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The band's sophomore album, Skin was already a much leaner and far more aggressive affair than the Wisdom debut. The songs were shorter, the arrangements tighter with less emphasis on slow atmospheres and more on the rapid fire interplay of mechanical rhythms and crunchy guitars. With LetDownCrush, 16volt launched full speed ahead with an unadulterated machine rock assault that takes no prisoners, setting many of the tropes of the band's sound and style that continue to this day. Released in 1996 on the now defunct but renowned Re-constriction imprint at the height of the industrial machine's infiltration of the mainstream, LetDownCrush found itself in a rather odd and exciting place in music history Chemlab was organizing militias on the east side and KMFDM were busy being Xtorted; Stabbing Westward were withering, blistering, burning and peeling, and Gravity Kills were admitting guilt; Ministry were being filthy pigs and Skinny Puppy entered a process of bitter hibernation. It was the year of industrial, and 16volt were by now a well oiled war machine, locked and loaded for action.
The sultry and sinister laugh of guest vocalist Stella Soleil Katsoudas resonates through the speakers as electronic noise crackles into a mechanized percussive beat. Descending power chords and Powell's acerbic vocals kick in, and Swarm begins LetDownCrush with the force of a battering ram to the throat. With each successive track, the album unleashes a vicious onslaught of textural ambient backdrops that give added weight to the virulent guitars and caustic synthesizers. The pummeling rhythms and scathing guitars of Breed race by like the audio equivalent of an adrenaline high, while Shameface spares no ear drums with the percussion taking on an especially furious tonality, the guitars taking on a noisy texture like the metallic screams of a dilapidated factory. Other tracks move at a much more moderate, though no less pulsating tempo, with A Cloth Like Gauze marching by with thunderous bravado thanks to live drums courtesy of Dan Pred, and Two Wires Thin being heralded as the quintessential coldwave anthem, featuring Haloblack and H3llb3nt collaborator Bryan Black. Also among the album's collaborators is Marc LaCorte, co-writing four songs and lending his own particular brand of guitar grit and grime for some added industrial power.
Never one to eschew melody, 16volt is as catchy as belligerent on LetDownCrush with tracks like The Dreams that Rot in Your Heart and especially The Cut Collector becoming underground favorites and remaining staples of the band's live shows to this day thanks to their incendiary choruses. Similarly, the infectious and ominous Crush slithers by with just enough bite to keep the album's acidity level in the red, while Something Left steadily builds from thrumming bass and whistling synthesizers hinting at the onset of a violent attack, an approaching beast that wait until the last possible second to sink its fangs into the listener. Throughout, Powell's vocals are perhaps at their rawest, often sacrificing perfect pitch or processing to reveal the unfettered emotions at play.
LetDownCrush was the final 16volt release on Re-construction, left to wallow in the mire of out-of-print status for 15 years. Now offered in its remastered glory on Metropolis Records, fans can enjoy this third album from the messiahs of machine rock and bask in one of the great classics of the underground scene. Featuring as a bonus track the band's cover of the Cypress Hill classic Ain't Going Out Like That, LetDownCrush is an album that is as diverse as it is consistent and concise; a piece of industrial rock history that marks the first 16volt album to hold the ThreeWordTitle, reached #1 in the Rolling Stone alternative charts, and features departed legends guitarist William Tucker and engineer Jeff Critter Newell. Eric Powell and his associates had come a long way in the three years since their debut and LetDownCrush solidified 16volt as the premiere coldwave force!
Track List01. Swarm
02. The Dreams That Rot In Your Heart
03. A Cloth Like Gauze
04. Something Left
05. The Cut Collector
08. Two Wires Thin
10. Carla's Tarantulas
11. We Ain't Goin' Out Like That
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(Tracks from the digital version)
|The Dreams That Rot In Your Heart||3:38|
|A Cloth Like Gauze||4:02|
|The Cut Collector||3:52|
|Two Wires Thin||4:01|
|We Ain't Goin' Out Like That||4:15|