Decoherence - Order (Sentient Ruin)

The tale of industrial metal is a decidedly Faustian one. In the almost three decades since its flirtation with mainstream notoriety, the style has fallen from the highest highs to the lowest lows, from counterculture zeitgeist to laughing stock of the self-conscious metalhead. In a lot of ways it was unsurprising; the nineties had a higher tolerance for campy excess, and a genre that often manifested as mechanised nu metal was always going to have a sell-by date. The current state of the mainstream veterans is undeniably dire—Marilyn Manson descends ever further into edgelord schlock, whilst heavier names like Fear Factory and Ministry sound more and more like caricatures of themselves with each new record. At least Trent Reznor can sustain quality, even if it is by leaving metal behind for subtler and stranger territories, and Rammstein are always good for a top-quality live show and straightforward Teutonic fun (until, of course, recent news cast certain aspects of their work in a far less frivolous light).

Alongside all this, a new bastion began to emerge. Acts such as Blut aus Nord and Dødheimsgard did the unthinkable by incorporating industrial aesthetics into black metal, successfully returning to industrial’s experimental roots à la Godflesh or Einsturzende Neubauten while infusing this hybridization with a much-needed strain of cosmic evil. Godflesh’s reformation only fanned the burgeoning flames further, and a new wave of genuinely experimental industrial metal seemed more and more likely. Decoherence, and their new album Order, are in many ways the perfect example of this new industrialised black metal. There are no gaudy synths, no beats resembling anything danceable, simply the raw sound of metal on metal. There’s a delicious streak of megalomania coursing through the record, and from the opening track I can’t help but imagine vocalist Tahazu’s head tipped back in a wide-eyed supervillain grin, gripping Earth in an outstretched fist. But there’s a solemnity behind the maniacal grandiosity, and Darkspace fans will recognise a chill at the heart of Order, a call to submit yourself to the unthinking, unfeeling digital abyss of the hive-mind.

Of course, no band could get by on vibes alone. Thankfully, Decoherence have another trick up their sleeve—the songs are really fucking good. The band know exactly when to make a compositional gear shift, such as the assembly-line grooves at the opening of “An Unconfined System” thrown into focus by the ensuing blast beats and becoming something far more menacing and confrontational. On the other end of the spectrum, closer “Degenerate Ground States” smothers listeners in a vortex of swirling vantablack, before stripping away the cacophony as the atmosphere dissolves into a twitching, malfunctioning rhythmic residue. And it’s not just the songwriting that’s precise: production is a make-or-break element of industrial metal, and Order has it down to a tee. The drums are suitably mechanical, the metallic sizzle of the cymbals and clunk of the kick pedal just as important to the mix as the roars and riffs. Similarly, every rattling guitar attack reminds us that it is not humans but machines we’re listening to, and placing the vocals further back in the mix with an obscured sound is an inspired touch, subsuming the individual within sheets of chrome distortion (not to mention the crackling, gargling shriek we’re treated to on “The Future Behind Them”, as if Tahazu was trying to blow out a broken tannoy).

After everything that Order offers up, it’s hard to remain resolute in the face of its cybernetic horror, to refuse the call of its posthuman apocalypse. Resistance is futile. All will be assimilated. Assume your place within the collective consciousness that is Decoherence, and submit to their sonic warfare on the human race. I guarantee it's worth it.