"Industrial Workers Of The World" is a aural history of the burgeoning industrial revolution as performed by the Norwegian band Vaiping. And like their 2007 debut album "The Great Polar Expedition", "Industrial Workers Of The World" is also an ambitious concept album.
The accompanied Press Release suggests the music of Vaiping would appeal to fans of Industrial Electronica like Kraftwerk, Ulver, Tool, Massive Attack, Depeche Mode, Bjork, and Leftfield, but to my ears the music on "Industrial Workers Of The World" has the nihilistic qualities of a collaboration between Pink Floyd's morose songwriter Roger Waters, industrial rockers Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Al Jourgenson (Ministry), the wickedly distorted guitar work of Crimson fretmeister Adrian Belew, and an unattended drum machine someone forgot to reprogram between tunes.
The group consists of: Eirik Steffensen (vocal, keyboards), Hakon Landmark (guitar, bass, percussion, backing vocals), Rune Horvei (drums, loops, percussion, backing vocals), Per Magnus Johnsen (bass, backing vocals, 12-string guitar, drum, loops).
For the most part the vocals are distorted and processed to sound as though sung through a megaphone so a critique would be unfair since I had no idea what the vocalist actually sounded like until the last song on the album. Samples of dialog (in various languages - both male and female) are peppered throughout the album to carry along the storyline.
The band has managed to capture the hopelessness and despair of the early factory workers who toiled in the newly mechanized world where the monotony of assembly lines, long hours, and minimal pay made everyday a drudgery. The repetitive beat of the music reflects the soulless heartbeat of the metal machines which pumped life into the factory while extracting the life force of those manning the equipment. Echoes of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" immediately come to mind when listening to the album.
Though the heavily atmospheric and cinematic tunes may vary from track to track, the ponderous 4/4 beat is a constant reminder of the monotonous cacophony of industrial rhythm ... thumping pistons and grinding gears moving in precise clockwork syncopation.
It's not until the final track "Pie In The Sky" that the music abruptly shifts gears taking on an unexpected joyous tone. The drummer is seemingly awaken from his stupor and begins some serious percussion work. And we can finally hear the true voice of the singer. Too little too late if you didn't buy into the concept and were put off by the repetitive drumbeat.
With the exception of the final song the tracks kind of run into one another as a seamless extended piece of music, so there is not one track that stands out from another. Yet as a concept album it does get it's message across and tells a not so pretty tale of a not so pretty time in history.
Well worth a listen and recommended for fans of industrial electronica.
Reviewed by Joseph Shinger on February 19th, 2012