Artemis Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/24/2001
In the press material for their debut album Synthetic Division, Crossbreed singer James Rietz explained that the guide for the Florida-based industrial group has been "watching what other bands have done wrong."
Cocky? Perhaps - but what would one expect from a band whose eerie stage presence reminds someone of people who have lived by Chernobyl a little too long? Besides, Synthetic Division is ample proof that Crossbreed has done their homework, so a little boasting is definitely called for.
The band - vocalist Rietz, guitarist Chris Nemzek, bassist Charlie Parker, keyboardist Flip, keyboardist DJ Izzo and drummer Travis Simpkins - take all the lessons that groups such as Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Marilyn Manson and the like have put forth over the years, and combine it into one sonic attack that will knock the plaster off of the walls. It's intense; it's frightening... it's addictive.
From the opening riffs on "Severed," one can tell that Crossbreed are a band who refuse to conform to what any scene may expect from them - and they plan on taking no prisoners with their musical attack. Listening to tracks like "Pure Energy," "Underlined" and "Machines," one can tell that Crossbreed is not a band treading on well-plowed industrial ground.
Oh, sure, the crunching guitar work from Nemzek and the alternating shrieks and melodic vocal lines from Rietz - as well as the samples, though wisely used sparingly - suggest that this is industrial rock. But this is no mere photocopy; Crossbreed distills all of its influences into its own unique sound - and the end result is nothing short of refreshing.
While Synthetic Division is not the kind of album that can be played at low volumes in the quiet of a brightly-lit room, it is an album that does not have a weak performance on it. Every single track is something to celebrate, right down to the painful cries that double for chorus vocals in "Lost Soul". Make no mistake: Crossbreed is a winner, and Synthetic Division is an album that is going to be very hard to top. But if this disc is any indication of Crossbreed's potential, then one would have to say that if anyone could outdo this album, it would be Crossbreed themselves.