Brandon Duncan is the one man act that is Sterilizer. Being a Trent Reznor of sorts, there is no reason that Duncan could not draw those lofty comparisons. The seamless transitions between power guitar riffs, electronic feedback, sampling, and dark storytelling is what industrial has always been about. Sterilizer tells the story of a society that has rendered every citizen sterile, while the protagonist will fight back to stop the process. The darker textures tell a story that never feels like a Disney fantasy. Imagine George Orwell’s masterful 1984, but with an even heavier edge. The constant use of dissonance fills every void and gap with hellish qualities that are nearly unrivaled in any electronically charged genre. The only thing that could make Sterilizer more frightening would be allowing Margaret Chardiet(Pharmakon) to throw screams over top.
Despite only being 24 minutes of sound, the eight tracks present pack quite a punch. The story kicks off with “Vasectomy,” setting up the narrative with repetitive riffing, a dash of electronic samples, and a small wall of noise. Later by the the third track, everything is starting to fall apart at the seams. “Depopulator” presents crunchier guitar tones, a drum machine that is playing at hyper speed, and features angry samples that bring the hatred toward the forefront. Every good plot has to have a little revenge, which is promptly delivered by the aptly named track. There are creepy synthesizers to set up some tension early, only to burst the track open with potent guitars which have a feeling of building toward victory.
“Domination” and “Equalizer” are where the story hits an ending point, using different methods for each execution. “Domination” is purely electronic in nature, using synthesizers and drones to scare the listener. It would truly make Richard James proud at just how effective the track is. The closer is more traditional using more structured riffs that start and stop on a dime, while the samples question whether winning was really worth it in the end.
The only real setback for Sterilizer as a record are that most of the songs lack something to become special. Every song is amusing, dark, and meaningful as they are currently constructed. Some do not quite pack the punch late that could knock them out of the park though. This is especially true with “Revenge” which has great use of sampling to further the theme, but could use a bit more guitar to hasten the stakes.
Sterilizer is a great record for anyone interested in a dark and morbid ride through a nasty future. Let us hope that a world full of sterility never exists, especially as heavy in tone as this record. The great instrumentals on the album have created a truly unique, albeit short ride into madness. There could be a bit more punctuation to a few songs here and there, but this is an awesome industrial metal album that should not be missed.