By Any Means Necessary
By Any Means Necessary
[Self-Released], 2011

It’s been a real pleasure to see the growing number of recent North American groups working with classic post-industrial sounds and musical ideas. While the large number of bands in Sweden and Germany exploring old school EBM in the DAF/Nitzer vein has birthed a scene unto it’s own, projects from our side of the pond like //TENSE// and Dead When I Found Her have been digging deep into various post-industrial tropes with some varied and interesting results. Asheville, North Carolina’s one man project By Any Means Necessary draws from the same pool of influence as those groups, and while the debt to the genre’s progenitors is palpable on their self-titled debut, BAMN make a meal of their influences to produce an interesting, if occasionally derivative release.

A listen to “Waste”, the second track on By Any Means Necessary should give the average listener a window into Sam Witherspoon’s main school of inspiration. Heavily indebted to the Skinny Puppy of the Bites era (especially “Deadlines” if you want to get specific), from the distorted and delayed vocal delivery to the round bass synth and reverbed snare drum, the song would be only an imitative, if still impressive impersonation if it were it not also so damn listenable. Similarly, “Monolith” evokes early Portion Control with bubbling sequences and loosely restrained menace, a strong sense of progression and melody saving it from succumbing entirely to copy-catism.

Like so many other acts that show the imprint of the bands that preceded them, much of the record lives and dies by whether those sounds are applied to decent songs. For the most part Witherspoon pulls it off, especially on the fabulous instrumental “Delusional”, its sweeping reverbed pads acting as a big-screen counterpoint to the tight programming underneath, and hinting at the potential for growth on future releases. Not every track hits the nail on the head (noisy closer “Sinew” feels aimless and foreshortened, “Waiting v.3” ironically feels underdeveloped) but it’s still consistent enough across it’s nine tracks to hold up under its own weight.

By Any Means Necessary are still a relatively unknown quantity, which is actually pretty exciting. The comparisons to Puppy and others (there’s a bit of Klinik atmosphere in there, and a touch of Front 242’s more urgent moments) are inescapable, but it’s foolish to dismiss a project for them this early on. The fact remains that once the game of “spot the influence” subsides there’s still a substantial amount of quality listening material. If By Any Means Necessary are still relying so heavily on those sounds in three LP’s time with no movement forward, it will be cause for some criticism. As it stands, I’m happy to recommend this as an intriguing first delivery from an act whose potential may not yet be fully realized, but is apparent enough to warrant your attention.

Buy it via Bandcamp.