Alec Empire

The Destroyer

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Having ceased doing relatively calmer solo projects for Mille Plateaux, on The Destroyer Empire created work that seemed far more likely to come from the Atari Teenage Riot mastermind. Everything mostly missing from the various Mille Plateaux releases turns up here in spades: blasting, nuclear-strength, high-speed hip-hop loops; in-your-face, belligerent samples; and conversational snippets -- the works. As with Atari Teenage Riot, Empire's sheer humorlessness becomes terribly funny upon reflection. There's no doubting his passion, to be sure, but the liberal use of exclamation points in his titles ("We All Die!," "Bang Your Head!," "Nobody Gets Out Alive!") is just one example where his enthusiasm better suits a satiric sketch about rebels more than anything else. As with his main band's other work, though, once past the window dressing he serves, his music in The Destroyer becomes a thrilling proposition from the get-go. Where the goal is righteous, invigorating action, Empire's almost without peer. If he seems doomed to essentially plow the same musical furrow again and again -- ironically dating himself more and more with time as a result -- the variations he comes up with often turn out to be winners. Opening track "Hard Like It's a Pose" sets the tone: the barked sample that provides the title fed through studio treatment, the clever and very carefully arranged layering of massive beat-slams, balancing chaos and calculation, and more. Empire's highlight of his solo career appears here, "The Peak." Combining barreling drum loops, huge distortion crunches, and a voice claiming "When you've reached your peak, it's time to die!," it's a truly compelling example of Empire's work. A slight ringer concludes the album -- a live (or rather, "Live!") recording of "Pleasure Is Our Business" from a couple of years previous that has its moments -- but mostly this is Empire at his frenetic, take-no-prisoners best.

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