Alec Empire: The Golden Foretaste of Heaven
Eat Your Heart Out

Issued on Alec Empire's own newly-established Eat Your Heart Out imprint, The Golden Foretaste of Heaven finds the one-time Atari Teenage Rioter kicking out some serious glam-punk jams in ten fierce cuts. Though it's apparently a completely electronic (aside from vocals) album, don't get the wrong idea: production details aside, the material sounds like a biting fusion of buzz-saw synth swarms, stomping punk beats, and Bolanesque guitar roar overlaid by Empire's oft-distorted vocals which themselves suggest an Iggy Pop, Mark E Smith, and Lou Reed merger. Don't be misled by the uncompromising exterior either: underneath the cacophonous swagger are songs that, in a couple of cases, are as frothy and hook-filled as pop gets.

Opener “New Man,” arguably the album's strongest piece, snarls with a whiplash punch as Empire pleads in his best Iggy-styled voice “Let me love you one last time,” and the song's killer chorus and pile-driving groove make this a hit song in some perfect parallel universe. Next in line is “On Fire (The Hellish Vortex Sessions)” which, true to its title, roars like a cauldron of glam-punk noise that might have been expelled from the same birth canal as Bowie's “Moonage Daydream”; in this case, the guitars are such a beehive, they almost drown Empire's vocals (already so distorted they verge on indecipherable). Also noteworthy: “Robot L.O.V.E.,” an electro-acid-funk jam that swaggers with a laconic voiceover; “Ice (As If She Could Steal a Piece of My Glamour),” which pairs a sneering vocal with Kraftwerk-styled synth melodies; and “1000 Eyes,” a crawling dirge overlaid with synth squeals and a Lou Reed-styled vocal part. Empire even lets a trace of vulnerability seep into the song but that pretty much does it as far as restraint is concerned. Admittedly, some if it impresses less for sounding like the kind of thing Empire could do in his sleep—though “Down Satan Down (dub)” and “Bug on My Windshield,” for example, are ear-catching enough, they pale next to “New Man”—but The Golden Foretaste of Heaven is otherwise a wild and oft-pleasurable ride.

September 2008