Vertical Theory

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The best industrial bands, if they're commercially successful enough to stay in business long enough, eventually learn how to relax a bit and let themselves expand beyond the stylistic strictures of industrial's four-on-the-floor jackboot beats and Teutonic yelling. Vertical Theory marks Haujobb's tenth anniversary as a band and demonstrates that they have achieved that kind of maturity, a level of skill and self-confidence that allows them to explore everything from dubbed-out EBM to trancy dance music and a strange sort of ambient industrial. There is a nice variety of beats, sometimes within a single tune -- thudding house rhythms will suddenly give way to a funky breakbeat, and then back again. "Renegades of Noize" is an auspicious opener, combining a digital but warm and complex rhythmic texture with an almost melodic vocal line. "Noise Institute" starts off with a subtly jungly beat before lapsing into something a bit more gruff and housy; the dub-inflected "Slide" starts off in a cool industrial mode but eventually gets monotonous over the course of its six-minute length. What these songs are all missing, as usual, is anything approaching a real melody. That doesn't have to be a fatal flaw, if the beats and textures are interesting enough, and often they are on this album. But not always.

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