Steve's Top Albums / EPs / Singles of 2023
Ah, it’s come to be that time of the year again, hasn’t it? Actually, we’re probably a little bit late on this considering that most end of the year lists are posted a little before or after the new year. And we’re two weeks in already. Time flies when you’re having fun…Or at least when you’re listening to a ton of INDVSTRIAL MVSIC (and other related genres, of course). And as is our yearly tradition, I’m going to go through a bunch of albums, EPs, and singles that really surprised me throughout 2023. These are presented in order of score and favoritism. Here goes.
HONORABLE MENTIONS : Before we even begin, I want to give a huge shoutout to a bunch of artists that I failed to cover in 2023. As per usual, I have it part of my 2024 to write a lot more, but we’ll see what I can do as time moves forward. Obviously, honorable mentions are aimed first and foremost to any and all artists that released on our label in 2023; Ex-Hyena, Slighter, Techlash, Decent News, and Rabbit Junk. In honor of being fair, however, I never include label releases on these lists. I also want to give a huge shoutout to artists such as HEALTH, Cyanotic, Pretty Addicted, Cannons, and so many others. Each one of their 2023 releases are to die for but, again, I had not had the chance to review them. I hope to remedy that before the end of January, but I never know what’s going to happen next. Know that your music has been flirting with my personal playlist and I just don’t have the time to cover everything that hits my inbox. Anyway, onto the actual list.
15 : THE NEW DIVISION : MODERN LIFE (SINGLE) : 8 OUT OF 10
While obviously this became part of a much larger album, when I was first presented with ‘Modern Life’ it came to me as a single and not part of the whole. And I never did get a chance to listen to the entirety of the synthpop outfit’s 2023 full length. Nonetheless, from this snazzy little single did I find it to be pretty damned good, agreeing with both past and present colleagues about The New Division. Some of the finest synthpop you’ll ever hear in your life.
14 : DISTRUSTER : NAKE VIOLENCE // AEROBICIDE : 8 OUT OF 10
Distruster hit us in full force with his dirty EBM / industrial double-single “Naked Violence // Aerobicide”. The end result is an extremely experimental and glitchy EBM track chock-full to the brim with exquisite samples and chopped up industrial styles. It’s a six-minute and eight-second song that’s nearly non-stop in its surprises and grimy approach to darkened electronics. The second is a horror show through and through and never fails to impress.
13 : GREMNIR : SANDR OK SNJÁR (FEAT. NAHELI AND SUVI) : 8 OUT OF 10
Gremnir has been honing his craft for quite some time; the neopagan / folk artist and music educator utilizes both classic and ancient instruments and modern production to provide primarily old Norse experiences. However, his most recent venture, that being the single ‘Sandr Ok Snjár’ combined his love Old Norse poetry, as well as Arabic traditions. It’s a what-if situation to me of what would have been possible should ancient musicians have collaborated with one another – much like musicians do in modern times. The end result is something that’s both set in reality and also in fantasy. And it’s great.
12 : SUNESIS : GALAXY EMPRESS : 8 OUT OF 10
When I first listened to Sunesis’ ‘Galaxy Empress’ single I was enthralled with it; I made immediate comparisons to so many great cinematic sci-fi soundtracks, such as the one from 2017’s Prey. It’s a moving piece with excellent production and, at the time of this writing, I was just made aware that the full-length album this single is one released in October of 2023. Shame I didn’t catch onto it, but I just bought the CD so I can’t wait to hear the whole thing.
11 : SPANKTHENUN : CRUSHING BLOW : 8 OUT OF 10
What I consider to be one of the most underrated acts within the industrial scene is SPANKTHENUN, a dark dance project focusing on brutal beats and dancefloor hits to get your inner rivethead stomping. His ‘Crushing Blow’ EP is a fine example of that. The original version, an in-house mix, a Dream Black remix, and an alternate version of the single ‘Bone Crusher’ are all on here. And, yes, they all do really sound like a crushing blow.
10 : SOCIAL ORDER : TANTALIZE : 8 OUT OF 10
This is probably the most shocking release of 2023 for me. I am one of the many who think that the post-punk scene has become oversaturated to the point of no return. A copycat sort of situation where each and every single band starts sounding the same and production is muddy and everyone sings in deep-pitched, mumbling voices. But, fuck me if Social Order didn’t just come in and sweep all expectations away. This bright and hopeful EP is absolutely stellar; clean production, bright synth lines, handsome vocals, blending a line between post-punk and synthpop. This is the kind of revival that post-punk needs right now, not what we’re currently being handed.
