Drawing inspiration from more than one genre or subgenre is never a bad thing. By widening the musical focus just enough, great things can happen. Die Krupps added guitars to electronic music, Slipknot added custom percussion such as beer kegs, and Ghost recently gave us saxophone solos in theatrical metal, for crying out loud. Seraphim System has been at it since 2005, combining aggrotech, hardcore punk, and extreme metal for an abrasive, not-suitable-for-all-listeners sound. Their latest album, Relay Toxicity, is full of bruising music fit for a pit, making some want to, as the band’s Bandcamp bio proudly states, “slam their skull into their chest cavity.” Threats of anatomical rearrangement aside, the disc is a brutal one, reveling in madness and begging the listener to break shit through its entire runtime.
“Orchid” goes against its name, and is heavy and confrontational. To call it aggressive is to do the track a disservice. On “Gypsy Energy Moon Magic WiFi,” all things spiritual and ephemeral are in the crosshairs, as BL4KJ4K growls, “Where is your crystal ball bullshit now?” It’s harsh and uncomfortably close, as conversations about religion and spirituality tend to be. The focus is lost on “If I’ve Said It Once,” but the frenetic pace and pounding heaviness hasn’t gone anywhere. The album’s fourth track, “Midnight Cigarette,” has a strange melody about, and given what we’ve heard thus far on the disc, it does feel jarring and out of place.
“When the Anger Sets In” features what sounds like a sample from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which means I may now finally have actually heard everything. The next two songs, “Do or Die” and “Not That Any of This Matters,” bring a punk and hardcore flavor to the tone, with the latter seeing more of a crossover thrash sound to it. Again, the second half of the album closes with a weird, straightforward melody in “Style and Grace,” providing an uneven, if not downright odd, end to this release.
Brutal as it is, the uneasy shifts in tone and sound for Relay Toxicity do leave me with questions after listening to it. Then, is the music of Seraphim System really the kind that is a thinking man’s industrial noise band? It will satisfy the savage beast, but don’t think too much about Relay Toxicity or its contents.