Black Magnet and King Yosef mount an industrial assault
Written By Scott Belzer | February 15th, 2023
Birmingham. Cleveland. Chicago. Berlin. This hodgepodge of locations is where some of the biggest names in industrial metal began. So when you discover that Black Magnet—one of the most exciting active projects in the genre—hails from Oklahoma City, it should come as no surprise.
Black Magnet’s 2022 release, Body Prophecy, transports listeners back to the abandoned fog-filled basements and warehouses of the mid-’90s, where machine-driven bass lines and mind-melting electronics took center stage. No fancy guitar solos here, folks—it’s all about sublime orchestration through some heavy-ass riffage, a punishing cybernetic atmosphere, and beats that wouldn’t feel out of place at your local dance club. The torch lit by such bands as Ministry, Godflesh, Rammstein, and Nine Inch Nails has passed to the more-than-capable hands of Black Magnet creator James Hammontree, and there should be much rejoicing. Not only does Black Magnet capture the sound of those giants, but spins it in a tighter, more palatable way.
Album opener “A History of Drowning” and early track “Floating in Nothing” show off Hammontree’s catchy-yet-chaotic touch, whereas the atmospheric trio of “Incubate,” “Hermetix,” and “Sold Me Sad” trap listeners in the terrifying world Black Magnet creates. I’m not sure what’s going on in Oklahoma City, but if Black Magnet’s music is anything to go by, it’s filled with the same inescapable urban decay, non-stop thrumming from nearby factories, and concrete-infused mazes as Rammstein’s Berlin, Ministry’s Chicago and Godflesh’s Birmingham.
The cherry on top is Hammontree’s punishing vocals. They’re distorted and laden with more effects than a top-40 pop ballad, sure, but they’re also so skillfully unified with Body Prophecy’s punishing sound. Hammontree isn’t just leading the music’s frenzied soundscapes—he (along with listeners) is desperately trying to escape them. It’s brutal, man, and in the best possible way. Black Magnet is coming to Boggs Social & Supply on March 14 with tour mate King Yosef and Atlanta locals Floorless and Apostle.
King Yosef’s collaborative catalog is every bit as atmospheric as Black Magnet’s, but also more confrontational. One minute, listeners are lured into the Portland solo project’s groovy beats and impressive sonic landscapes. The next, Yosef’s vocals assault listeners with angry and desperate harshness. The back-and-forth between sonic booms and rebel yells is sure to keep listeners bobbing their heads on the dance floor before calling them to arms.
Atlanta two-piece Floorless could be called more atmospheric but equally devastating. The drones are much more prevalent. The songs stretch out a bit more and with more respect to their Goth-pop forebears. But the aggression and darkness is also so present that it earns the self-appointed label of “blackened industrial doom.” And did I mention fog Floorless brings all the fog.
And if it’s dark aggression you’re looking for, Atlanta’s own post-hardcore three-piece Apostle has you taken care of. Watching bassist Michael Thomas thrash around and literally beat his guitar tells you all you need to know about this band’s energy: it’s frenetic, punishing, and a throwback to the screamo-fueled early aughts.
In other words, you can’t miss it.
— Scott Belzer