Originally released only in Europe, Stromkern’s music is now available stateside with the release of Armageddon. This is actually good timing, since Ned Kirby’s group shows a definite maturation in sound from previous releases with Armageddon, and a more developed and confident delivery of the vocals.
Kirby has described his influences as having been quite varied, and such is certainly obvious in what is heard on Armageddon. Trained in both the piano and the cello, Kirby uses strings and classical music conventions to potent effect in his hard electro act. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of Stromkern’s sound is the hip-hop-style to the vocals - a forceful, rhythmic delivery of highly expressive lyrics that work with the hard-edged electronics and lush strings to bring a radically new sound to the listener’s ears.
Most of the tracks on this disc are nothing short of exceptional. Having mostly discarded the tired, simplistic, and sometimes sample-heavy sound that was most of Flicker Like a Candle, Shaffer and Kirby move far, far ahead with a developed sense of purpose and identity. Some of the most phenomenal moments include “Night Riders”, “No Release”, “Melt” and “Armageddon”, although really the whole release demonstrates some excellent attention to catchy song structures and hard, raw electronics that never clutter or muddy the overall sound, letting the lyrics pound through like a jackhammer with surgical precision.
For those of you without much of an interest in modern-day hip-hop, never fear - Notorious or Snoop-Dogg this is not. This music really shares little in common with hip-hop artists of today, which is mostly due to the more poppy song structure, classical elements, and edgy, saw-blade electronics in most of the tracks on Armageddon. Stromkern has more of a Pop Will Eat Itself style, but with the electronics much more to the forefront, and sans the thrashy guitars (they are nowhere to be found in Stromkern’s music).
Overall this release astonished me and reinvigorated my faith in modern electro. Whereas so many groups are making that steadily pounding, and oh-so-increasingly banal EBM sound, Stromkern breaks down the conventions to which most artists become slaves, and strikes out into new territory with a refreshingly original yet highly accessible work of art with Armageddon. Here’s to hoping the end of the world waits at least until Stromkern releases their next album.
Artist Link: http://www.stromkern.com