My love for the beast that is Seraphim System is obvious to anyone that's ever followed Elektro Vox or listened to me personally talk music for any length of time. BL4KJ4K (John Stancil) and I go back to 2016 having been introduced to him at Resistanz 2016 a few hours before his set. He blew us away with that first UK show, starting with a remix of Terminator 2, hitting us hard with aggrotech rave waves, powerful screams, and spitting out some classy rap with SIRUS.. Needless to say, I've never forgotten that show. SER:SYS was the first person I approached in regards to interviews for E.V and now here we are, 7 years later, written about in a total of 17 of my articles with 6 of those dedicated specifically to his music..
Search E.V for all previous Seraphim System articles HERE
This all feels full circle to have seen him return once more to Resistanz 2023 where we had a great conversation:
If you took the time to listen to that, you'll see how incredibly passionate he is about what he does from the emotional ending, and that he is indeed the fastest industrial artist in the west.
In that interview he said he would smash out a new country music industrial cover and an album, not two months since and both of those have come true. (Even whilst he continues to churn out other tracks and incredible remixes for other bands at the same time!)
SER:SYS has been touch and go, his first few albums were insanely good, and he has experimented with so many genres since, it's always a real surprise with every album since on just what you're gonna get. This latest album amalgamates this huge amount of personal experience in to a poignantly heavy album. His MUTANT MTHRFKR albums have always been incredible for the rave industrial heads like myself but with each release of something new and experimental, a double edge sword took shape. With each release SER:SYS brought in new listeners, but ended up losing a few few too; because of this John nearly gave up on the music several times. Each time, I've tried to rave about how damn good he is and tell him what a waste of such talent that would be. Also, 'Swagrotech' as a genre is just too good to let go of! To finalise my point. It was great to see that he persisted. From the first UK show, to each release, E.V has sung SER:SYS's praises. John even joined the line up for lockdown's second 'online Elektro Vox Music Festival' (Cyber EVM 2.0 for short) Having a drunken brotherly love moment at Tanz 23 urging him to never give up and keep going is a moment that seems to have stuck with us both for good. I feel now that John is on the cusp of greatness, still working with so many different artists and really making a name for himself, I truly hope this is the album that tips an overwhelming flood of fans in his favour - as he deserves.
(Releases tomorrow 27/06/23)
See below for full review.
Seraphim System incorporates elements of aggrotech, black metal, death metal, punk, drum and bass, and dubstep in its hellish creations. After a history of playing in technical metal and punk bands, SER:SYS architect "BL4KJ4K" focused his musical abilities to craft rave tunes that will help you slam your skull into your chest cavity.
Photo credit: Kevin Stevens, Musique Non Stop Tanz'23
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To start with, I gotta say, this is an album for headphones or to tear apart stage sound systems, not to casually put on in the background. Mutant Menagerie & Grimoire DEMANDS your full attention, like an exorcism or call to arms, this album rips at the fabric of the known and pours forth the chaos of the unknown.
'The High Priestess' does just that, it grabs your attention with furious drum beats, haunted screams, lyrical violence, and a shit load of speed. This is brutal power noise to wake you up and pay attention.
I love a good film or show sample in a track, it adds so much weight and poignancy to the overall feel, 'I Will Guide Thy Hand' starts which such a great sample from the 2015 film 'The Witch'.
The overall sound very much feels like if Electronic Substance Abuse and Iszoloscope had combined with Ser:Sys's signature 'Swaggro' sound to make the ultimate power group.
'Mutant Menagerie' throws in a lot of different aspects and genres from drum and bass, to throat wrenching metal vocals, and finishes off with something akin to hardstyle.
One of the best tracks is 'Contrition' featuring Dark Machine Nation who absolutely won the hearts and minds of Tanz 23 with his shock and awe audio assault! This has quite a fun introduction with Knight Templar chanting of all things. Why? Well, a few years ago on April fool's John put up a teaser for a Templar Industrial album title 'Deus Vult' which ended up getting so many comments saying it should really be something he tries at some point.. Myself, at the time being one of them, needless to say it was a nice little 'Easter Egg' to that post when John inboxed me the intro to this when he started working on it!
