Beneath the Skin
No points for guessing the primary sonic touchpoint of Australian electro-industrial project Caustic Grip; even if they weren’t named after the seminal Front Line Assembly LP, sole member Scar Scarlett Shred isn’t shy about drawing inspiration from that bands early 90’s catalogue. Where new mini-album Beneath the Skin distinguishes itself is in how Shreds applies those genre-defining sounds to a variety of song templates, with surprisingly broad results.
Caustic Grip acquit themselves well in the record’s most FLA moments, applying many of the Leeb and Fulber production ideas in effective fashion. Listen to the use of stereo placement of drums and synthlines on “FVTVRE CORPZE”, and the use of sampled synths to create ultratight syncopation across its arrangement – the influence is palpable, but not imitative. You can hear the same kinds of programming and sampling ideas at play on the club-ready title track, where dueling bass parts from the left and right channel come together with concussive force into a snare-driven rhythm that pulses with retro-cyberpunk energy.
Where those tropes are straight from the electro-industrial playbook, it’s interesting to hear Shreds work them into purer EBM numbers, sliding the detail oriented programming and sound design into body music’s muscled structures. “GOING DOWN” has a bass lick and shouted gang vocals in the neo-old school style, the percussive intensity of its hits obscuring the clever shuffling of melodic and rhythmic synthlines across its runtime, upping the track’s depth considerably. “SUBMERGED” goes the full modern mutant EBM route (think PC World or Physical Wash) but gets mileage out of miniscule bits of synth modulation, its repeating motifs given an organic sense of growth and evolution.
Perhaps the record’s most surprising moment comes in final track “ASUNDER”, its lengthy dialogue-sample intro unfolding into a lush ballad, albeit one informed by the proggier side of modern post-industrial music. As a topper for the release, it paints a fuller portrait of the melodic and atmospheric ambitions of the project, taking Caustic Grip further afield from its foundational influences and suggesting the larger musical world it inhabits.