Genghis Tron — „Dream Weapon“ (March 26, 2021)
♠ Návrat Genghis Tron polarizuje fanoušky. Ti, kteří jsou věkem blízcí kapele, pochopí vyspělost, která byla vložena do vytvoření Dream Weapon, zatímco mladší posluchači to mohou zavrhnout. Obě strany mají zásluhy, ale mladší posluchači jednoho dne také zestárnou. Nakonec Genghis Tron dělá, co chce. To je to, co jim na prvním místě přineslo značku „Nintendocore“.
♠ Jednou z největších změn je představení bubeníka Nicka Yacyshyna. Genghis Tron úplně vynechával bicí a upřednostňoval bicí automaty, aby vytvořil jejich chaos. Nick Yacyshyn pomocí množství svých činelů vytvořil dojem pozadí shoegaze. Je to více Tangerine Dream než The Dillinger Escape Plan, přestože ho produkoval legendární Kurt Ballou. Výkon Yacyshyna ve skladbách „Dream Weapon“ a „Pyrocene“ přesto ukazuje, že jeho přidání bylo dobrou volbou.
♠ Druhou významnou změnou je nový zpěvák Tony Wolski. Profláknutý vokálními efekty občas vysílá stopové prvky Chino Moreno a Slowdive a byl skvělým výběrem pro nový styl. Existuje pocit, že by Wolski mohl být dynamičtější, kdyby se tak rozhodl, ale hudba to nevyžaduje. Jeho hlas působí jako další nástroj v atmosféře a ozývá se během desetiminutové kompozice „Ritual house“.
Location: New York, NY
Album release: March 26, 2021
Record Label: Relapse
1. Exit Perfect Min 1:12
2. Pyrocene 6:14
3. Dream Weapon 5:14
4. Desert Stairs 2:05
5. Alone In The Heart Of The Light 7:07
6. Ritual Circle 10:22
7. Single Black Point 4:23
8. Great Mother 8:59
Saby Reyes~Kulkarni ⌊1 April 2021⌋ Score: 10
∞ When Genghis Tron co~founders Hamilton Jordan, Michael Sochynsky, and Mookie Singerman came together at Vassar College in 2004, they intended to create a “literal combination” of Brutal Truth/ Cryptopsy~styled extreme metal with cutting~edge electronic music in the vein of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. To their credit, Genghis Tron achieved that initial vision with a flourish. And they weren’t subtle about it. On their 2005 debut EP Cloak of Love and the two full~lengths that followed, 2006’s Dead Mountain Mouth and 2008’s Board Up the House, the trio reveled in the incongruity of their influences. Much like their contemporaries in groups like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Tera Melos, and The Locust, Genghis Tron aimed for maximum sensory bombardment — incrementally allowing for more repetition and dynamics as their sound evolved, but overall staying true to the overstimulated mindset of the era.
∞ Then the group, weary from touring, decided to take a break in 2010. The break was supposed to last for a year at most. As it turns out, it took eight years before keyboardist/drum programmer Sochynsky and guitarist/drum programmer Jordan finally committed themselves to working on the material that would eventually become their third and latest album Dream Weapon. To put in perspective just how long Genghis Tron had dropped out of sight, the band announced their hiatus on MySpace — a relic of an era that feels like a lifetime ago. Indeed, for purveyors of niche metal subgenres, twelve and a half years between albums might as well be an eternity. Countless trends have come and gone during that span, so it’s only reasonable to expect that Genghis Tron would need to adapt to find a foothold in today’s landscape.
∞ Of course, we always hope that bands will come back with their musical spirit untarnished by time, which typically brings wrinkles and hair loss with it. Not to mention that musical connections are, by nature, difficult to revive after long periods of dormancy. Metal bands, in particular, take a huge risk when they transition away from playing metal. If we’re honest, few ever manage to come up with a new sound that’s compelling enough for fans to feel like they got something in return for the band dialing down its edge. Genghis Tron, however, have done far more than merely try to keep pace with either trends or their legacy. With Dream Weapon, Genghis Tron don’t so much transition as achieve transcendence of everything they once were. And the change is so fully realized that it renders notions of genre loyalism utterly moot.
