Celldweller, the electro-rock band and media brainchild of multi-talented artist Klayton, has been a long-time favorite here on FEARnet, and our last visit to their dark futuristic world came in the form of a concert DVD/Blu-ray combo (details here), which documented Celldweller's promo tour for the album Wish Upon a Blackstar; that album also scored our list of Top 10 albums last year. It's been ten years since Klay rolled out his self-titled debut album, and to mark the occasion he'll be unveiling an Anniversary Edition spanning two discs' worth of classic and new material.
Even before Celldweller was a thing, Klayton had established himself as a talented producer and multi-faceted artist in the world of industrial rock and cyber-metal, and chances are you've heard his music at some point, especially accompanying pulse-pounding visuals: Literally all 18 original tracks on this chart-busting album (disc 1 of this edition) have found their way into movie trailers, TV episodes, ads, video games and other media, and many of them have also performed well as singles, starting with arguably the most iconic Celldweller track, “Switchback.” Other high-profile songs include the pensive "Frozen," the wildly dynamic "Stay With Me" and the intense industrial epic "The Last Firstborn." The album is also divided by brief atmospheric interludes – the “Cell” series – each opening with the effect of cell doors being slammed (either shut or open... you decide). Other strong singles to be found here include “I Believe You,” "Symbiont" and "Own Little World," and all of them reflect the well-established Celldweller earmarks of sharp-edged guitars bolted onto pulsing synth patterns, highly danceable four-to-the-floor and drum 'n' bass rhythms, moody bridges and breaks, and dynamic tempo change-ups – with Klayton's strong melodic vocal blend of rock & pop styles standing firmly front-and-center.
The second disc is a virtual treasure trove for Celldweller fans and any serious EDM buff; it's loaded to overflowing with new material, previously-unheard mixes and demos, and remixes by Klayton and his many collaborators and fans, all of which have been remastered, many for the first time. The collection is kicked off by the new track “Ghosts,” a moody and cinematic collaboration between Klayton and composer Tom Salta, whose work is well known among gamers for the scores to Cold Fear, Halo CEA and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. (You can hear “Ghosts” at the end of this review, via an exclusive lyric video.) Also new to this record is the frantic drum 'n' bass rocker "Uncrowned," and a popular entry from 2006, Klay's cover of the Bee Gees' "Tragedy" (yes, it totally works). Demos from 2005 and 2006 are newly presented, including the never-released cuts "06-06-06" and "IRIA," the electro ballad "Blood from the Stone" and the cool cybergothic number "Waiting For So Long."
Also included is the symphonic “Dead By Dawn” remix of “Switchback” by No I'm Not, the winner of an online contest (in which yours truly also participated, but didn't make the final round); another contest winner included here is a wild remix of “Frozen” by Copy Paste Repeat. Klayton's unique reworking of "Switchback" resurfaces, along with his own remixes of "The Last Firstborn" and two versions of "Shapeshifter" featuring Styles of Beyond. Frequent Klayton collaborator and Celldweller touring partner Blue Stahli (alias Bret Autry) is onboard too, providing a glitchy, urgent version of "Own Little World.”
It's a foregone conclusion this release is the ideal go-to source for old and new Celldweller, and represents all facets of Klayton's musical career – we're talking hooky, urgent electro-rock singles, massive cinematic instrumentals, club-worthy remixes and frantic EDM mash-ups, all collected in one place. If you've never heard Celldweller in any form (although I'm betting you probably have, even if you didn't know it at the time), this is the perfect launch point; and if you're already a fan like me... well, you know what to do. This one drops next Tuesday, and you can preorder it now through Klayton's own label, FiXT Music.
Here's something else you all have to get moving on: it's time to spin this lyric video for the track “Ghosts,” featuring Klayton and Tom Salta, which today you can only hear right here!