Release Date: Jul 26, 2011
Record label: Dim Mak
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
There’s one word that definitely does not appear in any of the books in Alec Empire’s library: ‘compromise’. Sod three-chord cider skiffle, for this is punk in the proper way: a piledriver pummelling your head for your pleasure, just as a lyrical sabre eviscerates the swine.The human trafficking protest track [b]‘Blood In My Eyes’[/b] is violent electro doom to righteous ends, and the nasty, incessant hum of the title track predicts a somewhat bleak future. Meanwhile, the supremely intense ‘Codebreaker’ is so brutally heavy it needs no hacker to crush the intimate parts of your hard drive.
Words like 'innovator' and 'genius' find themselves bandied around far too easily these days, yet whenever the name Alec Empire crops up in conversation, it's difficult to say anything else about him. Undoubtedly years ahead of his time, the fact Atari Teenage Riot have been making confrontational music for 20 years now yet still sound like nothing else on Earth speaks volumes. Not that those past two decades have been plain sailing.
Arriving almost a decade after founding Atari Teenage Riot member Carl Crack was found dead in his Berlin apartment in September 2001, Is This Hyperreal? was a reboot for the group, with Alec Empire joined by returning member Nic Endo and new recruit CX Kidtronik. Though ATR could be seen as a remnant of the cyber-punk era, many of the band's fascinations in the ‘90s, such as using technology to smash the system, were more reality than fantasy in the 2010s. During the decade they were gone, the Internet became a tool for freedom and constraint with social networking, piracy, identity theft, and intellectual property issues among the day’s hot-button topics.
When Atari Teenage Riot were last together, I was still in high school. This was, according to Agent Smith in the first Matrix movie, the peak of human civilization. Francis Fukuyama imagined that The End of History had been reached. Seemingly, all that middle-class punks like me had to protest was corporate-controlled globalization, a nebulous term whose parameters I was never quite sure of.
Atari Teenage Riot existed at a previously unimaginable fulcrum of genres, using every ingredient they could find to come up with an ecstatically assaultive squall. Their twisting, roiling blare had elements of pounding industrial, of mouth-foaming hardcore punk, of brutally fast hardcore rave, of scraping electronic noise, of thrash-metal bombast, of wriggling drill-n-bass, of Bomb Squad-style attack-beats. Their specific chaotic combination added up to German-accented ridiculousness ("Deutschland! Has gotta! Diiieeee!") screamed over hyperspeed 808 pounds and digitally treated guitar fuzz; it seemed scientifically engineered to annoy as many people as possible.
Controversial German digital hardcore group Atari Teenage Riot are back with their fourth studio album 10 years after the tragic death of their original MC, Carl Crack. It is also their first album in 11 years since their supposed breakup in 2000, but instead of doing things a little bit differently from the past, they have chosen instead to stick with the same sound from a decade ago which, compounded by the fact that their lyrics are still as politically inclined as before with no discernible deeper underlying meanings to them, only restricts the group’s potential for more creativity and greater musical maturity. Out of the trio’s vocals, Nic Endo’s shouts are the most dominant and present throughout all of the tracks.