Brad Podray is one busy dude. The long-time ANTI-writer does it all; he plays in two bands, both based in different areas of the East Coast, he is in college studying to become a dentist, and he writes for the very site you're on right now. Amazing! Brad's eclectic tastes have him penned for three upcoming reviews; Mr. Podray will be telling us if the new Garbage and Nine Inch Nails albums are any good, and it looks like he is going to be listening to an experimental reggae act called Matisyahu.
Such wide musical tastes should eventually manifest in any bands Brad plays in, and when I had a chance to review one of them (Psycheaesthetic) last summer, the band's strange mix of industrial and rock proved to be a winning combination. Our editor Keavin gave me a huge heads-up on doing this review; yet, despite this, I didn't get another Psyche album but rather Brad's other project, Blood & Batteries, which hails from Florida.
I'll start off by being frank. I enjoyed this band's debut, Salient, more than I did the last Psycheaesthetic album. Why? The answer is simple. The B&B crew have concocted a potent mix of industrial, maybe a little house, and straight up techno grafted on the flesh of hardcore and hard rock to make an album that should evenly please rockers and ravers alike.
Take the opener "Stray." The song is a mechanical downer, and I mean that in the best way. Frontman Rik Ahern's versatile screaming sounds far-away and claustrophobic, and when slapped onto a sandwich with chilly industrial backbones, the sound is downright choking.
The factory-line synth product "Grazed by Celibacy" manages to bring a sort of apathetic acceptance of fate to the Industrial Age. Title track "Salient" is a throat ripper which finds Ahern screaming himself hoarse and crooning alternately, over chugging riffs from guitarist Dan Dolan and crystalline synth beats from Brad Podray himself. "Malady" is a rave gone straight to hell, and "Sarcasm" finds DJ Syko spinning his turntables off the table with the amount of scratching he pours into them. "Treaty" is a nice quasi-house interlude, and it leads into the equally technic intro of the autotronic rocker "Digitized." "Sanatist" is a highlight indeed; it sounds like boots walking the deserted halls of a space craft while the walker sings mournfully about whatever misfortune befell the crew. It's laid back depression thrown into a meat-cleaver on slooooow.
"Transact" sports some funky beats and dancy riffs and the song "As Nails" is an upbeat synthesis jam. "Latent" is more machine madness, and "Table Saw" is a messy interlude that sounds like a raves versus riffs duel. "So Down" is another slower-paced tune, and a nice way to catch your breath as the album winds down.
The B&B band have created a cyborg equal parts electronic, and bled in the color of straight-ahead rock. The result is a mix that is both lifeless and kicking and screaming, and fans of both genres should be pleased by the artificial beats, samples, and loops of the electronic world melded with aplomb over the living-breathing flesh of a hard rocking human. Brad hasn't finished that new Nine Inch Nails review yet, but I think it'd be safe to say if that sucks Blood & Batteries would make a worthy industri-rock alternative. A definite winner, and it's only the first time. (editor's note, we're still waiting for that NIN cd to come in)