09 : FUEDAL : UNIT 1 : 8 OUT OF 10
DKA Records has become a bit of an authority on modern dark dance music; their ability to pick from the masses has allowed them to carve a niche little hole in the scene and release music that would otherwise go unheard. EBM mechanics and rolling basslines bring Unit 1 to the number 9 spot on the list. Sharp beats, grand production, and a focus on what makes our dark electronic scene so wondrous.
08 : MISS FD : DISTRACTIONS : 8.5 OUT OF 10
You would think there’d be a year where Miss FD wouldn’t hit my end of the year list, but that hasn’t proven true for quite a bit now. But it’s not my fault she continuously pumps out hit after hit and keeps the electro flowing in my bloodstream. She’s one of the few artists who utilizes her music IQ to fuck with her audience at the same time; a fourth-wall breaking moment really brings the theme of the song to light without so many people realizing she did exactly that. Another hit. Good for her.
07 : SDH : FAKE IS REAL : 8.5 OUT OF 10
SDH, or Semiotics Department of Heteronymns, blew me away with their 2023 album “Fake Is Real”. A genuine celebration of the scene they love and a heartfelt ode to the sorrows of life at the same time. They shift from one genre to another seamlessly, all while keeping a signature style. An identity that’s hard to keep and hard to master and yet they’re able to do it. Electropop, EBM, synthwave, so on and so forth, it’s all packed into this album.
06 : SLEEPLESS DROIDS : I & II : 8.5 OUT OF 10
Australian producer Sleepless Droids surprised everyone by releasing a double EP featuring a whole bunch of cyberpunk and sci-fi goodies. Split in two for a good reason, however. Part I focuses on cyberpunk dance music; crunchy synths and punchy bass. Something that’ll get you prepared for a future filled with high tech, low life. Part II, on the other hand, is an ambient exercise that more or less pulls us into the bleak underbelly of this science fiction universe. A more cinematic approach which takes off beautifully.
05 : BRIGHTER THAN A THOUSAND SUNS : ATAVISM : 9 OUT OF 10
Ah, Brighter Than A Thousand Suns. I will never forget their self-described style as being “industrial disco for goth yuppies”. What I got was crunchy industrial music formed into a pop structure. And I’ll quote the original review here, describing them, “reminiscing Janet Jackson’s earlier discography does this duo play around with rougher electronic elements spanning from EBM to synthwave straight back into the brighter structures of synthpop.” It’s a wild ride that’s completely self-aware and yet jams right on home.
04 : MARI KATTMAN : SWALLOW : 9 OUT OF 10
This is perhaps Mari Kattman’s finest work to date. Flat out. There. I said it. And I’m not taking it back. Mari Kattman took a whole lot of attitude and packed it into two of her finest singles to date, ‘Swallow’ and ‘You Can Show Yourself Out’. Combining her love of bass music, trap, and trip hop all into one alternative electronic trip, this is a perfect EP for those looking for dark club beats. She followed this up with another stellar EP “URGOD.AI”, but I think of the two this is crowned as King.
03 : GUNSHIP : UNICORN : 9 OUT OF 10
One of the most creative bands I’ve seen in my life has to be Gunship. Completely successful and a bit of a cult phenomenon without ever having to tour, Gunship has style, production, and a yearning for all that they’re obsessed with to be transformed into music. The album has a ton of collaborations including with the sexiest sax player of all time Tim Cappello, the master of horror John Carpenter, synth masters Power Glove, Carpenter Brut, HEALTH, and so many others. It’s a labor of love and it paid off.
02 : BESTIAL MOUTHS : R.O.T.T. (INMYSKIN) : 9 OUT OF 10
Bestial Mouths is a staple in my life and in Brutal Resonance as well. One of the most phenomenal artists the industrial scene has to offer by far. A witchy combination of theatrics, imagery, and audio wizardry. “R.O.T.T. (inmyskin)” is a testament to that, and is probably Bestial Mouths greatest effort to date. Cerezo experiments more than ever on this album and, therefore, I had the most fun with it as each experiment pays off. It’s emotional, grand in scope, yet personal in nature.
01 : SIERRA : A STORY OF ANGER : 10 OUT OF 10
The seeds Sierra planted in the past have bore the juiciest of fruit with her debut album and ultimate vision “A Story of Anger”. I’ve been following her for quite some time and each of her previous EPs blew me away for one reason or another; perhaps it was the deep bass and outstanding production. The clean procedure she uses to carve each song, like a dexterous surgeon utilizing a scalpel to make the most precise incision. I have listened to this album over and over and on each pass I get goosebumps and chills. I’m not sure if Sierra will ever be able to top this in her career, but I’m damned sure glad we got “A Story of Anger” when we did. It’s a flawless piece and deserves the number one spot on my list.
Jan 21 2024
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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