Caustic - The Man Who Couldn't Stop
Industrial, Electronics Love him or hate him, the industrial scene needs people like Matt Fanale of Caustic. A genre which is both highly technical and non-mainstream simply invites humourless elitism, serious subject matters and hours obsessing over the minutiae of production. It would be wrong to call Caustic a 'novelty project', but neither is it one you can take too seriously either. It's the light relief we all need once in a while.

A sizeable tracklisting is always cause for concern - could I really make through 18 tracks? I was pleasantly surprised that I not only could, but actually enjoyed a lot of what I heard along the way. The opening piece "Failing at the School of Life" was a messy two minutes of shouting over breakbeats, but it was a mere precursor to "Laugh Like Mutants". I was not expecting a six-and-a-half-minutes Godflesh-esque grind, all jackhammering drums and walls of guitar noise (yes, a real guitarist! Normal instruments still have life in them!), but somehow the Caustic touch seems to add a certain something to this largely-forgotten style.

Elsewhere we get a more conventional (aka "Combichrist style") stompathon, with "Bury You Alive" and "Bigger Faster NOW!!!" both carrying off the kick drum pulse, searing leads and shout-it-out vox with conviction. The ingeniously titled "Demon Seed Semen Deed" follows a similar style, adding both a hard acid techno synth line and a descending chord sequence that actually make the track sound like a bona-fide song. Yeah, there's more to nailing this style than a bunch of kick drums, synth presets and shouted insults (such releases are regularly crucified on these pages, none of us are fooled by it!).

There's also a more experimental side to Caustic. Matt seems to adopt a 'throw it and see if it sticks' mentality, stuffing his albums full of deviations from the stompy norm and letting the listener pick out the bits that work. For me, the extreme vocal processing and hard, blunt melody of "Graver Guru" won me over (and I even get what he's trying to say about scene DJs). The collaboration with Android Lust "Bleed You Out" also works well, the Caustic instrumental palette sitting well with the female vocals and producing something that is surprisingly musical for a Caustic album. Although really it just sounds like an out-take from an Android Lust album. That's OK with me, though. I like Android Lust.

I didn't get what some of the other tracks were trying to do. The iVardensphere vs Caustic colab "Ghost Like Swayze" goes for a spacious, minimal electronic texture, which is technically well-executed but lacking a certain "flow". "Internet Model" tries to make some kind of valid social statement, but the sparse musical accompaniment, amounting to a few clicks and cello flourishes (another real instrument!) just seem to tell me to file it under "filler", as there's just not enough substance. The syncopated stabs and fluid bassline of "We Never Learn" create an atmosphere quite unlike anything heard in the industrial scene to date, but the standard-issue shouted vocals sound misplaced. And the album finale "Fin (Again) Begin (Again)" seems to want to recreate "Pimpf" from the end of 'Music For The Masses'. Nice try, but not quite hitting the mark depth-wise.

So something is still amiss with Caustic's quality control, that's for sure. I've found most of his albums outstay their welcome, this one being no exception, and it's not the most polished production either, the lengthy list of producer credits going some way to explaining the lack of any real unity to the albums sound. But there's a lot to enjoy along the way, and unlike some projects, there's actually a feeling that the whole hopping between genres thing is an essential part of the project appeal rather than an a self-concious attempt to sound 'diverse'. Shoehorning unrelated influences into songs isn't always a good thing, but Matt Fanale seems to get away with it.
3
Brutal Resonance

Caustic - The Man Who Couldn't Stop

Love him or hate him, the industrial scene needs people like Matt Fanale of Caustic. A genre which is both highly technical and non-mainstream simply invites humourless elitism, serious subject matters and hours obsessing over the minutiae of production. It would be wrong to call Caustic a 'novelty project', but neither is it one you can take too seriously either. It's the light relief we all need once in a while.

A sizeable tracklisting is always cause for concern - could I really make through 18 tracks? I was pleasantly surprised that I not only could, but actually enjoyed a lot of what I heard along the way. The opening piece "Failing at the School of Life" was a messy two minutes of shouting over breakbeats, but it was a mere precursor to "Laugh Like Mutants". I was not expecting a six-and-a-half-minutes Godflesh-esque grind, all jackhammering drums and walls of guitar noise (yes, a real guitarist! Normal instruments still have life in them!), but somehow the Caustic touch seems to add a certain something to this largely-forgotten style.

Elsewhere we get a more conventional (aka "Combichrist style") stompathon, with "Bury You Alive" and "Bigger Faster NOW!!!" both carrying off the kick drum pulse, searing leads and shout-it-out vox with conviction. The ingeniously titled "Demon Seed Semen Deed" follows a similar style, adding both a hard acid techno synth line and a descending chord sequence that actually make the track sound like a bona-fide song. Yeah, there's more to nailing this style than a bunch of kick drums, synth presets and shouted insults (such releases are regularly crucified on these pages, none of us are fooled by it!).

There's also a more experimental side to Caustic. Matt seems to adopt a 'throw it and see if it sticks' mentality, stuffing his albums full of deviations from the stompy norm and letting the listener pick out the bits that work. For me, the extreme vocal processing and hard, blunt melody of "Graver Guru" won me over (and I even get what he's trying to say about scene DJs). The collaboration with Android Lust "Bleed You Out" also works well, the Caustic instrumental palette sitting well with the female vocals and producing something that is surprisingly musical for a Caustic album. Although really it just sounds like an out-take from an Android Lust album. That's OK with me, though. I like Android Lust.

I didn't get what some of the other tracks were trying to do. The iVardensphere vs Caustic colab "Ghost Like Swayze" goes for a spacious, minimal electronic texture, which is technically well-executed but lacking a certain "flow". "Internet Model" tries to make some kind of valid social statement, but the sparse musical accompaniment, amounting to a few clicks and cello flourishes (another real instrument!) just seem to tell me to file it under "filler", as there's just not enough substance. The syncopated stabs and fluid bassline of "We Never Learn" create an atmosphere quite unlike anything heard in the industrial scene to date, but the standard-issue shouted vocals sound misplaced. And the album finale "Fin (Again) Begin (Again)" seems to want to recreate "Pimpf" from the end of 'Music For The Masses'. Nice try, but not quite hitting the mark depth-wise.

So something is still amiss with Caustic's quality control, that's for sure. I've found most of his albums outstay their welcome, this one being no exception, and it's not the most polished production either, the lengthy list of producer credits going some way to explaining the lack of any real unity to the albums sound. But there's a lot to enjoy along the way, and unlike some projects, there's actually a feeling that the whole hopping between genres thing is an essential part of the project appeal rather than an a self-concious attempt to sound 'diverse'. Shoehorning unrelated influences into songs isn't always a good thing, but Matt Fanale seems to get away with it. Feb 08 2013

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

Share this review

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
0
Shares

Shortly about us

Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

© Brutal Resonance 2009-2016
Designed by and developed by Head of Mímir 2016