Title: The Inevitable Relapse
Genre: Dark Electro / EBM
Release Date: 22nd January 2021
Label: Dependent Records
For quite a while now FÏX8:SËD8, the project by Martin Sane, has been the go-to act for all who love classic Dark Electro and EBM, in particular of the North-American variety. Canadian acts SKINNY PUPPY and FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY and Texas-based MENTALLO & THE FIXER are household names which are frequently dropped when someone tries to describe the sound of FÏX8:SËD8. And Martin Sane’s brainchild is indeed good company for these pioneering trailblazers. ‘The Inevitable Relapse’ is already the fifth album by FÏX8:SËD8, which started in 2005 with ‘Humanophobia’, which was produced by no other than HAUJOBB’s Daniel Myer. The last two albums, ‘Foren6’ (2017) and ‘Warning Signs’ (2019), received both rave reviews and has made the hearts of fans of intelligent, complex Dark Electro beat faster. Keeping up such a high level throughout two albums is difficult enough, but was Martin Sane able to do it a third time?
The answer is simple, and the answer is yes. Anyone who loves the last two FÏX8:SËD8 albums will be more than happy with the new one. ‘The Inevitable Relapse’ has all the proved and tested ingredients of its two predecessors. The multi-layered production, dense and dark atmospheres, painstaking precision when it comes to samples and sounds, and just the right amount of anger and rage contrasted by beautiful melodies which add some kind of frangibility to the sinister Electro soundscapes. But there also new elements, most notably in the addition of female vocals in ‘Tremors’, delivered by Emese Arvai-Illes from the Hungarian band BLACK NAIL CABARET. This is a welcome change to the distorted vocoder-voice of Martin Sane himself - I must admit that I’m not always a big fan of distorted and heavily processed vocals, sometimes it works well for me and sometimes not so well. In FÏX8:SËD8 I certainly don’t mind them but I salute the addition of Emese’s vocals anyway. A perfect addition!
With ‘Unknown To Virtue’ there’s also a sure-fire dancefloor hit on the album. If only the clubs would be open right now in this pandemic! While there are many other dance-friendly moments (‘Prognosis’ comes to mind, for example), most of ‘The Inevitable Relapse’ is rather for your headphones and not necessarily for the dancefloor. There are always so many layers and sounds to discover, and Martin Sane is at his best when he creates dark moods and haunting atmospheres with his sophisticated programming and clever arrangements. In this regard the epic opener ‘Enigma’ is one of the finest FÏX8:SËD8 songs so far, as well as the album’s title track which over the course of seven minutes develops from a gloomy ambient soundscape to an eruptive up-tempo track. Martin Sane is often praised for his production and programming skills, but did anyone ever mention that he’s also a damn good songwriter? He is. The album closer ‘Metabolite’ is also worth mentioning, last but not least because of the frantic bass reminiscent of mid-era SKINNY PUPPY. Not that FÏX8:SËD8 would ever be a mere copycat of the old role models! As much as FÏX8:SËD8 harks back to the glorious days of Dark electro in the late 1980s and the 1990s the music always feels fresh and authentic.
All in all ‘The Inevitable Relapse’ is FÏX8:SËD8’s most consistent album to date. After two stunning albums one might run risk to offer something good, but just not as good as the previous offerings. Some rehashed old idea here, some lacklustre execution there, you get the idea. It’s simply not easy to hold up such a high level for several years. But Martin Sane succeeds, and with ‘The Inevitable Relapse’ he even pushes the bar. In all honesty, despite the obvious quality the album took a few runs for me but then it clicked. You will have to look far and wide to find something better this year from this genre.
But the story doesn’t stop here! There’s a limited edition of the album which contains a luxurious 36-page hardcover artbook and a bonus CD entitled ‘Rail At A Liar’! This CD features cover version (note: NOT remixes!) of all the tracks of ‘The Inevitable Relapse’ by acts like 2ND FACE (whose Vincent Uhlig also mastered the main album), FULL CONTACT 69, American Electro hero JIHAD, CRYO, and others. Throwing in some remixes as a bonus is usual business for long now, having other bands to cover all the songs of a brand-new album is rather unique, and it says volumes how well-connected the scene is. Thankfully you can buy the extra tracks on Bandcamp (see link below) if you didn’t get your hands on a physical copy of the limited edition. And I tell ya, it’s worth it!
03. Human Harvest
04. Tremors (feat. Emese Arvai-Illes)
05. Unknown To Virtue
06. The Inevitable Relapse
08. Pale Light Shadow
09. Chlorine Clean Tears
Bonus CD (only Artbook):
01. Frontier Guards - Enigma
02. Mildreda - Prognosis
03. Cryo- Human Harvest
04. Black Nail Cabaret - Tremors (feat. Emke)
05. Jihad - Unknown to Virtue
06. Amnistia - The Inevitable Relapse
07. 2nd Face - Meltdown
08. Akalotz - Pale Light Shadow
09. Amorphous - Chlorine Clean Tears
10. Full Contact 69 - Metabolite
https://www.facebook.com/Fix8Sed8 / https://fix8sed8.bandcamp.com
Total: 9.2 / 10