SKOLD: 'Anomie' - CD Review

Even if you aren't familiar with Tim Skold, I'm betting you've heard his work – especially if your musical tastes fall on the dark side (and since you're hanging out here... well, duh). The Swedish-born industrial rocker has been kicking around for two decades with the likes of Marilyn Manson, KMFDM, ohGr, 16volt and Left Spine Down, as well as his original band Shotgun Messiah – all the while turning out a buttload of remixes – and his influence can be heard all over the dial. Strangely enough, in between all these collaborations, this cat hasn't put out an album of his own since his debut SKOLD back in 1996. But as of tomorrow, that fifteen-year gap is about to get plugged. With the release of Anomie, Skold has carved out a shadowy musical corner of his own, and he's pounced on the opportunity. Read on for a complete review of the pitch-black attack that Skold calls "a new beginning"...

Like his first solo effort, Tim handled virtually every aspect of Anomie from start to finish. "There is absolutely no collaboration on this album whatsoever," he says. "The 'drummer' (me) hates the 'guitar player' (me). The 'singer' (me) refuses to do more than one take and the 'bass player' (me) is out doing other shit while the 'producer' (me) really just wants to kill them all. It's a very sick affair." That's actually a pretty good description of the album itself: not only sick (in a good way), but driven by a twisted and vicious creativity that must have been percolating in Skold's brain all these years, waiting to explode all over your speakers. The end result feels like a meltdown of every project he's been involved in, and considering his sterling track record, it feels good. It's also prone to rapid mood swings, so you'd better strap yourself to something.

One thing's for sure, as the thundering opening track "(This is my) Elephant" demonstrates, Skold isn't thinking small. A blast of gritty hard rock sets the stage for a sleazy, menacing vocal delivery that rockets you straight back to his production work on Manson's album The Golden Age of Grotesque. After the warm bass and acoustic guitar that closes it, you might be in for serious whiplash when the second cut (and first single) "Suck" slams into place. Packing a KMFDM-style heavy dance beat, clever lyrical wordplay and the unforgettable chorus "Down on your knees/Suck my rock," this is definitely the most memorable song on the record. "Black Out" comes pretty close, thanks to a solid fusion of basic dark metal riffs and the same pile-driver club beats, but "Suck" takes the gold.

The incredibly brutal banger "Angel of Noise" employs a tasty Ministry-style industrial metal groove and a lightning-paced drum line, including some scorching blastbeats, and the eccentric "Satellite" is all dirty strums and trashcan drums, with a little touch of early Brian Eno-style surrealism for flavor. The superb "Becoming" flips everything into hard aggro-tech, complete with buzzing sawtooth synths and a swirling, nasty bass line before guitars join the battle, before we flip another 180 into the moody, David Bowie-style ballad "The Hunger" (appropriate enough, as Bowie appeared in a vampire flick by that name), mainly driven by acoustic guitar and rough but warm melodic vocals.

"Here Comes the Thunder" funks it up hard with skank rhythms, a crushing synth bass line and fuzzy guitars, but the energy level drops so low for the following cut "And Then We Die" – another pensive ballad, insistent but not as memorable – it feels like a post-adrenalin crash. "Miserably Never Ever" continues the same low-level tension, which serves as a breather before we get broadsided again with massive electro beats in "Tonight," this time moving at breakneck speed. The album concludes in epic mode with "What You See Is What You Get," a slow-building dirge that goes from pulsing quiet verses to sweeping symphonic choruses.

When you take on every single aspect of an album yourself, there's nothing to hide behind, so it's essential that every aspect of the music be as genuine as possible... and if Anomie is any indication, keeping it real for Tim Skold means busting out in all directions. The artist himself has jokingly described his creative process as "schizophrenia," calling this project his most personal, then confessing to "completely self-indulgent wankery." I don't necessarily agree with that last part, but I can totally understand the schizo thing – this album changes tone, mood and style so fast you'll end up checking your tracklist a few times to make sure you're still listening to the same dude. But in the end, all that matters is whether the shit rocks... and rest assured, when Anomie does rock, it rocks good and hard.