AX - Metal Forest [Cold Spring Records - 2012]AX is the brainchild of Anthony Di Franco, known for his work in such legendary acts as: Ramleh, Novatron, Ethnic Acid, JFK, and Skullflower. Despite being established in the 90’s, I will admit that AX is Mr. Di Franco’s work that I’m least familiar with.
Despite being a collection of previously released tracks off long out of print albums, “Metal Forest” is strikingly relevant to the current experimental milieu. While some collected works have a feeling of disparate tracks compiled in a haphazard manner, this album feels extremely cohesive. Had I not known this was material culled from albums released in the mid-90’s, I would have thought this was all from the same recording session. The album’s opening track “Kortex,” punctuated by repetitive, pulsating beats that mingle with a growing static hiss. The appropriately named, “Nova Feedback 1” is a blackened slice of evolving noise soundscapes. The epic “Heavy Fluid” channels an almost rock vibe through a near 11 minute slab of industrial noise. At times it sounds like how I would imagine Black Sabbath to sound if channeled through Throbbing Gristle.
A very welcome inclusion, is the track “Theme One” which for all intents and purposes is a wall noise piece. I must admit I wasn’t expecting it, but it really flows nice with the other tracks. It’s a warm, unchanging static mass that rolls through the entirety of this 4 minute track. Very unique given the time period.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is Nova Feedback 2. A sonic landscape of cold synth waves and bursts of piercing feedback. The track has an especially cinematic quality to it and could easily fill in as a soundtrack to a dystopian sci-fi nightmare. Hal Harmon
“Metal Forest” is hands down a crucial compilation of this project. While I went into this review knowing very little about AX, I can say that what is presented is as good as anything Mr.Di Franco has produced with his better known acts. The diversity, yet cohesiveness of these tracks is to great credit the universality and timelessness of his work. Another solid release from the Cold Spring Label.