Psalms of Extinction

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Five albums and gazillions of singles into Pain's existence, it's still difficult to accept the fact that this industrial music project is actually helmed by extreme metal producer extraordinaire Peter Tägtgren, but Psalms of Extinction (that fifth album) adds another few layers of belief -- even if it gets off to an inconspicuous start. With little more than a jagged metallic riff to counter its robotic dullness, first track "Save Your Prayers" pretty much falls flat on its polished chrome face, but next cut "Nailed to the Ground" turns the ship around with a more danceable beat, groovy Rammstein riff, and a surprisingly catchy singalong chorus. Somewhat surprisingly, it's this particularly accessible formula that usually produces the album's best moments when repeated for ensuing tracks like "Clouds of Ecstasy," "Does It Really Matter," "Just Think Again," and "Bottle's Nest." But Tägtgren shifts gears constantly to keep any glimmer of boredom at bay: whether he's pounding along like a jackhammer with "Computer God," "Bitch," and "Zombie Slam" (which introduces baritone goth-rock vocals for a hopped-up Sisters of Mercy sound); scaling things back down a notch and adding symphonic textures to the title track and a cover of Björk's "Play Dead," or sneaking a hardly industrialized ballad like "Just Think Again" into the mix. All in all, this clearly makes for a varied set, showcasing Tägtgren's versatile talents for manipulating electronic sounds. But while it may intrigue his metal-focused following as a nice stylistic departure, Psalms of Extinction is unlikely to wow serious industrial music freaks as anything remotely groundbreaking.

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