David Andrecht and Ted Phelps started out with a vision to create electronic music and the result of this vision is Imperative Reaction as we know them today. The year was 1996, picking up the pieces from a previous project, they began some demo material and would revisit it and reform their sound before their first unofficial release would set the L.A. dance scene on fire. Their first official release appeared on the Exoskeleton Vol. 1 compilation with Possessive Blindfold Records. After a short supportive tour the band started creating new music for their official debut release with Pendragon Records titled Eulogy For The Sick Child. The success of this release was enough to attract the prominent Zoth Ommog label for their European releases. In 2000 a new chapter in their history would begin with the addition of Jason DM and Sam P of Pulse Legion to the band lineup and work starting up the next year for their sophomore album Ruined. Just a few short years later we were treated with Redemption which continued down the path of their redefined sound. Many fans were then pleased to have the re-release of Eulogy for a Sick Child on Metropolis Records quickly followed by their album As We Fall and a couple of years later with Minus All. All of this rounded out a very exciting and productive time for the band which has included countless live appearances with Covenant, Rotersand and VNV Nation.
Over the years that mark the history for this band their sound has matured and altered slightly with the Industrial components being toned down slightly and the prominent Synthpop and EBM sounds coming out stronger. Ruined was the first for this melodic combination of Synthpop and EBM with clear, undistorted vocals and music ebbing from hard-edged beats to smooth, yet powerful rhythms. Their later albums pick up more of an edge as the raw emotion comes through in the powerful and forceful vocals and music. Fans of this emotion-filled music with harsh and fast-paced beats will really be able to relate and enjoy this group's music. I think a good comparison would be a cross between the emotion and power of earlier Nine Inch Nails and the great synth elements of Assemblage 23. Be sure to check it out if you think it's for you.
Imperative Reaction - Review
It's great to hear this group continue to grow and improve and release great music. They've had a busy career so far and this album is the latest addition to their impressive and growing discography. This collection of eleven powerful, dance-friendly electro-industrial pieces comes together well on their self-titled sixth album.
From start to finish this album is super-charged with pounding beats, heavy, pulsating synths and layered electronics all powering the emotionally-charged vocals and lyrics. From one track to the next we're blown away with this heavy mix of music as wave after wave pummels the message into the listener and gets the adrenaline pumping. Kicking it all off is "Side Effect" with this heavy mix right from the start, mixed in with techno / trance noise elements, stuff that's become popular with the kids in the form of dub-step. As the album moves along it's one powerful piece after another, each one a new page in this chapter of the band's history.
A few pieces have stood out as favorites which we've been giving airplay on the radio shows, including a definite favorite with the previously released single "Surface". This piece includes all the elements we love from this band, layers of pulsating electronics, heavy basslines and a pounding, moving dance-friendly beat alongside anthem-like vocals. Potentially one of their best tracks released to date, this is a stellar piece and one I really enjoy listening to each time. While the entire album is excellent and all the tracks could be "hits" in their own light, some have a catchy element here and there that just kind of stood out as previously mentioned with "Surface" or the opening track "Side Effect". But as I listen to the album each time, the groove on "Siphon" is really catchy, along with the really heavy pulsating synth bassline. "Song of the Martyr", "Torture" and "What Is Left To Say" all have an excellent heavy, solid sound that keeps the body moving and helps the vocals and lyrics take on a deeper, broader feeling. A couple of tracks past the halfway mark on the album grow a little stale, but get rejuvenated a bit with "Permanent" and finally wrapping up the album with "Closure".
With that we wrap up this excellent work, eleven pounding tracks without a break or much of a change, maybe a bit too homogenous? You be the judge, as for me I think it's a well rounded work and possibly their best so far, definitely worth picking up and one that fans will love to have in their collection.
Minus All - Review
Bringing on more driving and aggressive electro-industrial tracks we have the latest album from this powerful group. Building on the driving legacy they've built over the past decade, each piece is hard-hitting and aggressive, dark electronic music. And the music just seems like it keeps going and going with thirteen pieces that feature one driving piece after another.
The heavy, grinding and pulsating synths come right out from the very first seconds of the album with the title track introducing us to the onslaught of anthemic music to be presented. The social distress comes out heavy on "Product" and several pieces throughout the album as the angry frustration comes out in wave after wave of the shouting vocals and thought-provoking lyrics. However, it's not all politics, and the album is really aimed at the dance floor or wherever rivetheads enjoy listening to the heavy hitting electronic music. The pounding rhythm from one track to the next keeps the listener moving along with the powerful, layered synths that form a solid palpable feeling in the music.
