American duo Exopulse promise industrial rock in the vein of Marilyn Manson, Rammstein and Combichrist on new album Darkness In You, and, whilst you do get occasional whiffs of all three of those artistes on the record, they remain just that – whiffs.
More substantially, Exopulse prompt memories of names like Canadian industrialists Ohgr; Killjoy‘s leering, sinister vocal approach is highly redolent of Kevin Ogilvie at times, without quite reaches the heights of suggested depravity of the great man himself. Guitarist Sai Lee keeps up a barrage of rudimentary rifferama in the background as well as orchestrating the barrage of bleeps and belches that remind the listener they’ve strayed into ‘industrial territory’.
If all this sounds a bit snarky I apologise, as it isn’t meant to be; industrial music requires a keen eye (or rather ear) to maintain the myriad of tropes it’s acolytes require to give full approval, and Exopulse don’t always fulfill their end of the bargain in this respect. When they do, on the excellent My Valentine, they come across more like a modern metal band with a keen ear for melodic barbs rather than a true ‘industrial’ proposition. Only on the grating, lascivious Your Revolution do they hint that they might be in with a shot and ruffling the feathers of those names mentioned in the opening paragraph of this review, whilst on the grim Riot Silent they suggest a bright future in techno-metal a la Tom Warrior‘s Apollyon Sun project might be a viable career path.
All that said, The Darkness In You, if listened to without the expectation loaded on to it of perceived genre misidentification, is actually a pretty enjoyable listen. All the songs here are punchy and well produced, with only closing instrumental, the Numanoid Aleviate, approaching five minutes in duration, meaning that the listener’s attention span is rarely tested by meandering self-indulgence, There is a bagful of potential here – but Exopulse perhaps need to become a little more focused next time out to truly realise that potential.
The Darkness in You releases on April 8th.