Of course, when we're dealing with the underground, that's to be expected. But it can be quite a hindrance, having to wade through so much dross to find something worthwhile.
Industrial is a genre that has come a long way. From it's roots in the avant-garde art world (Situationalist International, William Burroughs) and music (The Residents, Stockhausen), the first band to actively proclaim their music as 'industrial' were Hull/London art terrorists Throbbing Gristle.
By merging repetitive electronic beats, noise, distortion and lyrics about serial killers, paedophiles and power, they set the template for what industrial was meant to do: rub society in its own vomit and force it to look in the mirror (to misquote J.G Ballard).
By the late 80's, the genre had started to encompass everything from synth pop, gothic leanings and metal. Bands like Ministry, The Young Gods, Brainbombs and Godflesh epitomised the diversity of the new breed. And the chart success of Nine Inch Nails pushed it further into the consciousness of the mainstream.
All good things pass, and we quickly found ourselves having awful bands like Rammstein, Marilyn Manson and Icons of Coil (who have undoubtedly never listened to a Coil record in their life) being shoved in our faces as "the new breed."
But, over the last few years, there has been a reinvestigation of the roots of the genre, leading to bands like Pop 1280, Khost and Hateful Abandon producing records that are not only out of this world, but also know their roots.
And Uniform also fit this billing.
Originating from Brooklyn, New York, Uniform have been putting out records of plummeting intensity for the last few years. Consistent productivity brings superb results. And Uniform prove it.
However, over the last few releases, it has become evident that they are looking to grow their sound into something much more than just industrial/noise rock.
Opener 'Delco' is a moody, midpaced number which piles on the menace with a sinister sounding bass rumble, and a guitar tone that straddles a line between sludge metal and straight up doom metal. Seemingly taking influence from former collaborators The Body, Uniform are now moving into more metal terrain, with the industrial element being played down. Normally, this would be a matter for concern. However, 'Delco' is such a great song that it overrides lingering doubts for the time being.
'The Shadow of God's Hand' carries on with the midtempo torture (even referencing Black Sabbath in the lyrics) before speeding up in the middle and reverting back to type. More in debt to 90's era Corrosion of Conformity (no bad thing at all), the murky production really begins to come to the forefront on this track. This, as you can imagine, adds an extra layer of filth to proceedings.
'Life in Remission' throws some blastbeats into the mix. Coupled with the production, it renders the song somewhat inaudible for the first listen. But repeated listens reveal a plummeting number that ends with some abrasive synth noises and a collapse into drone territory. Utterly enthralling.
A complete 180 for the title track, which opens with some icy synth and drum machine action, before going into post punk terrain. Sonically, clear as a bell (in comparison to what has come before) and a welcome respite. Uniform have learnt from the best, and are still happy to tweak their sound to perfection.
Harsh, uncompromising, and with just a hint of prettiness, Uniform continue their amazing run of records. And while it may alienate those who want a return to the drum machine days, who cares?
Long may they reign.
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.