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Kollaps - Mechanical Christ

There's a funny quote from Kollaps in an interview with Flux when asked about the influence of Australian bands they respond that "We have taken very little interest in the majority of the bands you've mentioned, honestly, in fact I'll elaborate on that by saying that I personally despise and hold little respect for most of my Australian contemporaries." That list while including the likes of Severed Heads, The Church, Dead Can Dance and Snog/Black Lung also included Foetus and S.P.K. Listening to their latest release, Mechanical Christ, recently released on multiple formats by Cold Spring their response might surprise you. Kollaps are a Melbourne based industrial / noise trio featuring Wade Black (vocals), Damian Coward (bass, percussion) and Robin W. Marsh (drums, programming). Their name was swiped from an Einstürzende Neubauten album and Heartworm, their debut release from their original formation was recorded by Ash Wednesday, an Australian member of Einstürzende Neubauten, who may be known to our readers for his work with fellow Berlin based Australian expatriates Last Dominion Lost. As the band have evolved from the post-punk based Sibling Lovers, a vinyl album co-released by silken tofu and Trait Records, the name has become more apt reflecting their appropriation of metal, junk and assorted items for percussion and atmospheric effect as well as describing the breakdown of conventional song structure found on Mechanical Christ. It also provides a key to the albums themes which wrestles with their own personal turmoil as well as the current political, social and environment predicament.

Naturally it is a colossal, brutal and grim sound but given their name those expecting metal bashing and crushing powerhouse rhythms might be slightly disappointed. Sure rhythms and an array of items are plundered for effect but the bombardment of sound Kollaps project also comes from bass, electronics and noise. For the most part it is a slow, languid textured sound, propelled by crushing and powerful rhythms topped by the expressive and unflinching vocals of frontman Wade Black. It, however, opens to a more film soundtrack styled offering. The shifting rumbles and slow pounding beats of the opener 'Ankara' are laced with frequency blasts. A restless shriek of a sample proclaims "I am lonely and it hurts me" as it erupts into noise lashings. The mood doesn't get any brighter once the trio converge into their visceral, troubled and troubling outpourings.

The scattered hammering and quickfire pounding of 'Crucify' bursts into a ravaged interplay of vocals. One voice howling and wailing into a blackened void, the other offering unholy spoken incantations. The percussive overdrive beats a retreat into a passage of quietness pushed forward with martial rolls beaten on floor toms before erupting into wild deranged roars and rasps drenched in cavernous, reverbed noise and powerful percussive rhythms. Blistering drawled vocals ride on a wall of noise over rudimentary pounding beats on 'Fleshflower'. It rocks like an amphetamine fuelled Foetus fronting early feedback injected Mary Chain, with a high energy Suicide on electronics. 'Fleshflower' provides a much needed shot in the arm, a brief punk fuelled adrenalin rush on an album where everything else moves at an early Swans pace. I'd pay good money for a whole album of this.

As just noted above, things slow down dramatically to a slow paced crawl on 'Blood Premonitions'; its sparse pounding death beats and lumbering bass throbs providing a brooding backdrop to the drawled vocals, spouting disdain, despondency and disgust. It sinks into frequency hiss, returning punctuated by rolls of fiery percussive clatter and bursts of disarray, as rumbling low end bass tones emit feedback squall to the languorous atmosphere. The entire thing reeks of frustration and just being seriously pissed off. The distorted clattering and chaotic noise of 'Traducer' pulses to a machine like throb. Fiery blasts of sheet metal percussion almost mask the screeched vocals. I can't make out the words but for whatever reason I'm transplanting John Lydon's words "seeing in your eyes" from PiL's 'Death Disco' onto the suffocating intensity of this noise ridden percussive number.

In its own way the title track is quietly effective in creating tension; the vocal ranging from reverberated whisper to a scream. "Lights out, eyes shut" Black utters closing himself away from the world, as spartan beats pound over distant drone rumbles. With their palette of instruments Kollaps could easily slip into overdrive but here they rein things in. It's a knowing move and quite admirable as lesser groups would have went for the more obvious route of opting for noise. Here the old adage of less is more works to their benefit. The final piece, 'Love Is A War', is even more surprising in it being an almost experimental neo-folk track. Acoustic based strum billows over desolate sound movements, as Wade Black focusses on the dream of love. Towards the end it flirts with noise reverberations and percussive strikes as the accompanying anguished scream confronts the breakdown of a relationship and the ensuing fall out crushing dreams and hopes. There is no happy ending with Kollaps.

It might have taken some time but Kollaps have turned into a fully fledged industrial noise onslaught. They might eschew a conventional song structure but at its heart Mechanical Christ still beats to a song base, ravaged in vocals and layerings of noise and lashings of rhythms. Kollaps are embarking on a mammoth European tour and it'll be interesting to hear how these develop in a physical live setting which Cold Spring have described as a "visceral confrontation". Even if you can't make the shows, Mechanical Christ is a worthwhile contemporary industrial recording. Punishing and brutal, in just 37 minutes they capture an overriding feeling of anger, anxiety and frustration which is just right for the current climate. Mechanical Christ is out now on vinyl, CD and digital formats from Cold Spring. For more information go to Cold Spring