Album Review: ESA - Designer Carnage


Throwing a massive middle finger to capitalism and the consumer climate we find ourselves in, ESA describe the new album as such.. This luxuriously designed piece will increase your chances of better general well-being, life quality and self esteem.

Check out some of the other 'Items for sale' on his bandcamp for a further look in to the middle finger and humour the concept of the album intends. This release is a wild one and sure to get you thinking as well as moving like a puppet on a string..

 

Here we are. Studio album no.11 from UK dark rhythmical electronics genius Jamie Blacker / AKA ESA.


Something is stirring here. An impatience with musical complicity across the genre possibly?


Because DESIGNER CARNAGE is not only probably the most powerful ESA album to date but it also stinks of ambition.


From the rampant 1.5 minute original classical piano piece mixed with sickening glitches in brick wall opener ‘Laudanum Dance’ to the Bebop singalong noise swinger ‘Come and Find Me’….to the hyper-speed Industrial Black Metal (Jazz?) closer ‘Saturnalia’. Oh and there’s a mid-90’s feeling Industrial Rap track thrown in there, just in case you were worried there wasn’t enough going on.


It's like Blacker genuinely sat down and threw the rule-book out of the window. Not interested in simply creative vast rhythms of angry electronics, we are now being treated to a journey through the genres. Either Blacker just doesn’t care anymore about expectations or limits, or he specifically chose to delve as deeply as possible into his creativity, to bring us something both interesting and challenging…but still flaunting the trademark energy and destructive swoon that has brought him to this point in his 16 year career.


As rampant as it is. There’s a concept running through these tracks. Decadence / Capitalism and fakeness seems to definitely be the victim subjects this time. There’s a sense that Blacker is consistently and vaguely poking fun at the rich and the ignorant. While there ARE elements of humour… it's of the pitch black variety, as ready club-hit ‘Hyena’ will contest!


‘Designer Carnage’ is a spiral of heavy pounding beats, crushing bass and soaring leads… all stirred up in a cauldron of (to be blunt)…madness. If Industrial music was a commodity. This really would be the ‘Designer’ brand.


The video below will help to instil that running theme..

 
 

Review

There are a lot of things out there simply made to make humans produce more and to never stop, from painkillers to energy drink to pharmaceuticals. There was a time when Coca-Cola contained Cocaine, before that? Well.. Laudanum was a tonic of Alcohol and Opium available to all with a coin spare..

With 'Laudanum dance' we have a horrifying mixture of the new and the old looked at through amalgamated lenses. The chaotic and ominous beats and powerful stomped out thumps of notes throw the modern world's terrors in to a musical tincture crafted superbly with the message of the track; And the harpsicord of times past into something incredibly potent. As someone who is a big fan of Emilie Autumn, hearing industrial techno beats flow into a harpsichord outro makes for a spine chilling opening.


'One Missed Call' contains the new Wilhelm scream that cores in to your being. A female voice yells her frustrations in a voicemail a little reminiscent of the track 'Jack & Coke' and when said voice sample of the woman screams a distorted 'F*ck!' for a second time at the 3.20 mark alongside a euthanasia roller coaster worthy drop.. Well You have to hear it to appreciate it. My jaw clenched so tight whilst saying 'ooooh hoo hooo' that my Partner genuinely asked if I was intentionally imitating a French laugh stereotype.

It's insanely good put it that way and probably my favourite track on the album.


Next up is 'I Detach' For our full interview with Jamie and review of the 'I Detach' release click HERE

'Designer Carnage' helps to put this album in to perspective. There are parts so very familiar to the albums 'Burial 10' or 'Themes of Carnal Lust' and it helps to then reflect upon how a lot of the tracks on this release are a crucible of each and every sound ESA has produced throughout the years. What is poured out from that crucible is the 'golden' token on the album front cover and in the deluxe packs, the ultimate road of all things you are good at in this capitalistic world.. A product of consumption and monetization from which there is never an escape whether any of us like it or not. For how else do we survive in this carnage?

There is a real outpouring of signature ESA sound with the influences of modern industrial techno and dystopian music. I pick up on notes reminiscent of Moris Blak, of Perturbator, and of the darkest of dancefloors; Yet in its crucial essence is pure ESA with all those other influences melting away and separating to express the pure theme and sound of the album Jamie has created.

'Disruption Only' is a fast paced flurry of which ESA is known to do so well. just with the previous tracks, there are offerings of the familiar, hints of other influences, but most importantly, pure fucking STOMP.


'Come And Find Me' is a bizarre mix of early 1920-40's swing with the power techno of modern day swirled around in a time confusing jaunt of samples, quotes, and -heavier than death- drum loops rounded off by a very angry vocal provocation from Jamie.

The ending of this song is sheer brilliance of the most confusing kind. These genres should not work together, but if any artist could have managed this, it's ESA. I half expect the next album to be called 'Alice's nightmare in wonderland'.


'Hyena'.. Who would have thought mixing the 'laughs' of an animal alongside hardcore electronics could end up creating a bass slapping piece of filth this good? - But here we are.. 'Simple' (In the loosest sense, nothing ESA ever does is simple!) yet damn effective.

'Whom Then Shall I Fear' is a single track return to the dabble in to rap like we had on Burial 10, once again sadly though, not to my taste. The music takes a more Nu-Metal Linkin Park approach which is great but the singer and the lyrics I find quite flat and lacking, personally.


'Vast Accept' is a journey through dark electronics whilst creating sounds from items and instruments you'd not expect, spending half the track thinking, 'How did he make that sound?' It makes for a crushing atmospheric track like that of a Resident Evil game. The spoken words at the end are heavy hitting and deep, especially to those who have struggled with nihilism.


Finally we have 'Saturnalia', one of the many celebrations that help guide us towards 'Christmas' as we know it now. This being the Roman celebration of each other and the finer pleasures. This whole track is a tribute to Jamie's original roots.. The black and heavy metal days of which he found his feet and love for music creation. To actually have a death/black metal style track on an ESA album is a real shock but also a treat in equal measures. Also, the lyrics play so well upon the capitalistic nightmare.

Horde your mountains of paper gold Wealth beyond your wildest goals Ballot voted by only you Built on lies, old and new

This shock only further exacerbated by turning into.. 80's sleazy jazz, mixing with.. a little bit of reggae house beats? Only to once again tear your faceoff with the molten hot wall of metal for its epic conclusion. This leaves you thinking.. W.T.F?


Tracklist


Laudanum Dance

One Missed Call

I Detach

Designer Carnage

Disruption Only

Come And Find Me

Hyena

Whom Then Shall I Fear - (Feat. Pee Wee Pimpin)

Vast Accept

Saturnalia


Conclusion


ESA have put out one hell of a release with a real melting pot of different styles, genres, and influences. Nothing says artistic mastery like throwing everything in to one release and being able to make them all produce gold. Music alchemy at its finest.

Is this my favourite ESA album? No.. However it is an incredibly progressive case for the evolution of styles and music with which boundaries need to be pushed once in a while.

This album is a real flex on other artists and just like the stylistic theme the album personifies, this is the ultimate brand experience of producing anything Jamie wants and being able to sell it because IT IS good, and his music always will be 'top of the range' in the industrial world!


Scores


Technicality: 10/10

Soul factor: 8/10

Energy: 9/10

Vocals/Samples: 8/10

Re-play value: 9/10


Overall score: 8.8 / 10

 

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