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The Young Gods - Second Nature

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Artist: The Young Gods

Album: Second Nature

Label: Ipecac

Review date: Apr. 9, 2003

New Industrial Life

I was quite surprised to receive Second Nature for review. I had assumed that the Young Gods had broken up, because I hadn't seen anything about them in a long time, though I had encountered leader Franz Treichler's name as producer here and there. I remember the early days when "industrial" mutated from Throbbing Gristle to anything on Wax Trax. At the time, the sampled-guitar experiments of Switzerland's Young Gods were easily one of the most interesting things happening in an already-moribund scene.

I wondered if the Young Gods would have changed their sound since their 1995 release "Only Heaven," and if not, whether they would seem dated. Happily, they have changed their sound only slightly, retaining their highly distinctive approach while moving forward with the times, technologies, and tools. Since this album was originally released in Europe in 1999, it's a testament to their vision that in the fast-moving world of digital music, the intervening few years didn't leave the songs sounding out of touch.

"Lucidogen" opens the album with the Young Gods' trademark high-speed drum assault, overlaid with samples of guitar mayhem before settling back into a pounding, drive-your-car-too-fast rhythm. Treichler's reverberatory vocals brought me back to the early days of their 1987 debut. "Supersonic" plows right in following with a massive beat, fuzzed synth-bass, and a trance-inducing feel.

"Laisser Couler (Le Son)" kicks in hard from an eerie, atmospheric synth rhythm with chanted vocals into a heavy booty-shaking breakbeat, while "Astronomic" is more straight-forward, all fast kick-snare drums, space-age synths in the background, and distorted electronic pulses under the vocals.

"In the Otherland" relies on pulsating synth rhythms, and with its digital sound effects reminded me, oddly enough, of some late-model Curve songs. Not a bad thing. "The Sound in Your Eyes" is one of the strongest tracks here. Alternating between arpeggiated synths over powerful drums and quieter breaks, it finally breaks into a massive interlude of rolling percussion that, well, kicks ass.

On the other side of the coin, "Attends" pulses slowly on a bed of buzzing, hissing, glitchy sounds as the vocals whisper like ghosts in another room, while "Toi du Monde" meanders slowly through waves of percolating synths and hypnotic drums, amidst the repeating mantra, "Can't take away our silence." And the closing "Love 2.7" shows the delicate side of the Young Gods, with beautiful synthesizer chords levitating above quiet crunchy percussion.

It's nice to have the Young Gods back, not seeming much older, but certainly wiser. During the past few years I honestly didn't think that the heavy industrial-guitar style had anything left to say. But it's not surprising that iconoclasts like the Young Gods, who always followed their own path, could offer something worth hearing. If bands like Ministry and Nine Inch Nails are listening, this album could help them realize the error of their ways.

By Mason Jones

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