Kill Memory Crash: American Automatic

Formed in Detroit during the late ‘90s and emerging out of the considerable shadows cast by Skinny Puppy, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Front Line Assembly, Kill Memory Crash (A. SanFacon and A. Sieczka) blazes a crushing Industrial trail in American Automatic, their full-length debut and follow-up to 2003's mini-album When the Blood Turns Black. Though there's rarely a letup from the incredible intensity of each adrenaline-fueled song, the group spins endlessly imaginative variations on what in other hands might be a limiting template.

Though the opening songs don't dramatically deviate from a conventional industrial style, they're incredible nonetheless. “Riyout” bursts forth with a gargantuan motorik stomp, artillery strafings, and a strangulated vocal, while “American Automatic” emerges from an android war zone of detonating shrapnel, whirrs, and clatter. With its relentless techno attack of demonic bass lines and writhing synthesizers, the third song, “Crash V8,” signals a stylistic shift into territory that's more dance-oriented though no less powerful. Like Kraftwerk dragged through a violent shredder, fulminating electro-funk beats and chugging synth patterns blaze throughout the stunning grinder “Doorway Nine.” Other songs spin similarly inventive variations on the group's industrial essence, with a lurching hip-hop feel added to the seething stomp of “UTIU,” “Demento” given a funkier ride, and guttural fuzz guitars giving “Battery” a rockier feel. Heard through a noirish industrial haze, a jazzy bass shuffle closes the album in “Push,” suggesting the soundtrack to a lost spy caper.

While a few tracks are instrumentals, most include lyrics delivered in a goth-flavoured monotone. You'll strain to decipher the words (apparently the lyrical focus is neurosis, states of psychological extreme, and “the darkness of the modern era”) but, really, lyrics are secondary here, especially when they're buried under steaming layers of industrial noise. Repeated until it resembles a mantra, “It's what you'll never forget” can be clearly heard amidst rubberized bass synth patterns and a pounding drum attack in the tech-house raver “Never Forget” but it's the song's relentless, indomitable slam you'll remember most of all. Portentous and doom-laden, American Automatic is industrial music of the most perfect kind, a daunting yet beautiful sound and a marvel to behold.

May 2005