Since its inception in 1992, to its peak in the mid-to-late 90s, industrial music – and industrial metal, at that – was about as mainstream as it gets. Acts like Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Ministry, Rammstein, Rob Zombie and Godflesh played to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, peddling a mixture of thrash and doom riffs, Depeche Mode-inspired electronics and a hardcore experimental sensibility derived from acts as bizarre and eccentric as Throbbing Gristle and Coil and Cabaret Voltaire, and they did it with a sense of theatricality that heavy metal lost in the wake of grunge’s iconoclastic nihilism. Put simply, industrial made metal exciting again, and restored a sense of danger not heard in rock music since Axl, Slash and co. first pulled on leather trousers in the mid-’80s.
Uniform (Michael Berdan, Ben Greenberg and Mike Sharp) are students of industrial metal, and play music that wouldn’t seem out of place at Woodstock ’94 (where Nine Inch Nails played to over 200,000 people), or on The Crow soundtrack, which was a who’s-who of the mid-’90s rock and metal scene. Their particular blend of sturm und drang is on the heavier end of the spectrum, taking more influence from the uncompromising hellscapes of Slayer and The Jesus Lizard than, say, Depeche Mode. Shame is their sixth studio album (they’ve previously done three of their own and two in collaboration with likeminded noiseniks The Body) and they’ve well and truly found their niche.
Opener Delco is a fiery, raucous blast of noise rock, with a planet-levelling riff and thunderous drums overlaid with Berdan’s throat-shredding yowl. The Shadow Of God’s Hand opens with a tar-thick doom metal intensity before kicking into fifth gear at the 100 second mark, exploding into a thrash inferno of a chorus, then dropping straight back into the gloopy blackness from whence it came.
Life In Remission shares its lo-fi bleakness with black metal: made up of slashing riffs and sibilant percussive crashes, the track seems hellbent on its own destruction, which it finally achieves after a couple of minutes when it just seems to implode into a torturous crescendo of filthy noise. A more considered, standard industrial approach arises on the title track, to no less devastating effect.
All We’ve Ever Wanted employs piercing feedback to truly horrifying effect, especially as it’s liberally slathered on top of some vicious, serrated riffing. As you’d expect, Dispatches From The Gutter sounds positively gruesome, drawing on prime, ’92-era Ministry for maximum mayhem. The final two tracks, This Won’t End Well and I Am The Cancer, offer hideous noise, pummelling percussion and hair-raising vocal mayhem. Consistency is obviously one of Uniform’s strongest traits.
Make no mistake, this album is not for the faint of heart, and it may even trouble some seasoned metal veterans. This is not your average industrial metal album folks – this is a slab of repugnant, malignant noise made with evil intent. For all the hype and bluster surrounding the most popular metal acts, Uniform deserve recognition as one of finest purveyors of heavy metal (of any kind) anywhere in the world. They’re now six albums into their career, and they’ve never been stronger.