A Badly Broken
It’s clear that Dessa has a lot to say from the very first track. Touching on subjects from an awkward childhood to failed relationships, the Minneapolis artist’s second album finds a healthy balance between singing and rapping. Though she is primarily known for her emceeing skills, she is no slouch in the vocals department—a talent that becomes obvious on the album’s sole true ballad, “The Chaconne.”
At its core, the album is steeped in melancholy and heavy lyricism. This is where Dessa shines and is clearly most comfortable. Tracks such as “Children’s Work” and “Mineshaft 2” explore sincere emotion while still packing a heavy punch. It’s when she ventures outside of these zones that she stumbles. The far-too-upbeat “Bullpen” is a bewildering break from the flow of the album. The seemingly obligatory shout-out track “Crew” also detracts from an otherwise focused project.
A Badly Broken Code takes the listener on a sombre yet very enjoyable trip into Dessa’s psyche. There are bumps in the journey, but there are also moments of brilliance.
Time to Burn
Taking Dawn is what rock has been waiting for these past 20 years—halle-fucking-lujah. They sound as glam metal should: big choruses that are “catchier than herpes” and strong thick guitar riffs that make you wet. It’s sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, minus the drugs. Enticing? You’d think so. The 39-minute debut LP will have you saying “it sounds a lot like …” from the first to last track. Devoted to the ‘80s school of glam metal, these dudes from Las Vegas could have been touring with Guns n’ Roses, Skid Row, Mötley Crüe and Bon Jovi if they were born two decades earlier. And even if you don’t particularly enjoy any of these bands, there’s a cover version of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” One listen and it’s stuck in your head. Success!
What a strange and twisted road industrial mindkillers Fear Factory have travelled. The last 10 years of this band’s existence have been a mess of intra-band struggles: members demonized then welcomed back into the fold, legal struggles between band members and turn-on-a-dime reconciliations.
The band’s current configuration is actually a hybrid of classic Fear Factory and of Canadian noise band Strapping Young Lad, with two members from each camp. And yet, through it all, they manage to conjure up some of that old Fear Factory steez. Songs like “Powershifter” and “Oxidizer” harken back to a better time without totally living in the past, improving upon the band’s original “industrial+death metal=good times” formula.
It’s ironic to think that the most Fear Factory-like album of the last decade was actually created with only half the original lineup.
—R. Brian Hastie