For Your Sympathy EBM stressxtest Electronic duo stressxtest is made up of roommates Matt the Rat (vocals) and Bri__Fi (synth). The Oakland, California based duo decided to use the COVID-19 shelter in place order to funnel their creativity into music production. Channeling all their 80s electronic music (synthpop, EBM, Italo Disco, etc.) influences into one release, the result is their debut album "For Your Sympathy". Utilizing the melodic and progressive chords that electronic music is known and raw, gritty, black metal inspired vocals is perhaps not a combination that many would understand to work. However, stressxtest manages to pull it off by relying on EBM basslines familiar with such angry vocals that warp around said genres stressxtest pull from. The first track on the album, 'City Rat', seems to be a cynical take on the perception of denizens within large metropolis' of folks who don't adhere to their dress or moral code. A minimal beat feature a fast EBM bassline and bright synths that would be found in synthpop, the shouting and angry vocals from Matt the Rat contradicts these elements in surprising fashion. What is lovely about this track, however, is the mixing. While the vocals could have been easily raw and entirely unfitting, the slight echo placed on them and deliberate decision to keep the chords clean from any digital disturbances matches the cleanliness of the electronics. Both the vocals and the music compliment one another. For Your Sympathy by stressxtestA batch of songs following this principle make-up the majority of "For Your Sympathy", utilizing electronic beats and goblin-like vocals to great effect. Not a bad song can be found on the album but there are some that stuck out to me more than others such as 'Healing Exchange'. Completely thwarting any preconceptions I had previously made about the album as I passed through the first four tracks, 'Healing Exchange' is a brilliant and peaceful psychedelic electronic ballad featuring synth keys and whirling synthesizers. This three-minute and thirty-six second gives a break in between the danceable electronics. 'For Your Sympathy' is the one of the few songs on the album that leans entirely into EBM territory. The bassline, thumping rhythm, and drum work all scream minimal EBM to me despite some brighter synths layered on top. The Rat's goblin-like vocals do not feel out of place on this single at all. I also felt similarly about the final track on the album, 'Volveré'; it's an instrumental piece that showcases what stressxtest is capable of without their vocalist in tow. And the result is spectacular to say the very least. Funnily enough, my only real complaint on the album stems from 'Gold Dreams'. Rather than sticking with what I earlier called the goblin-like vocals, stressxtest attempts to sing with clean and clear vocals. Unfortunately, whether done on purpose or not, the vocals come out toneless and unemotive, as if the singer is bored out of their mind and does not want to be creating this track. I much preferred the goblin-vocals, that appear on the previous and after songs. Those vocals do appear on the track, sometimes as a duet and other times alone, but I would have liked to hear them throughout the whole song. Other than that, however, the music on the track is wonderful. "For Your Sympathy", then, is a brilliant debut from these two artists; their ten track album is worthy of your attention for not only being able to bring two colliding sounds into harmony, but also for being able to create an album that sounds so crystal clear. It's amazing when a new band has a debut album that can put some veteran producers and musicians to shame. stressxtest is currently working on their second album and plan to release a 7" in early 2022. My opinion is that you need to watch them. Pronto. Seven-and-a-half out of ten! This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page. 450
Brutal Resonance

stressxtest - For Your Sympathy

7.5
"Good"
Released off label 2021
Electronic duo stressxtest is made up of roommates Matt the Rat (vocals) and Bri__Fi (synth). The Oakland, California based duo decided to use the COVID-19 shelter in place order to funnel their creativity into music production. Channeling all their 80s electronic music (synthpop, EBM, Italo Disco, etc.) influences into one release, the result is their debut album "For Your Sympathy". Utilizing the melodic and progressive chords that electronic music is known and raw, gritty, black metal inspired vocals is perhaps not a combination that many would understand to work. However, stressxtest manages to pull it off by relying on EBM basslines familiar with such angry vocals that warp around said genres stressxtest pull from. 

The first track on the album, 'City Rat', seems to be a cynical take on the perception of denizens within large metropolis' of folks who don't adhere to their dress or moral code. A minimal beat feature a fast EBM bassline and bright synths that would be found in synthpop, the shouting and angry vocals from Matt the Rat contradicts these elements in surprising fashion. What is lovely about this track, however, is the mixing. While the vocals could have been easily raw and entirely unfitting, the slight echo placed on them and deliberate decision to keep the chords clean from any digital disturbances matches the cleanliness of the electronics. Both the vocals and the music compliment one another. 



A batch of songs following this principle make-up the majority of "For Your Sympathy", utilizing electronic beats and goblin-like vocals to great effect. Not a bad song can be found on the album but there are some that stuck out to me more than others such as 'Healing Exchange'. Completely thwarting any preconceptions I had previously made about the album as I passed through the first four tracks, 'Healing Exchange' is a brilliant and peaceful psychedelic electronic ballad featuring synth keys and whirling synthesizers. This three-minute and thirty-six second gives a break in between the danceable electronics. 

'For Your Sympathy' is the one of the few songs on the album that leans entirely into EBM territory. The bassline, thumping rhythm, and drum work all scream minimal EBM to me despite some brighter synths layered on top. The Rat's goblin-like vocals do not feel out of place on this single at all. I also felt similarly about the final track on the album, 'Volveré'; it's an instrumental piece that showcases what stressxtest is capable of without their vocalist in tow. And the result is spectacular to say the very least. 

Funnily enough, my only real complaint on the album stems from 'Gold Dreams'. Rather than sticking with what I earlier called the goblin-like vocals, stressxtest attempts to sing with clean and clear vocals. Unfortunately, whether done on purpose or not, the vocals come out toneless and unemotive, as if the singer is bored out of their mind and does not want to be creating this track. I much preferred the goblin-vocals, that appear on the previous and after songs. Those vocals do appear on the track, sometimes as a duet and other times alone, but I would have liked to hear them throughout the whole song. Other than that, however, the music on the track is wonderful. 

"For Your Sympathy", then, is a brilliant debut from these two artists; their ten track album is worthy of your attention for not only being able to bring two colliding sounds into harmony, but also for being able to create an album that sounds so crystal clear. It's amazing when a new band has a debut album that can put some veteran producers and musicians to shame. stressxtest is currently working on their second album and plan to release a 7" in early 2022. My opinion is that you need to watch them. Pronto. Seven-and-a-half out of ten! 

This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.
Nov 01 2021

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
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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