∞ A radical re~invention in almost every respect, Dream Weapon will no doubt stun the band’s existing fanbase. Imagine the chest~bursting scene in the film Alien, only with the script flipped so that you’re picturing an irresistibly beautiful life form hatching from the body of a hideous (albeit very cool~looking) monster. You’ve come close to the way Dream Weapon grew out of seeds the band first planted in “Relief”, the final track on Board Up the House. With “Relief”, Genghis Tron introduced two key elements that form the new album’s foundation: trance~like repetition and a lyrical outlook that looks ahead to the eventual end of human life. Other than that, Jordan and Sochynsky’s penchant for interlocking three~note melody lines might be the single strand of Genghis Tron’s DNA that remains intact.
∞ Gone are the blast beats, the epileptic musical changes, and the screaming. Oceanic layers of synthesizer now supplant the harshness so central to the band’s previous identity. With up to 50 different synth tracks going at once, the music stretches out to the horizon, both endlessly wide and bottomless. In the past, it was as if Genghis Tron were attempting to summon the fury of a hurricane on the end of a microchip. With Dream Weapon, the group create tidal swells that crest to an incredible height before crashing down with huge splashes of drama. Sections of album closer “Great Mother”, for example, give the listener the sensation of being lashed about by a violent offshore storm, the kind that took place on earth during pre~human epochs where the climate was far more volatile than it is now.
∞ On the title track, which is based on a riff that Jordan came up with during the same period as Board Up the House, the band even points back to its old brand of spastic aggression, but the awareness and command of dynamics reach a level the band had never touched in the past. For all the power Genghis Tron unleash on these new songs, they sustain an almost exultant level of patience — a sharp, 180~degree turn from the audacity and gusto of previous work.
∞ As Sochynsky explained in a recent interview, this time they wanted listeners to “get lost in where the song is going, [to] feel like you’re in a groove with the music but not even realizing that the groove has changed or that the song has evolved, so you’re in the same place but you’re somehow in a different place as the song progresses.” Genghis Tron achieve this goal and then some with Dream Weapon, an album that engrosses so thoroughly you often don’t notice how much movement and depth the songs contain.
∞ If Boards of Canada had incorporated a strong, dextrous backbeat, with less emphasis on ambience and more weight on chord progressions that build to sublime climaxes, they might have sounded something like Dream Weapon. Then again, there’s an intangible quality about this music that can’t be attributed to its outward characteristics. Genghis Tron aren’t even trying to re~invent the wheel here — as far as tones go, the synth/drums duo Zombi have been making music that sounds like this (for the same label, no less) since Genghis Tron started. Aesthetically, Dream Weapon wouldn’t have sounded out of place at all had it been released in 2008, the same year as Board Up the House.
∞ But it’s a mistake to focus on style here — a mistake the album makes it easy to avoid by satisfying the ear so thoroughly. Where Dream Weapon recalls elements of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, Depeche Mode’s Music for the Masses, Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile, and God Lives Underwater’s Life in the So~Called Space Age, it’s clear that Genghis Tron aren’t playing those influences for retro~cool points. Time travel and genre revivalism aren’t the goals here. Listeners looking for that kind of surface~level thrill will realize right away that songcraft and instrumental interplay occupy center stage throughout this album. That’s remarkable when you consider the musicians hardly met in person when writing and recording their parts.
∞ As synth~dominant as Dream Weapon is, it has a distinctly organic composition, with a living, breathing pulse that never abates thanks in no small part to the band’s new members, drummer Nick Yacyshyn and vocalist Tony Wolski — both recommended by returning producer, Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. Yacyshyn, initially reluctant because he wasn’t interested in playing blast beats just for the sake of being extreme, arguably gets to flex even more of his agility than he does in his work with Sumac and Baptists. Meanwhile, though original vocalist Mookie Singerman was privy to the ideas Jordan and Sochynsky began trading in 2018, his decision to bow out left the band with the opportunity to seek a vocalist who could more closely align with the spacious, wide~angle vibe of their new material.
