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Electro-Rock Bands

A lot of people think that there is guitar music and there is synth/sample music, and never the two shall meet.  Personally, I reckon the two can be fused together rather nicely.  Here are a few bands that take hard guitars and intelligent electronica and prove that the sum can be greater than the total of it's parts.

My love for this stuff came from a band that emerged from Sydney in '90/'91, fusing techno beats and sample mutilation with heavy guitars and the occasional funky slap bass, overlaid with cool lyrics from a blonde powerhouse and metal-rap from a demented keyboardist.
They dominated the alternative charts whenever they released something new, and remained as one of the best live bands in Australia until their untimely split in early/mid '97. They were...


Def FX

I first heard of Def FX when I partly saw one of their video clips whilst browsing in a Tandy (Radio Shack) electronics store, back in '91.  For some reason, I decided to search for some of their music; this resulted in me buying a cassette of their EP Surge.  From the moment the bass-line of "Under the Blue" came screaming out of the speakers, I knew I was onto something good...

Well, times changed, their music went through a series of direction changes, and I stayed along for the ride.  Everything from techno-pop-metal to industrial grindcore to ambient to everything and nothing in between.

I toured with them as merchandiser and roadcrew for a week in S.E. Queensland, which was an enlightening experience.  A rundown of those days can be found here, plus other miscellaneous Def FX related stuff.

Def FX split up in 1997, and the members have each followed their own paths.


Stabbing Westward

A truly magnificent band, Stabbing Westward rapidly came to challenge Def FX as my favourite band, eventually surpassing them.

Utilising a superb blend of hard rock and electronica mixed with lyrics that come from all ends of the emotional spectrum, Stabbing Westward prove that diverse musical approaches can be fused together to form something not only completely different, but something oh-so-right!

Each of their four albums (Ungod, Wither Blister Burn + Peel, Darkest Days, Stabbing Westward) are awesome, incorporating everything from truly beautiful, heart-wrenching ballads, to truly thrashy angst-ridden beasts - and it's all real, the energy and emotion behind these songs is amazing.  Get hold of their music and have a listen, and you'll definitely get hooked!

Unfortunately, Stabbing Westward split last year.  However, some of the resulting projects are looking promising.

www.StabbingWestward.com
Wasted Lies - a good fan-based site with links

Stabbing Westward fonts:
X-Band Rough (31.1KB) (used on the UnGod album)
Escalido Remixed (15.4KB) (very similar to font used on the Darkest Days album)


Orgy

Awesome sound.  Long-time friends of Korn, Orgy have a kind of Marilyn Manson-ish sound, but without the weirdness and controversy.  Quite definitely listenable, their music is kinda dark alternative, but with an edge of mainstream (they joking refer to their style as "DeathPop").

These guys are highly accomplished musicians and audio engineers - as well as being models and fashion gurus!?  They have a look and sound that lets them enjoy both sides of the alternative and mainstream side of things, much to their credit!

An interesting twist is that all "keyboards" are in fact played using a synth-guitar - ie. guitars fitted out with MIDI pickups, triggering either internal or external synth modules.  Another interesting thing is that synth-guitarist Amir Derakh's name is apparently pronounced very similar to a drawled "I'm here to ROCK!" ("Ah'm 'ere de Rock")

pic: Synth-guitarist Amir with his custom Jackson "Roswellian Star"

www.OrgyMusic.com - the "official" Orgy site
www.Amir-Derakh.com - Amir's own site
"The Unofficial Orgy Page" - one of many, but one of the best

Orgy fonts:
Byte Police (6.44KB) (used on the Candyass album)
Orgy (14.2KB) (font from the new VaporTransmission album)


Zeromancer

Recommended to me by former Def FX guitarist Blake Gardner (now residing in Denmark), Zeromancer are an awesome Norwegian industrial-rock band, featuring some very catchy synth-riffs and chunky guitars, with some great lyrics (in un-accented English)

I currently only have the "Eurotrash" album, which apparently contains their best work to date, and is an absolute must for any electro-rock fan

www.Zeromancer.com
pic: The band


Lo-tel

An Aussie band, Lo-tel are rock-pop with a twist.  Beneath the poppy guitars and melodious synth riffs lay some brooding lyrics waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting teeny-bopper...

