Courtesy: TAG Publicity/Distortion Productions
Electronic/Industrial music act Blue Eyed Christ released its latest album this spring. The album, World on Fire is the fifth album from the act, founded by producer/engineer John D. Norten. The 11-song record is a presentation that will appeal to any electronic/industrial aficionado. That is due in part to the record’s overall musical content, which will be addressed shortly. The album’s lyrical themes play into its appeal just as much as its musical arrangements. They will be discussed a little later. The album’s production and mixing round out its most important elements and will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album a presentation that holds its own in this year’s field of new electronic/industrial albums.
Blue Eyed Christ’s fifth full-length studio recording World on Fire is a presentation that fans of electronic and industrial music will find worth hearing at least once. That is due in part to the record’s collective musical arrangements. The arrangements in question are compositions whose use of electronics, keyboards, guitars and rums are easily compared to works from so many of BEC’s more well-known counterparts from the same world. Among those most notable counterparts are acts, such as Nine Inch Nails, Gravity Kills and even Orgy. One could also make comparisons to works from the likes of Ministry to a lesser degree. The album’s lead single ‘America H’ is one of those works that likens itself to works from Nine Inch Nails. This song, with its plodding bass line, drums and vocal delivery, make it most akin to Nine Inch Nails’ song ‘Down in It.’ At the same time, the harmonies in the vocals give it another touch that enriches the song even more. ‘Take It To The Streets’ meanwhile features that noted comparison to works from Ministry. The song’s arrangement stands apart from anything else on the record even with its stylistic approach. This arrangement sounds nothing like the album’s other works, what with its keyboards, string arrangements, electronics and news broadcast inserts. Those broadcast snippets play directly into the record’s overall lyrical themes, which will be addressed a little later. ‘The Wait Is Over,’ which comes late in the record’s run, is another example of what makes the record’s musical arrangements stand out as such an important collective part of the album. This song’s arrangement is very rhythm oriented. It takes Norten’s penchant for electronics and crosses that with actual drums – in this case what sounds like African drums – to make the song’s arrangement one of the album’s most unique presentations. The whole of the arrangement is so controlled and subtle throughout even with all things considered. The harmonies in the vocal deliveries adds its own touch to the whole and makes it that much more interesting. It would be no surprise when and if this song becomes the album’s next single of one of its next singles. It is that accessible in its musical approach and is just one of the album’s most accessible works. ‘America H’ and ‘World on Fire’ are each accessible in their own right, too. When they are considered along with this song and the rest of the album’s musical arrangements, the whole of the album’s musical presentation leaves no doubt why the musical aspect of World on Fire is so important to its overall presentation. It is just one part of what makes this album an appealing presentation for electronic and industrial music fans. The albums’ overall lyrical themes play their own part in that appeal, too.
The overlying lyrical theme of World on Fire is a social commentary. Norten mentioned that in a recent interview. He said of the album’s lyrical theme, “World on Fire is a loosely based concept album about the state of the world that combines the energy and political anthems of my first album mixed with the personal themes I’m also known for. It’s the combustion of everything I’ve done on the first 4 albums. When I started writing it, I really didn’t realize how prophetic it would become as things continue to unravel and become more polarized and extreme; I thought I was writing an album about the dystopian world we live in, but then realized I was also writing a deeply personal album about the collective human experience. It’s about trying to make sense of everything being thrown at you and finding out where you fit in.” Norten’s comments noted here are supported in part in the lyrics in ‘America H.’ He writes in the song’s chorus, “America/I want you/To lie to me/Or tell me what to do/It’s in your point of view/What you see/It’s what you choose/It’s in the lens that you use/That will make up your truth.” Norten said of this (and the rest of the song’s content), “’America H’ is about sifting through the noise of the media and content we consume every day, how everything we surround ourselves with influences us,” he said. “There’s also an Orwellian tone to it that I expect will seem more relevant as things progress like government surveillance, civil liberties, etc.” That chorus alone is beyond relevant today, what with the Air Force using planes to track Black Lives Matter protests, illegal wiretapping controversies decades ago and more. This is a topic that is certain to remain relevant.
‘Take It To The Streets’ is another way in which the album’s overlying socially conscious lyrical themes prove so important to its body. As noted already, the song’s musical arrangement features snippets of news broadcast interviews that focus on discussions about protests. The woman who is speaking sounds like perhaps she is from the Westboro Baptist Church as she states early on, “God is cursing America.” As the song progresses, a man adds his own thoughts, noting that people have the right to protest. Now whether this is a commentary about the Westboro Baptist Church or about protesting in general and having the right to protest, the fact that Norten would even broach either topic is brave. It is certain to generate plenty of discussion among listeners. That it would generate that discussion shows even more why the album’s overarching lyrical themes are so important to its body.
‘World on Fire’ is another key addition to the album, in terms of its lyrical themes. This song focuses, lyrically, on humans’ focus on materialism and capitalism. This is proven right from the song’s outset in its lead verse, which states, “They like to say that we are free/But it’s expensive/We’re addicted to the things we need/It’s so offensive/Victims of technology/Modern angel dressed in dollars/Just a passing memory/Here today and gone tomorrow.” The song’s second verse adds to that statement, noting, “Paint the pictures and you fade away/Life is never like a magazine/You have enough but you still want more/Never satisfied at the core/Always looking for the next episode/Another way just to fix that hole/Try to accept the message/Making your mind elastic/Trippin’ the lights fantastic/Trippin’ the lights fantastic.” Given, this is not the first time that any artist has ever taken on humans’ selfish behaviors, but it is still fresh and unique in this approach. To that end, it will engage listeners just as much as any other song that takes on the topic. When it is considered along with the other noted related lyrical themes and the rest of the album’s overlying lyrical themes, the album in whole shows that its lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as its musical arrangements. For all that the album’s overall content does to entertain and engage audiences, it is only a part of what makes the record appealing. The record’s collective production and mixing rounds out its most important elements.
The production and mixing that went into World on Fire is important to note because of the overall subtle nature in which each song is presented. Norten’s vocals, those of his fellow performers and all of the album’s instrumental portions are well-balanced throughout the course of the album’s 38-minute run. There is something about the balance in each arrangement that makes that 38-minute run feel wholly fulfilling ad the album longer than it is, in the best way possible. It is often said that anyone can play fast and loud, but it takes a true musician to play soft and slow. If that is the case, then Norten has proven once more with this record, thanks to its production, that he is a true musician. He went to painstaking efforts to make sure the album had the biggest impact even as subtle as each song is. When this is considered along with the album’s overall content, it brings everything full circle and in turn, makes clear why this album in whole is worth hearing. It makes the album, along with its content, one more of this year’s top new independent album.
Blue Eyed Christ’s latest album World on Fire is a positive new offering from John D. Norten. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements, which will appeal to a wide range of electronic and industrial music fans. The album’s lyrical themes, which center on similar social commentaries, play into its appeal as much as its musical arrangements. The balance in each song, in terms of the instrumentations and vocals, helps create a large impact for the tiny subtleties in each song. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make World on Fire a presentation that is one more of this year’s top new independent albums. It is available now.
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