By Alec Empire
Starting your own record label with an advance bestowed on you by another record label could either be a great example of "sticking it to the man", or being a supremely selfish narcissistic tit depending on your viewpoint. However, there's no denying that by using Phonogram's cash sum to create and fund the now near-legendary Digital Hardcore label Alec Empire gambled wisely. The term "Digital Hardcore" would in fact go on to become synonymous with the abrasive hybrid of techno-metal that Empire's most famous project - Atari Teenage Riot - would be famous for pioneering.
Ever since Atari Teenage Riot's demise at the turn of the millennium, the prolific Empire found a variety of projects to immerse himself in - remixes for the likes of Rammstein, a stab at drum and bass as DJ Mowgly, and the release of his own solo material. The Golden Foretaste of Heaven is the follow up to the 2005 release Futurist, but is noticeable for being Empire's first solo release on new label Eat Your Heart Out.
The general slant of The Golden Foretaste of Heaven is very much one of electronica, but with this being an Empire creation you can rest assured that a whole smorgasbord of styles and genre-defying heroics are awaiting. Wether or not you'll like them depends very much on your tolerance for song structuring that is constantly brazen in its distaste for convention and traditional aesthetics. Opener "New Man" sounds like a marriage of Iggy Pop and skewered Euro-Pop, the laconic vocals riding on the back of driving synths. "If You Live Or Die" finds Empire in hectoring tone, rallying against people who don't take control of their lives and instead find solace in "false leaders".
Elsewhere "1000 eyes" is a more subdued affair, with ethereal passages of guitars underpinned by a repetitive guitar motif. It is also noticeable for lyrically being more personal and intimate than Empire has previously been; this appears to be a theme throughout the album, as Empire forgoes the previous political soundbites of ATR in favour of a commentary of his inner psyche. It becomes telling that this is an approach that empire isn't familiar with, as at times the lyrics stumble over themselves and don't appear fluent.
At times the "Everything But The Kitchen Sink" approach to making music can have adverse results; "Down Satan Down" sounds like the bastard offspring of Mark E. Smith messing around with Fruity Loops, while the best compliment one could pay to the track "Death Trap in 3D" would be to say it's "quirky".
An equal mixture of the entertaining and the unlistenable, "The Golden Foretaste of Heaven" is probably not the best introduction to the weird and wonderful talents of Alec empire for the first- time listener. However, it certainly may appeal to the more seasoned connoisseur of Empire's recorded output.