Null Cell – Nemesis
Release Date: 31.12.21
Running Time: 47:05
Review by Dark Juan
Hello, dear friends. It is I, Dark Juan, and you may be very surprised to know that I am feeling somewhat subdued. Normally I am to be found bursting with explosive bonhomie, and replete with witty bon mots and all round cheerful good humour. Instead I feel like shite and can’t even rouse myself to masturbate furiously over a picture of Euronymous burning down a church. That’s death’s door kind of business. Fuck knows what’s wrong with me, because all the tests I am doing for COLIN-19 appear to be negative. Mrs Dark Juan is currently sparked out on the sofa with two Smellhounds and I have a gently snoring (and extremely flatulent) General Sir Zeusington Zeus KCVG, VC, DFC and bar, Croix de Guerre and Order Of The Red Banner next to me whilst I contemplate my mortality, and what the response from Mrs Dark Juan would be if I woke her to demand tea. As the second point would probably directly influence the first, I feel it would be beneficial to my lifespan if I just went and fetched my own cup of tea.
I don’t even feel like drinking, even though I know there’s a very acceptable bottle of 15-year-old single malt Scotch whisky in the kitchen with my name on it. Is this what old age and senescence is?
Also, it’s near Christmas, and I promised Mrs Dark Juan I wouldn’t ruin it for her this year by being miserable. However, seeing as she has no control over the vitriolic vomiting of my metaphorical pen (he sez as he types this on Word) I can confidently share with you the fact that I despise Christmas with a passion. I hate all the false bonhomie, the commercial shitstorm that starts in fucking SEPTEMBER, the awful music, and most of all the fact that I am OBLIGED to like it for the sake of society as a whole. Why? Why the fuck should I accept the Christians (fucking imported Middle Eastern death cults do my fucking head in too) having stolen a perfectly acceptable pagan festival, and their capitalist lackeys using it as an excuse to drag ever more profit out of our miserable and increasingly less well-off lives? And more to the point, swallow it all down like a good little boy for the sake of other people’s happiness? Commercial shitstorms do my fucking head in. Next the supermarkets will have fucking Easter eggs in in February. Right after the supermarkets try to relieve me of money and increase my already beyond Catholic levels of assumed guilt with Valentine’s Day and all the pink frothy bullshit that comes with it. Mrs Dark Juan would fucking adore it if I bought her a raven, not a fucking lovebird, you money grabbing twats…
You might be wondering just what the fuck I am listening to that has caused me to rant in such a disgracefully self-indulgent fashion. It’s “Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)” by The Darkness.
No, it isn’t. I’m lying to you again. By kind permission of Machineman Records, I have in my sweated and greasy hands an advance copy of Nebraska native Isabella Chains’ latest offering as Null Cell – “Nemesis”.
You will no doubt, as regular readers of this gobbledegook masquerading as factual information, know that I am something of a Null Cell fan, having reviewed the debut album (https://ever-metal.com/2021/02/20/null-cell-eternally-ill/, if you’re interested) and found the listening experience not unlike being incarcerated in an industrial meat packing plant populated by heavily armed sadists who all have anger management issues and severe inferiority complexes. You will be pleased to note that “Nemesis” is considerably more schizophrenic, ‘Chemical Haze’ having a bizarre, calliope like carnival quality, and a vocal that for some outré (and probably drug-fuelled) reason has me thinking of the tongue in cheek humour and delivery of Lux Interior, with a strange middle and end section of spoken word parts that also remind me of Satanic doo-wop titans Twin Temple. A very strange and engaging mix of psychobilly and industrial… This having exploded out of the end of a rather more industrial piece of noise called ‘The Void’, which spasmodically jerks from a droning electronic noise to the sound of orgasm over pounding sequenced drums.
In general, though, the sound of Null Cell is still an amalgam of Skinny Puppy, early Ministry, KMFDM, Die Krupps and Front Line Assembly. Chopped up guitars underpin machine-made, pounding beats and vocals that still remind me of a mightily pissed off Nivek Ogre. All good on the influence front then, eh?
Fear not, because “Nemesis” has more variety than “Eternally Ill” did. Isabella Chains has increased her musical influences and a distinct hip-hop vibe has crept into the music – ‘South-O Sleaze’ having hip-hop beats fused with choppy metal guitars and a Trent Reznor-channeling vocal and lyrical performance, and ‘Psychic Slave’ enjoying more rap beats and a sample from 90s R&B superstars En Vogue (don’t think I didn’t notice, you cheeky little monkey!), as well as it being the most removed song from Null Cell’s actual grinding, percussive assault upon the senses.
Null Cell still have the same “problem” as they did with their debut record. It might not be metal enough for a metal fan to truly enjoy. Whilst, I, as a massive fan of EBM and Futurepop and Aggrotech and Synthwave and Power Electronics and especially Industrial, can find much to enjoy and to appreciate the coldness and the alienation that Null Cell’s music conjures up in my poor abused brain, a metal fan unwilling to be convinced by the righteous path of Industrial might consider it lightweight poppy bollocks. However, I am prepared to ignore this when I score the record because I think it’s fucking brilliant. My favourite song is ‘Mechanesia’, which has an emotional, scarred vocal overlaid by closely tracked guitars and keyboards and a real feeling of melancholy attached to it.
Being a one-person project means absolutely no need to compromise on your musical vision, and Isabella Chains is to be praised for forging her own Industrial path and creating another fine album that is a reflection of her personality. It mirrors my own obsidian take on the universe, and the lyrical content relates stories of losing control of yourself, and going through depression and possibly failing to come back out of it again unscarred, or (and this, with you all knowing I wrangle young gentlemen in the care of local authorities for an actual living when I am not deflowering the children of religion, and frequently the followers of them makes it DEEPLY personal) the abuse suffered by young people in all its forms. This song (‘Blade’s Edge’) is a deeply unpleasant listening experience for me in that regard, but is relevant, timely and sharper than a rapier thrust to the eyeball.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (they speak a strange and bastardised version of English over in them there United States of America, so no amusingly incorrect translations into foreign languages today) awards Null Cell 9/10, because their cyberpunk mix of Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and Ministry with added metal is right up my perverted little alley.
01. The Return To Oz
03. Breaking The Code
04. Dream Emulator
05. Over The Top
06. Psychic Slave
07. Blade’s Edge
08. The Void
09. Chemical Haze
10. Judgement Pays (Good Cop)
11. South-O Sleaze
12. Twitching Alive
Isabella Chains – Vocals, synths, programming, guitar, production and all instrumentation where noted. There’s no need for this level of talent. No need at all!
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