Album Review: Genghis Tron - 'Dream Weapon'

1 May 2021 | 4:17 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

"Welcome to Earth. Population: zero."

They did it, they actually fucking did it.

With 'Dream Weapon,' Genghis Tron has crafted an album in the same league as their previous outing, 2008's 'Board Up The House,' an album that perfectly embodies the GIF of Homer's head melting it's that intense. I love that one as much as the next pretentious nerd, but I love this newie just as much. While the shoegaze, psychedelia and electronica of this third LP is a very different beast to where they were 13 years ago with their experimental cyber-grind fusions, it's of the same quality. For if Genghis Tron returned sounding exactly like 2008, I wouldn't buy it. This return feels matured and wiser, a representation of where they are now as people and as artists. That's why Hopesfall's 'Arbiter' is so good; that's why Underoath's 'Erase Me' was a solid comeback; it's why 'Dream Weapon' is so powerful.

Guitarist Hamilton Jordan keyboardist/programmer Michael Sochynsky now stand next to new vocalist Tony Wolski (of The Armed, replacing Mookie Singerman and his harsh screams) and Sumac/Baptists drummer, Nick Yacyshyn. Marking the first time this band has had a human drummer, this is a wonderfully alive and fresh release for Genghis. Both Hamilton and Michael aren't concerned with re-hashing the fast chaos of their past; they've already done that and did it better than most. Here, they're more methodical, retaining their well-voiced instrumental graces. Tony's soothing angelic vocals fit this album's new sound and new era perfectly. While he never once screams, there's no need for him to do so. Then there's Nick, the album's secret (dream) weapon; its MVP. The guy sounds like he's got an extra two limbs with some of his acrobatic performances, as his percussive drum rolls and excellent accents are the thick glue holding these towering songs together.

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The name of the game over the course of the lush, textured 45-minutes of 'Dream Weapon' is to create palpable tension through meditative repetition, something that the quartet wields with care and attentive detail. With each member, each core element, focusing in on a single motif respectively, whether it be Nick's cascading fills or Michael's hypnotic synths. Repetition can be a double-edged sword, but just like the older better Meshuggah records, Genghis Tron avoids the pitfalls when using it as a key songwriting device, always maintaining engagement. Think Tool's 'Fear Inoculum' except not shit, full of life, fun to engage with, and more colourful. (I'm not sorry, I said what I said.)

Their use of interesting rhythmic ideas, strong dynamics, complex polyrhythms (plenty of juicy, odd-timed three-over-five beats here), the subtle guitars that lift up these compositions, and how these rich synthesisers add deep tonal details - long drones, wobbling low-end, and bright licks - are all stunning. 'Alone in the Heart of the Light' and its arpeggiated melodies and seemingly endless chord progressions is the best example of how all of this works together in unison, being one of the greatest Genghis Tron songs to date in the process. The same goes for the instrumental, electronica post-rock jam session of 'Single Black Point.' In fact, one of my favourite moments is how following the mountainous doom-noise of terrific closer 'Great Mother,' its outro returns to the main synth theme from the album's airy opening movement, 'Exit Perfect Mind,' as everything loops back around.

As has been said before now about the album as a lyrical and conceptual piece, 'Dream Weapon' picks up where 'Board Up The House' ended with ‘Relief,’ an ominous, slow-moving but lavish climactic track about how the Earth will endure long after we as a species have long since departed. This album is a larger musing on that same idea; a dense and detailed post-apocalypse musical exploration of a world - all of its untamed wilderness and many faunas - that'll prosper in the wake of humans. You can feel this sense of kenopsia on the guitar-sliding ambience of mid-album interlude 'Desert Stairs,' or in the open stillness of 'Exit Perfect Mind,' whose softly falling synths and rising crescendo explodes into the industrial 'Pyrocene' seamlessly. Like the band scoring a doco-series about life after people, summoning forth images of empty suburbia and lonely cities being reclaimed by the vibrant green arms nature.

For old-heads and closed-minded fans, there's still moments of harsh noise and sheer volume to soak up on this grand LP. Like during certain climactic passages and crescendo's on the circular-patterned titular piece, the ten-minute epic of 'Ritual Circle' where pulsating rhythm remains the same but textures and melodies constantly morph, the aforementioned 'Great Mother', and the wicked-as-hell punch carried forward in 'Pyrocene.' And those parts are all sick! But what makes 'Dream Weapon' stand out is what the band do before and after these louder, explosive moments. How they move from point A over to point B. Because who gives a fuck if they're not a metal band anymore, honestly. Such a meticulously built record like this is "heavy" in its own identifiable way.

'Dream Weapon' is a true confirmation of Genghis Tron's impact and legacy, 13 years in the making. Waiting that same amount of time for a new Tool album? Bah, this is where it's at. Like one of those lo-fi hip-hop playlists but for weirdo, art-prog music. This gorgeous album is living breathing proof that this band never needed to scream and blast their way through abrasive electronic-hardcore songs like yesteryear in order to make the same kind of splash in 2021. Comparing this with 'Board Up The House' isn't just unnecessary, it's unfair: that was well over a decade ago, with a very different line-up. 'Dream Weapon' is its own thing, indeed a dreamy yet lethal listen. It's a very different entity to what came before it from this band, but one that's more cerebral and just as momentous. It's one of those great records where the more you listen to it, the more you hear and uncover. It's an album that requires you to digest it as a complete whole, not just picking out individual cuts. As 'Dream Weapon' is a thing of painstaking beauty. I can barely fault this. Catch me listening to 'Dream Weapon' throughout 2021.

1. Exit Perfect Mind

2. Pyrocene

3. Dream Weapon

4. Desert Stairs

5. Alone In The Heart Of The Light

6. Ritual Circle

7. Single Black Point

8. Great Mother

'Dream Weapon' is out now: