Here we have an interesting situation, in which I have to use my abilities as a music journalist to do what I feel is right. Ibyss are an amazing German industrial band with an electrifying EP that reminds me fondly of acts like Godflesh and Killing Joke. The band seek to bring “industrial music back to it’s underground roots” and offer up an “assault on the progressive sound complex of today’s heavy metal.” Problem is, the German media is very politically correct these days and the band is taking heat for their album title and some of the lyrical content, which I couldn’t even garner any offense to. Obviously there’s nothing of the Nazi party here and I know that other than Nazi related materials, Germany is usually quite open-minded. They’ve given us the mecca of fetish in their red light district. Or at least, they did. If things have gotten this out of hand, then there is literally no telling as to how much they’ve cracked down over there.
Now I’ll be honest. I’m not really digging the album’s opener “Faceoff” very much and even on this second listen, it feels a little flat. It very much feels like a demo of sorts from these guys, an attempt to get their bearings for the rest of the record. It also just repeats the same couple of phrases over and over again, more or less. When I first heard this one, I thought it was pretty weak and had a lot of Fear Factory worship. I was kind of letdown immediately, assuming that this would be the whole album. But it wasn’t. “Faceoff” is just a weird fluke that is in my opinion, an awful way to start an album. Due to the track’s simplicity, it also feels like it overstays it’s welcome, which is definitely not something you want in an album opener. Despite all of that, we get an interesting twenty-three minutes of music that shouldn’t disappoint you in the same way that the aforementioned did.
“Bois Ton Sang” actually makes me think a little bit of Doom grooves (and I do mean the PC game Doom) along with a creepy little lead that snakes in and out as hefty German missiles seem to launch from frontman Jens’ gaping hole. As for the guitars, programmed drums and and bass work, that is all handled by Nihil. Both guys manage to deliver exactly what they claim to bring to the table, which is “two guys, two guitars, riffs, shouts, growls, programmed drums and distorted bass” and sounds miuch better than you think. After the Doom node, there’s a piece called “Home Is Where The Graves Are” where Killing Joke (or Prong, if you like) seem to appear as an influence. Jens nearly mirrors that classic vocal style as Nihil even adds a worthwhile guitar solo into the mix. Sometimes the approach can be a little peculiar, but that only adds to intrigue for me.
As for “Like Drones” I hear a bit of Fear Factory, but a more stripped down and raw version that sounds better without all the gloss. Think Demanufacture and you’ve got it. The band rolls in with “Senseless Ordeal” next, which is the longest song here, coming in at seven minutes. It is a bit slower and plods more than the other tracks, as it also offers some cleaner vocal lines amidst a few spurts of heavy shouts and loud guitars. It’s definitely different territory than I’ve heard prior from the band and it’s by no means a wash. They’ve demonstrated a different side of themselves here and I’d like to see if something more becomes of it in the future. The album ends with “Frontlines” which kind of brings the Fear Factory/Killing Joke vibe back a little. Maybe I’m reminded of early Mushroomhead a bit towards the end as well?
In any case, the record seems to be just as good as the band’s 2014 debut Obsidian, and though shorter, it shows a lot of potential and more or less excites me. The influences have been aptly named, (the band also cite Nailbomb, Ministry and Pitchshifter – this must be early Pitchshifter) but they display in the band quite beautifully, leaving us with a very solid release that does everything that the record was made to do. It is a bit unfortunate about the German press, but I haven’t really heard anything that I feel is offensive in such a manner that the media would hammer down on it, especially since the lyric material is more or less anti-religion and corruption, enslavement and those sorts of things. The same kind of crap I sing about, really. Germany must have really stepped up it’s social justice game or something as this is pretty tame. Unless the album cover is really that frightening, which astounds me. This is nothing, Germany. As far as the US is concerned, there’s nothing wrong with this album. I quite like it and I think that fans of all the acts I’ve named in this observation will as well. At least, I hope they would. I think you’ll agree with me about “Faceoff” though, it just doesn’t hit as hard as the others for some reason. These guys definitely have what it takes to matter in the industrial scene though and hopefully someone will recognize that.
(6 Tracks, 27:00)