Am Not – Unpunished CD Unrest Productions 2015
Up until recently I had only been peripherally aware of the unusually named Am Not, but this totally changed upon the release of the promo track/ video for ‘Dark Heart Katanga’ in late 2014. The video coupled with the music functioned as a singular and direct demonstration of one the strongest newcomers to the UK industrial/ power electronics scene, and apart from the music being absolutely on point the accompanying video demonstrated an extremely focused thematic approach. Based on this track alone ‘Unpunished’ was a release I was very much looking forward to and after hearing it following its recent release it does not disappoint.
‘The Unpunished’ opens the album with a solid blending of programmed elements, mixed with a heavy dose of junk metal sounds and swirling distortion. Vocals are then presented in a direct spoken style, being mixed up front for clarity and impact, with this piece squarely demonstrating Am Not being able to cultivate an individual sound within a broader power electronics/ industrial/ heavy electronics framework. ‘Beware The Black Peril’ follows and sits more squarely within anthem style of pounding pulsing structure and focused flanged vocals and also nails this sound perfectly. Revving drones and overblown metallic distortion infuse for ferocious impact on the instrumental ‘Archangel Drone’, which is followed by the exceptional ‘Dark Heart Katanga’ – a track driven by fast paced heavy artillery rhythms (of fist pumping proportions), further underscored with sustained organ dirge drones and slightly treated but completely audible spoken vocals to create 7 minutes of structured PE anthemic perfection. The rougher distortion mangled vocals and static charged metallic pounding rhythmic approach on ‘The Hate That Dare Not Speak its Name’ also function to highlight the sonic diversity of Am Not’s approach. After the short and direct choppy distortion squall of ‘Extremophilia’ the album concludes with ‘Folie A Deux’; another track of direct pounding intensity and rough yelled and flange treated vocals (which reminds somewhat of the short lived Swedish project Iron Justice).
Rather than being vague or ambiguous in intent, all lyrics are published on the 6 panel, cleanly designed digi-pack, and illustrate an interesting ‘colonial’ thematic angle which has been taken to common themes of political and societal control. With the expert blending of clean and clinical programmed elements with rougher and more chaotic sound sources, ‘Unpunished’ is infused with a direct and focused approach. Far from being a mere copyist project with their debut album Am Not have built upon the foundations of power electronics and industrial and have twisted them into a sound of their own. Recommended.