Music Reviews

Martin Rev

To Live

File 13

I didn’t even… fuck man, I was so not prepared for this. Not after the recent ROIR reissue or even the new Suicide platter – not a chance. I was expecting, man, not this… Not the compact, syncopated brutality of To Live. Jesus goddamn christ, Martin Rev has just created the missing link between Kraftwerk and Celtic Frost, between Studio 54 and Count Grishnacht and Euronymous’s death duel. It’s black metal, almost, towering spires of gleaming ebon gears and chains, all moving in perfect, nerve-shredding synch. This is beyond brutal – aggression compressed into a cube of cold fusion. The hypnotic repetition only sets you up for the killing blow.

To Live destroys most industrial music, crushes all electronic musique under a studded leather mace. It’s so fucking exciting. All violent and simple percussion loops to infinity, primitive electronic distortion and Rev whispering hoarsely indecipherable threats through a metallic tube. Ghost in the machine! “In Your Arms” follows the same path of rage, slowing down the pace a hair, but dubbing out the vocals for maximum atmosfear. You can dance, maybe. But you’ll have a fucking heart attack. And “Black Ice” is just downright sinister, but it swings, in a weird, wrong, perverse way. And after that fucking triad of noise terror, Rev follows it up with “Gutter Rock,” which is, this can’t be right, a lounge disco swing with all the volume knobs jammed up into the stratosphere, thus making even this ostensibly pleasant cocktail hour music a near unbearable overload. And the vocals are just tossed off nonchalantly, bouncing off the gleaming nightclub synths. What the fuck is Rev thinking? Why can’t more so-called “artists” think this way?

“Shimmer” is built on colossal metal riffs, only to collapse into randomized noise efx terror. Ditto with “Painted” – it’s like, imagine if hell was an EPCOT ride. Okay? “Places I Go” is built on this epic, slimmed-down primal rock, Jesus and Mary Chain-esque distorted bassline + martial drumbeat + echoey, elliptical vocals (which is funny because Jesus and Mary Chain bit so much off Suicide, so maybe it’s Suicide-esque, but then isn’t everything?). In any case, that dirty bass riff is to die for, the stuff garage bands drop their rich girlfriends for. “Our Roads” mines similarly ragged rockist territory, think of it like a pipe bomb with a Rolex timer. “Water” is a collage of early electro and industrial flourishes, executed as simply and directly as possible. A seemingly endless (yet catchy) loop of distorted synths, bootstep drum fills, stalker whispered vocals. It’s thrilling. “Stormy” ends the whole affair on a suitably disturbing clang of shuddering metal gears and mumbled dada verses.

Martin Rev, what the fuck? This is genius.

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