Blending trancy beats with an industrial rationale, Icon Of Coil’s debut full length, Serenity Is The Devil, continues their synth-pop transcendence of a genre becoming convoluted with ordinary sounds and even more ordinary themes. Andy LaPlegua, long time member of the European EBM movement, has put together a collection of songs that will move your body and keep your ears tuned in to see where the music goes next.
"Activate" begins the album with a fresh take on the highly successful sounds of the early 90’s Techno-dustrial movement, blending it with more trance-like beats and themes. It is a song reminiscent of Front 242 at their finer moments. "Regret" begins with a pounding bass line, and slowly builds into a titan of dance floor mayhem. It is refreshing to actually be able to understand the vocals in industrial music, and this song carries a strong message of human beliefs. Recalling the more electronic moments of staples such as Fiction 8, "Shallow Nation" is full of social commentaries and driving rhythms. Again, LaPlegua shows his chameleon adaptability, and filter-sweeping prowess, with the introduction of wonderful trance-beat elements into the music. "Down On Me" conjures images of softer lighting and Art Of Noise arrangements. It is a more downbeat track, full of otherworldly sounds and gentle feedback loops. Hearkening back, but far outdoing the Nitzer Ebb days of industrial music, "Former Self" is a beat track formed on pounding sixteenth notes and roving synth leads. It is a track that sounds as familiar as it does innovative.
"Everlasting" is another fairly straightforward EBM track, suited to rule the dance floor. It contains an interesting chorus, which seems somehow slurred within the music. Battling tempo lines clash in this dervish of a techno masterwork. "Situations Like These" begins with a slowly building noise set up, and then allows the dreamy vocals of Computer Girl to carry the song to its atmospheric heights. "Situations…" is a wonderfully simple and organic track, very welcome in a genre of static beats and sanitized sounds. "Fiction" takes the auditory senses back to the harsh sounds of distortion-laden vocals and angst-filled electro-terrorism. A slow beat for modern dance house, it is a wonderfully complex aural landscape. "You Just Died" begins with a heart-on-the-floor beat, and some excellent synth programming. The sounds are liquid, and the attitude is once again reminiscent of the golden age of techno and industrial (read Front 242 and Young Gods). Rounding out the record’s onslaught is "Floorkiller," a 9-minute trance-terror-industry track. It is filled with off beat hits and brooding melodies, harsh distortions and dancing harmony synthesizers. This track is made for the techno dance floor, and for the goth club just as well, with an ending that tries the ears and challenges technology.
Possibly more at home on the dance floor than on the living room stereo, Serenity Is The Devil is full of powerful beats and intricate programming. But this is not an album to be set-aside in the dance-floor-only pile, as it is replete with thoughtful lyrics and complex musical beauty. Icon of Coil has a brightly-lit dark future as far as I can see, and I plan to stay along for the ride.
- Shallow Nation
- Down On Me
- Former Self
- Situations Like These
- You Just Died