20 Buck Spin
This site’s inbox, along with those of likely every live metal promoter in North America, is full to the brim with e-mails hawking the most uninspired of industrial metal acts. For two genres which often claim to sit at the extreme frontiers of songcraft and sonics, the combination of industrial and metal often inexplicably yields the most conservative and generic iterations of both. It’s especially refreshing, then, when a project like Black Magnet emerges. The debut LP from James Hammontree’s project gave a bracing tour through various genres of extreme metal while weaving an aggressive strain of industrial noise and programming in, and follow-up record Body Prophecy keeps the hot hand going with a similarly concise and punishing listen.
The loose and snarling attitude which first endeared Black Magnet to us is front and center throughout Body Prophecy. Hammontree spits more than enough bile to give the project a clear sense of personality, but expertly divides the focus of his arrangements between the vocals, riffs, and dense programming while keeping everything tight. Too many industrial metal acts mistake being lugubrious for being grand or epic, but Black Magnet know how to create effect and atmosphere in a short span, punching in and out in less than 35 minutes here (and that’s including an appended Justin Broadrick remix).
While its focused attitude and brevity give Body Prophecy a real sense of unity, if you want to dig into the corners of the riffs you’ll find a wide range of metallic influences. Digital hardcore blends in alongside thrashing American coldwave on “Violent Mechanix”, while “Incubate” sounds like Tom Warrior reactivating Celtic Frost to collab with Author & Punisher. The weighty punch of “Body World” should work on just about any contemporary industrial dancefloor, while calling back to some classic Ministry chug. Lastly, as someone who survived the 90s nu metal craze and is flummoxed by the ongoing nostalgia for some of that genre’s most rote examples, it’s nice to hear someone with an obvious sense for that period find ways of constructively linking it to more outre sounds. In that regard, Black Magnet is in very exclusive company in terms of revisiting that overexposed style’s potential to good ends on “A History Of Drowning” and “Hermetix” (INVA//ID is one of the only other bands who come to mind).
It’s not uncommon to see Black Magnet compared to both 3Teeth and Youth Code, and while I think the musical similarities between those three acts aren’t especially pronounced, I can see where that impulse comes from. There just simply aren’t that many acts going today who’ve found ways of linking metal or hardcore to industrial programming without sounding like they have a hidebound and decidedly outdated read on those genres. Like those two acts, Black Magnet has dialed in on an overlap of sounds and styles they know and love, and is more than capable of exploring that fusion with personality and verve.