Despite stirring up controversy amongst their fans, Combichrist‘s sixth full-length is an industrial assault that shouldn’t majorly upset their ‘army’. What may prove too much to take is the apparent ‘selling out’. ‘No Redemption’ is the soundtrack for the newest title in the Devil May Cry video game series and is also receiving a hefty dose of promotion from the ever-polarising Hot Topic chain. It’s the latter that’s proving to be the bitterest pill to swallow for some fans. Anyone remember back when it was all about the music?
It’s near impossible to try and focus on just the music, though. The nagging feeling that some of these songs might be shaped in order to fit in with a video game is ever present, and whether that’s to blame for a pretty uninspiring set of songs is something that you’d have to ask the band. The riffs are hardly standout; the repetitive break and musically weak chorus of ‘Buried Alive’ proves the point, while ringleader Andy LaPlegua‘s cutting vocals seem lost in the mix.
When the album does grab your attention, it backs it up with nice displays of pulsating rock. ‘Falling Apart’ is a well-needed burst of hardcore, while ‘Gimme Deathrace’ is a Rammstein-esque slammer that stands head and shoulders above the rest of the tracks. Title-track ‘No Redemption’ is another that shows Combichrist at their most ferocious, going from temperamental metal riffs to slick techno beats at the drop of a hat. It’s engaging and demanding, but too much of a rarity to make the album something to clear 40 plus minutes of your day for.
And that’s the main problem with ‘No Redemption’. The handful of tracks that are worth a spin are soon followed up by white noise, hitting home the fact that these songs aren’t supposed to be the main event. Tracks like ‘How Old Is Your Soul’, with a vocal performance that’s strained to say the least, churn out the music that feels like it’s supposed to spur you on through the game or guide you through a menu bar. Hardly the quality expected of a stand alone full-length. As has been said, it’s hard to separate the two arts, but even when you do, there are still not enough stand out tracks here to make this an album able to stand up on its own feet.
It’s an interesting play from Combichrist, but ultimately their aggrotech falls flat as a result of too many songs that throw out conventions and very little in the way of excitement. The tracks that do hit the mark do so with power and accuracy, but they’re tamed when placed next to the filler (the aptly-titled ‘Empty’ being the most obvious instance). It might seem pretty intense when you’re focused on some objectives or in-game battles, though.
Written by Ryan Williams