Author & Punisher Ursus Americanus

When a record has been described as "mechadoom," listeners pay attention. Author & Punisher is a one-man project, engineered and performed by Tristan Shone, and Ursus Americanus is his debut release. The album unites the basic structures and ponderous weight of doom metal with the rhythm and metallic noise of industrial. The sound is created with custom machines and speakers, designed, built and operated entirely by Shone. The robotic aspect of the compositions makes you think that Ursus Americanus might be a cold album, but, miraculously, this isn't the case. Instead, we get a physical, visceral, violent album. The press material comments on the fact that the music focuses "on the eroticism of interaction with the machine," a description that is incredibly apt. The machines and custom instruments are not taking the place of the human, but are rather extensions of it, twisting and enhancing the sounds the voice and body are capable of. The machines/instruments (Shone calls them drone and sub machines) are also designed to require force to operate, so the exertion and exhaustion of the physical body also become a part of the music, the sweat and agony audible in every crashing, metallic note and digital, surging rhythm. "Terrorbird" is a beautifully awkward opener, the beat pecking at the listener while the vocalizations squawk and writhe. "Set Fire" is close to a masterpiece, filled with long whines that evoke sirens and crackling distortion that swells and sizzles like flame, with occasional moans that weep and pop like blisters. Dextrous and challenging, this demands a lot of the listener, but pays it all back in sweat and steel. (Seventh Rule)