It’s weird how 2008 has become a year of nostalgia for me. It’s long enough ago that I can feel nostalgic but recent enough that I remember everything like it was yesterday. It was a good year for me and music, my vision wasn’t shit yet, I did a lot of international travel around that time, and I had a lot of great times with good friends and people I’ll never see again.
Last night a couple of people in an FB group I am in mentioned Genghis Tron and that really brought me back; they will always symbolize that time period for me. I still miss GT even thought they broke up about five years ago and they are clearly not coming back after that “hiatus.” (Dear bands: don’t call it a hiatus if you are just breaking up)
It’s funny because I think what they are doing would make more sense to people now than it did then, even though it wasn’t long ago at all: that metalcore/EDM/chiptune/sample combo isn’t quite as off the wall; people are way more comfortable with weird hybrid music in more mainstream circles. For example, I think Sleigh Bells is a like a pop-focused version of what GT was doing.
I still GT is worth revisiting and getting into, I can’t think of another band currently doing what they do, the way they do it. I love to hear other bands who do this, and I still haven’t.
That first EP, Cloak of Love, doesn’t sound like the other two albums. Songs like Rock Candy and Laser Bitch almost make them sound like a joke band, but they are really just getting their feet wet and figuring out how to meld these two disparate sounds; the drum patterns aren’t as sophisticated, there’s a lot more samples. I think they weren’t sure what they sounded like yet, hence this EP which sounds more like dance music snippets overlaid with metal guitar, rather than what they actually became. It’s not as polished but it’s also more playful.
Those final two albums, Dead Mountain Mouth and Board Up the House, really pulled that sound together, where they managed to meld the EDM influenced beat patterns and metal guitar into something coherent and bigger than the sum of its parts. I love so many of the drum patterns on Dead Mountain Mouth, the 80’s industrial influence during the last minute and a half of White Walls, the jackhammer beat in Asleep on The Forest Floor.
Board up the House is a lot more traditional in its song structure and cohesive overall and that’s why so many critics loved it. I think this album sounded the most traditionally metal, yet also had songs like I Won’t Come Back Alive that sounded like 80’s new wave filtered through the lens of metal.
My drummer friends will hate me for this but a live drummer can’t do this stuff. A big reason it sounds so great is because it doesn’t sound human, it’s the job of the guitar and vocals to give it a sense of muscle.
Interestingly, they never sounded flimsy live. One of the things that many groups without a live drummer have going against them is that that it’s harder to replicate that presence live, the drum machine also sounds weak and flimsy. GT always sounded big live, the drums sounded HUGE, they were three guys but their sound still filled a room.
Aside: I will never, ever forget seeing GT with Converge and Baroness and doing this weird Roger Rabbit/Robot/body roll/headbang dance with this dude during The Whips Blow Back, since we were two of six fans of GT at that show. Also the transition between City on a Hill and The Whips Blow Back is one of the hottest things ever. STILL.
So now I’ve been down a GT rabbit hole since last night, which is a short one since there’s only three albums. I think I’ll always smart over GT’s breakup because we never got a proper goodbye, they just dipped. They were, in my opinion just at the start of what they could have done, I think they had a couple of game-changer albums in them.
But who knows. Daughters reunited, maybe GT will return one day too.