They say it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to the artwork that accompanies an album, the aesthetics can give you a good estimation as to what you’re letting yourself in for.
Introducing ‘Unflesh’, the second album by Goth-tronic virtuoso Elizabeth “Gazelle Twin” Bernholz, who’s artwork features our songsmith clad in a blue hoodie against a skin toned backdrop, with most of her face torn away while baring her teeth.
The album opens with its title track; a cage-rattled beast that exhibits a belligerent bombardment of jarring industrial beats that boom behind Twin’s cyber-phantom vocals while being dredged with tendrils of various vocalisations.
The claustrophobia and terror only increase as we progress through the album; ‘GUTS’ bears a deranged smile as it works it’s way into your nerves through intimidation tactics, as the metallic clatters that construct the beat recall the moment a horror story’s antagonist corners it’s victim and enjoys making itself heard as it closes in on it’s fear-paralysed prey.
The barking menace of ‘Exorcise’ remains equally as bloodthirsty as it’s predecessor, but is a more energetic offering, that creates an endlessly rising level of tension, to the point of overwhelming paranoia, as the electro beat vigourously thrashes away at your eardrums while the frenetic whir of the synths merge with Twin’s trademark vocal manipulations to build towards a violent finish.
‘Good Death’ recalls Twin’s debut album ‘The Entire City’. The violence and gore is stripped away as she takes on a more spectral form; the movements are far steadier in their progression, the vocals carry a weariness that’s gorgeous in it’s way while the snapping 8-bit percussion shifts from a steady ticking into a more rhythmic fluidity alongside a collection of vocals that have been transformed into a chorus of sci-fi harmonies.
Bringing back the feral bloodlust is ‘Anti Body’; a macabre-laden, suicidal mutant curled up in a dark corner of a tenebrous room made up of a beat as unremitting as the fire of a machine gun while the aggressive buzz of the synths surround the listener like scavengers on a corpse.
‘Child’ is the eye of the storm as the clattering beats take a rest for this astonishing piece of vocal art. Twin takes this opportunity to showcase the voice that hides behind mask of monstrous manipulations; although vague and distant, the tribal ritualism chants are nothing short of evocative and astonishing.
Further demonstrating her mastery of vocal choreography is the sullen lullaby ‘Premonition’, a reflection on the . Where ‘Child’ made you feel a moment of idyllic calm, the Cocteau Twins-esque ‘Premonition’ conjures images of slow-marching figures in a blurred woodland setting.
‘Belly of The Beast’ showcases the album’s Industrial skeleton at it’s most primitive. Twin’s vocals prowl calmly in a twisted whisper as she snarls, “bite the hands and the fingers that feed”. The rumbling bass quakes with abrasive chaos while the checkout scanner samples and snapping beats combine to create a sudden shock, similar to the kick of a sleep twitch.
‘Human Touch’ is a less vicious creature. Propelled by a background of cadenced breaths, clicks-and-clatters, and shimmering vocal-synths, Twin tells the tale of a feral child with eerie emotion in the lower-ends of her vocals while being accompanied by a sonorous chorus to remind us that we’re here to experience sonic terror. ‘I Feel Blood’ is probably the most accessible song on the album. Methodical in it’s movements, a smooth-ticking beat gently moves along while Bjork-circa-Hidden Place strings put an hypnotic spell on you with their sharp song.
Closing out the album is the melodrama of the leviathan ‘Still Life’. Reviving the Industrial mayhem one last time, Twin recites her lyrics like a fatigued spectre over scourging percussion that builds towards a suspense-filled finish as the backing vocals begin as beautifully haunting harmonies and finish abruptly in the form of blood-curdling shrieks and moans.
Where debut album ‘The Entire City’ was ideal for gothic cinematography; a ghostly affair that sent chills down spines with each passing second, ‘Unflesh’ is a more danceable body, ideal for adrenaline-infused horror tales in that it’s focus shifts greatly towards the industrial beats that permeate through the album.
Not for the squeamish or faint of heart; the incredibly defiant ‘Unflesh’ takes you on a fantastic excursion of Electronic horror, filled to overflowing with dense atmospherics and more distorted vocal productions than sounded by an army of Daleks.
‘Unflesh’ is available for purchase now.
Watch the video for ‘Anti Body’ below