Californian Industrial Metal ensemble 3Teeth have gained momentum at a rapid pace. Their debut self-titled album released in 2014, and since then they’ve gained a massive following. They’ve not only recently toured with titans Ministry, but have already signed up to major record label Century Media, in time for their third album. This new outing takes the form of Metawar.
As is standard practice, the album has heavy political messages scattered throughout it’s 13 tracks. Frontman Alexis Mincolla has described it as focusing on the idea of world vs world, with themes of “accelerationism and the political heresy of inviting the end as an opportunity as a fresh start.” It’s pretty deep stuff, and they certainly get this point across. The pure aggression demonstrated makes their stance on these topics very clear, at times running with what feels like an almost overwhelmingly unstoppable force.
The pure aggression demonstrated makes their stance on these topics very clear, at times running with what feels like an almost overwhelmingly unstoppable force.
We begin with a short intro, “Hyperstition”, as an eerie electronic build up gives way to sampling of headlines straight from the media. These continue to overlap, until they’re barely coherent, resulting in a crescendo of chaos. This bleeds seamlessly into “Affluenza”, as guitars hit with the force of a truck. It has a glitchy landscape to it, and is frenetically paced. Mincolla’s vocals are vicious, adding to the brutality that this track offers. “Exxxit” kicks in with bombastic bassy synths, and it gives the rhythm a slightly sexy feel. The drumbeat is piercing, as the riffs are gloriously heavy, causing a distortion effect that ripples throughout the song. “American Landfill” is up next, which was the primary single for the record. Apocalyptic guitars thunder in, building to a progressive electro melody. To change things up, there’s a flurry of turbulent riffs, adding to the destructive feel. The mood in which this track creates is very reminiscent of songs from the early 2000’s. If I’d been told that this had been produced then, I would probably have believed it. An addictive sleazy riff signals the start of “President X”, alongside a catchy drumbeat. The track is mainly comprised of these elements, although some electro segments creep up in the background when they’re required, but are not the prominent driving force here. Meanwhile, “Altær” begins in a more ambient fashion than the rest of the tracks so far. It has an almost acoustic feel to it, even with the prominent synthetic elements surrounding it. Although it’s not long until a brutal chugging riff kicks in, breaking into a barrage of more heavy noise. This does help to break the song up into interesting sections, with clever transitions, and there’s some dramatic sounding moments. This is certainly a highlight for me.“Time Slave” starts with an intriguing deformation of effects and vocals before a wall of sound hits. The song constantly switches between the two styles, adding an interesting dynamic, as well as having a chorus with anthemic qualities to it.
“Bornless” pretty much follows suit, with creepy ambience giving way to chugging guitars, whilst “Surrender” utilises ambience that feels as it if it were ripped straight out of a horror film soundtrack, before the harsh sounds storm in. There’s an especially foreboding feeling that the electro hook generates in the latter. What follows is an updated rendition of an older track, as we’re introduced to “Sell Your Face 2.0”. The structure of the song largely remains close to the original, with the exception of a much shorter intro. There is a good contrast of more atmospheric darker moments, followed by heavier assaults of industrial guitars, but it does feel a lot cleaner than it’s previous iteration. “Blackout” begins with evacuation warning, as warped sirens blare in background. Sombre piano is added in for good measure, and it has a tragic, yet sinister feeling to it. Synths soon kick in, with an addictive continuous hook that is enthralling. There’s a very old-school feel to it, and it’s progressive in nature. The Guitars here are much more melodic, and Mincolla’s utilises much cleaner vocals. After the brutality that the rest of the record shows up until this point, this is a nice change of pace. Eventually it returns to heaviness as seen previously, but still remains captivating. “The Fall” is quite slow-paced, and is almost ballad-like in it’s qualities. This one is extremely heavy on atmosphere and angst. There’s a strong emotion than runs throughout the track, as everything melds together to work in harmony, building to an epic chorus section. To close things of, we have a cover of “Pumped Up Kicks”, originally made famous by Foster The People. The electronic elements and guitars alike have a retro feel to them, and they actually work pretty well for this song. These progress to the huge chorus section, and the amount of noise that’s being generated creates a massive wave of glorious distortion. It’s an unexpected way to end the album, but is actually a great cover, and it does the original justice.
The result is something that feels a tad generic at times, being more akin to Nu-Metal, rather than Industrial.
At the risk of being chastised, I have to admit that I’m a little bit disappointed with Metawar. Yes, it’s as vicious and brutal as ever, but therein lies the problem; it spends too much time trying to be as heavy as possible above anything else. The result is something that feels a tad generic at times, being more akin to Nu-Metal, rather than Industrial. There are moments where it feels like they’re channelling the likes of Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson more than themselves. It could be argued that this is just the evolution of their sound, but compare it to their previous record <shutdown.exe>, and it’s easy to see that this is missing the clever layering techniques and textures that made their second outing so memorable. In fact, after a quick comparison between the early iteration of “Sell Your Face” to the updated version featured on this album, and I found that I actually preferred it before the overhaul.
When breaking it down, it does seem like an album of two halves. The first being the barrage of heaviness, the second part feeling a tad more experimental. The tracks in the latter half are a lot more interesting in this sense, it feels as if there’s a lot more depth to them. Sadly, there are points where these ideas haven’t got time to be fully realised, in favour of bulky riffs, making it falter. Basically, this album is lacking some well needed breathing space.
Metawar isn’t a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but for a band that has been hailed as the ‘saviours’ of the Industrial scene by many, I would’ve expected more. It’s still solid in the sense that the tracks in themselves are good, but I wouldn’t say that the majority of them are great. I wouldn’t avoid them by any means, but I don’t feel enticed enough to go back to them either. It just fails to grab my attention as a full record, and this material isn’t quite on the same level as their second album. That said, there are still some interesting moments, and some tracks are absolute hidden gems, but the overall experience is pretty average.
Metawar isn’t a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but for a band that has been hailed as the ‘saviours’ of the Industrial scene by many, I would’ve expected more.
Final Verdict: Metawar doesn’t match the greatness of 3Teeth’s previous outing, favouring heaviness over some more creative elements. It’s a bit dull overall, but there are still some gems hidden within!