Well mixed but poorly conceived
The best thing in the world is an overly ambitious project, whether or not it succeeds. Think on that for a moment, contemplate the last time you were glad a piece of art didn’t take a risk? Sure, there are plenty of excellent albums that aren’t terribly ambitious, but even the failures that had vision make their mark sometime down the road. Once upon a time, industrial techno was at the forefront of pushing boundaries, but sadly that time seems to have long passed, and Insurrection by Signal Aout 42 does nothing to push the genre back toward that glorious time when it was doing something meaningful and exciting.
To get the good out of the way first, this album is mixed wonderfully. If you take the time to sit within it and let it wash over you there’s no doubt you’ll be quickly absorbed into its apocalyptic soundscape. The sounds are deep and resonant, particularly on “Honor and Justice” where a crunchy bass tone fills out the track, providing a bed for the light twinkling synths that make a melody line. And “Can You Hear My Rage” has more vicious synth notes than most hardstyle and deep bass tracks even try to get near. This album isn’t wholly without ambition, but it’s often misapplied, and overwhelmed by vocals that now feel incredibly dated.
Problems in the album become extremely apparent around the second track, “Tehcnocrazy” which tries to explore some exciting ideas about living in a capitalist cyberpunk dystopia, but as much as the ideas are valid, the presentation is relatively dull and repetitive, dulling down a potentially sharp-edged message. This trend of repetitive lyrics over equally repetitive music greatly mars the ability of this record to get its point across. It’s painfully obvious that there are economic, political, and social messages that are baked into the core of the record but they always have trouble getting out.
As for the music itself, beyond being well mixed it doesn’t have a lot going for it. “Dance Until the Sun Rise Again” is mind-numbingly boring. It might fit well in a dark club in Germany, but outside of that setting it falls flat, and even then there’s dark boredom that Jacky Meurisse brings to the vocals that force them to be more quelling than uplifting. It all nets out to an incredibly boring experience that lasts far too long. There are a few moments here and there that cause your ears to perk up, the synths in “Can You Hear My Rage” and the intro of “Black Snow” spring to mind, but those moments are over as soon as they’ve begun, and you’re back to wishing that something else was playing.
Industrial techno remains a genre marred by unoriginality. There was a time when this music was pushing boundaries and turning heads, but as of late most groups either failed to evolve or entered the scene only to copy their idols. And while Signal Aout 42 are genre icons, Insurrection does little to buck this disconcerting trend, sure the music is well mixed and the sounds they use are cool, but you’ve heard this before, and you’ve heard better versions of it.