∞ Wolski, who has played drums with the Detroit~based outfits Old Gods and The Armed, as well as directed videos for Converge, The Armed, and Protomartyr, opens the door to a world of sonic possibility that simply wasn’t conceivable within the parameters of Genghis Tron’s old sound. Jordan and Sochynsky weren’t trying to conjure an apocalyptic vision of the future with Dream Weapon. Much of the album, Jordan recently explained, is steeped in acceptance. Rather than dread, the music is meant to instill appreciation. “What we called home / frees itself from our harm,” Wolski sings on “Alone in the Heart of the Light”. Not only does his richly melodic, ghost~like approach fit the mood like a glove, but his performance is crucial to the quantum leap the band takes. Even fans of Ballou, a hardcore legend who has produced countless heavy acts, can come to Dream Weapon in hopes of hearing something they would never have expected from him.
∞ Melancholy yet strangely life~affirming — and loaded with details that reward repeat listens — Dream Weapon ranks up there among the most breathtaking transformations in the history of heavy music. The rare band that comes back with something to show for its absence, Genghis Tron have made the ultimate statement on creative growth. Typically, we don’t prefer that artists go on indefinite hiatus but, alas, Dream Weapon was more than worth the wait.
Caleb R. Newton ⌊MARCH 30, 2021⌋ Score: ★★★★★
♠ New York’s Genghis Tron have returned with Dream Weapon, their first new full~length album in over a decade, and just as before, the group sounds ambitious.
♠ On Dream Weapon, which is available now from Relapse Records, the band explore a surreal sonic world that feels like — as the title suggests — a dream. Textures here, including the drumming from new addition Nick Yacyshyn, feel invitingly familiar, but with repetitiously trance~like rhythms, the music feels like a suddenly materialized oil lamp leading the way into some teeming forest overlaid with an almost mystical sense of possibility.
♠ The group somewhat establishes an earthy grounding but whisks it away, leaving starry synths with quite full tones alongside contemplation~oriented incarnations of their other instrumentation. None of the instrumentals feel particularly heavy in any sort of metallic sense. Instead, Genghis Tron perform a sort of formidably hypnotic rock that feels like a slowly building psychedelic fog.
♠ The journey feels underpinned by gnawing anxiety, but Genghis Tron have expanded the tension to a point where there’s a thread of tranquility that feels refreshing. The music isn’t suffocating; instead, it’s certain, and the songs feel strong.
♠ Some of the performances feel airily off~kilter like getting caught in some kind of tumble to the ground that’s playing out on repeat, but the album is not abrasive, striking a delicate and compelling balance. Instead of hitting the harsh ground, a cloud swoops in, catches you, and rushes off towards the horizon.
It’s like an album~length experience of transforming tension into a permeating sense of peace via some alluringly strange musical alchemy.
♠ The music feels reminiscent of the vibes of the 2018 Natalie Portman movie Annihilation, in which an expansive substance~like force known as “the shimmer” appears, transforming all within it into twisted versions of life on the outside. The otherworldly fog produces both monsters like a formidable alligator sporting rows of shark teeth and testaments to possibility like deer with flowers growing from their antlers.
♠ Genghis Tron sound like they’re exploring the dance between tension and beauty across Dream Weapon, and rather than sticking to one side of this equation, they just about constantly shift their footing, immersing these songs in metaphysical unease. The feelings seem intertwined within the album’s world.
♠ “Ritual Circle” and “Great Mother” feature pointedly intense moments, but much of the music across the album as a whole feels easily placed just before full~on crescendos that never arrive. There are no sudden break~outs into any sort of full~fledged musical storm, although the music sometimes feels like it’s building to such an event (thanks in part to Yacyshyn’s immersively swirling drum rhythms).
♠ From “Pyrocene” (the album’s second track overall) onward, Genghis Tron often settle into relatively mid~range performances that feel attentively on~edge. It’s stark, yet serene. Some of the album’s heaviest riffing appears on “Single Black Point,” which is entirely instrumental and opens with jagged and formidable guitars that mellow out as the song proceeds.
♠ No matter the absent crescendos, Dream Weapon feels edifying, as Genghis Tron sound like they’re quietly celebrating possibility.
Zach Buggy ⌊March 28, 2021⌋ Score: 9
By Max Morin ⌊March 25, 2021⌋ Score: 8/10