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16volt [reviews]
American Porn Songs |Metropolis, 2009|

1. Alkali, 2. Enjoy The Pain, 3. With Fire And Burning, 4. American Porn Song, 5. Blessed, 6. To Hell, 7. It All Turns Bad, 8. Blackbird, 9. The Lord Doesn’t Want Her, 10. Become Your None, 11. Can You Find God?, 12. Orange Insect, 13. Useless People, 14. Somebody To Hate, 15. American Bomb Song


It always makes me happy if there are bands supporting the industrial rock scene constantly since the early 90s by releasing albums which don't offer a different tune every time but consequently follow what they are known and proud of.
This time it is about 16volt, around which the biggest rivethead's subculture have gathered throughout all those past years, interested in both cold and aggressive yet danceable music.

While the two bands, kind of responsible for a growth of industrial rock scene quit (NIN in 2009, which, to me, stopped making industrial rock albums 9 years ago, and Ministry in 2008, except of good final album they started screwing up their fame with post-death remix album), there's still 16volt in the hall of fame.

16volt is a band with no stable line-up, except for Eric Powell, who's been pushing forward his band for the last 20 years (since 1988) with cool ideas, shows and big labels support (what is kind of unique when it comes to industrial rock) and never crossed that line between pop and alternative. There were some personal changes to FullBlackHabit released in w 2008 r. but some of the musicians remained in the band.

And so American Porn Songs features these musicians: Mike Peoples (16volt, Skrew), Steve “Pig” White (KMFDM, Pig, Schaft), Scott Robison (Dr0ne), Jason Bazinet (SMP, 64k), Sean Payne (Cyanotic), Joseph Bishara (16volt, Marilyn Manson, NIN, Prong, Bauhaus, Jane's Addiction, but also soundtracks for Crow, Mortal Combat, Repo!), Tim Skold (Shotgun Messiah, Skold, Marilyn Manson), Bildeaux Sarver (Ohn), James Hall, Jeremy Inkel (Left Spine Down, Frontline Assembly), Marc Lacorte (16volt, Chemlab, Powerman 5000).

Enough? Well, with this amount of people the album could either come out great (thanks to cooperation and experience) or bad (a lot of individuals with their typical play styles). It's your task now to judge after buying the album and listening to.
On the side note, if the present line-up survives we'd get another super-band a size of Pigface, Revolting Cocks, Dessau or H3llb3nt.

It's kind of difficult to me to listen to a new album without comparing to the previous releases, however it lets me get a wider perspective so the final review turns out objective. It's different to reviewing debut albums of other bands when I can't look back.

To resolve your burning questions - American Porn Songs IS an extension of FullBlackHabit and so that would already suggest its content.
It's a long album though. There are 15 songs recorded between 2008 and 2009, while Eric had started this job right after releasing FullBlackHabit and promotional tour for that album. Moreover, since its pre-sale and previews placed on the band's Myspace profile player the album has been getting very good reviews in music magazines of any kind.

And frankly I didn't like the previews that much, besides its low quality offered by Myspace, also I wasn't that much into the album when I initially got it from Metropolis. It was growing on me during the next few days and finally I let it go on the headphones without being focused on any certain songs. That worked well. Some of the songs hit my ears, others stayed more in the background, but it's definitely the album where most of you should find cool stuff, no matter what kind of music you normally listen to
I always prefer simple, heavy, powerful songs with live bass, a wall of guitars and gloomy electronics but others may like it because of juicy melodies and moods like they usually happen to 90% of 16volt albums; “It All Turns Bad” and partly „Blackbird” are just examples for above.

There are a few songs which drew my attention at once, like these classic guitar driven industrial-rock songs “The Lord Doesn’t Want Her” and „With Fire And Burning” (both remind me Filter's music), “Become Your None” (besides it has the typical 16volt vibe, I am sure I came across this guitar motif elsewhere, was that some NIN song? ;)), “Orange Insect” (not that it says 'orange' only but there's that wall of sound used!) and “Somebody To Hate” (Motorhead „Aces of Spades”-like tempo and initial drums like in “Gave Up” NIN).

Stunning „Can You Find God?” recalls me those early and aggressive NIN influences but only when it comes to the moods. If you remember such a great and meaningful to industrial rock style album like The Downword Spiral with „Reptile” song is, so you'll have an image of what I've found in „Can You Find God?”.

All of above have that dynamic yet aggressive content thanks to skillfully warming up the sound by edgy guitar riffs and disquieting but very well arranged electronics.

There are also two songs already known from previous 16volt releases but rearranged this time – „Alkali” with a bit faster and aggressive version to the original released on “Primal Combat” video game soundtrack and „American Porn Song” which appeared as „American Porn Song (Glitch Itch Mix v1.)” thanks to cooperation between Cyanotic and 16volt, released on GlitchMode's Hordes of the Elite in 2006.

The most intriguing song I have ever heard from 16volt, “American Bomb Song” is placed at the end of the album and it's also one of the shortest; it lasts only 2 minutes 30 seconds. It's about the same trick NIN made in their „Violent Fluid”. I wish I could hear the song extended because it was growing so good but Reznor never made it that way on his next releases. Perhaps there's charm of both songs hidden. The vibes of the songs are similar too, with mystic moods in a cloud of samples, alarming ambiance and this typical motif 'sliding' on the tracks.

On the final note, there's one thing what worries me about „Useless People” and „American Porn Song” - the same drum beats which become just impersonal and flat when repeated.

Actually the highest asset of American Porn Songs is not only the songs content but their production. The album involves very experienced musicians who undoubtedly brought high quality work no matter if they co-worked in one recording studio or on-line. Thanks to them, all of those additional sound filling in the spaces enriched the songs structures.
I'm convinced it won't be hard for Eric to cut through what he has made so far with the next album release, whether he's going to have other aces hidden in his tattooed hands or he's going to make the album alone.

Songs from American Porn Songs should warm you up through incoming winter days. Moreover they should satisfy not only die-hard fans of 16volt and industrial rock music but all other listeners as well.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz. Not for a commercial use. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below)
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