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Industrial music is often times very unrelenting. Its mechanic body moves in a synchronized array of pounding synths without emotion. That's what Kidneythieves exhibits in their new album The Mend, though there is a quite a bit of emotion; particularly worry.
The album was delayed by about a month following guitarist and engineer Bruce Somers who experienced a family crisis and was unable to master the album until the end of August, but the band knew that they wanted a masterfully crafted album. So they pushed back to release to allow for the album to be properly mixed for the best experience. The Kickstarter campaign that funded the record also played a key in wanting this album to be better for the fans than it was at that time.
Did the patience pay off, though? The results of The Mend don't really justify the time and money put into the record. It's a solid record, but it's nothing special, nor particularly exciting. It may be the nature of the genre that is always trying to live up to Nine Inch Nails, and of which few bans or artists have truly excelled in, but The Mend is just underwhelming as a whole.
It kicks off with 'Fist Up', starting creepily and leading into a thick, pulsing guitar riff that punches in and out to add dynamic to the track. Free Dominguez's melody is a bit odd, panicky and hysterical in the choruses but in a high-school cheerleader kind of way. It's a solid track otherwise. 'Codependent Song' shows that NIN influence on the genre; the bouncing synths and dramatic vocals shining through.
This album is plagued by missing something on each song. There's not one song that feels complete - they all seem lacking in some fashion. Many songs seem to be missing a sufficient low-end to balance out the high register guitars and bouncing synths. In fact, there really isn't a song that has a strong low end that empowers it. 'Kushcloud' has traces of bass in the wobbling, distorted synth, but it just doesn't quite hit that deep, low-end feel. Some songs don't even have an almost: 'Who You Are' is heavily reminiscent of the industrial/electronic scene of the late 80s and 90s. With that high synth, there really isn't any thick bassline - or any bass whatsoever - to hold down its foundations.
A lot of the slower songs had potential, too. There's interesting points of the record, especially when some of the aggressive imagery and reprimanding nature of the industrial genre is dropped for something more provocative. 'Migration' is the start of this trend, a swampy synth playing above a funky beat as Dominguez's melodies take the limelight. 'Let Freedom Ring' even takes up a poppier composure - and actually has a bass guitar, however underwhelming! - that features a programmed beat and uplifting melodies, powerful guitars giving it the punch that so much of the rest of the album lacked.
If anything, The Mend is an example of how important bass can be to an album. Kidneythieves may have made an important album for them, but that doesn't make it a good one. It was a long time coming and it unfortunately didn't live up to what it could have been. It missed vital components that would've taken it a single step further and by far a better album. All the tools are there - they just have to know how to use them.
Favorite Track: Let Freedom Ring
Least Favorite Tracks: World For Us, Living Like You Did
Rating: 53 / 100