US-based Futurepop duo Cesium_137 release their seventh studio album ‘Rise To Conquer’ on Metropolis Records.

Kicking things off with ‘Tempest’ I’m really not sure about this opening song, especially given the now dated early/mid-2000s sound of the synths and percussion.  The track also has an intro tagged onto the beginning that I had to double-take to ensure I was reviewing the correct album as it sounded just like a VNV Nation intro in the vain of ’Firstlight’ from Empires or ‘Pro Victoria’ from Of Faith, Power And Glory.  The vocals are flat in places, awkwardly missing their desired mark.  Musically there is a Harmoniser-era Apoptygma Berzerk vibe whilst the vocal melody and style is incredibly similar to Solitary Experiments.

Continuing the sound-alike theme, the lead synth in ‘Fields’ has a very distinct Automatic / Transnational-era VNV sound, the driving synths are practically an Apop-alike, whilst the vocals are once again in that S.E. vain.

Still in mid-noughties mode, next up is ’Shiver’.  This song could actually be rather catchy, but I just can’t get on with some of the naff lead synth sounds.

‘No Contact’ actually starts with promise, featuring some bright, pleasant retro-futuristic synths.  The issue I have here is the duff notes that grate against the harmonic pads beneath.  The unpleasant tone sticks out like a sore thumb and really ruins the piece.  If it wasn’t for this glaring problem I’d happily give this another play or two.

Next up is ‘Killing Time’ complete with the summoning of the spirit of Andy Laplegua (Icon Of Coil) on the opening verse in terms of the vocal style, the lyrical content and the phrasing too.  This song also sees the return of the Solitary Experiments sound-alike arrangement.

On ‘Mask’, stuttering Trance-style synths litter this (once again) dated track.  Sure it’s danceable, but it could have been written and recorded years ago.  The vocals aren’t quite in tune either, which makes me think the synth & voice melodies / chords were developed and recorded independently – it has the same jarring harmony you often hear when an artist remixes a song without using the exact, or at least complimentary, chord structure of the original composition.

There are a couple of tracks that make a positive difference on this album.  Firstly, ’Diver’ is a decent mid-tempo track with a strong kick and a haunting darkness to the music that pulls me in.  It still possesses an oldschool vibe, especially where the bassline is concerned.  It’s certainly a grower.

Following that is ’Consequence’, which is more up-tempo and straddles between darkness and a playful melodic tone, particularly the lo-fi lead melody fluttering above the trance-like rhythmic synth-line.  Both of these songs have a gothic-electronic vibe similar to Diorama, which I find appealing.

’Take Care’ is somewhat underwhelming as a final song on what is for the most part a forgettable album.  There’s simply nothing new here and it feels as though so many direct musical influences from Futurepop & Synth-pop have been lifted (almost copied & pasted!) from some well-known acts of the past decade or two, almost to the point of being in danger of plagiarism.

Given the level of creativity and individuality present in electronic music at the moment, an album that simply treads water with little or no originality, as is the case with ‘Rise To Conquer’, is more likely to pass by with very little interest, whilst anyone looking to buy new releases that with the 00s-era sound is likely to find better releases on offer at the moment.

 

Listen: 

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Cesium 137 - Rise To Conquer

Release Date: 19th January 2018
Label: Metropolis Records
Band Website: cesium137.com
Buy Album (CD): Metropolis Records Online Store
Buy Album (Digital): Bandcamp

2.0Overall Score