Band: Genghis Tron | Album: Dream Weapon | Genre: Progressive metal, Cybergrind | Year: 2021
From: Poughkeepsie, USA | Label: Relapse
For fans of: Cynic, Gorguts, Justice, the more electronic side of krautrock
Part of the reason these reviews have been less frequent as of late is that I’m simply having a harder-than-usual time finding new music which really speaks to me. Unless it’s a fairly big-name act, I don’t have much motivation to write 400-800 words on a record where the score will be in the 50s. Thankfully, Dream Weapon came along and snapped me out of that funk.
I’d never heard of Genghis Tron before this album, and I can see why that might have been. They were initially active in the mid-2000s before taking a 13-year hiatus. I’d also never heard of the cybergrind genre, but it’s a fitting name. It takes the aggression and energy of genres like mathcore and grindcore and pumps it through synthesizers galore. (Interesting sidenote: “mathcore” is considered a real word by MS Word, but “grindcore” is not.)
What this record almost reminds me of is Justice’s debut album. Where † is an electronic album with a significant hard rock/heavy metal substrate, Dream Weapon feels like it’s coming from the other direction. It’s definitely a metal album, but electronic music thoroughly imbues its DNA.
After a brief, spacey instrumental intro song, “Pyrocene” kicks things off strong. Pulsing synths and programmed drums set a steady tempo under dreamy, processed vocals. There’s an infectious groove to this cut, and the anxiety of the verses contrasts wonderfully with the swelling majesty of the chorus.
Following this relatively restrained opener, the title track roars forth with full metallic fury. The drums are pummeling, and the guitars and synths mesh so well it can be tough to tell which sound is which instrument. The song’s midsection lessens the intensity, opting instead to build texture and atmosphere atop a looping guitar line. The resolution to this in the song’s final minute is both ethereal and incredibly heavy. “Desert Stairs” offers a much-welcomed breather after the preceding madness. This two-minute synthesizer meditation is a bit longer than it needs to be, but it doesn’t hamper the album’s flow.
A plinking synthesizer opens “Alone in the Heart of the Light”. This is reminiscent of That 1 Guy’s more electronic material. Around two minutes in, the drumkit joins, adding to the song’s nervous energy. A synthesizer line which sounds like it could have been borrowed from a Jon Lord organ solo crops up, acting as a backdrop to an extended section of atmospheric build-up.
The 10-minute “Ritual Circle” is Dream Weapon’s longest song. Another subdued, electronic section kicks this track off, and Genghis Tron again takes their time building things up. At no point does it feel like padding, though. Even after repeated listens, it all works excellently. By the song’s midpoint, it’s reached a state of harsh, buzzing agitation which effortlessly transitions to a mellower, krautrocky movement.
The first half of the instrumental “Single Black Point” is one of the more overtly metallic moments on the album. It opens with oddly-metered palm-muted guitars which harken back the band’s more explicitly mathcore-y past. The drums get a chance to shine in this song’s first half, tossing in all kinds of fills and rolls under the repetitive instrumentation.
“Great Mother” closes out Dream Weapon on a bang. Huge walls of guitar loom on this track, and it adds some nice oomph after the preceding mostly-electronic cuts.
Dream Weapon is a refreshingly different record, and it’s introduced me to a new pico-genre to explore. The combination frenetic metal and lush electronics is an enthralling contrast, and I’m especially impressed by the pacing of this record. The songs flow well, and the order they’re in makes a lot of sense.