Music / Celldweller

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/celldweller_5663.jpg
I've made a choice, that I regret,
Now what I see, is what I get,
It's too late to look back,
I've got no way to switchback,
It's too late to look back ain't OK I've got no way to switchback!
"Switchback"

Celldweller is an award-winning American Heavy Metal/Electronic Music project, formed in 1999 in New York City, but now based in Detroit, Michigan. The project was formed by multi-instrumentalist, DJ and Record Producer Scott "Klayton" Albert, who was once involved in several electronic music and Industrial Metal projects, most notably Angeldust, a collaboration with renowned illusionist Criss Angel. To date, the project has spawned six studio albums, nine EPs and several successful singles.

Celldweller's music is incredibly diverse and multifaceted, and is commonly described as a fusion of Heavy Metal, trance, drum and bass, dubstep, and industrial, with elements taken from many other heavy music genres. The project has also been classified as Nu Metal and gains its pride as one of the Ensemble Darkhorses of the genre. Celldweller's music has frequently appeared in television shows, movies, and video games, more prominently appearing in Dead Rising 2, Need for Speed, and the 3rd season of Killer Instinct.

Members:

Current Lineup

Former Members (live performances only)

  • Bret "Blue Stahli" Autrey - backing vocals, synthesizers, guitar, bass, percussion (2010-2011)
  • Dale Van Norman - electric guitar, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals (2003-2005)
  • Kemikal - bass guitar, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals (2003-2005)
  • Cais - acoustic and electronic drums, percussion (2003-2005)
  • Kenny James - acoustic and electronic drums, percussion (2003-2005)
  • Del Cheetah - guitar, keyboards, percussion (2003-2005)
  • Chris "Tweety" Cross - guitar, keyboards, percussion (2003-2005)

Discography:

Celldweller

  • Celldweller (EP, 2000)
  • Celldweller (2003)
  • The Beta Cessions (Collection of B-sides, 2003)
  • Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head, Vol. 1 (2008)
  • Cellout EP 01 (2011)
  • Groupees Unreleased (EP, 2011)
  • The Complete Cellout (Remix album, 2011)
  • Live Upon a Blackstar (Live album, 2012)
  • Wish Upon a Blackstar (2009 through 2012, full album released in 2012)
  • Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head, Vol. 2 (2012)
  • Space & Time (EP, 2013)
  • Blackstar (soundtrack album, 2013 through 2015)
  • End of an Empire (2014 through 2015, full album released in 2015)
  • Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head, Vol. 3 (2016)
  • Offworld (2017)

Circle of Dust

  • Circle of Dust (1992)
  • Brainchild (1994)
  • Misguided (as Argyle Park, 1995)
  • Disengage (1998)
  • Machines of Our Disgrace (2016)

Scandroid

  • Scandroid (2016)
  • Dreams of Neo-Tokyo (remix album, 2017)
  • Monochrome (2017)

Celldweller provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation: Not especially bad, but Klayton tends to remix and re-release his old songs often, and also includes fan-made remixes on albums.
  • Careful with That Axe: Many of his songs have screams that seemingly pop out of nowhere, which can be very jarring for first-time listeners.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Chapters of End of an Empire work this way: Time, the first chapter, is blue. The second one, Love, is red. Dreams, the third one, is green while the fourth and final one, Death, is heavy on purple.
  • Cyber Punk Is Techno: As per Industrial Metal tradition. There are plenty of exceptions, however.
  • Darker and Edgier: End of an Empire not only swings back more to his original style after Wish Upon a Blackstar, but also incorporates elements of Djent and Metalcore.
    • Among the three projects, Circle of Dust is easily the darkest, since it's based around Industrial Metal in the vein of bands like Ministry and Fear Factory. The project's comeback album, Machines of Our Disgrace, is by far Klayton's darkest work to date, both sonically and lyrically.
  • Electronic Metal
  • Fading into the Next Song: Every song in the deluxe edition of Wish Upon A Blackstar.
  • Four Is Death: The fourth chapter of End of an Empire is named "Death".
  • Genre Roulette: Switches regularly between vocal electronic/metal (Celldweller, Wish Upon A Blackstar, End of an Empire) and instrumental, epic-sounding tracks (Soundtrack for the Voices In My Head, Transmissions).
    • Now you can throw in electro-acoustic rock as well (Offworld).
  • I Am the Band: Celldweller is Klayton's solo project, but guest musicians are brought in for live performances.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Klayton describes Celldweller's distinct style as this.
    "I never cared about being the best double bass drummer, or the fastest lead guitar player. Couldn't care less. My only desire was to learn different instruments well enough so I could get what I hear in my head onto tape."
  • Lighter and Softer: Wish Upon a Blackstar was nowhere near as aggressive as Celldweller, consisting more of just straight Dubstep and Electronic Music than Klayton's typical Industrial Metal style. End of an Empire could be best described as a mixture of both albums, instead.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: It's been the same.... one guy since 1999.
  • Loudness War: His music lacks dynamic range (save for some works from the Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head series), and his later works are significantly louder than his earlier ones and certain tracks have horrendous clipping.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Klayton's music can cover the entire scale, though his playing field is usually the 6-9 range as Celldweller, 7-10 as Circle of Dust, and 3-5 as Scandroid.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Frequently described as a metal artist who draws inspiration from the most abrasive electronic music genres (drum and bass, dubstep, industrial, EBM, hard trance, noise, IDM and similar genres), though from song to song, Celldweller can vary between any combination of these genres. Fans usually classify him under Alternative Metal and Nu Metal, though his music sounds very little like the established stereotypes.
  • Nu Metal: Arguably one of the more well-respected bands of the genre.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: "Shapeshifter," composed as a single with Styles of Beyond for Need for Speed: Most Wanted, is far more of a Boastful Rap than the thematic lyrics of Klayton's previous works. He then returns to his normal style afterwards.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: More than one. Some fans have begun complaining about the increasing ubiquity of his songs.
  • Signature Style: Chattering Electronic Music sounds influenced by trance, dubstep and noise fused with harsh, crunchy computer-manipulated guitar riffs and fast, aggressive drum and bass-inspired rhythms.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Linkin Park, at least this was how LP was supposed to sound, had they stayed in Nu Metal territory and took their musicality up a notch.

