Friday, 15 July 2016

Head Of David "Seed State" (1991)

Some bands, some records get buried by time and English Industrial Metal outfit "Head Of David" are one of those bands who have drifted into obscurity. In this Internet age its just about possible to find copies of their records and small discussions about the group. They often cite their relation to other important Industrial Metal groups, like Justin Broadrick of Godflesh who also played in Napalm Death (early) and Techno Animal. He was in the band before leaving in 89 to be replaced by a drum machine. Fear Factory's cover of their cult classic "Dog Day Sunrise" is about the most exposure the band ever received and it may just be their influence and contribution to the sound of that era has been vastly overlooked. Either way "Seed State" is the bands farewell record and not what the band have been praised for. Its an Industrial Rock record with Metal aesthetics that wasn't particularly well received at the time and has vastly been forgotten about, its videos on youtube only scraping a few hundred views per song.

So why this record? Its a personal favorite of mine for a handful of songs that catch a vibe I really dig. I picked it out last week after years since I last enjoyed it and felt like talking about it. The record is musically mediocre and its production is sloppy, muddy and unpolished. It only favors the lead guitar, my favorite aspect of the record. Through this muddy wash of Industrial noise the leads sing out with a gorgeous tone and reverb that lays some deeply nostalgic and epic 90s feels over a chunky, mechanical rhythm section. These leads are often short riffs played over and over, quite often with stereo shifting effects. Slightly noisy and often shifting into chords they burst out of the music with a freedom and wild energy that's reflecting the mood of the times.

The lead single "How Primitive Are You" is a fantastic is example of all that's wrong and right with this record. In one moment its a mechanical droning of thin guitars and grooving base guitar and drum rhythms and the next it bursts into life with the chorus lead guitar illuminating the songs atmosphere with two dense notes held for a moment before looping into a swift melody. It feels aimless and without progression, just simply existing in the moment and I adore that. Singer Burroughs's lyrics are simplistic, poppy and without depth, they come of like an attempt of something "catchy" for the charts in the case of this song. Asking over and over how primitive we are before stating we should go primitive. It comes of as trying to be clever without any real depth to the idea. This kind of cliched chart music lyrical style is prominent but it has its moments where it works, "Vulture Culture" for example is a catchy rhyme that in itself could say a lot to the listener.

The songs mostly compromise of short sequences played over as the verses between choruses, standard stuff but its constant repetition and lack of variety creates is the heart of the Industrial sound that pounds away and gives more life to the "breaks" which may simply come in the form of an extra vocal line or sound effect in a particular moment. Its balanced minimalism, its effect is reliant on the chemistry between drums and base guitar which sound very much like the works of Frank Klepacki on the Command & Conquer soundtrack from 1995. Big, bold baselines strutting short grooves between the rigid, pumping automatized drum machines. Its a niche of taste but I thoroughly love the moments of this record where it hits the mark, shame its not consistent throughout, some tracks are quite the lull.

Favorite Tracks: How Primitive Are You, Human Feel, Vulture Culture, Zen Walker
Rating: 8/10