It’s funny how the human’s race vision for the future gets more and more bleak with advancement in technology. It seems counter-intuitive, but the more industrially advanced the race becomes, the more likely it is to have a dystopian future. Perhaps that is the reason industrial metal lends itself so well for a sci-fi tale of dystopia. Massachusetts based industrial metal duo Isolated Antagonist have been able to leverage their music to tell tales of what might be our future. The story continues in the band’s latest offering, ‘Affirmation of Entropy’. Musically, the band plays industrial metal in the vein of early Fear Factory, Die Krupps, Godflesh and the likes. To the standard industrial metal template, Isolated Antagonist add elements of death metal and atmospheric melody to create something they can call their own.
The band manages to capture the essence of old school industrial metal with heavy mechanical soundscapes and scathing riff – beat sync. The dense atmosphere maintained on the tracks create a claustrophobic effect which works well for the subject matter in question. However, the album is not just a collection extreme industrial / death metal and Isolated Antagonist give equal weight to melody. The synth heavy melodic intro ‘Into the Dark’ sets the perfect tone with its balance of heavy action and dreamy melodies.
The duality of clean and harsh vocals go hand in hand with the duality in the music itself. If one minute Isolated Antagonist is pounding on relentlessly with mechanical sounding drums and riffs that have a bit of death metal in them, the next minute the music shifts to spacey atmospheric riffs with subtle synth melodies and spaced out clean vocal work. The formula is effective and tracks like ‘The Archtype Defined’, ‘The Infernos Son’ and ‘Trapped’ are exemplary works of this style. And then there are tracks like ‘Words Beyond Time’ where the band manage to carry a sense a tension throughout the track, even through the relatively clean sections. The highlight of the record, at least in my opinion is the track ‘Protagonist Denied’ which starts out with a raw aggressive tones, before bagpipes are added into the mix making it a heartfelt moment as the vocalist croons ‘Nothing left / Death that’s inside me…’.
Needless to say, the production lends a heavy mechanical vibe to the album and the music feels like it was recorded amidst heavy machinery. The music is deeply layered and this is captured perfectly in the mix. The measured used of synth is effective in imparting a sense of melody, while not being too over the top.
Isolated Antagonist have planted their status as a talented industrial metal act that is steadily carving it’s own path. ‘Affirmation of Entropy’ is a record that exhibits the potential this duo has and it excites me to wonder what more they can come up with.