The one and only time I had the privilege of watching Chris Connelly perform was in 2002 or 2003 at The Roxy in Boston when he was again touring with Pigface. He opened the Pigface set by coming out alone and doing an acoustic cover of his former band The Damage Manual’s “The Peepshow Ghosts”. If I wasn’t a fan of his already, that opening song would’ve sold me for sure.
If you’re already a fan of Mr. Connelly then Artificial Madness, his latest, is sure to excite you. It manages to encapsulate all that he is in a nice little 40 minute package. There’s elements of Ministry and RevCo, his solo releases, and especially the aforementioned mighty Damage Manual.
Artificial Madness is another one of those crazy albums where the sum of all the people just don’t add up on paper but after hearing the finished output, the listener is pleasantly surprised. You have the former singer of industrial juggernauts Ministry, Revco, and Pigface paired with a backing band featuring members of Nachtmystium, Wolves In The Throne Room, Minsk, and Indian and an album produced by Sanford Parker who’s also a member of some of the already mentioned bands. And it’s on Relapse. Is it a metal album? Not really. Don’t get me wrong, it’s heavy but to simply categorize it under one genre would be a great disservice to Artificial Madness and the artists who worked so hard to make it what it is.
So what is Artificial Madness? It’s an album that transcends metal. It transcends industrial. It transcends hard rock. It’s…something else.
Madness starts off with swirling guitars and Connelly’s familiar croon easing you in to a false sense of security until that hypnotic chorus reminds you of all those nights you stared at the ceiling wide awake as that guy who sang on Ministry’s “Cannibal Song” used his voice as a weapon to drive you mad. Or was that just me?
“Wait For Amateur” sounds like some throwback between old U2 and new school brit-rock a la Maximo Park. “Cold Blood In Present Company” drills you with a fuzzed out bass for 30 seconds before Connelly in his best Bowie swagger massages your ear buds. “Imperfect Star”‘s subtle electronics accent the cacophony of the guitar and cymbal crashes just right. The screaming wail and industrial backbeat of “Classically Wounded” might be the song that sums up all of Artificial… though with its’ driving song structure, incredible riffage, and Connelly’s voice that is, to this day, one of the most unique and distinct out there still.
Artificial Madness is truly a treat for old school fans. It takes everything that’s made Connelly great over the years and takes it to the next level. It goes above an beyond continuously and should appeal to fans of everything he’s done so far. With a duet on Meshell Ndegeocello’s latest album Weather in the can as well, the time is definitely right for Chris Connelly to be in the public’s hearts and minds once more.
Artificial Madness is out now on Relapse.