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Alec Empire - Intelligence And Sacrifice

  by Mark Rowland

published: 4 / 6 / 2002



Alec Empire - Intelligence And Sacrifice
Label: Digital Hardcore
Format: CD X2

intro

"Challenging" mixture of "Ministry-style metal with garage punk, industrial and dance music" on Digital Hardcore boss and Atari Teenage Riot frontman Alec Empire's latest solo offering


Alec Empire is something of an underground legend. His name and reputation has spread quite considerably over the years with his collaborations with such high-profile artists as Bjork, and through influential figures in the rock community, such as Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who has plugged his work at every opportunity. What Empire is most well-known for, however, is his very own musical, er.. empire. Digital Hardcore records, with a roster which is headed by Empire's own band, Atari Teenage Riot, has been pushing both musical and political boundaries for almost ten years now, dragging punk kicking and screaming into the 21st century by merging it with the hardest dance music, then getting some people to shout angry things about governments over the top of it. For the most part, it has worked fantastically, producing intense blasts of loud, scrappy dance music with old-school punk values. The last time I checked, however, Capitalism was still the driving force behind most countries. Still, you can't win 'em all, and who cares anyway when you've got music as good as Digital Hardcore? Well, Alec does. 'Intelligence and Sacrifice' rages just as hard, if not harder, than his previous efforts on it's first CD, which is a lot more rocking and better produced than anything Atari Teenage Riot have ever done. Unsurprisingly, Empire mixes a big chunk of Ministry-style metal with garage punk, industrial and dance music, but this time, the sound is more focused, and the riffs are brought more into the foreground. Tense synth sounds provide the perfect build up to first track 'Path of Destruction', Empire slurs "I have found the answers/ all the answers". When the track then explodes into a diamond-hard electro-thrash wall of noise, you know that Empire speaks the truth. Dancier workout 'The Ride' puts a slightly more personal slant on his political rants, where he seems to be inviting a loved one to bring down the government with him. How romantic. It's business as usual after that, however, with the electronically garnished hardcore of 'Tear it Out', and the spectacularly unrelenting pummel that is 'Everything Starts with a F**k', a happy-hardcore style kickdrum powered blast of anger spread over two adjacent tracks. With the equally excellent 'Killing Machine' and 'Addicted to You' (the album's first single) Empire shows his love for raw, punky rock n roll. On the former, Empire starts off with a very rock n roll " One two three four!" before hitting us with a barrage of red-raw punk'n'roll riffage a la the Sex Pistol's 'Problems', backing this with a straight forward drum machine beat. The latter, an industrial/garage punk drone, is the 'I Wanna be your Dog' for the 21st century. For the most part, though, the first disk of 'Intelligence...' takes an electro-metal direction, closing with the two track industrial metal stomp of 'New World Order', a semi-rapped (don't worry, it's not as cheesy as it sounds) beat driven track, funked up by keyboards courtesy of ATR member Nic-Endo, that breaks down into a digital noise. It' a great end to a great disk, which, as a whole, comes across as a metal version of Primal Scream's 'Xtrmntr', maintaining the same kind of genius and variation that made that record so special. This Cd is not for the faint of heart or the closed of mind, but for people who like hard music that like to hear something a little different it is a must. The second disk of 'Intelligence and Sacrifice' is surprisingly even more challenging than the first disk. Opener '2641998' is about half an hour's worth of electronic doodles of sound, which is incredibly difficult to listen to without your mind wandering on the first listen. Elsewhere, however, Empire's ,instrumental digital experiments are more focused, taking in electroclash and Warp style ambience. For those with an even more open mind, a few listens to CD 2 and you'll find that Alec Empire's gentler side is just as intriguing as his angry nihilistic side.



Track Listing:-
1 Path of Destruction
2 The Ride
3 Tear It Out
4 Everything Starts With a Fuck
5 Killing Machine
6 Addicted to You
7 Intelligence and Sacrifice
8 Death Favours the Enemy
9 Buried Alive
10 And Never Be Found
11 New World Order
12 2641998
13 The Cat Women of the Moon
14 Two Turntables and a Moog
15 Parallel Universe
16 Vault Things of the Night
17 Silence and Burning Ice
18 Alec's Ladder
19 Electric Bodyrock
20 2641998 (Reprise)



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live reviews


London Mean Fiddler, 30/4/2002
Alec Empire - London Mean Fiddler, 30/4/2002
The missing link between hard dance and punk metal, Alec Empire and his Digital Hardcore label now have a legendary cult following. Mark Rowland watches the Atari Teenage Riot frontman play a "spectacular" solo show at the Mean Fiddler


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