The Best Industrial / Cyber / Electronic Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2020

Originating as a collaboration at Roadburn Festival, this project between Brazilian groups Deafkids (who were nominated by themselves in this category last year) and Petbrick (featuring Igor Cavalera of Cavalera Conspiracy and formerly Sepultura), Deafbrick features visceral noise, Brazilian folk percussion and rampaging industrial metal. The percussion provides an epic, atmospheric introduction to an album that subsequently goes full-pelt with high-speed, distorted guitars, electronics, and vocals, creating a cacophony of synthetic aggression. The interactions between the folk drums, electronics, and guitars allow each element to make an important contribution to the album's sound, a sound that is energetic, overwhelming, and unique.

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Fange are the kind of band that doesn't stick around in the exact same sound for too long, and that's made evident by us constantly nominating them in different categories. 2016's Purge would've fit right well in sludge (which we used to have merged with stoner), while 2019's Punir saw them placed in hardcore. Now with Pudeur they dipped their toes so much into punishing industrial metal that they tipped the scales and fell into this category. Along with its companion EP, Poigne, Pudeur saw the noise knobs turned way up, the riffs turning more mechanical, and the atmosphere becoming more urban.

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Igorrr is the master of elastic rhythms that don't make any gosh-darn sense. You may have noticed, if you could sift through the 26 genres, 42 time signatures, 15 keys, and 108 instruments being employed in any one song, that Igorrr has been moving closer and closer to what we might call a "conventional" sort of "metal" style, but obviously those words are effectively meaningless within a 50-kilometer radius of a breakcore-busting, jazz-djenting, desert-glassing maniac like Igorrr. Spirituality And Distortion is an impenetrable jungle of electronic grooves, unnerving vocal exercises, video game slap bass, and whatever other kitchen-sink-grade materials can fit into the shopping cart. One moment it's a stately waltz, the next it's a spine-snapping black metal track glitching itself into existential horror. It moves at such a fast pace that you can hardly describe any one segment before it's over, and so we'll stop trying.

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The last of Master Boot Record's three full-lengths from 2020 is a bit of a deviation from the norm in that it comprises only two tracks of abnormal length, filling out C:\>DEFRAG's 37 minutes between them, but once you pull off the bow and ribbon this album is very much the same brutal chiptune artist whose work we've come to love and whose eventual sentience we have come to fear. These two "Clusters" stock as much variety as any normal half a Master Boot Record album, drawing on symphonic metal, thrash, black metal, industrial, and classical music for compositional inspiration, then swapping out organic drums for a machine and replacing all the vocals and instruments with bleep-bleeps and plink-plonks and zeep-zaps and chrunk-crhnks and spindle-spandles and djdjdjdjdjdjdjdjds and, yeah, some wub-wubs. Pardon the onomatopoeia dump, but our processing power is somewhat beneath Master Boot Record's; suffice it to say that you'll never look at your NES the same way again after ten minutes of this.

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No, you're not seeing double; it's just that Master Boot Record releasing three records in the span of a year makes it very easy for us to fill out our raft of nominees in this cybertronic category. That's not to say that we're lazy or anything (there are other ways to prove that), but Master Boot Record has remained so consistent and so unique over the course of its short yet prolific career that this purveyor of tr00 Roman AI-core is always going to surpass our basic standards of quality. It appears that there is an inexhaustible capacity to rejuvenate popular metal styles and related genres with nothing more than overactive synths and a drum machine. Unlike its counterpart in this category, Floppy Disk Overdrive is broken up into a dozen discrete tracks, focusing a little more on the separation between each composition and also hitting with more immediate speed and heaviness. Despite the volume of work (and nominations), hearing one is not necessarily hearing the other, so do give both a shot - but in the end, it does get hard to choose, doesn't it?

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A blistering debut from Realize, Machine Violence has the no-nonsense mechanical aggression that makes industrial metal frontrunners such as Godflesh, Nailbomb, and Ministry so appealing. The dirty, super-low riffs, robotic rhythms, and digital distortion surrounding the instrumentation are all there in ample supply, all of which is topped by vocals straight out of the Justin Broadrick/Al Jourgensen textbook of aggressive, monotone barks. Realize follow the industrial metal formula to the letter, but in doing so produce a debut with the force and venom to satisfy anyone who fancies a no-nonsense mechanical bludgeoning.

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More "industrial" than "metal", Sightless Pit is a supergroup that reunites The Body's Lee Bufford, Full Of Hell's Dylan Walker, and Lingua Ignota. Grave Of A Dog is a noisy industrial electronic album that switches between dark and brooding to noisy and menacing to rhythmic and hypnotizing; it never stops being weird, depressing, and experimental in its genre blends, mostly being utterly haunting, as if it were filled with ghosts that are ready to implode. Each member takes turns bringing their contribution to the soundscape, ensuring that there's always some change, something to challenge.

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Imagine you have Rammstein. You take that "Neue Deutsche Härte" sound. You take away Till Lindemann's baritone vocals. You put some Finnish black/folk metal bloke in his stead. You give the entire band uppers. You make them write an extreme disco soundtrack to a decadent party. You drench that in some trance. You've got Turmion Kätilöt's Global Warning.

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Industrial/noise rock trio Uniform might have entered the metal's world radar with two collaborations with The Body, but they seem to have taken notice of it, as Shame is their most metal album to date. It has some hard-hitting drumming more fit for their hardcore sound and a clearer guitar/bass riffy presence, so things are a bit groovier this time around, too, but don't think that Shame isn't noisy and emotionally messy as hell. Its noise electronics work over the pummeling drum/bass/guitar rhythms to provide a perfectly misanthropic soundscape for vocalist Michael Berdan to scream his punk soul out.

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A far cry from their early days as a stoner metal band, A Spectre Is Haunting The World sees Wheelfall deliver some vicious industrial sludge metal, with rampaging, repetitive riffs, vocal roars, and guitar work rooted in the lowest register. The deep, plodding chugs and more rambunctious grooves are similarly powerful, with the drum work playing a pivotal role in defining the tone of each section of the songs. The almost Soulfly-esque grooves that pop up at time (for example, the first riff of the album) act as a nice alternative to grinding, bludgeoning trudges such as the one that opens "Cold & Pure"; A Spectre Is Haunting The World features stylistic variety, but is relentless in its intensity.

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Write-in votes

Amaranthe - Manifest
Code Orange - Underneath
Crematory - Unbroken
Dawn Of Ashes - The Antinomian
Evaporated Sores - Ulcerous Dimensions
Gall - 17:21 MIN
Harkla - Ruktur
Maltash - Sabotage Yoruself
Mechina - Siege
Mesarthim - Planet Nine
Neurotech - Unreleased Demos
Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts VI: Locusts
Nitelight - Nitelight Plays Death's Symbolic
Ost+Front - Dein Helfer In Der Not
Outworlder - Megatropolis
Pharaoh Overlord - Path Eternal
Static-X - Project: Regeneration Vol. 1
This Be The Verse - Deny All