For anyone that has their complete collection like I do, at first you may think "a little bit more of the same", but while the overall style remains intact, there are some real gems on this disc and I've really grown to enjoy it over the dozen times or so that I've listened to it in different environments. Selections are obviously meant for the dance floor, but I found it great in just about every situation and though it's plenty long, it doesn't really wear on me. There are several favorites that do stand out including the title track, a definite favorite is the emotionally driven "Drown" with a huge mix of layered synths over that danceable beat and the vocals are more melodic and not so aggressive and a little more enjoyable. "Functional" brings on the solid driving electronics and rhythm for another solid piece as well as the finale to the album "Panic Cycle". I was a little disappointed in a couple of pieces that seem to be taking after the Nine Inch Nails approach to music through the downward spiral of emotions and depression through aggressive yelling vocals and so on. But these are luckily rare and more the exception than the norm and so the album remains a great piece.
As We Fall - Review
With Ruined and the newly defined sound from this group, I really enjoyed it with this new move. When Redemption came along it was a little harsher, but still along the same lines and very enjoyable. Now we have this album which again builds on the same style and concepts which is great for fans who love the style, but at the same time some of the songs start to sound the same, mainly because there are only so many keys or melodies you can yell in. However, with that aside, if you pick up this album and listen to it, regardless of past or future releases from the band, it is exciting, powerful, emotional and dance-friendly in itself and is a very nice work. All in all, I still think this is better than most bands that use harsh, distorted vocals with no melody or change 100% of the time.
As we move through the ten tracks on this album we're mainly bombarded with heavy, pounding beats coupled with layers of powerful electronics and vocals that border on melodic shouts. This all kicks off with "Collapsed" moving between the melodic electro-pop to edgy EBM, with the vocals accented by additional percussion and the underlying pulsating electronics. Each piece has a slightly unique take on how to mix these same elements together, on some maybe there's a little different melodic synthline added, on others it's a modified or additional percussion instrument. Then you get to pieces where maybe the vocals have a bit more of a melody and "singing" to them rather than so much shouting, though they still maintain the power and emotion within them.
As I listen to the album in it's entirety, it comes together well and it's nice to be able to sit and listen to it all without any urge to skip any tracks or turn it off which is really saying something with many recent releases from other groups. Though the album is quite homogenous, a few pieces do stand out as favorites including "Judas" because of the incredible buildup during the chorus on top of the already powerful mix of synths. Others that are moving in one way or another include "Further to Fall" which maybe borrows a little from recent VNV Nation hit tracks, or the title track to the album "As We Fall" which is just a great overall solid piece featuring all of the elements already mentioned just mixed and put together well.
After being raked across an emotional bed of nails, we're finally brought to the final to the album and in many ways one of the better pieces on the disc. This piece, titled "Dissolve", sort of summarizes the album, once again mixing things up just a little differently, the bassline is nice and simple, yet the layers of electronics moving over the danceable beat is excellent and topped off with powerful, emotional vocals. With that we wrap up the album and this review. I think fans of powerful electronic music will love this album.
Redemption - Review
After the excellent sophomore release Ruined, we're presented with the latest full-length album Redemption. This album picks up where the previous left off, but builds more on the aggressive nature of the music and vocals. Solid electronics are the backbone to the music with the steady undistorted vocals carrying each song to it's full potential.
I'm not even sure where to begin with a review of this album. To start with I think just a description of the overall feelings this album brings out: anger, frustration and disappointment. Every track brings out these emotions as the lyrics dig deep down and you're reminded of a situation or event that may have happened that brought out these feelings. Each pulsating synthline and pounding beat resonates and brings it all out even more as the vocals are belted out with force and power. "Arrogance" kicks off the album this way, with Ted's angry vocals quickly coming to life. But the smooth synth lines of "Something I Left Behind" shows the smoother, more synthpop-oriented side of this group. The vocals are toned down to match the music and it all comes together well. I think this is probably an example of how well this group can pull these elements together into a moving and emotional track. The title track "Redemption" has quickly grown to be one of my favorites the more I listen to it. You can really tell that this group has put a lot of thought and work into each of these songs to make the music really bring out the true feeling they authors want to express.
Overall these emotional themes are the basis for each piece on this album. However, they have shown before they can be slightly diverse, getting away from the angry yelling and delve into the smooth synthpop style that is a little more friendly and accessible. Lisbeth Phelps contributes her smooth vocals on "Malady" providing a short break from the harsh and driving nature of many of the other tracks. These variations are nice, because sometimes I feel like I'm being overwhelmed by the onslaught of raw emotion and yelling on some of the tracks, the distraction provides a little break and time to recover. I could also do without the cursing in the first track, most people probably won't even notice, but to me it stands out as a blemish in an otherwise stellar work.
Again this group has shown they can come together, provide some danceable beats, emotional lyrics and a variety of content to captivate an audience.
Label: Metropolis Records