Author & Punisher - Krüller

23 May 2022 - Thorsten

Industrial, Shoegaze | Relapse Records | Release date: 11 Feb 2022 | Favorite song: Incinerator

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Surely, Tristan wanted to make a good record. Unsure, if he wanted to create a new soundscape with it. Surely, Author & Punisher has a lot of love for the 90s. Unsure, whether it was planned to modernize several genres at once. Surely, Krüller is a very strong contender for AOTY lists 2022 – mine for sure. Outstanding record.

There are lots of things that need to be mentioned in this review about Author & Punisher’s eighth full-length studio record, let’s start with some of the most obvious: One can hear lots of influences on this record – shoegaze in the Spiritualized-psychedelic sense, industrial in the vein of Godflesh, ambient as designed by Jesu and, most important of all, nu-metal but only in the unfitting sense of the Deftones. A few weeks ago, we already had the new Astodan record which showed how influential the Sacramento quintet has been; however, while Astodan surely prefer the Around the Fur period, Tristan Shone, Author & Punisher only member, probably would name White Pony” as his favorite record by the band around Chino Moreno. The latter is also ever-present in Tristan’s vocals, which are much cleaner on this one than on any other record before, which fits really well with the kind of “Deftones meets Cocteau Twins” musical motif. This is what very modern, industrial-tinged shoegaze sounds like. If you ever need a score for a futuristic movie, this is it. The movie doesn’t even necessarily have to be a dystopian one, because there are lots of hopeful moments on Krüller, for example the tiny repetition of the synth-passage at the end of the opening track, ”Drone Carrying Dread” where the melody is repeated on final time way back behind the fading reverb to end the song not on “dread” but on “hope”. Simply wonderful.

The way that Tristan works on this record shows his skills as a songwriter and as a talented inventor of soundscapes and moods. After the somewhat dreamy opener, we have a very powerful industrial beginning to the second track ”Incinerator” with beats that sound a lot like pounding on hollow tubes, like the empty tornado-slots of a submarine. But then, after roughly a minute, the track is the best modernization of ”The Passenger” which already was a highlight on White Pony with Chino and Maynard James Keenan maybe giving us the best modern metal duo performance ever. ”Incinerator” is not a cover of that song, but it radiates the very same mood and ambiance that made ”The Passenger” one of the ten best tracks of the ‘00s.

Krüller is nothing short of the embodiment of the proverb “all killer no filler” - each track grows and grows with every rotation, even though they already shone like a diamond the first time they crawled through one’s ear tunnels into the subconscious. There are the highly industrialized beats and sounds, the epic synth passages with their crystalline drone and distortions, the really astonishing vocals and then there is ”Glorybox”: For years, it seemed impossible to improve this trademark track by English triphop-pioneers Portishead, especially because of the alternatingly strong and fragile vocals by Beth Gibbons. Tristan is able to twist the track a little bit, especially the beginning of it and then makes it an Author & Punisher-song with seemingly only the lyrics remaining. However, he also shows what is the most important part of that track – the moment of calm into which the slogan must be whispered ”I just wanna be a woman”; talk about getting a song right and deconstructing it correctly.

To cut it short – top10 AOTY material for sure and maybe the only statement industrial music needed in 2022, because A&P shows that this genre can be very warm, embracing and giving. Utter masterpiece. For sure.