Ever since Throbbing Gristle first chrome-plated their eerie, mechanical rock in the mid-‘70s, there have been countless imitators. However, at present, the electro-meets-metal guise of music has become stagnant with hundreds of bands sounding exactly the same, programming the same sterile beats and plucking the same monotonous powerchords. Ultimately, industrial music as a genre is now a jaded mess continually parodying itself. It’s no longer the aggressive, menacing musical monster that Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and Chrome exorcised hell with; it’s a cesspool of creativity where black clothes and eyeliner go hand in pale hand with boring, unchallenging and dreary music.
Luckily, to my tired industrial ear, the Young Gods expand the genre’s close minded parameters into realms of dark ambience, electro-pop and stringent guitar lashings. Second Nature, this collective’s seventh album which first spewed out of black-clad stereos in 1999, showcases this trio’s relevancy in an industrial scene choking on the stench of stagnancy. The Young Gods, although not the savior the genre needs them to be, are infusing the grind of industrial with the lucidity of the synth and the darkness of electro with surprising precision and fluidity.
But, of course, Second Nature doesn’t meet you with a hello or a cordial greeting; it slices the wires of your stereo and gnashes its teeth in antagonism. “Lucidogen”, the Young Gods introductory track, inserts a much needed musical I.V. into the now strict, stereotyped industrial genre by infusing the song’s gritty guitar center with static-riddled synths and apocalyptic vocals that seethe with venom. “Lucidogen”, however, is Second Nature‘s most kinetic moment; after its distortion pedal of razor blades tears through industrial pigeonholing and the ominous dread of sparking keyboards make the apocalypse sound delightfully good, the album disorients into a morass of fucked up synth-pop with shades of gloom and doom tinting the album to its appropriate black hue.
While most electronic music sounds as assembly line manufactured as the stereo it emanates from, Second Nature swaps its electro DNA with industrial music sans the genre’s narrow mindedness, ambient droning minus the boredom and synth-pop without the kitsch. This quixotic genre blender produces the album’s most compelling, multidimensional attacks in “Laisser Couler” and “Astronomic”—two tracks that splice all the aforementioned musical styles into a seamless exploration of space and sound. However, what the Young Gods lack is the writhing life and daring nature to exude ambient music and twist it into a compelling state on such tracks as “In the Otherland” and “Toi du Monde”. Exempt from the moments on Second Nature where comatose ambience dominates agitated life, the Young Gods prove themselves as vital elders in a scene perpetually contemplating suicide.
Second Nature eventually fades “Lucidogen”‘s frenetic edge to a coma-like blackness by way of synth washes and electro pulses, but the ominous feel rarely wanders into boredom or secludes itself in a single style. And in the black-clad world of industrial, it’s rare to find a band with a fluorescence of creativity that eschews the genre with a synth-laden twist and a dark ambient bent. At the very least, you’ll never see the trio that purged Second Nature from the electronic apocalypse mimicking the dead or acting as if suicidal tendencies were trendy.