Author & Punisher - Melk en Honning
Housecore Records
Industrial
8 songs ()
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

Right on the heels of doing a review of what turned out to be a mostly industrial-death act, my very next encounter was Author & Punisher's latest industrial LP, Melk en Honning. We've written before about the one-man technical wizard behind this band, Tristan Shone, and his steampunk-style collection of lovingly made, Arduino-controlled instruments, and a new album is always welcome -- especially when the quality of the music, dark industrial cross-pollinated with metal influences, matches his engineering skills.

The production is excellent -- and it should be, given that Pantera's Phil Anselmo produced it. Shone's agonized vocals hiss out through his mouthpieces and throat valves, over the sound of echoing drums produced by his "rails", a semi-random drum trigger controller that is designed to follow his mood. Drumbeats tend to have a hiss behind them too, like pistons firing right behind the initial beat, and so does the buzzing drone of his bass tracks; the listener is left with the impression that steam must be sputtering out of every orifice of the guy's kit as the rhythm hammers at the listener. But the tracks don't consist of mere pounding; though the main melody of The Barge is its ceaseless background vocal moaning, Cauterize's glass-infused sandpaper rubbing is backed by a wavy, deep-toned synth that drones out a tone of angry despair. Electronic static recalling old pulse-dial phone systems, and electric buzzing fit to wake up Frankenstein's monster, lurk deep inside the static of the drum switches and hopeless singing, punctuated by shouts of rage. Everything is clear and tight; the hissing, buzzing, and electromechanical wavering is illustrated in veritable Technicolor to the listener.

Every once in a while there are surprises; Shame has a piano keyboard interlude with barely any machinery interrupting, and other tracks rely more heavily on the synth than others, yielding not only stronger melodies, but different and interesting sounds. This is an album that simultaneously showcases technical and musical ability and can create a tangible atmosphere, and the synth is thick and chewy enough to sink teeth into in places. Disperate is a prime example of this, the synthesizers playing dark riffs that no metal album would shy away from using and the drums pounding out a cold, robotic beat underneath. The deep buzz of Void, Null, Alive is also worthy of note, with waves of synth cycling from one ear to the other as the layered vocals slather a soft, sad chorus on top.

What is most surprising about Melk en Honning, though, is its human overtone. Industrial music usually tries to emphasize soullessness in their sound, with machines being the centerpiece and humanity being effectively dehumanized in scenes of modern violence and angst, but it's difficult to feel too angsty when listening to the tracks on this album. Of course Author & Punisher has plenty of similarly dark imagery in the music, and no one can say that cold industrialism is unrepresented, but ultimately the sound of Melk en Honning isn't the tormented thrashing of a cyborg, but a disciplined, fruitful partnership between craftsman and creation.

Killing Songs :
All are fantastic, but Disperate is a standout
Andy quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Author & Punisher that we have reviewed:
Author & Punisher - Ursus Americanus reviewed by Koeppe and quoted 90 / 100
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