Scandinavian act Icon of Coil have been plying their brand of boppy EBM for a number of years now, wowing European audiences with their reputedly spirited live shows and dancefloors everywhere (including Australia) with club-friendly tracks like “Shallow Nation”, “Former Self”, “Floorkiller” and “Situations Like These.” Ironically, it’s often been their less dancefloor-oriented tracks that have stuck out more, and, thankfully, new album The Soul is in the Software (due out later this month) has quite a few of these, as well as toying with new vocal styles and rhythms more often employed by other stalwarts of the EBM scene, Covenant and VNV Nation.
Following a short introductory track, “Thrill Capsule” kicks in with a nice steady bass beat followed by some great acid lines, but unfortunately doesn’t progress much from there – it’s pretty much average dancefloor material, and this album contains two more tracks that fit the same mould – “Other Half of Me” and new single “Access & Amplify.” The latter is fun enough, but doesn’t change in any fashion from verse to chorus, and so ends up sounding quite flat – Icon of Coil’s brand of synthpoppy EBM requires better song structure to go the distance.
Third track “Violations” starts getting into more interesting territory. A bass line similar to a few tracks off the new Apoptygma Berzerk album (but better produced) is backed up by some nice bleeping and distortion and an aggressive vocal style that complements the dark nature of the synths perfectly. Next song “In Absence” steals the chugging rhythm that And One have mastered so well, but adds some vocoded lyrics and typical IOC synths in the mix.
Track six, a mid-tempo piece called “Everything is Real”, is at first an almost complete rip-off of Europa-period Covenant – complete with distortion bass and complex snare-heavy beats – but by the chorus adds a more IOC touch with the vocals and high-pitched synths. Not a standout track, but definitely an interesting turn. After the staleness of “Other Half of Me”, track eight, “Love as Blood”, is a definite improvement – not one of the greatest on the album, but original and interesting enough to keep your attention for the final two songs – the best to be found on this release.
“Disconnect” gets right to the point immediately – a funky, aggressive, fast-tempo piece reminiscent of “Final Man” by Covenant. Sexy verses are followed by a catchy chorus that mixes perfectly with the rolling acid lines prevalent throughout the song. Final track “Simulated” should be the next single, since it’s great dancefloor material while at the same time being a good cut above songs like “Access & Amplify”. Also not beating about the bush, it starts out with a bassline very similar to “Epicentre” by VNV Nation, then cuts in with angry, political lyrics (an unusual theme for Icon of Coil) and builds to an aggressive and extremely catchy chorus, which embeds itself into your head at the first listen. I’m quite certain that clubs will soon be resounding to cries of “You think there is a God, you are only toys … YOU’RE TOYS!”
While there are only a few tracks that are absolute killers, the others really aren’t so bad and it is this fact which makes this album probably worth your money if you’re a fan of boppy EBM music; particularly since Apoptygma Berzerk’s pathetic last album has left a bit of a gap in this market, which Icon of Coil should more than amply fill.