Relic – Pulse Code Misery (2017)
Ok, so is this the debut Common Man Down album finally?? No!? God dammit.
I miss the 90’s. I miss the glory days of peak NIN and Manson. I miss the multitude of industrial rock bands putting out great songs, acts like Stabbing Westward, Gravity Kills, Filter and Orgy. That debut Rob Zombie album. Hell, even Ministry managed some good music in the 90’s. The funny thing about industrial rock is, it’s a very difficult genre to get right musically. To really nail it down (excuse the pun) takes a deep understanding of electronic music whilst also being willing to embrace a certain amount of rock n roll spirit and getting that balance right is incredibly tricky in terms of both production and song-craft. Some of the above bands got it wrong on occasion and the list of imitators that got it wrong all the time is lengthy.
That’s why it’s critically important to both highlight and embrace artists that DO get it right. Jordan Davis and Dan Dickershied, collectively known as Relic, have managed to get it right with style. Pulse Code Misery is an adventurous album that takes several different industrial rock elements and re-creates them in a modern 21st century cyberpunk spirit. This is most definitely not a throwback record or any sort of lazy re-hash. Relic have enough style and creativity to carve their own niche into this genre. The song order on the album is brave. Opening with 2 slower, groove laden tracks, rather gong straight for the kill with a 4/4 hammer to the head. “Curse” is an especially grim start to the album, Davis’s snarling vocals startling even the most jaded amongst us. Third track in, “Take In”, has a propulsive electronic spine that provides the quick industrial rock hit we all crave. Similarly, tracks like “Evoke” and “Give It All” are full of energy and punch. “Zero Sum”, a tip of the hat to Trent maybe, certainly has all the ingredients that make NIN so appealing, the song even ends with a contorted synth noise that could easily be mistaken for Reznor’s work. “Feeling Numb” has a soaring melodic chorus reminiscent of Stabbing Westward’s more epic moments.
Admittedly, while Common Man Down was on my radar in years gone by, so has Relic more recently. I knew CMD was retired and Relic was going to serve as Davis’s primary artistic output. As a debut album, Pulse Code Misery most certainly does not disappoint, in fact, this is a brilliant industrial rock album, immaculately produced by artists who obviously have a passionate love for electronic rock music and the cyberpunk aesthetic. Highly recommended listening.