NDE - United (Through Iron and Blood) [Cold Spring Records - 2018]Crunching noisily onward, Belgium's NDE return for a third time to Cold Spring with this year's United (Through Iron and Blood). Utilizing rhythmic noise loops, feedback, and varied vocal styles, NDE put together a grim and punishing power electronics release. Bringing a semi-danceable style to the gruff cacophony, NDE challenge convention and do a pretty good job of it.
Deftly mixing equal parts Whitehouse and Merzbow's Tauromachine with the likes of acts such as Kid606 and Abruptum, NDE's United rhythmically brings the listener into a grimy world of crushing electronics and horrific screams. Over the nine tracks (all designated with the appropriate Roman numeral), NDE screech, shriek, crunch, and churn a thick, noisy stew of electronic fury. Feedback soars over low, distorted rolls of barbed wire with speaker defying intensity. High pitched wails hearken back to Philip Best's best (ha!) and are often nicely complemented by menacing, black metal-esque growls. However, for those out there that need a little bit more hypnotic enticement, NDE chugs forth on looped wheels of noise that propel the tracks forward. While passing familiar territory, NDE opens the window onto a fairly groove worthy sound session. The pained vocals remind the listener, though, that this isn't a disco, and this cacophonous trolley is bringing him or her to their desired destination of distortion.
Noise and power electronics are tricky areas. While it's often times hard to break from routine, even when successful, it seems like most fans are standing by with pitchforks. This isn't always the case, obviously, and thankfully it hasn't kept NDE from trying something a tad outside the box. Despite it's groove, United is loud and abrasive, and a worthwhile listen.Paul Casey