9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Originally recorded in the mid 80's, commercially released as two separate entities in the early 90's, and finally packaged together as a two disc set in the early 2000's, these digitally remastered demos are a masterly statement on the then emerging industrial music scene. The material on the first disc is comprised of (most of) the Total Terror demo from 1986, strangely omitting "Eternal" and understandably adding "Freedom", "Distorted Vision", and "Cleanser". The second disc consists of material recorded during the same time period, but not at all released until the early 90's in the aforementioned separate packaging. Here is my track by track review of both discs.
Total Terror (5/5): The namesake of this collection and also one of its best tracks, the track is comfortably lengthy and layers on a dark atmosphere amidst Bill Leeb's indecipherable vocals.
A Decade (3/5): This track utilizes snippets of a murder trial strewn throughout the inevitable synth hooks which, this time around, sound rather Middle Eastern in flavor. Despite the cross examination taking place in the background, the song remarkably has an almost upbeat feel to it. The track is similar in structure to "Contraversy" and "Controversy", which appear on the Nerve War demo and the Corrosion LP respectively.
Rebels in Afghanistan (4/5): A swirl of pragmatic voices coupled with a primitive - or maybe just subtle - bass line open up this track with a more solemn feel harkening back to the title track. The song also contains more indecipherable vocals, although I have been able to pick out "We'll see you again" around the 1:33 mark. The track ends beautifully with the aural equivalent of crashing waves, but nonetheless marks a shift toward slightly quirkier waters ahead.
Developing Suicide (3/5): One of the first tracks I heard from this collection and also one of the oddest, a couple of eyebrow-raising samples are this track's specialty. Not to mention those guttural 'hooah's by Leeb near the end could have been his future trademark if he'd stuck with it!
Black Fluid (3/5): The main focus of this track is a buoyant synth note that follows the song from beginning to end. The sound is constantly oscillating in pitch and gives the visual of following a bouncing ball through unfamiliar lands.
Falling There (2/5): The synth on this track sounds as if it's breathing its last breath. Here we've got more oscillating synth notes, although this time they're coming in waves, and...all right, so we've been in novelty land for a while now, and perhaps the majority of the first disc isn't up to par with the second half, but it gets better soon.
All You Do (3/5): An inexplicable yet repititious sound permeates this track like "Black Fluid" before it, although this one's not quite as pleasant and becomes jarring after a bit. Although the song manages to break the 4 minute mark, it's nonetheless one of the shorter tracks on the collection.
Seeing is Believing (5/5): Now we're cooking again! This track's got it all: staticky ear candy, heavily distorted vocals, and taut synth notes backed by one of the best dance beats on the first disc so far.
Empty Walls (4/5): This song slows it down some and thankfully goes for atmosphere instead of signature sound effects like several of the songs before it. Sporadic and indiscernable vocals haunt the track and give a relaxing vibe to it all.
Enemy Number One (4/5): Another slow number and definitely the most ambient so far, more found samples are layered sporadically into the background, like little notes to keep you awake as you slip deeper into relaxation.
On the Cross (5/5): In this little slice of heaven, Leeb has done away with back beats entirely and favors string-inspired synth lines with heavy layers of reverb applied throughout. Enjoy the moment, because this is as peaceful as it'll get. The track also makes an unaltered appearance on the Corrosion LP mentioned earlier.
Freedom (4/5): Probably the only pleasant wakeup call you'll ever hear, the beat gets picked back up for the next couple of tracks. The bass line in the background serves as a point of reference as torrents of voices sprawl along like an aural mosaic.
Distorted Vision (5/5): All I can say for this track is that Leeb really outdid himself on this one. Not so industrial-sounding like most of what we've heard so far - this is proto-trance!
Cleanser (3/5): The first disc's brief closing track does just that - it cleanses and renews the atmosphere with a light drone and muffled, low frequency noises for what's still to come on the second half.
Assassination (3/5): Now we're about to hit the really good stuff. The vocals are a little easier to understand this time, talking about "situations that will have to wait" amidst the inevitable found samples in the background, one of which sounds oddly similar to what would later be employed in "Shutdown" for the Gashed Senses & Crossfire album. Despite all this, the jaunty beat and synth notes give off a rather uptight feel and the track ends up seeming a couple of minutes too long.
Intensive Care Unit (5/5): As with most of the second disc, this song gives off a heavy nocturnal feel, yet towers above many others. It also happens to open up with one of the very few laughing samples ever used in the FLA catalog, and just when you think that's Leeb yelling in the background around the 1:00 mark, a higher voice pipes up in response, showing that it's just another one of those esoteric samples he has such a talent for finding.
Immobilized (5/5): In this particular song, Leeb delivers some of his most taunting vocals yet, letting us know there's "no place to hide", punctuated by a heavily reverberated vocal sample.
They're Going to Kill Us (5/5): It's another ambient track, but with more finesse and ear candy than the ones before it. Like "A Decade" way back near the beginning of the first disc, the atmosphere is rather ambivalent, with a lightly reverberated voice proclaiming "they're going to kill us" amongst a soothing arpeggio of synth notes. It's also not the first time Leeb has named a song after a sample being used (see "Give It to Me" and "People").
Stimulant Combat (5/5): At this point, we've officially had four 5 star songs in a row, which really says volumes about the second half of this collection, doesn't it? On this track, Leeb belts out more of his signature lyrics, talking about "censorship" and "the enemy of trust", not to mention the Robocop sample which fits in perfectly. It's nocturnal to the max.
Hatred by Society (3/5): Although this song gives off quite an energetic vibe, it was graciously kept short to break the monotony that builds up after only a few minutes.
Intruder (3/5): Here's another great atmospheric number, featuring an oft-repeated sample concerning the "institution of the United States", and a chilled out beat to go along with it.
Face Puller (4/5): At seven minutes, this is the longest track in the collection, but that won't matter so much once its subterranean atmosphere and weave of samples pull you under within seconds. Impeccable.
A.E.C. Krunch (3/5): A generally "clangy" feel dominates this track. Using high-end percussion amongst some rather abrasive samples, it sounds more in line with the material found on the Nerve War demo.
Cro-Magnon (2/5): I'm thinking this song barely made the cut. The percussion is nothing short of jarring and sounds like a metal something being jammed inside of another metal something with neither party agreeing too well with each other.
Guilty (3/5): The theme of murder surfaces again. Throughout the track a news reporter conducts an interview with Charles Manson, with the synth lines accentuating the high tension involved.
Attack Decay (5/5): Like "Distorted Vision" near the end of the first disc, this track is an almost entirely instrumental affair, using a minimum of samples. Whereas many of the songs up to this point had a heavy nocturnal feel, this one actually progresses beyond the nighttime and moves on to the early hours of the morning just before dawn.
The Bonening (3/5): Complete with oscillating voices and abrasive noises, this track is tense - so tense you'll almost feel relieved when it's over. It's a fitting finale without sounding too farewell-ish.