Eric Powell is one of the most unappreciated architects of industrial music. If you are a fan of industrial music and don’t know who 16Volt are then you should be ashamed of yourself.
I got into the band later in their career when SuperCoolNothing was released in 1998 and have followed them religiously ever since. On a side note, I literally got into them the day after they came to Boston on some Slipdisc package tour on Lansdowne Street. Seeing that listing in the Phoenix killed me. Anywho, It just so happened that SuperCoolNothing was also the last studio record they would put out for almost 10 years so I guess bad luck followed me around when talking about 16Volt in the late ’90’s.
Cut to 2005’s The Best of 16Volt 2-disc set that featured a live disc recorded in 2003 featuring some brand new songs (That would eventually show up on FullBlackHabit and AmericanPornSongs) and confirmed that 16Volt was indeed back.
2007’s FullBlackHabit was the welcome return by the 16Volt juggernaut, 2009’s AmericanPornSongs was an industrial beast, and 2011’s Beating Dead Horses is the icing on the cake. The best of both of the 21st Century 16Volt albums while still pointing further into the future.
The self-titled opener starts with alarms blaring behind a spoken word intro before feedback gives way to a clean drum and guitar chugga-chugga march. It’s a sick way to open a record. “The Wasteland That Is Me” follows with some syncopated chaos and lets Powell sound more mechanical than any industrial vocalist should until letting up on the sweeping chorus.
“Ghost” pulsates with some epically sonic guitar tones while “The Carrion” is up there as one of my favorite 16Volt songs of all time. The drum groove on the aforementioned track is hypnotic and when it builds to where Powell synchs up with the beat vocally, it becomes a masterpiece.
The enders “Veins” and “Somewhere New” could not be further from each other musically and serve as the yin and the yang of BDH. “Veins” is an aggressive romp filled with crunching guitars and crashing drums where as “Somewhere New” is a quiet groove-laden closer featuring one of my favorite vocal performances from Powell throughout.
Beating Dead Horses is the definitive 16Volt record and the culmination of years of dedication to the art by Mr. Powell. A true industrial triumph and a must-have for any fan of the genre or any fan of good music, for that matter.
Beating Dead Horses is out everywhere May 10th.