Industrial metal has had a tough time maintaining its integrity as a genre over the years. It entered the ‘90s pissed and oppressive, but left them skipping and holding hands with nu metal. Remember Pitchshifter? Their career was basically like a microcosm of the genre as a whole. A few experimental black metal acts like Blut Aus Nord, Darkspace, and Anaal Nathrakh have put its influence to good use and the triumphant return of Godflesh last year has certainly helped. But, if I were to simply describe the debut full-length from France’s Autokrator as industrial death metal, your initial thought would probably be less than positive, especially as we’re all still trying to get the awful taste of Illud Divinum Insanus out of our mouths. Thankfully I have room here to elaborate on what that genre label means in this case.

Autokrator was originally intended to be a new album from N.K.V.D. — another noteworthy industrial black metal project — but it was deemed too great of a departure, and I agree. Autokrator shares a similar martial tone at times, but not much else. Despite this new project’s moniker meaning “one who rules by himself,” lone N.K.V.D. member, Loïc.F, has assembled an international council to provide vocals, drums, and samples for this monstrous new direction.

The approach taken by Autokrator is actually a return to one of industrial’s original tenets: deconstruction. All of the basic elements of death metal are here, but they’ve been pulverized and amplified. It might be best to listen to the album with the same mindset you would have for an ambient, noise, or power electronics recording. Not only are there no discernible riffs, but you also can barely make out any chords. The guitars, which could very well be bass guitar, form an unbelievably massive, throbbing wall of sound. Drums exist in varying tempos from mid-paced marches to hyper-fast blasts, but those guitars don’t seem to care as they rumble and vibrate along with no regard to anyone or anything. Everything sounds like it was recorded in an old, abandoned factory with the vicious, inhuman growls of the two vocalists echoing through abandoned corridors, drums hammering on rusted steel, and guitars being played through amps built from the old machinery as they spew broken fragments of themselves. It’s one of the most merciless things you’re ever going to hear.

The overall sound isn’t too dissimilar from Ævangelist, but without their dark ambient undercurrent. Attempting to layer any more sounds would be futile here — like trying to enjoy classical next to a shuttle launch. There are a few moments of pure ambience, such as the closing moments of “Act 2 – Exsuperator” and “Act 6 – Sit divus, modo non vivus” that resemble Desiderii Marginis, but those are soon blasted away by the rockets. Most of the tracks follow the same formula with the exception of “Act 4 – Autokrator” and closer “Act 8 – Optimus princeps,” which offer some respite with some slightly less booming textures. They’re nice curiosities, but the supreme heaviness of rest of the album is the main attraction because, let’s be honest, we’re here to see liftoff.

Lyrically, each track focuses on the exploits of a different Roman emperor (or emperor’s wife, in the case of “Act 7 – Imperial Whore”). This seems at odds with the apocalyptic atmosphere of the music, but it’s certainly not off-putting by any means. It’s not like they’re harping on about how “radikul” they are. My biggest criticism might be too subjective, but I have to bring it up. Fade outs are a pet peeve of mine, and most of the tracks here close with them. It’s not quite as bad when they blend into some ambience, but for the ones that don’t, it just feels anticlimactic. Although, once the next track explodes, I quickly forget all about it.

Self-released digitally in early March, Autokrator was quickly picked up by Iron Bonehead for a vinyl release. I hope this proves to be a lasting partnership, and that Loïc.F continues to create more twisted sounds with both Autokrator and N.K.V.D. I can envision the two projects evolving in different but equally interesting directions, and helping to mend industrial metal’s reputation in the process.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
May 1st, 2015


  1. Commented by: jesusgod

    Aborym,neo inferno 262,gorgona prima,control human delete,etc etc.diabolicum even.soooo many amazing industrial metal bands. Even herrschaft and monolith death cult to thy disease.

  2. Commented by: bast

    “… They’re nice curiosities, but the supreme heaviness of rest of the album is the main attraction because, let’s be honest, we’re here to see liftoff.” :)
    This is interesting. Seems this band is on the right track, it is like they grab the torrent of experimental black/death metal and push it a little further. Makes me want to get high or something.

  3. Commented by: Darconville

    PHOBOS is a far more mature and sophisticated listen when it comes to the production and derangement of musical cacophony.

    Leave this one by the dumpster.

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