Trust No One |Slipdisc, 1997|
1. Grip, 2. Kontrol, 3. A Different Kind Of War, 4. Creation, 5. Version 1.2, 6. Virus, 7. Religion, 8. Waste, 9. Tragedy, 10. Hail
N17 (November 17) is an American band which hit the industrial metal scene hard in the 90's but then disappeared for a while not to get back on the scene until the end of 2007 playing occasional shows in their home state of Arizona. The musicians play in other bands as well, but I will elaborate on that later.
Their debut album "Trust No One" is another powerful and very important Slipdisc label release, and at the same time a masterpiece produced by Neil Kernon, whose noticeable touch can be experienced while listening to some albums of Nile, Nihil, Macabre, Red Harvest or Down. Personally I find this album much more interesting than "Defy Everything" released 2 years later that presented a speed metal music approach.
The musicians of N17 seemed to have a clear vision while recording "Trust No One". Guitars along with bass were kept in the same rhythm in the foreground, less deep drums were put into the background, and all those additional dialogues grabbed from movies and politicians', preachers' or scientists' sound bytes helped them to build the correct industrial metal song arrangements. The album retains a very powerful sound. Simple metal vibes and perfectly matched industrial add ons sounded very balanced.
This band punched my ears to death at once with "Grip" (The first song on the track list) and thankfully there weren't any long intros or experiments. The band seemed to know exactly what they wanted to play and what the final arrangement should sound like.
"Kontrol" as well as "A Different Kind Of War" are two pro products for epitomizing industrial metal style music, with simple construction laid over a wall of heavy repetitive guitar riffs, drum beats, furious vocals and a little bit of samples.
In turn, "Creation" and "Religion" contain sounds which dominated the most recent N17 album called "Defy Everything". "Version 1.2" alike, with its simple arrangements full of changing guitar riffs, drum beats enriched with samples and Trevor Askew's voice empower the whole thing.
If you were ever afraid of swine flu, then this album contains a very meaningful song called "Virus" which makes an infectious connection. I was infected in 2001 when I was writing an initial short review of "Trust No One", and it happened again exactly 9 years later while updating the review. That song has unique dynamics, greatly matched samples, audio fragments cut out of movies and a perfectly syncopated section of guitar, bass & drums (adequately played by Mark Keltner – DamoN17 - Jason ‘Killer’ Kowalski). There's also Trevor Askew on vocals. A skinny guy with a stunning, powerful and rough voice, who should enter a contest for the best singer of metal music since his voice perfectly matches heavy tunes. Trevor (currently singing in Rusted Jesus) doesn't need any vocal distortion! It's also worth mentioning that Chrisa Canella (guitar) was involved in the songwriting process for this album.
"Waste" comes next, kept in a hot, raging tempo with samples that soothe the ears with crunchy guitar riffs. Then "Tragedy" sounds heavier than many Ministry tracks and grabs the attention of the listener with pulsating repetitions in the composition. A devilish track named "Hail" finishes the album with an interesting ending.
To sum up the album and its influences: music of such bands like N17, Skrew, Nihil, Bile, Argyle Park or Circle of Dust includes patterns necessary for industrial metal music which led me to the founding of Fabryka music magazine. I've been inspired by aggressive, guitar driven music with a little intelligent input from industrial samplers, but not vice versa. It's easy to hear how fast electronica and synth based songs age due to the constant progress of technology. Because "Trust No One" was recorded with a 99% ratio of guitars, drums and overall, naturally sounding vocals, the album still sounds fresh. Heavy music seems ageless while listening to N17. Some of the samples they've got on the album may sound primitive after 10 years since their first usage, but they make this hot and furious music from Phoenix even more attractive.
If other bands want to make industrial metal albums, they should take N17 as a good example, then I'd have pure pleasure listening and reviewing them until they turn out as complete rip offs!
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below) [Updated: 05/04/2010]