The Best Industrial / Cyber / Electronic Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2019

Metaprogramação has brought acclaim and attention to Deafkids, one of Brazil's most unorthodox exports to the world of heavy music. Perhaps one of the purest examples of industrial music ever to grace this category (blended appropriately with metal elements, of course), Metaprogramação is teeming with mechanical ear-throttling, repetitive abrasion, and a reckless punk attitude; manipulation of sounds both traditional and futuristic turns the album into an experience that is as immersive as a heady psychedelic album and as excitingly destructive as a hardcore album.

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Formed by Manes and Atrox members during one of the bands' hiatuses, it wasn't until now that we finally got a full-length offering from Drontheim, one that is unsurprisingly not that far off from the latest Manes record in that it is continuing the path towards less out-there and more introspective, moodier music. A blend of industrial, alternative, gothic, and post-rock with a lot of emphasis on dark atmospheres, repetitive riffs, and a constant cinematic feeling, Down Below feels like a descent into alternate history, whether the album's concept of an alternate post-WW2 Norway or one of industrial metal descending further into oblivion.

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Keeping very little of the jolting, Lightning Bolt-inspired noise rock in their sound, Health instead take their electronica, dream pop, and trip-hop sound to be melded into industrial metal soundscapes. They've been getting heavier and darker with each record and this is the peak of that - so far, at least. It's really odd to hear those trip-hop sounds and hazy vocals alongside heavy industrial riffs and electronic yet hard-hitting drumming, but it's quite likely to be odd the other way around, hearing the heavy guitars and drums alongside synths so mellow and vocals so dreamlike.

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This year's MSAs find Till Lindemann competing against himself in the same category (if only Pain had released something last year, we could have made things awkward for both halves of Lindemann)! After an English debut with Skills In Pills, Lindemann retreats to the German language, which makes F & M either more or less confrontational to international audiences, depending on the listener, but the quirky sadism that is Till's bread and butter still shines through alongside Peter Tägtgren's instrumental production. Till's brutal snarl strikes out in recognizable fashion over some pounding riffs and dangerous grooves, but Tägtgren cares for the electronic side of things, too, and you'll hear the keys and machines getting their due. F & M is a chilling return from two of the biggest names in the industrial metal business - one that might be even heavier and scarier than the debut.

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Synthwave-infused metal somewhat reminiscent of The Algorithm, Internet Protocol is the latest soundtrack to a dystopian cyberpunk anime from the prolific Master Boot Record. There is a self-proclaimed influence from classical music in Master Boot Record's sound that comes through in some of the melodies; acts like Pryapisme, however, are also likely inspirations for the exuberant electronics here, which are contrasted with meaty, frenetic metal guitars and robotic drums. Tracks such as "TELNET" and "HTTP" in particular would make for exhilarating video game boss-fight music.

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Rammstein is one of those bands whose advent sparked an awakening within countless other musical artists - half the bands classified as "industrial metal" these days are, in fact, wholly indebted to Rammstein's signature riffing style and snarling, guttural vocal delivery. Appropriately enough for a self-titled album, Rammstein sounds kind of like a "greatest hits" release, showcasing the band at its most threatening, most humorous, most monumental, and most disturbing. In their decade of studio absence, the band had time to weed out anything that wasn't gold, so all that remains is the pure essence of Rammstein: a firm, militaristic stomp, crunchy electronic grooves, and Till Lindemann's unmistakable rolling rs.

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God, that cover art. Whose idea was it? Who greenlit it? Regardless, it should give you a bit of an idea of how distorted and noisy Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back, but the thing is that it actually finds both The Body and Uniform at their most accessible. And who would've thought that, with all the synthwave and electronica and trap and trip-hop influences that are thrown into it even at their most accessible, both of these bands still create an industrial hellhole of an album. And it's also one of those albums that clearly feels like a collaboration, which makes for an even more interesting listen.

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From the land of industrial black metal comes Vous Autres, an industrial blackened sludge act with powerful, mechanical percussion, dissonant blackened riffs, and suffocating atmosphere. Champ Du Sang is a bleak and imposing listen, whether it's barraging you with Gojira-esque machine gun riffs, delivering powerhouses reminiscent of Godflesh's Streetcleaner days, or imitating their countrymen in Blut Aus Nord, and even the quieter moments of much-needed respite remain sinister. It's not completely misanthropic; "Tes Jours Passés" is somewhat soothing, with its post-rock-inspired guitars and soft vocals, but even then, the sludgy noise and relentless percussive march ultimately black out these rays of light.

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"Whalesong" is a misnomer, as this Polish duo is nowhere near as calming as that; Radiance Of A Thousand Suns, on the other hand, is exactly as intense as its title suggests. It takes a lot of chutzpah (and endurance) to record a 45-minute-long song, let alone to make that song the closer of an already-full-length album. Whalesong's industrial drive is grating, relentless, and bleak, like the decrepit assembly line this album sounds like it was recorded next to. The staggering, atonal sounds of ugly Godflesh noise make for an incredibly exhausting journey over the course of this hour and 45 minutes - not a journey for the faint of heart, but just what the coroner ordered for that one listener in a thousand who needs it.

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With this year's Blut Aus Nord shedding all industrial sounds that have been a staple of their sound for so long, and the promise that it is a permanent shedding, it seems we get all of those industrial sounds concentrated into a single project, that being Yerûšelem. Godflesh could be overly reduced to the sole influence here, and The Sublime may have bitten off more than it could chew, but damn, this is one of the most ambitious industrial metal albums out there, one that really actually feels like industrial music, but incredibly alien at the same time. Loads of textured ambiance to be expected.

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Write-in votes

3TEETH - Metawar
Ascend The Hollow - Echoes Of Existence
Blood Stain Child - Amateras
Die Krupps - Vision 2020 Vision
Elay Arson - Dusk Incarnate
Hanzel Und Gretyl - Hexennacht
Herrschaft - Le Festin Du Lion
Mechina - Telesterion
Northern Genocide - Genesis Vol. 666
Turmion Kätilöt - Universal Satan
[4672] - [aether]