Listening to Angelos Liaros's self-titled Mobthrow album, I find myself drawn into a game of Word Association. Say M for Mobthrow and menacing, macabre, even mutant come to mind; say D for dubstep and deep, dark, dubby, and dystopic instantly appear. Certainly that latter quality is clearly conveyed by the incinerated cityscape depicted in the album's cover painting and by the cryptic voices the Greek producer scatters amongst his debut album's eleven tracks. A promise of hope and rebirth does, admittedly, surface as well, as symbolized by the back cover image of a new day dawning and smoke-filled skies clearing (the track title “Desert City Rising” also suggests as much).
If all of that makes the collection sound epic in scope, it's equally so on sonic grounds, with Liaros weaving beats and atmospheric elements into a heavily cinematic experience. All manner of unsettling industrial noises work their way into the tracks, which otherwise burn with a beat-driven roar that occasionally has as much to do with jungle and drum'n'bass as it does dubstep (e.g., “Angel Eyes,” “Iron Tribal”). Emblematic of the album's material, “Deathnote” rolls out a muscular dubstep pulse that Mobthrow strafes with dubby echo effects, distorted voices, and ricocheting snares. If “Bulb Engine” snarls with all of the expected fury associated with the darker sides of the dubstep and drum'n'bass genres, “Street Breakz” takes that snarl to an even higher level of ferocity.
The path leading up to the present project has been a circuitous one for Liaros. After the demise of the Spectraliquid label that he and Subheim co-managed from their shared Greece homebase, Liaros moved to Holland where he found himself writing patches for sound synthesis software and composing material for advertisements and films, in addition to creating the album. Though it's relentless in the intensity of its attack (two beatless tracks, “The 3 Marks,” an interlude featuring the ethereal moan of Subheim's vocalist Katja, and the dramatic, album-closing “Alone in the Ruins” are the exceptions), there's no lack of craft on display.
As hard as Mobthrow's sound sometimes is, it can can sound positively mellow next to The Teknoist's. Three years on from ...Like a Hurricane Made of Zombies, Miike Hayward's first full-length album under The Teknoist name, comes Trainwreck Magnetism, a collection split between originals and remixes of tracks by Drumcorps, King Cannibal, Hecq, and others. The style is breakcore at its most uncompromising, brutalizing, and relentless, and though the Manchester producer has been laying waste to listeners' eardrums since the early 2000s, that doesn't mean his material's sloppily thrown together, as its construction obviously requires a great deal of care and attention to detail.
Hayward's not without a sense of humour, something most obviously evident in the track titles (“Prototype For a Ninja Nekromaniak” anyone?) as well as the over-the-top sensibility he brings to the music itself. His “I've got 2 i's in my name” makeover of the Mu-Ziq original “Siege of Antioch” thunders with all the synapse-destroying fury one would expect, while his “Boygrinder Bazooka” remix of King Cannibal's “Aragami Style” twists the original's raw dubstep into a thunderous gyroscope of distorted voices, detonations, and crushing beats. His remix of Hecq & Exillon's “Spheres of Fury” makes a no doubt already hard track even harder and more foreboding too, and “Dead Unicorn” is full-stop breakcore insanity, with Hayward squeezing in so much detail and high-speed activity into seven minutes the listener can only respond with mute stupefaction. Just as action-packed are “Prototype For a Ninja Nekromaniak,” a seething drum'n'bass collaboration with Homeboy; “Danimal,” a hammering outing with Machine Boi; and Hayward's light-speed jungle treatment of Drumcorps' grindcore cut “Down & Rodigan vs Alien.” The most extreme of the album's tracks might very well be “My Sugar Ape (Moses Like This One),” a truly punishing exercise in drum'n'bass madness.
Relative calm does emerge during “Tears and Fruit Cocktail” in the form of an ominous ambient nightscape, but it's a rare moment on an otherwise consistently hellraising collection that will obviously appeal to a particular, specialized listening group but won't extend much further. Trainwreck Magnetism's most definitely not for the weak of heart, as the saying goes.