Updated: Jul 20
Tim Skold and Nero Bellum are two of the biggest forces in industrial music. The former is known for his solo work, as well as his time with acts such as Marilyn Manson, ohGr, and KMFDM. The latter is best known as the frontman for blackened industrial act Psyclon Nine, which saw Skold join as guitarist in 2018. Together, the two icons have created Not My God, bringing dark ambient and industrial on thirteen tracks of terror. In some places, the album sounds like older industrial with newer production values. In others, the production is unnerving and unsettling, creating an uneasy listening experience. Given the weight carried by the names involved, this collaboration more than delivers.
One of the biggest pros about this album, aside from who’s behind it, is the approach of working smarter, not harder. So many industrial acts fall into the trap of trying to do too much, gumming up the works to deliver a chaotic experience, but one that does little more than induce a goth two-step or a head nod on the dance floor. Skold and Bellum have been doing this for far too long to fall into that trap, and know the direction and the vibe they’re going for, and therefore know exactly what it will take to get there.
The atmosphere is boosted by the vocal delivery, another high point for this collaboration. A prime example of this comes on the opening track “Fiction.” The restrained and pain vocals of Skold in the verses give way to howls from Bellum in the chorus, ping-ponging between misery and malice in a way that an outfit with multiple vocalists not only can do, but should do at all costs. Even when it gets heavier and more intense in percussion or production, the choices in the vocal production make these songs not just a Skold or Psyclon Nine song, and not even a feature or duet, but rather something completely different. The album, as a result, comes away as greater than the sum of its parts, and those parts are already two stellar artists in their own rights.
Being elder statesmen in the industrial world, the duo calls upon their old-school roots plenty of times. On tracks like “Birthright” and “Decay, Decay,” elements of more atmospheric, less rock-driven EBM bleed through. Those tracks call upon the past to inform the present and the future. Even when the record goes more modern in execution, it feels so steeped in darkness, like thirteen different shades of night.
A collaboration of this caliber comes with lofty expectations and high hopes, and Not My God delivers. It is an hour-long clinic of brooding music, a master class of industrial. It’s awesome to see a tag team such as Skold and Bellum not only deliver, but over-deliver. Though it would be difficult to top what’s on display here, I hope it’s only so long before a second effort from Not My God.
Not My God is available now on Cleopatra Records. Click here to stream and purchase the album via Bandcamp.