Spektralized is back with a brand spankin’ new album called In Between The Opposite. It is signed under the popular Italian industrial label EK Product. This is the same label as well known artists (Vomito Negro, Impakt! and one of my favorites, Darkmen.). In Between The Opposite, is making quite a splash already. In just 3 days from the release, the EK Product label office was completely sold out out the first pressing of CD’s! No worries, we are assured that they are pressing up fresh copies of the hit album as we speak.
Before I dive into my review, I’d like to share some Spektralized history with you. Technically, Spektralized was formed in 1994. They released a cassette tape called “Genetic” that was only limited to 100 copies. The cassette was sold out in three weeks and it even made it to a review in the biggest newspaper in Østfold, Norway. The band split up in 1997. The founder, Richard Bjorklund (Vox,lyrics,Music), decided that he wanted to continue making music himself, so rather than using his own name for his solo venture, he took the name Spektralized again and started working on his own material. Nine years later after Genetic, Richard released his debut album Elements of Truth in 2003, under the name Spektralized. This would be the first record released under the name Spektralized since their promo debut Genetic in 1994. The album was produced by Sebastian R. Komor ( Komor Kommando, Icon of Coil) and was widely received by fans and critics alike. It also produced the hit single “Allied”. The follow up album Capture The Moment, was not released until three years later in 2006. This album too was met with great success. In fact, it actually made it all the way to the top five list for Best Album at the Scandinavian Alternative Music Awards in 2007, along with bands such as Covenant and Apoptygma Berzerk. In between the second and third album The Puzzle, which would not be released for four more years. Richard decided to try his hand at remixing his famous friend’s records like Apoptygma Berzerk and Komor Kommando. The Puzzle released in 2010, was also a huge success. Two years later in 2012 he released the My Needs EP which would act as a precursor to their brand new album In Between The Opposite just released a few days ago in 2013.
First off, I have to say that I’m really on the fence on this one. I just don’t like Richard’s voice and I just can’t get past that. Besides his accent being very strong, there is just something about his voice that doesn’t sit right with me. I thought since I like the music so much, maybe I could walk away from it for a day, come back to it and listen to it with fresh ears, but that did not work. If I’m going to listen to something vocal, I have to like the voice, and in this instance I just don’t.
There are many acts like have strong accents like 80’s synthpop legends Cetu Javu,Camouflage,Savage and Boytronic. Savage is a great example, because his accent is so thick and heavy that you couldn’t cut it with a knife. However, on most of his records, his voice is pleasant to the ear, even the Depeche Mode cover of Strangelove works for me. Athough it is an awful cover and his accent is the strongest, there is still a certain quality to his voice that flows with the bubbly synthpop music he makes. Look at bands like Depeche Mode, Red Flag, Cause & Effect, Celebrate The Nun, and T42, their voices have this soothing sweetness that fits their music like a glove, and even flows better than Savage. I just don’t think that his voice fits his music. I know a lot of you will disagree with me and that’s fine. As I’ve said many times before, my reviews are simply one man’s opinion. Like them or hate them, they are still just my opinion. Now that being said, I am not usually an advocate for instrumental albums, but in this case, since I don’t like his voice, I’d make an exception. I’ll be honest, usually if I don’t like something as huge as a vocal, I’m going to be turned off. Much like a fart at the dinner table, not only will it ruin the meal, but the whole experience as well.
I will say that his voice did not bother me as much in a song like “Changes”. I actually enjoyed his vocal performance. It really reminded me of Red Flag, who I am a big fan of. But honestly, as far as Richard’s vocals go, “Changes” was the only song I could stomach. On some songs, like the more Nine Inch Nails- influenced ‘Reborn” and “Children of Tomorrow”, his voice sounds like Trent Reznor if Trent was from Norway. I didn’t like that much either.
However, I was very impressed with the music. Richard and his crew (Ken A Nilsen -Guitars, Magnus Sørli – keys and second voice) are extremely talented. I love how the album politely danced around from old skool synthpop and industrial to more modernized styles like futurepop. In Between The Opposite is cleverly adorned with big dancefloor anthems like “Children of Tomorrow”, To Be Recalled”, “Unite Us All” and ‘Reborn’ , an electro, almost experimental track “Sci-Fi Break Up” to more downbeat and moody tracks like “Reflecting Memories”, “Different People” “Looking Forward” and “Changes”. Overall, a very solid album with strong substance and many layers.
There is an obvious Depeche Mode influence here. Especially classic 80’s Depeche Mode throughout most of the album. Depeche Mode had this certain dark magic that only they could brilliantly execute. Although I do not think Spektralized came close to re-creating that magic, I was still strongly reminded of those wonderful, early, dark and foreboding Depeche Mode records that became a part of the very fabric of my soul. Songs like “Reflecting Memories”, “Different People” “Looking Forward” and the aforementioned “Changes”, reminds me of that comfortable and familiar place that only Depeche Mode could ever take me. Don’t get me wrong, I think In Between The Opposite is an excellent album in terms of musical composition and production, but for me it’s a miss, because I don’t care for his voice. Much like Depeche Mode and many other synth bands of their ilk, Spektralized’s lyrics are deep, though provoking and intense. I can really appreciate an album that so many diverse and eclectic influences and styles on one record, especially because it really works for them. One really bright, shining moment I wanted to mention is the two incredible remixes by Sebastian Komor (Komor Kommando, Icon of Coil) who I love.
Now you might think my next comment might contradict everything I just said, but please read carefully the words I am saying, it is quite the opposite. I highly recommend Spektralized In Between The Opposite . Besides the vocals, which many of you will probably love and enjoy, the music and the fantastic overall feeling and atmosphere of the album is a winner. Fans of many diverse styles like synthpop, goth, industrial, EBM and futurepop will love Spektralized.
Sadly for me, I’m going to have to pass.
NOTE: Possibly due to it selling out, Amazon says that the album will not be released until April 30th, 2013. Buy you can pre-order it now.