Skold delivers with ‘Dies Irae’

After 2019’s industrial release ‘Never is Now’ the 2020 release of the “Not My God” record with Nero Bellum, it comes as no surprise that the new Skold solo record would incorporate a healthy dose of metal guitar riffs and intricate leads. ‘Dies Irae’ is broken up in a back-and-forth pattern of guitar centric rock/metal tracks juxtaposed with the trademark heavy electronic/industrial sound I’ve come to expect from more current projects from Tim Skold. This parallel mixing of musical styles keeps the record moving in such a way as to never feel stagnant. The constant change up results in a refreshing album. While it may be the honeymoon period talking, I’m confident in feeling that ‘Dies Irae’ is my favorite Skold record yet.

The album opens with hard hitting ‘Dirty Horizon.’ This track has crisp sounding guitars that sound both contemporary, yet familiar in a nostalgic way. A scathing chorus hooked me, and I knew I was in for something fun. The guitar solo is a solid tell of things to come, and sets the tone for more metal aggression. That expectation is subverted when the second song starts up. ‘Unspoken’ breaks the ice with some of the more electronic elements I had expected. There’s a guitar solo in this one that shows off the best of Skold’s vast talent, which shouldn’t surprise me at this point, but it’s so good.

My favorite track is ‘Love is a Disease.’ There’s drum programming in the chorus that has this haphazard hi-hat pattern that is percussive icing that coats a bigger wall sound. The lyrical part of the chorus hits in a way that has lost zero impact after multiple listens. It feels like a confession, and I’m here for that kind of honesty. Another authentic confession is offered up in the atmospheric song ‘Terrified’ where Skold sings, “I’m not afraid of dying…I’m fucking terrified.”

Another track with intricate electronic drum programming is ‘Silicon Dreams.’ It’s made clear that Skold isn’t comfortable falling back on old habits when producing new material. The rhythmic work on this track reflects the coexisting grit and shine of trap music with hopeless undertones, and sparse guitar work that makes use of dynamic range.

The album ends with ‘Goodbye.’ This leans more toward elements of a metal track, and was released early as the album’s teaser. It rings as a highlight for me, as this final track was the first one I heard. It gave a good impression regarding the direction of the album, without revealing all of the tricks Skold deals out over the course of this record. This effort feels like one cohesive work, while showcasing an impressive variety and range Tim Skold brings to the table.

Bad Witch: Music Review

With ‘Bad Witch’ Nine Inch Nails has completed a trilogy of EPs, as was promised with the initial release ‘Not the Actual Events,’ and followup, ‘Add Violence.’

The EP begins with the chaotic rock of an old school NIN release. The two opening numbers, ‘Shit Mirror’ and ‘Ahead of Ourselves’ are politically charged excursions that express rage in the aftermath of apathy. Lyrics like, “I think I knew when it crossed the line” and “why try change when you know you can’t?” reflects Reznor’s internal struggles onto the world at large. The songs talk about squandered potential. When left to our own devices, we’re most likely to destroy ourselves in spite of some better vision. The verse/chorus structure of the first two songs offers a comfortable way to start the album by this uncomfortable artist.

Then the record changes course an instrumental track, titled, ‘Play the Goddamn Part.’ Noise levels border on cacophony before the music settles on a path that refuses the straight and narrow. What’s truly unique here is the saxophone, as I haven’t heard an honest horn section since ‘Pilgrimage’ from 1999’s ‘The Fragile.’ Aside from that you’d have to go back to 1988’s ‘Purest Feeling’ to find horns on a NIN track. While it’s been documented that Reznor played the sax during his high school years, up to this point he had left it in the past, as the previous examples were made with synthesizers. The third track moves with the grace and balance of a living entity.

The fourth track is titled, ‘God Break Down the Door,’ and is rife with saxophone, uptempo drums/synthesizers, and a vocal composition that reminds me of David Bowie. The lyrics declare, “You won’t find the answers here… not the ones you’re looking for,” in spite of the effort required to break down the perceived barrier.

‘I’m Not from This World’ is an unsettling instrumental track that creates a sense of space. The tempo slows down, and audio levels are below that of the other songs. It’s a haunting soundscape that deviates from the thoughtful composition of ‘Play the Goddamn Part’ as it wanders into the void of space.

‘Bad Witch’ concludes with my personal favorite track, ‘Over and Out.’ This song returns us to the beat driven downtempo that is a NIN standard. Heavy drums and beeping synths set the foundation of what feels like an instrumental journey. A bass line jumps on, and the wall of sound layers up. It feels like one of Reznor’s signature works, but a surprise is offered up when vocals break the ice, as the styling again reflects that of David Bowie. There’s no verse/chorus structure (same with ‘God Break Down the Door’), so the voice expresses, “Time is running out,” and all the complications associated with the passage of time.

With ‘Bad Witch’ being the final installment in this three-EP series, I’m hoping for a world tour that’ll land near me. It’ll be damn cool to see Atticus Ross in the live lineup. The new collection of songs are definitely worth a spin.

bad witch