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Album Review: 6th Circle – The Third Estate

We here at Indy Metal Vault all love ourselves some metal and some Indiana (except for me, a Chicago boy who is working to take the site down from the inside as revenge for Super Bowl XLI, but don’t tell my editor please). So, I figure it would only make sense for me to miss the mark on both fronts and take a look at some dark industrial/EBM from Ohio.

6th Circle’s The Third Estate tells you everything you need to know based on the project and album titles alone. The sixth circle of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy is the final place for those guilty of heresy, and “The Third Estate” is the proletariat class that constituted 98% of France’s population leading up to the Revolution. Ergo, a solid bet could be made that this is going to be thematically centered around Satanism and some form of ancom uprising. And wouldn’t you know it, 6th Circle is explicitly marketed as “satanist/anarchist electro-industrial.”  Exactly what it says on the tin.

Now, as a breadpilled goat-kisser myself, this is right up my alley. The Third Estate is a fun ride, but actually, something of a difficult one for me to talk about, mostly because this is a style that I haven’t really ensconced myself in since like 2013 or so. I had a brief dark industrial/aggrotech phase around the time when Nachtmahr was a big deal, but out of all of 6th Circle’s stated influences, the only one I’m familiar with is Front Line Assembly. So forgive me if I forego too many actual comparisons here. I just don’t want to compare this project to :wumpscut: or something only to have somebody who knows what they’re talking about show up in the comments to call me an idiot. So approaching this as a metalhead who is in way over his head, the best way to describe The Third Estate would be to say that it’s an understated exercise in rhythmic, thumping dance beats with spooky synth leads and distorted growling vocals. That’s pretty much the whole thing in a nutshell.

The problem is that… well, that’s pretty much the whole thing in a nutshell. The reason I fell off from this style as quickly as I did is because I realized that many of these artists don’t have the knack for hooks that I feel are necessary to make it work, and 6th Circle isn’t really all that different. The overall feel of the album is great. It’s very dark and mean, loaded with vaguely danceable beats with a sinister overtone and distorted howling, which is exactly what it sets out to be and exactly what makes the style good, but once you break it down to those base components you quickly realize that there aren’t a whole lot of ideas involved here. The songwriting itself isn’t exceptional enough to break out of the cliches that The Third Estate is built around.  There are flashes of different approaches here and there – notably the distorted guitar making an appearance on “Static” (which coincidentally reminds me of the boss theme from underrated PS1 gem, The Legend of Dragoon), but for the most part it’s just the basic beats with spooky synth jangles the whole time.  “Swallow” has a great hook and the creeping staccato of “Hostile Takeover” works really well for my ears, but overall it’s just kind of a collection of cliches that even I, as a guy mostly familiar with the genre in passing, could swear I’ve heard a hundred times before already.  I was hoping this would reinvigorate my lost love for dark EBM, but instead, it acted as a decent, if unimpressive, reminder of the flood of mid-tier projects that drove me away in the first place.

Take this all with a grain of salt.  I’m a dumb headbanger, not a raver.

 

The Third Estate was released on October 4th, 2019 via Sentient Ruin and can be found on the band’s Bandcamp for the digital version, or Sentient Ruin for additional vinyl and cassette versions.

Editor Grade

C-

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