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The Golden Foretaste of Heaven

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Album Review

His puerile but fun anime-inspired digital hardcore days in the rearview mirror, Alec Empire moves further toward accessible, mainstream dance fare on The Golden Foretaste of Heaven. Where he once mixed Aphex Twin-style drill'n'bass with the baiting punk sneer of the Sex Pistols, this album sees him singing in a fuzzed-out distorted vocal style that's equal parts Lou Reed and Trent Reznor over similarly distorted dance beats not that far removed from Moby. That's not to say there isn't bite to the subject matter and an overall foreboding tone, but songs like "1000 Eyes" are less sinister than he likely intended. This song in particular portrays the Reed influence with Empire's deadpan phrasing and atonal guitar slabs both immediately reminiscent of the Velvet Underground. The expensive-sounding mix with its shiny veneer removes some of the power. The album is a ball of bouncing noise and distorted beats, like Curve with less melody, more bass, a hangover, and a Lou Reed impersonator at the mike. Compared to likeminded artists Tarwater, who also straddle these Berlin-inspired Teutonic vibes, Empire's work here feels somewhat wimpy in its studiedness. You would think a song called "Down Satan Down" would at least feel slightly evil coming from a guy who once peppered full songs with noting but murderous screams, but Empires vocals are so produced you can almost picture him recording them separately from the music. Yes, "On Fire" and a handful of other tracks pull out the stops, but even then, there's less fear produced than your average Primal Scream track. Like Moby's self-sung work, these songs ultimately fail or succeed on a listener's willingness to accept the singers' mimicking of their inspirations. The album is at its best when Empire loosens up and gets loungey, as he does on the futuristic, funky "Robot L.O.V.E." and when he gets playful on "Death Trap in 3D." The Golden Foretaste of Heaven is never less than fun, with some fine individual songs only truly hindered in that Empire's often lackluster vocals aren't compelling enough for extended listens and the clearly intended menace lacks bite.

Customer Reviews

Alec Empire

The first album on the Eat Your Heart Out label is a brand new album from the inimitable Alec Empire. EYHO is at the fore-front of a new scene developing in Berlin and spreading worldwide. The only thing we can say is that whatever you have heard before or think to know about Alec, it’s only a small section of his musical arc. This album contains ten tracks of the finest electro-rock to start 2008 with a bang! (taken from press info)


One of the best albums I have ever heard. Pure class by a true musical genius!


Born: 02 May 1972 in West Berlin, Germany

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Founder of Berlin's Digital Hardcore Recordings, Alec Empire created some of the most musically diverse works of the 1990s, recording both as himself and with the trio Atari Teenage Riot. Empire was often identified with (and pigeonholed because of) his ATR productions -- lo-fi breakbeats played at the speed of thrash that simultaneously embraced the energy of punk, the uncompromising ferocity of industrial music, the attitude of hip-hop, and the futurism of techno. On his solo albums, however, Empire...
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The Golden Foretaste of Heaven, Alec Empire
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