Despite being a genre which often prides itself on simplicity, EBM’s grown a relatively complex family tree in its thirty-plus years on the scene. Belgium, Germany, and Sweden have all developed their own areas, and over the decades and continents it’s been allowed to grow into ever more complex hybrid forms, even as certain branches have been pruned down to the most core elements. Hannover’s Orange Sector have hopped from branch to branch, working synthpop and other electronic styles in with EBM over the first half of their career. After a seven year time-out, they’ve spent the last decade sticking to a rigorously stripped-down version of EBM which has only grown gruffer and more macho, a trend which continues unabated with Night Terrors.
This might be a very traditionalist vein of EBM, but it’s one which often feels somewhat trudging. “Monoton” is about as exciting as its title suggests, with a lukewarm bassline strung along uninspired kicks with the odd break snippet of weak insults lobbed out in English: “I hate your face you fucking bitch”, “Rest in peace motherfucker”, and so on. Hooray. “Glasmensch” has a bit more kick and at least takes aim at a viable target in surveillance culture, but it doesn’t make much of a lasting impression. I’m not sure if it’s a product of their own urge to stick to the basics, or the of their relatively quick production schedule (seven albums in ten years), but much of Night Terrors feels like it suffers from diminishing returns.
Thankfully, things get a bit more expansive in the last third of the record. “Das Erforene Herz” has enough swing on the bass to lend its straightforward drums the sort of punch and menace which has been lost over the previous few tracks, and “Z.O.M.B.I.E.” has chiller atmospherics which pay off when the beat doubles up midway through. “Der Letzte Lied” (the closer, of course) is where things come together, though, in a track which finally seems capable of delivering the aggression earlier tunes gestured toward. With just a little bit of grinding restraint, the full punch and fury of the sound Orange Sector have been wrangling with comes to the fore. Sadly, it’s all a bit last minute.
None of this is to say that cleaving to a puritanical vision of EBM doesn’t necessarily pay off. Jäger 90, EkoBrottsMyndigheten, Autodafeh, and countless others are proving that there’s still fun to be had with the original formulas, but that’s not the case with the majority of Night Terrors. Whether it’s the stern tone they’re determined to maintain or a fear of returning to their earlier genre-hopping, though, Orange Sector often sound as though they’ve painted themselves into a corner.