Written by Frank McClure, posted by blog admin
With this duo’s core members split between New York and England, Cyborg Asylum’s debut Never Finished, Only Abandoned comes across as quite a coherent project despite a literal ocean of distance separating its members. The heavily electronic-based textures and piston-pressed factory noises reckon to the film score work of the group’s members David Varga and John Tumminia with the song construction focusing heavily on industrial, dance and even tinges of pop/alternative that should appeal to fans of Nine Inch Nails, Front 242, early Stabbing Westward and Rammstein.
Opener “Blitz” begins with an air raid siren that is soon washed over by tidal waves of droning synths, electronica soundtrack drones, bomb explosion and the kind of hard-edged club beats that Front 242 made a career out of. High-pitched oscillations and frequency manipulations dip into thumping, surging subwoofer romps meant to ignite a dance floor after midnight. Electric guitar riffs, infectious melodic vocals and slower tempos signify the industrial genre’s transformation into pop territory during the 90s on “Synergy.” Here the aggressive electronica simmers into a vocal-driven number with memorable vocal harmonies and restrained yet ethereal digital bleeps/bloops that allow the singing to take front and center stage. Filter sailed similar waters on their pop saturated machinations circa Short Bus, an album where organic instruments played just as significant of a role as the keyboards. Faint electric guitar buzz swirls around soft synthetic loops, high-end noise frequencies and buoyant beats on the radio friendly “My Metallic Dream.” Tumminia’s tender, plaintive lead vocals craft numerous hooks and showcase great melodic range throughout. If we were still in the 90s this tune could easily have been as big of a hit as any number of songs penned by Stabbing Westward, Filter and Gravity Kills.
A chest-rattling, low slung bass groove reckons of 80s EDM in the churning, guitar-riff chugging groove of “War Machine,” a track that aptly lives up to its name. “Steampunk Highway” also flirts with a similar vibe of cagey, factory line malice. The epic sprawl of “Weightless” sees Cyborg Asylum piping their affinity for digital beats, ugly bass distortion and white-washed noise through a rippling sea of dazzling vocal vibrato, serene mechanical drone and captivating melodicism. It’s almost as if they filtered their acerbic weirdness through some gorgeous Pink Floyd-esque transcendentalism. Again they prove that their songwriting knows no bounds thanks to the symphonic string sampling and orchestral arrangements of the dazzling instrumental “Angle of Incidence.”
“Fragments as Illusion” interjects busy percussion that highlights the snare into a framework of shape-shifting industrial that’s heavy on sturdy melodic vocals and battle-hardened textures that hypnotize thanks to knife-edged, metal-leaned guitars, pounding percussion and roaring swells of abrasive techno. An ebbing, brooding darkwave instrumental “Ion” sets the stage for “Asymmetry’s” 6+ minutes of stomping, grinding industrial undertones that bubble beneath a pop-vocal surface. “Pale Green Dot” similarly enjoys moments of near silence that are trampled by quaking club bass and dirty, fuzzy guitar riffs that lead directly into closer “Paradigm Shift’s” intense polyrhythmic, bass-drum shakedowns.
Fans of 80s/90s industrial, EDM, techno and electronica would do well to seek out Never Finished, Only Abandoned. Cyborg Asylum admirably handles both the aggressive and catchy nuances of the genre and keeps their instrumentation tough and hard-edged while peddling some extremely uplifting vocal melodies. If your favorite Killing Joke record is Night Time, then Cyborg Asylum will be the perfect addition to your collection.