Akalotz - Confront
It has been a few years since Germany's Akalotz released Shift To Evil on Electro Arc. To be completely honest I never heard of Akalotz until Electro Aggression Records (EAR) started promoting the release a few months back. So who is Akalotz and what is Akalotz? I don't know what an Akalotz is, but I can tell you that Nico Klenner (drums) and Thorsten Haury (music and lyrics) make up the studio pieces of the band. Mario Betatier helps out with the live assault.
Akalotz is an old school EBM band. WAIT!!!!!!! DON'T RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!!! Akalotz is not your average cookie cutter, Nitzer Worshipping, shave most of our heads, yell chants and look like scary skinheads type of band. Akalotz raises the bar on their game separating themselves from a genre littered with monotony. Akalotz pushes the boundaries without losing the fundamental concept of what constitutes the old school EBM ethos.
I haven't had a huge interest in EBM, especially old school EBM since the 90s. In the 80's and 90's we could not get enough Nitzer Ebb, DAF, Front 242, Orange Sector, Signal Aout 42, Paranoid and the like. Post 2000, I found myself bored with newer EBM/old school EBM acts. Not many artists seemed to take chance in old school EBM field and do something different. There were a few that seemed to break the molds of the template driven design. Container 90 and TWAT took the punk and Oi influence and made it work for them. Electro Aggression Records roster found the Brazilian k-Factor with heavy Klinik and tribal influences, Serpents with their old school beats blended with dark electro to the levity laced Astma. There are some quality acts out there, but unfortunately you must do your research to weed out the trash and find the gems. Just for the record, I do like the old school sound, and I'm not saying all cookie cutter type acts are bad; I just want more these days.
For me to revisit a release after the initial listens, there needs to be something to draw me back. So let's see what Akalotz does to make me want to play this disc again after the review.
Confront is the latest release by Akalotz and yes it is on Electro Aggression Records. There are 21 tracks that range from 2 and half to 4 minutes. The old school sound is the foundation of Confront. The album delivers a heavy load of tornadic earth destroying gusts of old school bliss. What sets this apart from other releases in the genre? Well….. check out all of the additional modern sounds incorporated into the mix of each track. There are more elements working together to create the end product. "Man On The Run", "Take Like A God", and "Warzone" set the table for an obliterating dose of pummeling beats and intricate secondary layers that enhance old school chassis enough to take this away from the old school herd, but not far enough away that it loses its identity. "Confront" and "Mad Mind" reinforce this by showing Akalotz's commitment to adding fresh ingredients to the old school feast throughout the entire album. There are no throw away filler tracks to be found. "Orange Is Black" was originally designed as the theme song for the Netflix original Orange Is The New Black series, but the executive producers said it represented a direction the show wasn't willing to go. Well, not really. That would be funny if it were true. It makes you wonder what "Awake The Force" could be about. I could speculate but I won't.
As I study the nuances of the completed tracks I begin to understand the whole and appreciate more and more with each spin.
It goes without saying that Electro Aggression Records will usually have a healthy supply of expected and unexpected remixers. The label likes to cross-promote its roster by having them remix each other's tracks. We get quality remixes by EAR alums Pyrroline, Serpents and k-Factor as well as Plastic Noise Experience and the unexpected a;GRUMH. I get the PNE remix with Serpents' connection, but a;GRUMH? Hahaha, only EAR would pull this one off. Serpents rework "Canter Monger" with vintage Serpent weavings of intricacies in the sound making this a worthy addition to the album. Serpents do with their own sound what Akalotz does to the old school EBM sound. They add the right blend of distinct sounds that enhances interest and intrigue. Both will please the ears with the original's aggressive body mass index and the remix unleashing its swarm of uncompromising 90's layers and Serpentine twists. The a;GRUMH remix of "Confront" is by far the most intriguing. Mostly because they have been under the radar since the height of their popularity in the 80's on Play It Again Sam Records aside from the recent 2011 reissue released on Infacted Recordings. a;GRUMH adds their quirky EBM rhythms and distant shouts in the background to a muscular track in its original form. When you mainline a;GRUMH into your remixes, you should expect nothing short of masterful brilliance with a little weirdness to boot! k-Factor remixes tend to push the track into darker areas than the original. That's just what k-Factor did. A man who is kind to both human and animal digs deep into pits of darkness to bring his vision of "Mirage Over Limit" to life. How does such a nice fellow conjure such dark and chilling sounds? Plastic Noise Experience's remix of "No Signal Response" adds some new more minimal elements to the original. The sound subtracts some of heavy robust programming and adds PNE's own craftiness with some blips and bleeps and a chopping beat. Arnte of Pyrroline is a man of many skills. Yes, he did a remix of "Rise And Fall" which originally appeared on the Shift To Evil album from 2014. The expectations of a Pyrroline remix are there. The tempo takes a step back. The vocals are echoed as the beats hits their mark in this wave of darkness masked as old school EBM. Arnte also handles the mastering for the entire album. Arnte has worked with The Opposer Divine, Jihad and Precision Field as well as many artists on the EAR roster.
I enjoyed every track, some more than others. "Man On The Run", "Take Like A God", "Confront", "No Signal Response" and "Escalate To Dominate" are my favorites so far, but that can change with the next spin.
Again, Akalotz does not disappoint in any way. They have the ability to stay true to their roots without alienating lovers of the genre. At the same time, they may garner some interest from those that are not necessarily old school EBM fans due in part to the fresh and invigorating nature of their work. You will experience flashbacks to the 80's and 90's when EBM dominated. We all joined the chant then, and you can now!!! The old school spirit is alive and well with EAR and Akalotz.
As for Electro Aggression Records, we appreciate their commitment to their core values of releasing 100% authentic dark electro and old school EBM. They do a nice job with the roster remixing each other's tracks on every release as well as finding a surprise or two to boggle your mind. It would be interesting to see some of the more popular contemporary acts take a stab at a remix. Whatever EAR does, they don't cheat you. You always get over 70 minutes of quality. Akalotz is no exception!
Jul 27 2017
I review stuff sometimes. Reviewer since 2012
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