3Teeth – Shutdown.exe (2017)
“Acid cum on everyone.”
Paints a pretty picture, right? This classic scene from Robocop comes to mind…
There are a myriad of reviews out there in the wilderness of our internet that praise the sophomore 3Teeth album – and rightfully so. It is indeed a good album, that’s not really up for debate here. An analysis that’s as equally interesting, in my opinion, is how the album sits in the world of underground electronic music, how it compares to the band’s debut and what has resulted for the band since the release of one of the most hotly anticipated albums of 2017.
Is it safe to call Shutdown.exe an industrial album? Of course it is.…but its position within the spectrum of industrial music is extreme. Definitively on the metal side of things, the glaringly obvious difference between the debut and this album is the huge metallic grind that resonates from the guitars. It’s a wall of sound. It’s this distinct difference that forms an integral basis of discussion points surrounding the album. Comparatively speaking, it’s as if the debut was made to be played in a post-apocalyptic, future city nightclub and the follow-up record is meant to be played on the ravaged, ruined streets of a warzoned dystopia. The band has created two very distinct albums, each with their own feel and each with their own positives and negatives.
3Teeth’s move in sound to a more metal edged and brutal focus has seen Shutdown.exe act almost as a gateway to numerous opportunities and massive exposure for the band in the rock and metal world. The infamy of the first album not withstanding – that was largely contained within the industrial scene; album number two has infiltrated the rock and metal scenes quite decisively. And that’s a great thing. Yes, there were guitars on the debut too, but it’s their placement in the mix and focus in terms of song structure and integration that alters their focus entirely. The phrase “texture generating guitars” (last seen in the credits of NIN’s 1994 opus the Downward Spiral) seems fitting when describing the guitar sound on the debut. Album number two on the other hand completely flips the switch, with a buzz-saw metal-like attack, set to destroy. It’s this sound that cements the industrial-metal focus. It’s this sound that attracts outsiders. But this is also the sound that alienates a portion of the industrial scene where there certainly seems to be slightly less hype subsequent to the album release than the debut. Does this bother the band? With shows supporting Tool and Rammstein, playing Danzig’s Blackest Of The Black festival with Danzig himself, Ministry, Suicidal Tendencies, Atreyu and Devildriver, also a high-profile appearance at Riot Fest last year alongside The Original Misfits, Hatebreed, and Bad Religion amongst others. Plus a support slot to HIM on their farewell tour around the US – the band is certainly reaching a wider audience.
Looking at some of the songs on Shutdown.exe, “Tower Of Disease” really shows the bands progression succinctly, whilst simultaneously displaying my only minor gripe with this album – the glorious mechanical percussive opening with enveloped synth design and crunchy syncopated guitars making way for a crushing chorus that is metal at heart, with vocalist Alexis Mincolla unleashing a brutal Manson-esque scream; the harshness of the chorus actually takes away from the intro and verse sections, and moves the song very quickly away from its industrial core. “Voiceless” treads similar waters. Concurrently, a track like “Oblivion Coil” might keep fans of the first album a bit happier. Its more focused synthesis maintaining that strict BPM philosophy more in line with industrial’s repetitive origins that were more prominent on the debut: there is absolutely still plenty of mechanical dissonance to keep rivetheads happy on Shutdown.exe. Even though a track like “Slavegod” is furiously heavy, it works perfectly. The production is jaw-dropingly awesome, with the electronics seamlessly melded into the guitars and vice versa. Frontman Mincolla delivering a frighteningly possessed vocal performance on this song, whilst overall, his range has certainly improved over the debut.
Shutdown.exe has no full throttle killers such as “X-Day” from the debut album. It has a largely consistent mid-tempo feel to it, perhaps slightly diminishing the flow of the album overall, with the 49 minute running time feeling a little arduous at times. More often that not, this writer finds himself listening to the album in segments as opposed to in completeness. When looking at some of the greats of the genre, Antichrist Superstar or The Downward Spiral for example, listening to those albums in full is effectively the only way to fully engage with the artists vision. I honestly feel 3Teeth have the potential to create an album like that and that they came closer on the debut record.
A note on Sean Beavan’s involvement; the entire album has a razor-sharp cut to it, an abrasive layer of aggression that gives the material that added attack. Its incredible. Choosing Sean Beavan was an interesting move. Given his background with industrial-rock artists such as Manson and NIN and also bands like Pantera, Slayer, Guns N Roses or Norwegian industrial jazz metal act Shining, it shows 3Teeth’s direction and ambition. Listening to the before and after mixes of “Degrade” give an idea of Beavan’s impact. There’s less of that harsh tone on Xavier Swafford’s mix; the sound is more rounded and slightly more palatable. Beavan’s mix cranks up nastiness! Also, it certainly didn’t hurt in the promo/marketing phase leading up the release of Shutdown.exe to namedrop Beavan.
Shutdown.exe is an important album from an important band – it’s a gateway album that can get metal people into industrial and industrial people into metal. The band has proven they have the songwriting skills and musical muscle to back up their unique visual aesthetic, outspoken social media prominence and now more widespread notoriety in multiple music scenes. Their brand of industrial-metal is an ideal match for their socio-political, anti-world, anti-almost-everything stance. And now, while they are arguably the most successful industrial band since Nine Inch Nails – the world waits with bated breath for their next move. Bring it.
Shutdown.exe is available directly from the band on Bandcamp here.