2nd Face – Nemesis (2017)
Credit where credit is due; congratulations to Dependent Records for signing 2nd Face. Nemesis is the debut album from solo artist Vincent Uhlig, a 21-year-old from Mainz, Germany. Releasing a debut album from such a young artist shouldn’t be seen as taking a risk, but the reality of today’s music business model dictates the opposite. We see it in the mainstream where well-known names are given media priority over newcomers, and we see it in the underground too where well-known labels are releasing safe, by the numbers industrial or re-releasing albums on vinyl from popular scene artists that are guaranteed to sell.
Uhlig, who goes by the stage name Thorn, is currently studying towards a sound engineering degree. The sound of Nemesis is indicative of that. Largely influenced by mid-era industrial originating from Vancouver: Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit, Skinny Puppy, Numb, 2nd Face’s electro-industrial aesthetic is old-school in origins but thoroughly footed in the 21st century, mostly due to not only the perfect production, but also the original and creative sound design by Uhlig. Unafraid to wear his influences on his sleeves, a track like “Weapon” has that distinct and dark sci-fi edge purported by FLA in the early 1990’s, sounding like some sort of Mindphaser/Iceolate hybrid. In contrast, the seemingly deeply personal “Mindlase” finds Uhlig yearning an emotional ‘why don’t you leave me?’ atop a sweeping synth string melody. Stunning. While the darkly aggressive “Deathspread” simply annihilates; it’s a fine demonstration of the aforementioned modern and creative sound design. Fantastic industrial music. “Movement” is another highlight on the album, its tight drum programming providing a slightly disjointed and uncomfortable old school industrial groove. The dark nature of “1st Of His Name” finds 2nd face in a more atmospheric industrial place. “Punisher” is a more straight-up industrial attack, Thorn’s aggressive vocal guiding the dark electro groove suitably well, especially during the rhythmic chorus where Front 242 is brought to mind.
The musical maturity shown on Nemesis is quite remarkable – Thorn demonstrates discipline and restraint where necessary, controlling the flow and feel of the album expertly. Overall, Nemesis is an excellent modern electro-industrial record, displaying solid songcraft alongside creative and carefully layered and distinctive programming – highly recommended.