Tropes demonstrated by the Songs, Lyrics, and Music Videos

  • A God Am I: The narrator for "Own Little World," though it's more of the god of "his own little world" than all of existence.
    Welcome to a world where the air I breathe is mine
    There's nothing to overwhelm me and nothing to cloud my mind
    Be anyone, do anything I'd ever want to try!
    Time doesn't exist here, I will never die!
  • The Alcatraz: The XR-87 Prison System located on Helion, mentioned in "Faction 13" and "Breakout."
  • Arc Words: Some lines repeated across the Blackstar album include:
    • "It makes no difference who we are / for when you wish upon a Blackstar."
    • "You're reaping what you sow."
    • Variations on the narrator's "birthright."
    • The phrase "lost in time" shows up a lot throughout End of an Empire.
  • The Atoner: "Frozen"
    "I want to forget mistakes they've helped me make/it's better to be broken than to break"
  • Attempted Concept Album: Klayton's Wish Upon a Blackstar epic is an attempt at a story with the lyrics and album covers, but it's ultimately too vague to tell a clear story. Thankfully, his blackstar epic has been turned into a book.
    • End of an Empire is a little more well-developed.
  • Author Appeal: Schizophrenia apparently, given how many songs include lyrics about "voices in my head." In addition, Klayton has dedicated entire albums to those voices.
    • Space, Klayton really, really, really likes space.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The titular Blackstars grant wishes. However, the lyrics constantly warn the dangers of doing so.
  • Boastful Rap: The entirety of "Shapeshifter."
  • Cluster F-Bomb/Precision F-Strike: A bit of both. Klayton doesn't curse often, but when he does, he really goes for it.
    • "Heart On" is the best example.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Ultimately, both Wish Upon a Blackstar and End of an Empire have shades of this, but Wish Upon a Blackstar, adaptation notwithstanding, is a better example.
  • Cover Version: He made an electro-metal version of "Tragedy".
  • Despair Event Horizon: "So Long Sentiment" describes someone trapped in his own depression, recalling old memories and begging for release.
    • "Just Like You".
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Included as taunt in Shapeshifter.
    The boiler's grinding, keep the cuffs, enjoy your doughnuts sir / you ain't gonna find me!
  • Downer Ending: On every album. "Against the Tide" is the worst example.
  • Driven to Suicide: "One Good Reason", "Tainted", "The Great Divide".
  • Fantastic Racism / Just a Machine: This is the cause of the downfall of Atiria in End of an Empire. To clarify, an android gave other androids sapience, resulting in mankind splitting into two groups - the "Pro-bots" and the "Robophobes" - and warring with each other. This is mentioned in "Faction 13" & was expanded upon in the Scandroid song "Pro-bots & Robophobes".
  • Genius Loci: Scardonia, the red planet and the source of the blackstars that appears on many album covers and in the Unshakeable music video. To complete the "living planet" look, it even possesses gargantuan eyes and mouth.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: For the Unshakeable music video, the energy that Klayton's music spreads colors the city a vibrant blue, while the aura of Scardonia is an angry red. At the end, Klayton (and his Humongous Mecha) appear to face off.
  • Great Escape: "Breakout" involves a group of "Plugins" conducting one from the infamous XR-87 Prison System.
  • Humongous Mecha: One piloted by a mysterious woman appears in the Unshakeable music video. Unfortunately, the video ends just before its presumed fight with Scardonia.
  • Ironic Echo: From End of an Empire:
    The Dreamcatcher: Give yourself to me... I... am... life!
    • Later:
    The Gatekeeper: Give yourself to me... I... am... death.
  • The Lost Lenore: "The Great Divide" has shades of this.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: "Frozen" is a recurring fantasy about a beautiful seductress, and the narrator never wants to leave.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Against the Tide" sounds very epic and uplifting, despite the lyrics being about losing against "the tide" and how the predicted end "has finally begun."
    • "The Great Divide" sounds rather uplifting... and then there's the lyrics.
  • Madness Mantra: Present in many of the more introspective songs, such as "So Long Sentiment," "Stay With Me (Unlikely)," "Kill the Sound," "Goodbye."
  • Mega City: The setting for the Unshakeable music video. At first, it's gray and lifeless, but Klayton's music adds Tron Lines to every building as it spreads.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "The Last Firstborn" the lyrics, "Firstborn, last one" appears, but The Last Firstborn never gets sung or said.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: A mentally unstable narrator pleads this in "Stay With Me (Unlikely)."
  • The Resenter: "Uncrowned" is written from the perspective of one.
    My nights alone were worth is all / Just to see your face on the way down!
    • Down To Earth is another example.
  • Singer Name Drop: "Switchback"
  • Split-Personality Takeover: The subject of "Kill the Sound."
    Two voices in my head / and I want one of them dead / so I can focus on remembering
  • Time Abyss: "Eon" is about someone trapped in one and trying to escape.
  • Tron Lines: Utilized heavily in the Unshakeable music video.
  • The Vamp: "I Can't Wait" is from the perspective of someone who falls under her seductions.
    Her skin is laced with poison / Her words are laced with lies / Affliction is waiting in her eyes
    I can't control this compulsion / like a moth into the flame / her fiery embrace completes my shame.

