16 Volt


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Touring with Korn and Chemlab helped bring 16 Volt to the attention of the mainstream in the late '90s. Officially parting ways with Cargo Records in 1998, the band signed with Mercury and followed with the release of their fourth album, SuperCoolNothing. With the direction of co-producers Bill Kennedy (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper) and Joseph Bishara (Danzig, Megadeth, Billy Idol), Eric Powell and company were given room to fully realize their talents, enabling them to craft a menacing album full of whisper-to-scream verses, explosive choruses, and brooding electronic soundscapes. "I Fail Truth" sets everything in motion with its mix of brutal machine-gun beats, angst-ridden verses, and soaring choruses. This formula is also used on "Everyday Everything," a track that would have sounded right at home on Nine Inch Nails' Broken. Drawing similarities between the two acts can be an easy trap here, made even easier by the fact that former Nine Inch Nails drummer and producer Chris Vrenna provides live drums on SuperCoolNothing. After listening to the album in its entirety, however, Powell's own style becomes more apparent, and the distinction between his songwriting and that of Trent Reznor becomes clearer. The album's most immediate track, "Keep Sleeping," reveals an eerie similarity between Eric Powell's vocal stylings and that of Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros frontman Perry Farrell. With its nursery rhyme-like qualities, the track obscures its malicious intent with a gentle singalong vocal melody that floats over a bed of crushing guitar riffs. Surprisingly, not all of the album's best tracks are its fastest or hardest. "Moutheater" successfully uses its slow and haunting build to intimidate, while "Low" and "At the End" each offer twisted comfort in their lullaby-like, yet sinister approach. In a genre where imitation is often the easiest path to commercial success, Eric Powell continues to concoct his own unique blend of industrial rock, punk, and metal. SuperCoolNothing establishes 16 Volt as an important band in industrial music -- add to that the fact that Powell has single-handedly built his career around a strict D.I.Y. philosophy, and there's even more reason to be impressed.

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