I still haven’t got over the shock of my colleague Patrik giving a previous Grandchaos release a lowly 3 out of 10, but I can almost see his reasoning behind it.
There is a huge old school rebellion going on at the moment, with many labels putting out classic sounding material from modern artists, Electro Aggression, EK Product, and Digital Density being among a small number of Old School revivalists. Unfortunately, many modern listeners of EBM do not understand, or really relate to the Old School sound in the 21st Century.
Grandchaos’ Tcheleskov Ivanovitch can consider himself among the well known of the old school artists, and establishing himself where it all began; in Belgium, with Idlo, he can safely say that he is one of those who does ‘get’ EBM.
Before I even listened to this for the first time, I was deeply impressed by the retro-modern, Steampunk inspired artwork and promo pictures of the artist. It’s been a trend recently to inject old-school ebm with more modern approaches, and you could comfortably file this one under ‘genial’.
‘Rumours’ steamrolls into action with ‘Stay With Me’, a track built around a thumping bass, massively powerful synth, and Ivanovitch’s recognisable, traditional, and powerful booming vocals. This is one of the best produced, easily rememberable, and musically marketable tracks I’ve heard in the Old-School catalogue for a couple of years, and where a lot of acts are happy to recreate the classic sound, this has a modern sheen, and a masterful production that makes it sound both new, and original. It’s also rare that an album opens with a 6 minute track, but if Grandchaos have taught us anything since I first heard it in 2006, it’s that Ivanovitch paints by his own numbers.
‘Refuge’ could be considered exemplary in execution, as it knows when to build each instrument in, provides a slow but tantalising initial minute, and once again, the sounds that act as the main melody are both delightful and modern, almost ‘spacy’, fitting the cover art and concept with aplomb.
Each piece of art (it seems a little flat to just refer to each track as a ‘song) on here could happily use itself as propaganda and marketing to truly bring this style back into the ‘noughties’ (as this decade is affectionately known), and crucially, as is often the issue with old school acts, nothing sounds identical, or too similar.
Remixes by Foretaste and Groupe T help forge an understanding between this generation of EBM – these acts are out to reclaim their throne, and titles like ‘The Sky Will Be My Tomb’ enforce a new definition to the bass heavy, EBM sound that we all fell in love with.
It doesn’t have to be about body, beer, muscles and masculinity, as so many EBM bands are these days, all it needs is a unique approach to songwriting and imagery, left to simmer for a year, and best served fresh.
Grandchaos is the perfect main course to a day that can only get better and better.
Buy it. (As our friends over at ID:YD would say).
(Edit – this album also features the vocals of Jacky Meurisse from Signal Aout 42).