While the 2002 vampire flick Queen of the Damned caught major hell from critics (and even more from Anne Rice fans), it did get plenty of praise for its impressive soundtrack – which featured top-drawer names like Marilyn Manson, Disturbed, and Papa Roach, but also some up-and-coming artists who made an even stronger impression. One of the most memorable was gothic-industrial act Kidneythieves, whose powerful track “Before I'm Dead” played under the film's epic time-lapse closing shot. It helped put the band on the map and boosted their cult following... but not long after the film's release, the group ended up taking a fairly long hiatus. Thankfully they're back in the game, with their self-released album Trypt0fanatic. We took a listen recently, and we'll give you the breakdown on the flipside. Check it out!
Now working as the duo of vocalist Free Dominguez and instrumentalist Bruce Somers, Kidneythieves managed to pick up pretty much where they left off after their second album Zer0space, capturing the same dark & sultry atmosphere, aggressive attitude and hard electro-rock vibe that got everyone's attention in the first place. You really need to have your creative shit together to keep a consistent signature style while forging new musical turf – especially after an eight-year break – and this record proves the duo never lost the qualities that made them so cool in the first place.
According to Free's introspective album notes, the title Trypt0fanatic is derived from the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptofan, and refers to “the state where Dream and Awake are not in harmony with each other. The Dream is the painkiller, the piece of the puzzle that guides us through Waking Life... If we do not properly sleep, this can lead to disorder, depression. Which leads to me thinking about how people 'sleep' with their eyes open.” With that in mind, it makes sense to think of these songs as shaking people out of that sleepwalking state – sometimes violently.
In the opening cut “Jude (Be Somebody),” Free's breathy, intense voice climbs up through a filtered guitar buzz and down-tempo electronic beat to a tight and hooky chorus, making this an ideal single. After an abrupt, whiplash ending, “Beg” turns up the speed and intensity, with tormented guitar riffs, forceful vocals and acidic lyrics (“God damn, could you feel an emotion?”). A rolling deep Manson-esque riff blends amazingly well with a soaring power-pop chorus on “Freeky People,” definitely one of the coolest grooves on the album.
While the band's at its best in the heaviest moments, “Velveteeen” proves they're just as skilled at smooth, flowing textures, fluctuating between a trip-hop shoegaze vibe and intense melodic rock with beautifully layered vocal harmonies... and it feels like they're maintaining that mode for the pensive (and very short) “Dead Girl Walking” before snapping violently into insane dance-metal with “Size of Always,” which sports a furious percussion line and brief but massive breakdowns.
While the lights-out sensuality of the verses in “Comets + Violins” is kind of dulled by a less memorable chorus melody and a more mainstream focus, the pop elements balance perfectly with the strutting, sleazy beat and lascivious lyrics of “Lick U Clean.” Free takes a deep, sultry breath to begin the electro torch song “Dark Horse,” which expands into an epic ballad with cleaner guitars (including acoustic) and a wild mixture of sonic textures. The record ends not with a scream but a whisper, with the softly pensive “Tears on a Page,” which reaches a more subtle peak, but is still solid proof of the band's emotional power.
If you're still in mourning over the farewell of Nine Inch Nails, you can take some comfort in knowing that there are still artists who manage to keep the furnace of electro-infused rock stoked without just recycling past achievements; having this pair back in action is a good sign that this genre still packs some heat. They're also selling and promoting their music independently, so be sure to give 'em some love and pick up a copy of this one through their official site. If you dig what you hear – and chances are you will – you can also download the bonus track “Light Deceiver.”
But before you go, viddy this behind-the-scenes clip on the making of Trypt0fanatic: