Assemblage 23/Defiance


Continuing in the current vein of my obsessive nature, I recently acquired this 2002 release by Tom Shear aka Assemblage 23. At this point, Shear had become a master at making ‘dark-wave’ music that you could dance to. Released on Metropolis Records, this is Shear at his very best. Really anticipating the new release next month!!!

Opened—-From the onset, you know that you are tuned into the master of this genre’. The song begins rather dark for the first few measure, before the synth kicks in and the song opens up. The sound is undeniably all his, and the vocal is a convincing reminder. The lazy yet full of emotion vocal transports magnificently to CD. This is better than any recent Depeche Mode release. A Master!!!

Drive—-Much more heavy on the bass and reverberated synth, Shear delivers a vocal that is at times deadpan yet emotive and intense. He constantly sings of feelings that we, as human beings have all experienced. The chorus of the song is so damn catchy. it was made to live in your heart and soul for hours after a casual listen. This is powerful.

Bloodhammer—-This entire composition carries a darker than usual atmosphere to it. The beat remains something that is danceable in a dark way. The vocal is full of pain and shows a nice range from Shear. Gosh you guys….this is great stuff!!!

Cocoon—-With a synth line that would makes Trent Reznor bow down in praise, an atmosphere that sweeps you off your feet and a vocal that raises the hair on your neck, the song is a complete masterpiece. The lines become stronger as the chorus emerges, and the disdain and darkness pervade. This is heavy stuff and reminds us all of the alienation and darkness that many of us live with every day. Fantastic!!!

Disconnect—-Imagine a dark Industrial/Goth club full of darkness and fencing…chains and leather…dark lights and freaks. This is a classic soundtrack for such a heavenly place. The pace of this song is incredible…it moves at  the minimum 120 BPM’s. Yet the vocal sounds natural and relaxed. This is really fantastic!!!

Fallen Down—-Beginning with an atmospheric swirl, the actual song comes alive from the first synth delivery. The bass beat kicks in and makes you smile. The goosebumps kick in to full gear when shear opens up his mouth. The song is yet another in the classic catalog of Assemblage 23. This man can do no harm.

Horizon—-Layers of machine generated sounds introduce the song. A deeper synth line leads off the song and the beat is at a moderate shoe gaze pace. The vocal is pushed a bit to the back, allowing the bass line to remain prominent. The tone of the composition is one of darkness and despair. At times, the vocals are over lay ed with an auto-tune sound that works perfectly.

Light—-Indeed, the song does seems to have a certain lightness in sound. The vocal on the other hand, is a classic dark Shear delivery. The lines of the song move at an incredible pace, the energy of the song is unrelenting. Fantastic!

Maps Of Reality—-The song has a deep almost house sound to it. The pace is incredible, the beat must be 130 or better. The incredible thing Shear does, is to deliver a song like this and not lose the overall despair of the mood. This is an art and Shear is the master artist.

Lullaby—-The song begins with monstrous, mechanical noise that is anything but a lullaby. When the gentle piano emerges over the sound, you realize that perhaps that is exactly what this is. When the vocal begins, you realize this is a tender, dark excursion into the psyche of Shear. Brilliant…layered with sound, a nice melodic line, and a haunting vocal round out this release in a masterful way.

***** out of 5

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