Wednesday 31 May 2017

Review: 3Teeth – 'Shutdown.exe'


LA's 3Teeth make their return with their eagerly anticipated sophomore album 'Shutdown.exe'. The band gained international notoriety with the release of their uncompromising self-titled début, and subsequent touring relationship with veterans Tool they brought some much needed light back to the industrial scene in the process. But with such a strong initial outing, can the band capitalise effectively with their follow up?

The band's esoteric-meets-cyberpunk imagery has kept their social media presence something to behold, especially with their budget stretching to music videos that further translate their anarchic ideals into likes and shares. But in this case the album art's 90s Playstation cyberpunk game design (which has been divisive for some) doesn't quite do the music within justice.

Touring with Tool seems to have rubbed off on the band in terms of musical ambition. One criticism of the previous album is that it stuck rigidly to its formula. And while 'Shutdown.exe' delivers plenty of the stomping, distorted industrial metal that endeared them, they have expanded things a little more with more time changes, experimental sections and, most importantly, put more in to the production.

Songs such as 'Divine Weapon', 'Pit Of Fire', 'Atrophy', 'Shutdown', 'Tower Of Disease', 'Slavegod', 'Insubstantia', and 'Away From Me' are utterly addictive with the metallic core of the songs crowned with industrial mayhem and Alexis Mincolla's more adventurous, if still somewhat self-conscious, vocal performances cutting through like a knife. The riffs are strong, the synths are savage and the songs are performed with convictions and vitriol. But its really great to hear new elements such as the esoteric chanting, tabla, and even piano coming through to add a little more scope to the band's sonic pallet.

But as said previously the production is another factor. On the band's début it did come off as though they were hiding their shortcomings with distortion which had a tendency to reduce some parts of songs to a wall of white noise and robbing them of deeper impact. Thankfully here there isn't that over-reliance. There still is distortion but it's much more managed and moulded this time, which gives Micolla more room to experiment with his vocal delivery and stop the synths and guitars swamping each other. It sounds less shoestring and more top shelf as a result.

'Shutdown.exe' is a great album, and 3Teeth have grown as songwriters and performers to fulfil the expectations that their début hinted at. It is authentic, and full of conviction. There is still plenty of room for growth to consolidate their musical identity and it would be interesting to hear how they can incorporate more experimental ideas in the future and try to beyond their mid-tempo comfort zone. But in the here and now this has to be a contender for album of the year.  

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