After his debut FatKidOnFire post on inspired some serious conversation on the FKOF Facebook page, Matt returns to these here pages with another look at the intersection between electronic music and his preferred genre…
In many ways, a truly successful metal/electronic crossover is hard to come by. The two genres have, quite rightly, perhaps some of the most protective fans out there, and so any sort of mashup is likely to be a risky business. On a practical level, too, it seems there is opposition: metal has traditionally been band-based music; electronic generally produced by individuals, more often than not with home studio technology.
The landscape is shifting, though.
More and more metal artists are working from home, honing their music and fronting their one-man-bands, a notable example being Nicholas Chapel and his prog-metal act Demians, to name just one. It’s also often mentioned just how many electronic artists (dubstep in particular) have a background in metal; using this knowledge to expand the scene from within, innovating as they go.
And as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, despite their differences on the surface, electronic and metal are perhaps not that different. So why is a successful hybrid so hard to find?
Creating a crossover means doing justice to both genres. Nowhere is this more true than in the fastidious genre-policing of metal and electronic.
Too often do artists searching for the ‘new thing’ just splash some synths over a generic riff. This is too easy, too boring.
A case of style over substance.
No, hybrids work when every part of the music fuses together, feeling like it belongs. As in all good progressive music, which ‘new things’ generally claim to be, Remi Gallego AKA The Algorithm’s Polymorphic Code succeeds as a great record because neither the metal or the electronic side feels out of place.
Before I jump straight in, I’m not going to deny that the record is difficult/complex/whatever. My only criticism is that it is a work which definitely requires – no, demands – a second listen. If you can get past this first hurdle, then you’re in for a hell of a ride.
Like the most proudly progressive prog, the unpredictability and ambition of the record, which could’ve been its downfall, ended up as its best selling point. One of my favourite moments and favourite tracks was the balls-out reggae breakdown in the middle of Access Granted. Here I was reminded of the impulsiveness of Between the Buried and Me, no bad thing.
Moments like this are hardly random though, making sure that purely electronic moments aren’t swamped by the FKOF djent riffs which dominate the rest of the album. Another particularly successful moment is the face-melting guitar entrance on ‘Warp Gate Exploit’, which still manages to produce a certain feeling of clubland euphoria.
The album definitely reaches its highest points in the middle few tracks, pretty much from Trojans through Null. Here we are treated to a whistle-stop display of Remi’s electronic influences, from a smattering of dub, through DnB and chiptune found at the beginning of Null.
To talk of influences is missing the point though: even though Remi’s background is in metal, this is not a metal-dominated album. The two genres manage to live together without treading on the toes of the other.
This isn’t a perfect album – hell, are there any perfect debut albums? – and there is certainly scope to futher explore both sides of the same coin. But, like all great progressive records, it manages to move above and beyond its own ‘scene’, without losing potential for further exploration.
It is testament to the label’s vision that they had the guts to sign and push Remi, but by the looks of things they could be onto a winner.
I began this review by saying just how hard it is to find a successful crossover, but I think The Algorithm is one of them.
Polymorphic Code has been making waves since its release late last year – and deservedly so. Case in point being lead single Trojans racking up over a quarter of a million views on YouTube, no mean feat!
Like the best progressive music, electronic or metal, this record always offers something new. Like all the best crossovers, there is no ‘or’.