prime examples of the classic blend of bombastic beats, infectious dance synths, searing guitar riffs, framing gritty vocals, and narrative lyrics that drive the distilled anxiety of the Zeitgeist into tense and frantic anthems.
While the likes of 'Katrina's House', 'The Abandoned Junkshop', and 'Wounded Dog' explore slower and dare is say, jazzier paths the yield darker and more sinister results. It's a track list that is unified in its direction and purpose. Rather than just a collection of songs, Heal presents a full album that takes the listener on a journey that is compelling from the beginning and until the end.
The production is just as strong as the songwriting and performances. There is the dark grittiness of good industrial rock present throughout. But there is also that big impactful element that recalls the likes of Gary Numan and Nine Inch Nails. It's a fantastic blend of aggression and melody that is crafted by what can only be described as an expert hand.
'The Hum' is a brilliant album. It's dark topical narratives, gritty snarled vocals, and sumptuous blend of guitars, synths and beats are a masterclass in how high industrial rock can aim. Heal could have easily rested on the laurels of past glories and given us more of the same. But instead he has pushed his abilities as a songwriter, performer and producer. And it has yielded one of the best albums of the year, and possibly his career so far.