There is a zeitgeist in the air at the moment. A lot of things have changed. Artists have to do something different. When you had already been making heavy as fuck music for a while now, influencing the likes of The Prodigy, where do you go? Well, this album from Marc Heal is exactly the direction you go.
Shouting and screaming at people can get you places. This will get people to stop and listen, like a perfect storyteller.
I have heard very few voices who can command your attention like this. Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and yup, Ice –T too. None of them would make it far on the X-Factor with a voice like that, but by God, when they dropped their vocals you listened. Heal sounds like he is talking to you, personally. It takes a rare gift to be able to do this. He sounds worldly and like someone who has seen shit and is not afraid to gargle gravel.
The music is surprisingly pleasant, reminding me of my favourite Gary Numan album ‘Pure’ where Numan rediscovered big guitar riffs from working with Fear Factory, and added to that some haunting synth leads. Heal’s experience of touring with Numan a few years ago has clearly paid off. In addition to this, dare I detect a bit of Order of Death era John Lydon, but with a cockney swagger in his voice?
Song writing is nailed perfectly with most songs starting off as minimalist as possible and before you know it, one ear worm after another is added though each song. Percussion thunders along nicely, being held back until the right moment with a perfect mix of electronica and analogue sounding kits. It makes those snare fill and toms incredibly dramatically when used to announce the arrival of those big choruses. And that is where this album wins. Few people involved in harsh music understand the importance of a killer chorus. Heal fucking nails it.
My favourite track is Adult Fiction for those exact reasons. When the vocals and synths just drop in for “she.. writes…me fictiooooooon” it’s utterly killer and gives She Wants Revenge a run for their money. Wounded Dog does the exact same, it’s almost like you are listening to tears.
Heal also demonstrates exactly how to write an album. It’s not just a bunch of tracks chucked together. The album flows perfectly ending, on the epic Faithful Machine with a resounding “thank you… my loyal friends”. It is the perfect track to finish the album and I’m betting a perfect track to finish a live set too.
Overall, if you are into making punky/noisy/electro harshness and want to know what to do next, I strongly recommend listening to this. Solidly mature and solidly commanding.
Best part: them choruses.
Strangest part: a strong desire to listen to Gary Numan afterwards, almost like a post-coital cigarette.
Reviewing this has been a pleasure.