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Perturbator - "The Uncanny Valley" (CD)

Perturbator - "The Uncanny Valley" CD cover image

"The Uncanny Valley" track listing:

1. Neo Tokyo (4:13)
2. Weapons For Children (5:26)
3. Death Squad (4:24)
4. Femme Fatale (Feat. Highway Superstar) (5:34)
5. Venger (Feat. Greta Link) (5:08)
6. Disco Inferno (6:09)
7. She Moves Like A Knife (5:33)
8. Sentient (Feat. Hayley Stewart) (5:32)
9. Diabolus Ex Machina (4:39)
10. Assault (4:08)
11. The Cult Of 2112 (3:58)
12. Souls At Zero (Feat. Astronoid) (6:20)
13. The Uncanny Valley (6:54)

Reviewed by on May 27, 2016

"...think about how world-shatteringly awesome the movie 'Kung Fury' was, but now imagine it played completely straight and serious with the cheesiness reined in. There you've got 'The Uncanny Valley.'"

In 8+ years of reviewing gobs of new music every month from every conceivable sub-genre, I've heard pretty much everything any given style has to offer, and that makes it all the more noticeable when something manages to stand out or offer a truly different experience. That's what you are going to get with Perturbator, a project that goes way off the beaten path and is a very unexpected release from the cult Blood Music label.

To be clear: “The Uncanny Valley” is absolutely not a metal album, but it will appeal very strongly to metal fans. The release blurs the lines so well that one actually has to ask: what is metal? If metal is a guitar tone or a vocal style, then “The Uncanny Valley” doesn't make the cut, but if metal is an atmosphere or a mood, then the album more than meets the definition of “heavy.”

These 13 tracks are really more about provoking a specific feel than producing a specific sound, and the disc does an excellent job of telling its story. Everything about this release exudes an atmosphere of '80s VHS action films and fast-paced anime (think motorcycles and katanas) but with an exceedingly dark filter applied. Quite frankly, this is futuristic dystopian action distilled into musical form.

The audio story kicks off very strong with “Neo Tokyo,” easily one of the best, most representative cuts off the album, but it doesn't slow down from there. Every cut works well in the story and has elements that stand out from surrounding tracks. “Death Squad” for instance gets even darker and goes full-on noir, and everything about the track screams “movie score.” Somehow Perturbator has me desperately wanting to see a film that doesn't actually exist, so kudos there.

“Femme Fatale” offers up sax-style sounds with the smoky, hazy background keyboards that paint an incredibly a clear picture without using any words or vocals at all. You don't even have to speak the same language as Perturbator to know what's going on with this “scene” in the album. “Disco Inferno” somehow has '70s disco sounds mixed in, but the stuttering style is so quintessentially metallic you can't help but think a metal band must have decided to do an electronic track.

Vocals (of the female variety) finally show up on fifth track “Venger,” and it flows in so smoothly you almost don't notice. A real strength of the album is that it works well in either mode: the vocals are great, but you don't miss them when they aren't there, as the vast majority is entirely instrumental.

“The Uncanny Valley” is heavily electronic and keyboard-driven, but utterly lacking in annoying repetition, featuring loads of building up and moving in new directions as the sounds flow across each track. Best of all for the heavy crowd, the beat and rhythm frequently give off the impression of a drum-fueled metal experience, even when that's not happening at all. Rounding out the metallic cred are some interesting guest appearances, including members of the Boston prog outfit Astronoid.

To fully explain the sound of this album, think about how world-shatteringly awesome the movie “Kung Fury” was, but now imagine it played completely straight and serious with the cheesiness reined in. There you've got “The Uncanny Valley.” It's kind of hard to overstate the pure badassery going on here, and all without any blast beats or guttural screams. If you want something different outside the typical black/death/prog paradigm, head to Bandcamp and give this one a listen immediately.

Highs: Pretty well everything: this is pure futuristic, noir dystopian bad-assery distilled into audio form.

Lows: Really none - the only way you wont dig this is if you just plain don't like keyboard-driven, electronic music to begin with.

Bottom line: While blazing down the back alleys of the smog-choked Tokyo skyline on your sleek motorcycle and fighting robotic ninja with your magical katana, this is the soundtrack you'd undoubtedly have playing in the background.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)