Klayton himself

  • Badass Baritone: Surprisingly enough, he has a pretty solid low range, though it's mostly reserved for backing vocals, but sometimes they come through clearer than the vocals they're supposed to be backing.
    • "Afraid This Time" is the best example:
    "Leave me if you want
    You can't hurt me now"
  • Deadpan Snarker: He certainly has his moments.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Whenever he wants to be creepy, he generally goes for this through both his natural voice and the effects he layers onto it.
  • Good Is Boring: Humorously enough, holds this mentality.
    "The death per capita in New York had dropped because we had a good mayor for a while, and I didn't feel comfortable with that so I wanted to go someplace where there was a lot more people getting killed. So I went to Detroit."
  • Goth: In his Circle of Dust days. His hairstyle is very probably an Artifact from his goth days.
  • Heroic Build: Yes.
  • Metal Scream: Very, very frequent in Celldweller and Circle of Dust. Doesn't use any in Scandroid.
  • Older Than They Look: Very likely, considering how long he's been active as a musician.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Brett of Blue Stahli.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: The man has no guilty pleasures.
  • Reclusive Artistinvoked: Klayton describes himself as one. He doesn't keep up with the news or own a television set, although he still maintains good relations with his fans, so he really isn't.
    • He hates the traditional method of touring, which combined with his reclusive nature is part of the reason why he didn't tour for a very long period of time and has rarely performed shows since 2011.
  • Self-Deprecation: According to a few behind-the-scenes videos, he doesn't think he's especially talented for his instruments.
  • Soprano and Gravel: He frequently uses Harsh Vocals along with clean passages in many of his songs. Averted with Scandroid, where he uses no harsh vocals at all.
  • Start My Own:
    • He had a falling out with his label during his time known as "Circle of Dust" for not being Christian enough for the Christian Metal scene, so started his own music project free from them.
    • When Klayton again had a falling out with his new label over distribution in 2006, he started his own label, FiXT.
    • Klayton's extremely fond of doing this. He was never satisfied how other bands combined guitar, vocals, drums, and/or electronica, so he decided to just learn how to play them all himself to make his own sound.
  • Starving Artist: In his early days, where he slept in his two-room studio Reese's Puffs were his only food all day. He's since become more successful and less poor, but he still holds the mentality.
    I would rather starve and create what I want than be told from someone who doesn't understand me or my art that something isn't up to their specs."
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Reese's Puffs.
  • The Unreveal: In the first Ask Celldweller video, he decides to finally set the record straight about his Vague Age by revealing that he's *INCREDIBLY LOUD DRILL NOISES*. Fortunately, although he turns his head away, lip-readers can see he begins with "thirty-", so he's somewhere in his late thirties at least.
  • Vague Age: Even his Heterosexual Life-Partner Bret doesn't know how old he is. Some people think he's as old as fifty-two.
    • Some deducting of his actual age can be done through the fact he's been active as a musician since at least the late 1980s. If it's assumed that he first started playing in bands professionally in his late teens or early twenties, his age now is very likely around the late thirties to mid fourties.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: His name's not Clayton, it's Klayton.
  • You Gotta Have Red Hair: Both how Klayton appears in artwork and how he actually looks.
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