It’s a little strange to think that while industrial and EBM influenced techno was having a moment in the cooler bars and clubs of Europe over the last decade, there have been scene labels like Pro Noize who have been exploring that intersection since before the turn of the millennium. Existing initially as an offshoot of rhythmic noise and the nascent aggrotech sound, acts like Xotox, Phosgore, Noisuf-X have been putting out upbeat, aggressive club oriented instrumental tunes for decades, geared almost entirely for industrial dancefloors with little to no penetration elsewhere.
Germany’s Chainreactor, the solo project helmed by Jens Minor, has been a notable quantity amongst that school of bands, with a solid batting average over the course of their nine LPs. The most recent of those is Venom, which shows Minor branching out into some interesting directions while keeping the core appeal of the project – namely hard-hitting beats and big synth hooks – firmly in the spotlight. Cuts like opener “FVKN Hell” exemplify that sound perfectly; its thudding drums and stuttering lead are arranged into a DJ friendly structure of builds and breakdowns, existing mostly to serve the de rigeur profane vocal sample. It’s solidly done, and like many of the LP’s other cuts (“Sad Zombie”, “Milkshake”) it gets by on goofy charm and in the pocket production that understands how to make cuts of this style work.
What’s more interesting are the moments where Chainreactor stretches out a bit, spreading out into some territory both familiar and new. Cuts like “Das Verderben” and the “Exorcism” cleave closely to classic rhythmic noise material, forgoing supersaws for distorted percussion and corroded sequences. It’s especially effective when paired with slower tempos and more complex drum programming; “His Judgment” indulges in some big atmospheres and a very slow tempo that recalls iVardensphere or even some of Hymen Records’ technoid excursions.
A few tracks even indulge in some trance revivalism, which ends up naturally sounding futurepop adjacent. “Final Confrontation” has big arps and some epic uplift, although its descending progression works the melancholic angle well to give the track some emotional heft behind its doofy kicks. While closer “Epiphany” is less obviously indebted to more mainstream electronics, it has the same dip into emotional territory via its dramatic pads, recalling :SITD: in spots. All variations add some colour to Chainreactor’s proven formula, adding some additional dimensionality that helps separate them from their peers.