Darkmen - Living On Borrowed Time
Old School EBM, Anhalt EBM It's good to know there's still Belgians out there keeping the old-school heritage of Front 242 and A Split-Second alive. I was starting to worry that the country had forgotten about the style. But Darkmen have made it to album number two, and this time there's no bleeding obvious Depeche Mode covers. It's good, solid, classic EBM all the way.

And for those of you who know the genre, you already know what this album sounds like. Throbbing, pulsating basslines, layers of percussion and metallic crashing providing the body beat, and an angry man belting out the lyrics over the top. Yes, sure, it's nothing new for the genre, but after spending the bulk of the last WGT in mosh pits with angry Saxons and Swedes, slugging it out to exactly this style of music, I know what frequencies brutally resonate this body. And I'm listening to them right now.

After several listens through, I found three tracks stood out. Two of them - "Legs Like Gold" and "No Pain No Shame" are just solid, in-your-face EBM blasts of the 'That Total Age' school. They don't try to be clever and are better for it. More notable is "We Are Hard", one of the fastest tracks on the album, but managing to squeeze in some of Combo's rants from 'This Is England'. Recognition that whilst Belgians may make the best body beats, we Brits produce the best thuggish antagonists, bar none.

There's a few other interesting elements. "Stahlwerk" is the instrumental opener, with the reverbed metal bashing loops taking the forefront, a surprisingly listenable composition. "Scheissmusik" appears to be a tongue-in-cheek DAF tribute, because it sounds exactly like them and, well, if you don't know what the title means, Google Translate reveals all. "I Feel It In Me" sees the most successful take on the slower, menacing side of EBM, even if the kick drum sounds worrying like someone bashing a plastic wheelie bin.

There's a few disappointing tracks. The language barrier impedes songs like "Liar!" and "Run And Hide", as forced wordplay and over-used expressions stick out more than anywhere else. "Open Your Eyes" is initially more promising, but some clumsy breaks make it all sound too stop-start. The closing number "Bitch!" is probably the weakest track of all. It just sounds like they'd run out of ideas by then.

Five remixes appear at the end of the album proper, with "Legs Like Gold" and "We Are Hard" rightfully chosen as the tracks most suitable for a rework. A couple of the mixes are reworked by bands that sound too similar to the original artists (Nordar and Grandchaos) and hence they can't really do much with them. Mechaload turn in an interesting take on "We Are Hard", adding some orchestral string sounds to the mix and turning the feel of the original on its head. Sounded misplaced at first, but it eventually struck a chord.

The only tribute to the more modern EBM sounds come with K-Bereit's take on "Legs Of Gold". For those of you unfamiliar with this projects origins, one of the members used to be in Cobalt 60. No, not Jean-Luc De Meyer. The other one. Anyway, the C60 link probably explains how they got this particular remix job, but the "fuller" electronic sound, flying strings and melodic motifs work well with the original vocals line and rhythmic concept. As a 'added value' remix, it does the job just fine.

I'll end this review with a warning. If you're not into old-school EBM, this won't convert you, at least not yet. Come back in a few years when you've tired of whatever-it-is-you-kids-are-into-right-now. But if this is your sound of choice, you could do far worse than adding some Darkmen to your collection, and here's a good place to start. Admittedly, I could say that about any number of projects, so if you really want to confuse me, why not send your old-school EBM promos in and see if I can keep finding fresh methods of describing them?

I am SERIOUSLY going to regret that last line one day.....
4
Brutal Resonance

Darkmen - Living On Borrowed Time

7.5
"Good"
N/A
Electroracle
Released 2012 by EK Product
It's good to know there's still Belgians out there keeping the old-school heritage of Front 242 and A Split-Second alive. I was starting to worry that the country had forgotten about the style. But Darkmen have made it to album number two, and this time there's no bleeding obvious Depeche Mode covers. It's good, solid, classic EBM all the way.

And for those of you who know the genre, you already know what this album sounds like. Throbbing, pulsating basslines, layers of percussion and metallic crashing providing the body beat, and an angry man belting out the lyrics over the top. Yes, sure, it's nothing new for the genre, but after spending the bulk of the last WGT in mosh pits with angry Saxons and Swedes, slugging it out to exactly this style of music, I know what frequencies brutally resonate this body. And I'm listening to them right now.

After several listens through, I found three tracks stood out. Two of them - "Legs Like Gold" and "No Pain No Shame" are just solid, in-your-face EBM blasts of the 'That Total Age' school. They don't try to be clever and are better for it. More notable is "We Are Hard", one of the fastest tracks on the album, but managing to squeeze in some of Combo's rants from 'This Is England'. Recognition that whilst Belgians may make the best body beats, we Brits produce the best thuggish antagonists, bar none.

There's a few other interesting elements. "Stahlwerk" is the instrumental opener, with the reverbed metal bashing loops taking the forefront, a surprisingly listenable composition. "Scheissmusik" appears to be a tongue-in-cheek DAF tribute, because it sounds exactly like them and, well, if you don't know what the title means, Google Translate reveals all. "I Feel It In Me" sees the most successful take on the slower, menacing side of EBM, even if the kick drum sounds worrying like someone bashing a plastic wheelie bin.

There's a few disappointing tracks. The language barrier impedes songs like "Liar!" and "Run And Hide", as forced wordplay and over-used expressions stick out more than anywhere else. "Open Your Eyes" is initially more promising, but some clumsy breaks make it all sound too stop-start. The closing number "Bitch!" is probably the weakest track of all. It just sounds like they'd run out of ideas by then.

Five remixes appear at the end of the album proper, with "Legs Like Gold" and "We Are Hard" rightfully chosen as the tracks most suitable for a rework. A couple of the mixes are reworked by bands that sound too similar to the original artists (Nordar and Grandchaos) and hence they can't really do much with them. Mechaload turn in an interesting take on "We Are Hard", adding some orchestral string sounds to the mix and turning the feel of the original on its head. Sounded misplaced at first, but it eventually struck a chord.

The only tribute to the more modern EBM sounds come with K-Bereit's take on "Legs Of Gold". For those of you unfamiliar with this projects origins, one of the members used to be in Cobalt 60. No, not Jean-Luc De Meyer. The other one. Anyway, the C60 link probably explains how they got this particular remix job, but the "fuller" electronic sound, flying strings and melodic motifs work well with the original vocals line and rhythmic concept. As a 'added value' remix, it does the job just fine.

I'll end this review with a warning. If you're not into old-school EBM, this won't convert you, at least not yet. Come back in a few years when you've tired of whatever-it-is-you-kids-are-into-right-now. But if this is your sound of choice, you could do far worse than adding some Darkmen to your collection, and here's a good place to start. Admittedly, I could say that about any number of projects, so if you really want to confuse me, why not send your old-school EBM promos in and see if I can keep finding fresh methods of describing them?

I am SERIOUSLY going to regret that last line one day..... Jun 10 2013

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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