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KnifeLadder - The Spectacle

The Antipodean "butcher boys" of KnifeLadder deal primarily in rhythm 'n' noise. Which isn't too surprising when you consider their line-up. Alongside Andrew Trail (Inertia, Anti Valium) and Hunter Barr (Anti Valium, Infant Skull Surgery) they feature John Murphy whose credentials are impeccable with stints with SPK, early Current 93 and Dogs Blood Order, while his own Kraang project contributed to the industrial cassette culture of the early eighties. In recent years he's been releasing dark atmospheric music as Shining Vril, besides performing percussive duties for Death In June, but KnifeLadder remains his main concern.

The Spectacle is their second full-length album following Organic Traces - a compulsion online featured album - and is their most accomplished release to date. Superficially the polyrhythmic delivery pays homage to industrial metal bashers of yore but it is the electronic soundscapes, low slung bass and array of eastern percussive devices that show KnifeLadder cast their net of influences far wider. At points The Spectacle adopts elements of Crash Worship, Swans and 23 Skidoo but its predominantly an album of 21st century industrial music.

The harsh delivery of 'Born Under Fire' pits hardcore vocals declaring "violence is a tool" against sub-heavy bass shudders and skittering snare drums, punctuated by eastern pipes. 'Suffer in Silence' is a frantic workout of low-end bass and tumultuous percussion with the rasping voice of John Murphy over electronic dissonance. A spiteful diatribe from John Murphy with the title 'Just Desserts' opens with bells and eastern wails before slipping into a ponderous rolling tribal rhythm, over funky bass and sustained electro hum. Lloyd James (of Naevus) provides the vocals on 'Head of the Serpent', where the KnifeLadder sound is channelled via post-punk. A downright funky bass line, with lashings of electronic layers, and slippery percussion making this the most accessible track on The Spectacle. A windswept soundscape frames 'The World Tears Its Heart Out' with Trail's exasperated world weary vocal over pummeling bass and taut percussive interplay. It's followed by the upfront melodic voice of 'Chimera' which combines low end bass throb, layered electronics and pensive tribal rhythms. The final two tracks up the ante somewhat. 'Harms Way' opens with clearly delivered vocals before sliding into the distance, as background effects continually get more abrasive as the percussion becomes more brutal. It's kept firmly under control which can't be said of the closing title track. A colossal improvisational workout that throws up a swirling vortex of black noise, anchored by bass throb and powerhouse percussion.

The Spectacle isn't an aggressive and harsh assault, as such, but by its nature it is a very physical release harnessing their muscular organic approach through varied studio techniques, incorporating vocal melodies, to create a singular sound that is dense, claustrophobic and positively thrilling. For more information go to www.knifeladder.com or www.cryonica.com