Liebestod – Beta Male LP Chondritic Sound 2016
Having not come across Liebestod before, ‘they’ are the solo project of LA based Jesse Sanes, with ‘Beta Male’ being the first LP following a self-titled cassette from 2014. Thematically the album deals with the physiological narrative of an isolated and volatile loner who chooses to become a lone gunman to inflict retribution on society at large; but with this being handled is a sophisticated way so as to not be solely about white knuckled male rage and aggression. This is also reflected in the tone and mood of the album where there is a general degree of restraint displayed in sonic qualities, which in turn functions to racket up tension and overall atmosphere.
With the 6 tracks being in the order of 3 to 5 minutes ‘Beta Male’ is not a lengthy album, but each track functions as distinct, singular pieces with direct and focused ideas. As such ‘Godlike’ a strong opener with crushing synth stabs and fluttering noise and something akin to a beeping alarm/ siren. As the layers gradually build in complexity and aggression (amassing into mid-paced atonal pounding rhythmics), flanged vocals also feature but subservient to other more forceful elements. Moving quickly into ‘The Third Man’, it builds a solid base of junk metal loops to military marching jackboot effect, which are further overlaid with sporadic noise squalls and junk metal commotion and more antagonistic and fiercely presented roared and distorted vocals. ‘Alpha Male’ then deviates into slightly more experimental realms with a minimalist soundscape of spoken vocals, low humming drones and high pitched ‘beeps and blips’ tones, which is very much a track of tensile atmospherics.
Sitting somewhere between a heavy electronics and power electronics sound, side B opener ‘Home is Where You’re Free’, uses an array of idling bass rumble, modulated noise, harsh feedback and mid-toned textures, but all balanced and mixed into an evenly tonal soundscape. ‘The Public Hero’ then pushes a more focused sound, which emulates a structured European power electronics sound (think early Ex Order). Here the piece relies on bass rumble, waving mid toned ‘needling’ textures, with the heavily echoed and flanged vocals being a particular standout element. Final album track ‘Consumed in the Role’ comes across as a confessional/ cathartic piece and excellent album ender. Atonal wavering/ idling synth layers intermingle with grinding/ droning feedback and sparse ‘oil barrel’ junk metal tones, with the distant ‘dictaphone’ spoken vocals, being partially buried.
For it apparently outwardly harder and harsher sounds, these have been expertly mixed to be balanced within the mix, so the end result is not typically over the top or blown out, noting the mood displays a mood or stalking restraint which only ramps up to full aggression on a few selected moments/ tracks. In the end what Liebestod the delivers on a music front is a grim and tensile approach to an industrial noise/ power electronics style, but delivered with focused control to generate an enthralling result. The washed out photocopier tone aesthetic of the cover, and insert with relevant text and imagery, rounds out a very strong release, both conceptually and sonically.