Lo-tel prove that being pop doesn't have to involve selling your soul - something they pull off remarkably well, as the response to their debut album, Planet of the Stereos has testified!
Their new album, The Lost Thing, isn't as rock-pop as their debut, kinda cruisier/contemplative, but it's still pretty cool none-the-less, and does feature a few rockier numbers

www.Lo-tel.com


NIN
Nine Inch Nails

Regarded by many (dare I say most?) as THE industrial "band", the Nails are a strange entity - essentially Trent Reznor IS Nine Inch Nails in it's entirety, except for live performances, where the Nails are actually a group...

It's kinda disputed as to whether Nine Inch Nails are actually industrial or not - for the most part they are, but they also have some of the most haunting "ballads" around... all in all, damn fine music dealing with the darker side of emotions.

Either way, Nine Inch Nails / Trent Reznor are/is the undisputed pinnacle of industrial music.   Renowned for his ability to bring passion to Industrial, Trent has made some of the best songs ever, of any genre.

UPDATE  I'm really, really liking the new album, With Teeth.   Really liking it.
Did I mention I like the new album?

Try out NIN.com - The official NIN site
pic: Trent loves his keyboards...


Filter The Crystal Method

Hmmm... OK, not a band, in fact a one-off collaboration to produce the song "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do" for the Spawn soundtrack...  but this is a perfect representation of where my current musical aspirations lie.

At one end of the spectrum is Filter - a hard edged, guitar driven entity based around former NIN guitarist Richard Patrick.  At the other end is the techno/electronica groove unit that is The Crystal Method.   Both are brilliant in their own right, but when they combined, now THAT's some cool music...

Oh, as a side note, I highly recommend Filter's albums Title of Record and the Amalgamut - OK, not really electro-rockish, more straight hard rock, but very cool none-the-less!
(Their first album, Short Bus, is also cool, but if you're new to Filter, I'd check the newer ones first)

pic: Scott from the Crystal Method
pic: Richard Patrick from Filter

www.OfficicalFilter.com
www.TheCrystalMethod.com


Regurgitator

Regurgitator, or "the 'Gurge" as they are affectionately known, have had quite a few changes in musical direction since they first got popular on Aussie alternate radio about five years ago.  Never ones to get stuck in a rut, the 'gurge are constantly switching and mixing between hard guitar rock, synth pop, piss-takes, and numerous other styles that only the 'gurge could pull off with style...

If you've never heard of Regurgitator (ie. anyone outside of Australia!), track 'em down!  You won't be sorry!
("* actual product may not match expectations")


God Lives UnderWater

Introduced to their music by Paul and Mark from Coffs Harbour / Sydney industrial band "Dead Inside the Chrysalis", God Lives UnderWater mix hard rock and electronic twinges in a pretty cool, easy listening way - think kinda Alice in Chains meets the Chemical Brothers.

I only have two of their albums - "Empty", and "Life in the so-called Space Age".  Personally I prefer the rockier aspects of "Empty" than the mellower, slightly experimental "L.i.t.s.c.S.A", but nevertheless, these guys are highly under-rated

GLU recently hit the limelight with their awesome cover of the David Bowie song "Fame", being the main song off the recent De Niro movie "15 Minutes"!

GLU OnLine - a cool fan-based site with pics, lyrics, audio, video...


Primary

Featuring the master team-work of the Fonti brothers, Jamie and Sean, and headed up by prodigy Connie Mitchell, Primary are an enigmatic Aussie band who pump out some fairly user-friendly electro-rock.   Their style can range from hard-rockin' to minimalistic ballads...

www.PrimaryMusic.com


TISM
(This Is Serious, Mum)

These guys are something completely different.  After using synths and stuff for years, they've taken a more "techno" approach since their "Machiavelli and the Four Seasons" album - which, despite the "TISM wish to reassure you that they plugged in all the machines that played this album" and "don't techno for an answer" comments, is actually quite a decent piece of work.  Fast beats, fast synths, fast guitars, and a bunch of blokes dressed in Balaklavas.

If you like satirical humor, and plenty of it - take the song "(he'll never be an) Ol' Man River" (a.k.a "I'm on the drug that killed River Pheonix") as an example, combined with some pretty cool music, then these guys are your God.


There's a whole heap of other bands I'm getting into at the moment, but most of them don't really fit in the above catergories.  I'm just after things that sound good and rock (well, they actually don't necessarily have to rock - depends on my mood!).  Something that gives me ideas to fuse into my own music...

Here's a few others to check up on - Cold (a must check!!), Split Enz, Linkin Park, Pacifier / Shihad, Lifehouse, Blink 182, Powderfinger, Adema, Korn, DEVO, The Cure, ...

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12 September 2005
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