The truly great part of this track is Therion Major's crystal clear vocals shouting out a powerful challenge. These two competing artists vocal styles create a truly unique and powerful track, the type that we are rarely graced with. In fact, the entire track is pretty damn motivational with Therion's ending line..
'Come out of hiding, become the beast you know you are, come out of hiding, take your throne among the stars!
It's great to see the SER:SYS and GRENDEL names together once again on on a track for 'You Do Not Recognize the Bodies in the Water'. Again the competing vocals makes for something deeply interesting. We go from metal, to industrial, to retrowave across the tracks span which leaves you thinking.. 'Wait what?? I gotta listen to that again.'
It's nice to hear a female electronic voice on an industrial track gain, this time speaking out gun company names and the title of the track aka 'Guns Don't Make Goth Music, I Do' This track packs a punch with some heavy drums, symbols, and of course - weapons fire. This is a fun cacophony of powernoise and a showcase of the tongue in cheek humour John is known for.
'Blood Red Sky'.. What a fantastic intro drop this has! This has John Wick Gun-Fu club scene written all over it. If any DJ's are reading, go check this one out and crush a dancefloor with it.. PLEASE. This has all the fantastic club elements, the powerful bass, the perfect rhythm, the electronic pulses, and spicy media samples that is the guaranteed formulae to get everyone fucking moving!
This is pulse pounding adrenaline club industrial, and if it's not on your playlist after I've said that and you hear it for yourself (Loud), then what's wrong with you?? Why are you here? haha
This is for sure my second favourite track on the album.
A little like classic Cradle Of Filth with its Gothic-esque opening, 'I Am Weary, Let Me Rest' lulls you in to a false sense of safety, thinking this track will indeed be a chill breather having had the previous track rip you new ear holes.. but no. Those loud screams come pounding back in for a time but then hit you with an even bigger twist just as you think you have the track figured out.. It becomes more of an industrial dancefloor tune, a little more chilled out than a full rave piece, but satisfying in its approach to actually giving you that bit of rest that you originally thought it was going to be.
'Quid Est Veritas?' (What is truth?) is a non stop barrage of dark metal anger, the likes of which the albums Xibalba and Luciferium were known for adding in more homage to this album's display of his many genre talents served over the years.
Now for my favourite track on the album! 'Black Aura' featuring Ratio Strain (The solo project of Vanessa from W.A.S.T.E) who also kicked some serious ass at Tanz'23! This whole track feels like the last action segment of a game like Cyberpunk or a film like Tron, the rolling synths, bass churning beats, and melody pay homage to something important, desperate, and vital to human survival. The drop around 2:40 is absolutely FILTHY, I wish there was just a touch faster BPM on this one but overall it's a fantastic track, with no vocals or samples, just pure imagination and interpretation for the mind and I love it! Another track that would go down so well in clubs, and I hope this one gets a few remixes!
Lastly we have a cover of Slipknot's 'Surfacing' which John treated us to at Resistanz. He absolutely nails the fury of the drums and vocals, surpassing the original track by far with this modern and tech heavy rendition. This is the kind of Industrial Metal that blows minds and twists perspectives. You don't get too many covers of heavier tracks in industrial, but this one is by far, one of the best!
The High Priestess
I Will Guide Thy Hand
Contrition (feat. Dark Machine Nation)
You Do Not Recognize the Bodies in the Water (feat. GRENDEL)
Guns Don't Make Goth Music, I Do
Blood Red Sky
I Am Weary, Let Me Rest
Quid Est Veritas?
Black Aura (feat. Ratio Strain)
This album wraps up and presents the full collection of everything Seraphim System has accomplished over the years, every genre from his unique industrial 'Swaggrotech', to dubstep, black metal and more are all showcased in this latest tome. For those who buy an album expecting just one genre will find this a little confusing, a little messy, but take a moment to wrap your ears around the genius in each track and what you will find is a neat and perfected order amongst chaos, both a reckoning and a closure.
If I could guess at BL4KJ4K's mind, I would say this is him presenting us with his menu, his showcase of experience, his 'resume' of talent to justify his place once more back on the scene. This way, I feel it gives him the footing and vindicating peace of mind to fully launch himself in to club floor power tracks now that this album stands as testament to all that which has come before him. I for one am as excited as ever to see what Seraphim System launches at us next!
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