1/ Blinded (The Blood of Heroes) 4.16 2/ Chains (The Blood of Heroes) 4.37 3/ Salute To the Jugger (The Blood of Heroes) 3.32 4/ Breakaway (The Blood of Heroes) 6.20 5/ Transcendent (The Blood of Heroes) 4.09 6/ Repositioned (The Blood of Heroes) 5.50 7/ Remain (The Blood of Heroes) 3.34 8/ Wound Against Wounds (The Blood of Heroes) 3.09 9/ Descend Destroy (The Blood of Heroes) 8.48 10/ Bound (The Blood of Heroes) 7.31 11/ Drift (The Blood of Heroes) 4.01 Recorded in Brooklyn NY, Washington DC, Wales UK, West Orange NJ, Budapest Hungary, Seattle WA and Jackson Heights NY Mixed by Joel Hamilton at Studio G, Brooklyn NY Engineer at Quadrasonic: Robert Musso Produced by Joel Hamilton and Submerged Executive Producer: Makgap Estonia Unlimited Mastered by Twerk at Audible Oddities, San Francisco CAJustin Broadrick: guitars; Submerged: electronics (1,3-5,9,10), bass guitar (4,8); Enduser: electronics (2,3,6-8,11); Bill Laswell: bass guitar (1-3,5-7,9-11), 8-string bass (6); Dr. Israel: vocals (1,3,6,9,11); Balazs Pandi: live drums (2,3); KJ Sawka: live drums (1,10); M. Gregor Filip: electronics (4,5,9,10,11), guitars (4,5,9,10).
2010 - OHM Resistance (USA), 14M OHM (CD)
Dave Wedge courtesy of the Limewire Blog website)
I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of glorious nostalgia when I heard of this project. Justin Broadrick on guitar, Bill Laswell on bass, and Dr. Israel on vocals immediately brought me back to circa 1996-1998, where nearly every non-noise album I picked up had Laswell involved in some way, and I was pretty heavy into the Wordsound catalog at the time. Also, once I realized there was a distinct drum ‘n bass presence here via Submerged and Enduser, I was hoping for something great, but fearing something too rooted in the past. Luckily, my opinion is the former.
Recorded in no less than seven different locations in the UK and US, there is a bit of disparity in the sound, because it is the product of long-distance collaboration. It’s never distracting though, but it does lack the cohesion of a few of Broadrick’s other “super groups”, Ice and God. Instead, it is more reminiscent of some of Techno Animal’s best moments, before they became too heavily reliant on running breakbeats through distortion pedals.
Perhaps this is personal bias, but I think Broadrick’s presence is the most individualist here. The guitar tone is unmistakable, and is more reminiscent of the earlier grind influenced Godflesh than the more shoegazy Jesu sound. Tracks like "Blinded" and "Breakaway" have that dirty, feedback-ridden tone that could be from Pure-era Godflesh, easily. However, "Transcendent" and "Repositioned" show the newer, more textural side of his playing that’s in line with the more pop leaning sound of Jesu stuff.
Dr. Israel’s presence is also a definitive one, his vocals alternating from hardcore dancehall toasting to spoken word, to more traditional hip-hop influenced vocalizing, sometimes within the same track. "Blinded" alternates between dancehall and almost metal influenced vocals, matching the track’s shift between ragga drum and bass and industrial textures. The aforementioned "Repositioned" sees the good doctor speaking the lyrics more than anything else, and the rhythms taking a more Middle Eastern turn.
The electronics and production courtesy of Submerged and Enduser are definitely worth mentioning as well. Other than Broadrick’s singular guitar sound, the dirty, grimier take on drum and bass definitely brings the 1990s genre into the 21st century. Tracks like "Breakaway" features hyper-speed rhythms that wouldn’t have been out of place on an old Digital Hardcore record, but with far more depth and variety in production, leading out to textural sound collages and raw synths. "Wounds Against Wounds" alternates between machine gun snare blasts and slower, more traditional electronica oriented rhythms.
I’m not sure if this is really just a one-off project or something that portends future albums, but I’m hoping it’s the latter. Perhaps it was just the participants that gave me warm memories of tracking down releases on Wordsound and Subharmonic back in high school and feeling giddy whenever word of a new Techno Animal 12" was announced, but it doesn’t just feel like rehashing old ideas. While I do hear parallels in the sound to the likes of early Techno Animal, Ice, and Scorn, never does it sound like anything but a product of the modern era.
Creaig Dunton (courtesy of Brainwashed website)
Bill Laswell is an onomastic nightmare. Throughout his career, band or project names with an initial straightforward focus turn arbitrary. One of the most egregious instances being the "ambient dub" of Divination, which over the course of the nineties morphed from a small, tight combo to a compilaton project and eventually a duet with New Age zither player Laraaji.
In a recent interview with Anil Prasad, Laswell states that his latest release is "really the first Method of Defiance record"; however, you can't rewrite history, and he released a real enough Method of Defiance album with Submerged back in 2006, a beautifully bruised drum'n'bass offering that is the closest biological relative to The Blood of Heroes, where he appears on all but two tracks. Though not even Submerged appears on every single track and, on "Wound Against Wounds", neither does.
The two have also released one album under their own names, "Brutal Calling" and collaborated on a number of singles, many of which have been released on Ohm Resistance, Submerged's own imprint and a hallmark of consistently high-quality, uncompromising drum'n'bass'n'beyond.
The band is manned by an impressive cast with a variety of backgrounds, including Justin K. Broadrick, who plays guitar on each track, chainsawing his way to your attention from the opening "Blinded", which also features Dr. Israel spitting harsh about "Dogtown", a dystopic urban nonplace that recurs most every time he raises his voice. On The Blood of Heroes, the usually rather mild-mannered Doctor is prophet and accuser, storyteller and thug, turning downright apocalyptic on "Descend Destroy", in one of his most captivating album appearances yet.
A "live" kit is only used on a handful of tracks, and when Hungarian drummer Balázs Pándi wields it in accompaniment to Enduser's otherwise ethereal electronics on "Chains", you feel freed rather than fettered. He takes an even more extravagant turn on the following "Salute to the Jugger", where Submerged and Enduser use him to topple the walls through which they storm the citadel, Laswell and Broadrick providing cover fire. "Breakaway" is a full-frontal assault whose hoarse bottom end is characteristic of what makes the work of Submerged so distinctive.
This is also the point at which M. Gregor Filip enters the proceedings, a film soundscaper with whom Submerged plays in an outfit named Gator Bait Ten. This is another characteristic feature of projects helmed by Submerged or Laswell – the introduction of lesser-known talents thrown in at the deep end with seasoned veterans. Enduser, San Francisco-based breakcore-artist Lynn Standafer, has garnered much-deserved wider attention since recording with the two.
The doubled-up guitars of Filip and Broadrick provide justification for calling the fifth track "Transcendent", after which the band are unexpectedly "Repositiioned" as Dr. Israel continues his sci-fi tale with a colourful but discreet Middle Eastern undercurrent, before the band absolutely soars above Enduser's enthusiastic clatter on the melodic, near-anthemic "Remain". Dr. Israel and the band wrap up with "Drift", which sounds like nothing less than the last exhausted gasp of an empire.
Stephen Fruitman (courtesy of Sonomu website)