Atari Teenage Riot – Is This Hyperreal? (Digital Hardcore)

The first album in more than ten years from Germany’s premier digital hardcore band Is This Hyperreal? throws you straight in where you left off; in a factory full of malfunctioning machines. It’s brutal, slightly terrifying, and always brilliant.

Alec Empire explains what this album does best on track one ‘Activate’ when he states “music is a weapon/sounds like a threat.”  Proving they are just as relevant as ever the lyrics here in instilled with a sense of political and cultural urgency: “corporations expect the power of the state to further enhance their power and the real criminals get away/ are you ready to testify?”  This isn’t just one song though, this is an album which repeatedly shoves in your face the problems inherent within society and in light of recent scandals now is the perfect time to crack out ATR.

Producing their album on an Atari, as always, new listeners upon hearing the dark spacey ‘Blood In My Eyes’ will see the blatant similarities between Crystal Castles, but the slow and constant digital fuzz of the title track ‘Is This Hyperreal?’ is a reminder of just how effective a tension builder games consoles can be; it’s not an 8-bit fad, it’s a culture and it has existed long before 2009 made it popular. While this is the quality most admired in modern bands in Atari Teenage Riot it’s what they have always done and it’s almost in the background compared to other elements such as the sound of marching or unnerving German lyrics which you just know aren’t nice.

Extremes are what these guys do best and everything here is pushed to the limit, it does sound like somebody making music on bits of broken things in the middle of a car crash, but then why does that have to be a bad thing? This is the definition of controlled chaos and has to be embraced to be understood. Probably one of the easiest bands in the world to hate it almost seems wrong to call them a band. What they do is more akin to musical activism and it always has been; it was the very reason they started the group in the 90’s and they deserve to be recognised for this activism now. If you miss this then you miss the point of the band entirely, if you enjoy this music you’re probably doing something wrong because it scares the shit out of me. While they are easy to hate they also have massive appeal including elements of thrash metal, speed metal, techno, hardcore, digitalism, and of course politics. No group in the world speaks the truth like these guys and each member does it in their own way; new MC CX KIDTRONiK is a suitable addition to the team vocalising the bands thoughts in an approachable yet direct manner.

The urgency with which ATR spews out facts and information that we should probably all know beggars belief, ‘Re-Arrange Your Synapses’ is one of the best songs on the album in this respect and sounds like the band throwing up onto record. In certain limited circles this album will be lauded, but for the rest of the world the least obviously hardcore songs and thus more commercially viable are: ‘Shadow Identity’, an upbeat techno track with a beautiful breakdown in which Nic Endo actually sings “who do you want to be and why?” showing a side of the band nobody knew existed, and ‘The Only Slight Glimmer Of Hope’ which is a typical punk rock song played through a synthetic instrument of which Alec Empire alone has heard of. It’s these stunning moments that astound you on near enough every song and if only for the last two machine filled moment of the final track you should buy this album and be enlightened.

[Rating: 5]

Release date: 20/06/2011


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