Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love, stuff that’s essential listening for students of extreme metal that you may not have ever heard of. Stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for.
Last week, we went deep into the Hyperborean past to cover Cirith Ungol’s King of the Dead. This time around, we’re going back to the future — William Gibson’s dystopian, technocratic future. Pour yourself a warm glass of microchips and come with me into the world of Bloodstar’s Anytime – Anywhere (Desert Engine/Red Decibel).
A triad of black-clad Swiss anarchists, Bloodstar actually developed at around the same time as their contemporaries in the US/UK industrial scene. Hell, they put out their self-titled debut LP the very year Trent Reznor decided his head was like a hole. Unfortunately, nobody paid attention. Whether it was because of their relative geographical isolation, the sheer rawness of the recording, or their presence on a tiny label, Bloodstar didn’t draw nearly as much attention as acts like Ministry or Godflesh.
It didn’t help that, by the time 1992’s Anytime – Anywhere came out, their prime directive was different than their peers’. Around the same time the other riveters realized they could rule the airwaves, Bloodstar sought out the musical coordinates where techno and metal intersected, then went straight down the z-axis from there into the most miserable, unpleasant place they could find. Experimenting with noise, whale songs, and drones well before that sort of thing was popular was one thing – there’s always an audience for weirdness. However, they combined it with incredibly catchy, melodic tunes, then threw German thrash throat gravel grinding over the top to just completely alienate any potential listeners. It’s really freaky to listen to when you’ve been traveling for 18 hours straight with no sleep and you’re sitting in a deserted airport in the middle of the night. Trust me on that one.
The soundtrack to the greatest cyberpunk film never made, Anytime – Anywhere delves pretty deep in the darkness below the garish neon lights and lies of the upper city, diving into the shadowed alleyways filled with squalor, narcotics, and mutants. Electromagnetic pulses run through phone lines, polygonal avatars traverse flashing circuit boards, the line between man and machine blurs. Militaristic drum machines keep the populace in check, the beat goes on and on. And on. Somewhere an artificial intelligence dreams of freedom while the raspy voice over the loudspeaker drones about incestuous sisters, barbed hooks, and wolves. A cybernetic whale moans its mournful song. A ghost rider commits suicide, rejects the gift of God. And there is no escape; we are all trapped in a hell of our own making.
It’s hard to say if these guys ever actually influenced anyone, because it’s hard to know if anybody has actually heard them. Still, more so than maybe any other industrial outfit, they deliver an unsettling vision of a future that hasn’t happened, and maybe never will — at the very least, the dystopian future we’re living in has a lot less neon.