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:Music Review: Filament 38 – Isolate Decay Disintegrate

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Filament 38 – Isolate Decay Disintegrate
Release Date: September 8, 2013
Label: Area 38 Records
Websites: Official Facebook

Review by Maresa Whitehead

Have you ever thought so much new music gets released that you don’t have time to listen to it all? Have you ever wondered what artists exist outside your scope that you haven’t yet come across and whether you are missing out on something you’d love? I have, and that’s why I make it a point to dig into the past to listen to albums I may have missed when they were originally released. Such is the case with Filament 38’s 2013 release, Isolate Decay Disintegrate.

Though the band is near me geographically (based in Cleveland, Ohio), I had never heard of them prior to this album—and yet it’s the moniker’s fifth studio release. The band has played alongside such greats as Front 242, Front Line Assembly, Hocico, and Haujobb. But the most stunning reason I’m shocked this album landed beneath my and many other people’s radar is that it’s the band’s first release featuring guitarist Jason Knotek, formerly of Team Cybergeist and, more recognizably, Pig. Yes, that Pig.

And so it comes as no surprise that Isolate Decay Disintegrate is a throwback to the aggressive, guitar-driven industrial rock and metal of the 1990s. If you miss the days when KMFDM and Ministry were kings, Filament 38’s latest release (as there’s been nothing since) is for you. Between Knotek’s crunchy, head-banging guitar riffs, Rob Armstrong’s distorted low-tone vocals, and an underlayer of danceable EBM-influenced synthlines, Isolate Decay Disintegrate is an homage heavily informed by its grandfathers who paved the way.

From the first strains to the last, the 11-track album is a punch-gut force for aggro and industrial rock fans. It features an intro, nine original songs, and a closing club edit of the third track. The guitarwork is sometimes fast and always unrelenting (check the Ministry-inspired intro to the fourth track, “Artificial”). Listening while riding public transportation doesn’t seem to honor what a moshpit riot I’m sure Filament 38’s live shows are. The band offers some room to breathe, though, with less-aggressive tracks including “Sometimes,” followed by the ballad-inspired chorus in “Isolation.” Admittedly, however, the slowest on the album, “Debris,” is perhaps the weakest due to its monotony, but the break with these tracks is much appreciated and cleanses the palate, so to speak.

The last track, which is a remix, also lets the listener down from the album’s aural assault in a gentle yet still upbeat manner. For fans of less-harsh or more synth-heavy industrial, this album may be a pass, but the remix of “Cyanide & A Kiss” would appeal to a much wider audience with its club-ready beats and more prominent synths. As you might expect from a “club edit,” it’s the catchiest on the album and shouldn’t be missed, even if the rest of the album is. If you’re sensitive to albums where all tracks sound similar, Filament 38 might also be a pass for you—but consider that it means they have developed a definite, solid sound and they own it. Still, I found most of the synths to be far too buried for my personal liking. In some songs, you might not notice they are there until they appear in a hooky chorus, though this genius maneuver makes them much more attention-grabbing and impactful at climactic moments in the tracks.

And that’s my biggest take-away from Isolate Decay Disintegrate: Filament 38 is at its peak when it is a little poppier, a bit more melodic, and the guitar is more balanced with the synths. These are the most beautiful moments on the album, such as near the end of “1_Stitch_Crucifix” when Armstrong prepares with the line, “This is the breakdown!” And a breakdown it is! The guitar melody solo is quickly followed by a catchy, danceable synthline as the track ends. Or take the chorus in “Cyanide & A Kiss” which is one of the more singable on the album and makes me wish I were dancing with my friends at a Filament 38 live show. Both of these instances bring the synthwork more to the forefront, yet it doesn’t overwhelm the guitar. As with every solid album, there is some give-and-take between the band and its audience—a musician shouldn’t give away the best work in the first minute—and Filament 38 plays the role well and kept me searching for the sonic moments I’d later find running through my mind. This is also where Filament 38 separates itself from its throwback influences by bringing modern industrial synthwork into the mix. This makes the band both nostalgic and relevant to today’s scene in one punch.

So if you want to relive the heyday of your favorite ’90s industrial rock gods in a new package, you absolutely need to check out Isolate Decay Disintegrate. If you’re searching for music that’s less synthetic than many of today’s industrial bands because you miss that classic grungy guitar, this album is also the perfect choice. You can purchase the album on iTunes or Amazon. Be sure to check out Filament 38 on Facebook to stay up-to-date.

Filament 38

Track Listing:

  1. Isolate…Decay…Disintegrate…
  2. 1_Stitch_Crucifix
  3. Cyanide & A Kiss
  4. Artificial
  5. Clockwork
  6. Sometimes
  7. Isolation
  8. Faceless
  9. Spite
  10. Debris
  11. Cyanide & A Kiss (Club Edit)

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