If you're thinking "oh, you mean <Ministry/Marilyn Manson/Nine Inch Nails/Rammstein/Fear Factory/Godflesh/KMFDM/Pitch Shifter!>", then visit this page. If you're not, then, well, good on you, we guess. Back in the late seventies, when Punk Rock was the dominant form of rebellious music, a bunch of musicians came to a realisation that led to the creation of a new genre. The conversation went a bit like this:
First: Shit, I just realised something!
Second: What, you're drunk?
First: No, I realised that punk rock... has too much music in it! People listen to it!
Second: Your point being?
Third: Actually, that's a very good question. What's your point, man?
First: Look, what if we made the ultimate form of rebellious music by resisting conformity to musical standards?
First: What if we made ''anti''-music?
Third: That might work, actually.At some point, these musicians decided to abandon punk and move towards Electronic Music. Of course, they were going to take it in a different direction. Inspired by bands like Suicide (a keyboard/vocal duo perhaps best known for their epic "Frankie Teardrop"), these guys decided to combine Electronic Music with punk (the mentality of punk, anyway), then attempt to make it unlistenable so they could rebel. Or something. note To their great horror, the plan backfired. note Some people liked it. note Often thought of as the Darker and Edgier version of Electronic Music, the genre was named "industrial" partly because many of the original artists who decided to jump on the bandwagon were signed to Industrial Records, and partly because the standard sample package for an industrial bands sythesyzer includes instruments like "screeching metal plates", "beating a metal plate with a hammer" and "dull band saw cutting a hardwood log". The first widely-recognised(-ish) industrial(-ish) group (not affiliated with the fictional musicians from the fake conversation) was Throbbing Gristle. Their work was highly experimental, and influential on several different genres. It was not strictly electronic either; they would use any sound they deemed necessary. Arguably, German group Einsturzende Neubauten also fit alongside Throbbing Gristle in terms of being one of Industrial's experimental forebears. Less well-known but equally innovative acts like Sheffield experimental trio Cabaret Voltaire, San Francisco Acid Punk band Chrome, and extreme performance artists SPK and NON also contributed significantly to the fledgeling genre. As electronic music became more popular generally during The Eighties, the earlier kinds of experimental Industrial became more refined and synthesizer-based. The genre grew in two major directions; approaching almost-entirely electronic music with the bizzare and experimental spirit that Throbbing Gristle had (this direction being exemplified by Canadian group Skinny Puppy), and making danceable electronic music that had the cold and aggressive Darker and Edgier qualities and punk-ish attitude of the early experimental Industrial artists (this direction, often called Electronic Body Music (or EBM) or Industrial Dance, was exemplified by groups such as Nitzer Ebb and Front 242). (Two other, frequently-intersecting "purist" directions in Industrial music also emerged at the turn of the decade: Power Electronics and Post-Industrial. The former was first pioneered by a group called Whitehouse in the late Seventies with the express purpose of fusing offense, Sensory Abuse and Hell Is That Noise into one, teeming mass of Nightmare Fuel; the latter is a much more nebulous term, applying mostly to the many esoterically-inclined groups formed by ex-members and colleagues of the post-Throbbing Gristle group Psychic TV, the most prominent being Coil, Nurse With Wound and Current 93. To summarize their careers: Coil quasi-evolved into Harsh Noise, then Dark Ambient; Nurse with Wound debuted two years after Throbbing Gristle, incorporating Musique Concrète with numerous surrealist influences over time; and Current 93 eventually transitioned from nightmare-inducing drones and chants into a form of lilting acoustic music known as Apocalyptic Folk. Neither had much direct impact on the later Industrial genre - Coil's early albums being a very danceable exception - although there is a certain degree of fan overlap, especially on the gothic side of things.) As the genre kept evolving, it began adding elements from other genres and/or recombining with various forms of itself. Bill Leeb, an early member of Skinny Puppy, tamed his former group's bizzare experimentalism by building his songs around an EBM-ish backbone and going all-out Cyber Punk in attitude. Albums from his project Front Line Assembly, particularly Tactical Neural Implant, have often been considered landmarks in the genre. The EBM faction of the genre kept making itself progressively Darker and Edgier, sometimes increasing the tempo and always toughening up the drums whenever possible. The project Leaetherstrip (misspelling deliberate) embodies this trend pretty well. Because, as stated below, Industrial music was a smashing hit amongst the goth community (it basically became the default form of dance music amongst goths), it didn't take too long for the styles to get combined. Industrial was already pretty Darker and Edgier, but when some very depressed Germans decided to goth it up (influenced by the very gothic form of Synth Pop known as Dark Wave), it became Nightmare Fuel. The project :wumpscut: took this to potentially Wangsty extremes; their album Embryodead is a Concept Album which argues that it is better to die in the womb than to be born in this cruel and miserable world full of hate and beyond any reason. Needless to say, it isn't the most pleasant listen for most audiences. Because of the continued focus on making dance-floor hits for the goths, Industrial generally began (in the late 90's onwards) to incorporate progressively more influences from more mainstream dance genres. Trance became a signficant influence (Electronic Body Music can at times sound like Darker and Edgier Trance so it wasn't a huge deviation from established norms) and ultimately resulted in a subgenre of Industrial called Futurepop, which is best seen as EBM with trance-like melodies. Bands that made this style are VNV Nation (whose album Empires is the Trope Codifier for Futurepop), Icon of Coil and Apoptygma Berzerk. And of course, there was a less dance friendly fringe known as noise who removed any and all mainstream elements form industrial and focused solely on the abrasiveness. Noise mostly consists of loud electronic samples brickwalled and distorted in order to inflict pain upon the audience. If there are any lyrics then they're usually angry, offensive and violent. Merzbow is probably the most recognizable name in noise music, mainly because he is Archive Panic-incarnate. A subculture arose from industrial music. They were known as "rivetheads", and they had a militaristic dress code. They also got on supremely well with the goths, partly because of similar musical tastes (industrial is quite a dark genre of music). As a result, many goths listen to industrial; in fact, it's the genre of music most affiliated with them. Also, the term Cybergoth can refer to a 'middle position' between being a traditional Goth and a Rivethead. These days, Industrial music has effectively stagnated as a genre. Generally speaking there are two basic styles; the remnants of the Futurepop acts that are sliding into synthpop and/or more retro forms of electronic music, and the Darker and Edgier Hellektro (essentially really, really hard EBM, sometimes with insanely angry and/or miserable attitudes and sometimes without) acts like Combichrist and Psyclon Nine. This is of course a simplification and many artists can be found that defy this basic characterization but it certainly applies to the majority of the Industrial that gets played at most goth clubs these days. Several older Industrial Dance songs sometimes get spun in clubs as part of 80s nights, due to their compatibility with the format (compare Depeche Mode's "Shake the Disease" and Ministry's "Everyday Is Halloween", for example.) While the Industrial genera itself may be developing a bit of rust on its rivets, modern movements like Dubstep, Harsh Noise, and Glitch owe a debt to the pioneers who discovered the inexplicable beauty of creating emotionally charged music from controlled chaos, and many artists cite these groups as a major influence. Industrial Metal is what happened when a certain synth pop band decided to combine industrial with metal.
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