Published Oct 04, 2018The work of Tristan Shone, the singular mastermind behind the bizarre biomechanical anomaly Author & Punisher, is largely based on pushing what is familiar into the unknown. In a method that at times approaches performance art, Shone's sound machines of his own design blur the line between analogue and digital, emitting a hostile offspring of noisy industrial and doom.
The music of Author & Punisher can be described as a sentient factory in rebellion, where the harsh mechanisms scrape, sirens blare and a voice washed in white noise screams into the void. Opener "Pharmacide" is a perfect representation of this, opening in a dramatic ebb and flow of industrial, only to end in an increasingly maniacal frenzy. But that was only the warmup, as "Nihil Strength" evokes Godflesh's "Like Rats," with Shone's enhanced scream, supported by what sounds like steam pistons and feedback.
By "Ode to Bedlam," a common thread starts to become apparent throughout, being a lack of variation in the rhythm section. The bass drum surrogate rarely diverges from its simplistic beat, which ends up giving much of Beastland a regrettable uniformity.
That being said, the power of Shone's utilization of both voice and machine win over such criticisms. One after the other, "The Speaker Is Systematically Blown" and "Nazarene" shine in their embrace of the ugly and harmonious, evoking tragic turmoil and a more human element to offset the coldness. Beastland's latter half is its strongest, with the violent smashing of "Apparition" and an eerie atmosphere conjured in the album's namesake closer.
Author & Punisher continues to be a quality nexus point of both electronic and extreme metal. Though Shone undoubtedly pushes the boundaries in his method of crafting his music, that doesn't always distract from the fact of the product sounding repetitive or even constrained. Beastland isn't Author & Punisher's strongest album, but it is a testament to Shone's talent that it is still a really good listen. (Relapse)