CD Review

Delien - "ALH84001"

By Robert McGarry

ALH84001Delien, an electro/industrial band from the Detroit area, have made a novel effort with their release, ALH84001, on the Carpe Mortem label. This disc contains some solid programming, good musical hooks, and the random smattering of samples, synthetic noise, and electronic bleeps and blips that you expect to hear from any reputable electro act. But Delien fail, on this release, to establish an identity for themselves. They shudder in the stylistic shadow of Haujobb.

ALH84001 starts out with a strong track called Don't Look Back. Twisting rhythms, filter sweeps and white noise are the backdrop for a haunting synth line. The vocals on this track are taken from the standard Ogre formula - very distorted and rhythmic, as opposed to melodic. Though it almost sounds like a conscious imitation of the Skinny Puppy voice we all know and love, it works for them. I almost wish they kept it up for the whole of the CD. If there is one thing this album lacks, it is a continuity of vocal stylings. Don't get me wrong, I like variety. But it sounds like Jason Anderson just hasn't figured out which voice goes best with the music. He goes from the aforementioned Ogre sound to deep, grumbling, bellowing vocals that sound like German metal, to rap-like attacks, and even clean, melodic singing which honestly doesn't mesh well with the rest of the music. And in one case (Take) just sounds flat out cheesy. My favorite track on the CD, Yephoe IIpocmpahcmbo (yeah, beats the shit out of me, too), is sung by another guy not in the band, but it's so well done that maybe they should recruit him on a permanent basis. And kids, if you're lyrics aren't the greatest, at least mix them in low.

It's a shame that I am so hung up on the vocals on this CD, because the music is really quite good. There is a definite purity to it. It doesn't suffer the ambiguity of the vocals. It is, overall, a very clean, very dark energetic electro. But you'll find no obnoxious break beats or tired techno tricks here. Pete Greko gets the praise here, being the half of the band to manage the sequencing and drum programming, which is what makes Delien enjoyable to listen to. As I mentioned before, if you know what mid-era Haujobb sounds like, you have a good idea of what Delien is all about. That, musically, is their only weak point…they fail to innovate. But hey, for an American band to sound similar to Haujobb isn't a small feat. And I'd much rather listen to another Haujobb clone than another FLA clone.

So if you are an electro-junkie and you happen across this CD, you might as well pick it up. If you are a purist and want originality and innovation, you might want to wait until their next album, for there is certainly potential in these guys. But if you are into cross-over industrial or metal industrial, you'll probably want to stay away from Delien, and just pick up that new NIN disc.

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