CD Review

Uranium 235 - "Cultural Minority"

By Marcus Pan

Cultural MinorityUranium 235 is some expensive stuff. I looked it up today - isotope 235U is $57 per gram - and that's the best price I could find. So if you want to be irradiated by uranium 235, swing by Oak Ridge National Labs and pick up a gram. Helluva high so I hear.

Or, instead, you can pick up the debut release by a band with the same name. Uranium 235's Cultural Minority is strong, bone-crushing industrial mixed with techno style and synth-pop keyboards. The effect is just as irradiating and it's a helluva lot cheaper. Less of a health risk, too - nobody's proven that the work of Shane (vocals, guitar), Jimmy (bass), Matt (guitar), Rob (drums) and Chris (keyboard) is carcinogenic. So hell with the laboratory - stomping around to damn good music is a lot more fun than watching your cells mutate.

Cultural Minority is a pretty heavy record. It goes from the techno-slam sound of Radio Shut Down with it's deep bass and growling guitar - and super-heavy thrash slam break in at the forefront. Then there's the more 80's synth-pop style of Stimulation with its clapping rhythm and keyboard licks that remind me of Flock of Seagulls or Men Without Hats. There's also the acid-laced, screaming barrage that is God Thing. Uranium 235 take techno, synth-pop and industrial guitars and put it all together to create some of the most well-done, stompingly fun music I've come across in a while. Remember when I said that every month or so I get a CD that's just so good it makes writing 50 reviews of bad shit worth it? Uranium 235's Cultural Minority is this month's winner.

Uranium 235 have spent more than half of their time together touring throughout the US, Canada and even Europe. They've been seen with the likes of The Misfits, Fear Factory, MotorHead, Spahn Ranch - and quite a few other big name rivetheads and rockers. Signed to Mystic Records in the US, Cultural Minority has also been picked up and redistroed by Crown/Nippon in Japan and Polygram in the UK. Quite an upstart by this five-member techno-industrial barrage, wouldn't you say? It's rare when a debut CD is picked up so quickly for redistribution offshore.

Uranium 235Highlight tracks for the album include the sixth, Walk On Through. Here U-235 combine elements of techno-rhythms and industrial-strength chunky guitars. The vocals hover between growl and spoken - at least until the chorus. Surprisingly enough Shane, while able to scream his nuts off when necessary to get a point across, can also hold a tune somewhat. The track is laden with spacey samples and the guitars are well-controlled and complimentary to this. Very well done overall. Another highlight is U-235's synth-pop hit, Stimulation. A fast paced song with complicated rhythms and guitars that scratch-riff in the background - the keyboards and rhythm are the focal point here. Very danceable - and, I imagine, very fun to do so. I haven't had the pleasure of having this one blasted through club speakers in my presence yet.

For those who like the Ministry-like chunky guitar thing, make sure you check out track four - God Thing. This song is heavy and blasting, the guitars a focal point of the sound. Vocals are metal-tinged and scratchy. Some of the best industrial metal I've heard since Rammstein came across on the soundtrack boat. The last track I want to bring about, though there's something good to be said about all of them, is track eleven. Here lies my favorite song on the whole album - and surprise! It's a cover. I lavished the cover of this one that appeared on Nod's Tacklebox Of Fun in another review recently, but U-235's version of You Spin Me Round is fucking brilliant. It's got the perfect amount of ethereal keyboards, the perfect touch of thrash guitar and an amazing vocal track. It's just awesome - especially when they slip into Tainted Love as a breakdown point. Goddamn cover is better than the original - well, almost.

Uranium 235 will irradiate through you until you are swallowed by their heavy guitars, techno rhythms and industrial overhead. Sure I have my preferences, but I will stomp to any song on this album if I'm lucky enough to encounter it on the floor. These guys kick ass. Flawless production, too. A debut release picked up by three major record labels since its release in 1998? Spin this one right round, do it loud and put on your big boots - you'll know why. Better than the isotope…

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