17 January 2016

Shaârghot - Volume 1

Another strange release from the later end of 2015 here - coming from Île de France, which is in France (obviously) we have Shaârghot, an industrial metal outfit who got in touch asking for a review.  Now before I go on I wanted to share this from their press release -

The Shaârghot, a mad and cynical creature, questionable result of a failed scientific experience, bursts out of his cave to spread his aggressive and dancing sounds. Helped by his “Shadows”, the Shaârghot is trying to set up a huge party, and then... well, blow everything on this planet! Abandon all hope, it’s time for the “Mad Party”, and to dance on this world’s ruins!

Now isn't that just delicious - I love it when a band can get OTT just for the joy of it, it reminds me of the declarations of grandeur by the long past London cyber-goth unit called Nekromantik; it just speaks to me of a band who want to put on a great show and it will be either amazing or a little silly.  Either way is usually great for me, let us see where this party leads us......

Starting off the album is "Shaârghot" which begins with a familiar loop to most cyber/industrial music - low pulsing bass, drums that sound like a machine whirling, a guitar that could cut through steel and a vocal delivery that is a mixture of screams and rasping vocals.  It is a slow and menacing opening, it does remind me of the big hitters in Industrial music but there is large slice of originality in the mix as well.  I can see this going down a storm in many nightclubs around the world, it sounds like a disco going to hell in a hurry as this music always should and my interest is engaged from the beginning in a way I have not had for many a moon with an industrial band.  "Sandstorm Calling" is a song that is so inspired by Killing Joke, the only way you could be oblivious to it would be if you were inflicted with blindness.  This is a great thing as it sounds like they are taking up a call to arms as they make a glorious noise here.  It is a track that takes a few plays to sink in and unveil itself to you, it is not the fastest you will ever here; but it does not need to be, because it is a loud, grinding, shouting motherfucking beast of a song that could welcome in the end of the world in places.  It is a really good song, seriously one of the best of the record.  The third track on the record is "AZERTY" which reminds me of a fucked up version to the theme tune to the British TV show, Dr Who; listen to those opening drums and bouncing back and tell me you do not think of a Police box.... ok, it is just me then.  Anyway, the song is built on loud drumming, strange electronic outbursts, seductive lulls in the sound so the eerie vibe can expand on the audience and you can absorb the shading between the riffs and screaming.  It is the stuff going on underneath that makes the louder edges of the song stand out, the strange noises make this song for me and keep this album bouncing along.  "Uman Iz Jows" is firmly in the electronic industrial side of the band's musical spectrum; the dark bass sound here that drags this song from beginning to end is only equalled with the volume on the synth for this song.  With a dark wave vibe that I have not experienced since Spahn Ranch, it is the first song which I think would work much better in a club and gig than being reviewed on CD/MP3; it has a power which I feel would work a hell of a lot better in the live environment.  It is still a good song and the recording is good as well, but this is one of those songs that will work so much better through some heavy duty speakers in a dark and packed nightclub.

"Traders Must Die" starts with a sample taken from Wall Street, New York, America which tries to normalise these money grabbing bastards; now whilst I would not to wish someone's death, I do agree with the sentiment for these people to fuck off to the dark holes where they came from.  Musically it reminds me of early Ministry with the synth element of the band dominating the sound, it loops in and sounds like the machine is on fire as they move along.  From the beginning to the last pulsating moment, it feels like they are being Armageddon to the money makers and it sounds glorious.  "Clock's Waltz" starts off slowly with the band gently singing over some haunting keyboards and the drum beat quickens slightly, till the chorus section when the volume kicks in.  It is an age old technique which will be used again in the future, it is also used to good effect on this song as well.  I like slow, bruising and defiant industrial that sounds as if the machine is ripping up the landscape and it has all the drama that has recently been employed by bands such as Ghost, Mushroom Head and even in Grinderman; sometimes a theatrical flair kicks a song into another dimension, this is one of my favourite moments of the album as it shows another side to their sound and that shows that after this and their haunted organ ending that there is more to come after this record.  "Mad Party" starts with a fade in, as if you are slowly entering the club when everything is in full effect.  Once again the bass and drums are pulsing, the light/quite dynamic of the sound is huge and this is a song which feels like a bizarre carnival is running around as it is coming out of the speakers.  It works in a way which was sadly lacking on "Uman Iz Jows" where it sounds fierce here and that it could be used outside the club/live show, if it sounds this good on CD/MP3 - how fucking loud is it going to sound live?  "The Way" ends the second third of the album and starts with the lighter verse section, in contrast to the synth/KMFDM sounding chorus with a hint of Rammstein to that section of the noise.  It might not be my favourite song on the record, but I still appreciate it as it sounds like it a load of fun and sometimes you need tracks such as this in the world.  It does what it sets out to do, nothing more and nothing less.

With "U.K.T.T.O.M.H." we find Shaârghot back in the live show environment which is a great place to be at the moment.  It does take me back to the time when I used to go to cyber goth clubs to listen to darkwave bands (it was not always Frank Zappa people) and this one would have been a dance floor classic as it has all the key elements for that sort of track - a great rhythm, slowed down verses, explosive chorus and a dose of bile and cockiness to the vocals that gives it an edge - what is there not to love here?  "No Solutions" has an urgency to its sound, even from the beginning when all is quiet, you can feel the tempo build up and the band explode out of the blocks with a fast paced, peddle to the floor, full assault machine noise that never stops (even the lulls feel as if they are to start a fight in an empty room).  The lyrical bite of the song is full with such anger that it could bring down Jericho, the noise could flatten a city and it all sounds fantastic - well played Shaârghot, well played.  The penultimate song of the album is called "We Are Alive" and the band are not calming down as the album reaches the end of its existence, in fact they sound as if they are heading towards the exit with more fire still left in the tank.  After "No Solutions" it does not have as sharp a bite in comparison, but what it does have is a shifting song that keeps on moving with a strong guitar, loud synth, powerful drumming and screams of banshees alerting the world that that they are still here - again, what is there not to like on this one?  Ending the album is "B4-Birth" which starts off with breathing, slow breathing as the noise comes into the void between the breaths.  It is an ambient, noise piece to end this album which guides you down after the previous eleven pieces of industrial noise, it is a piece of art to end this record on - it makes a lot of sense to these ears.

Now that is something I have not heard in a long time, an industrial/darkwave album that did not fizzled out halfway through.  Shaârghot make a glorious racket that mixes both the old school vibe of darkwave that I fell in love with in my youth and still sounds as if the future has more to come.  With a couple of tracks which would be better suited to the club/live environment, the best part of this is an album I would play normally in the house alongside my strange collection of noise/sludge/piano rock and other records very easily as it is a fierce and tenacious album and I am not saying that because they got in touch with me.  It does still within the parameters of its genre, but why is that a band thing when it is done so well?  When all is said and done, this band should be selling out clubs and be held in the same breath as Combichrist, KMFDM, Killing Joke and (for me at least) the long lost Nekromantik; now to get a couple of the album I will point you in the direction of their Facebook page and recommend if you are even slightly interested in this genre that you investigate this act, you will be welcome to the mad party with open arms.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost......

Top track - AZERTY

You can stream songs from Shaârghot on Soundcloud here

You can visit the Shaârghot Facebook page here

At the time of writing, this album is not available on Deezer, Spotify, etc.... but some of the tracks are on those services in the form of the 'Mad Party' EP.

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