CROC SHOP

Album: "World"
Label: Metropolis Records (2002)
Style: EBM
Songs: 13

B
 

Reviewed by: Darklight

This Croc Shop CD is one of the more refreshing releases Iíve heard in a while. From the artwork to the music, this is not your typical EBM album. And thatĎs part of its appeal. With so many bands sounding rather similar these days, itís nice to get a CD such as this one that stands out with its own style.

Iíll be the first to admit that Croc Shop hasnít really impressed me all that much in the past. Their previous recording Order + Joy (under the band name Crocodile Shop) was good, but still included too many quirky elements that prevented me from really enjoying it as a whole. However, this World release is impressive from beginning to end without anything sounding like it doesnĎt belong.

The Japanese animeí artwork on the cover of this album might make you think that Croc Shop has compiled a techno-pop CD, but that is not the case. While there are some electro-pop elements to be heard here, this overall album is pure EBM. But this is not an all out club assault, either. Most of the tracks play at a mid-tempo pace making them better suited for headphones than the dance floor.

While you can somewhat recognize Croc Shop from the past here, this is definitely a new direction for the band. The songs are upbeat and funky featuring EBM, techno and trance elements with a dash of synth-pop here and there.

The vocals are somewhat muffled with slight effects, and this is the most disappointing aspect of the album. Mick Hale has a good voice, so thereís really no reason for him to alter it. The muffled sounding singing just doesnít fit well with the rather clean technical electronic music. While I assume that altering the vocals was a creative decision to give the songs a slightly rougher edge, I personally feel that it was a poor choice as these songs would have worked a lot better with clear vocals.

Each track manages to stay within a similar style without sounding alike. The electronic programming is slightly experimental with a lot of layering of various sound effects, blips, bleeps and beats playing over synth melodies. Mick Hale delivers the lyrics in a fast spoken manner. The songs are structured well with frantic beats and catchy choruses.

There are three remixes provided by Flesh Field, Dubok and Sub Grav. The Flesh Field remix of "Generation" is one of the best songs offered on this album. Rian Miller of Flesh Field provides her vocals in areas of the song where they fit well. The music is turned into a dark energetic club assault similar to Flesh Fieldís own music. Dubokís remix of "World" is also a great interpretation turning the song into a smooth synth-pop track.

Thereís really not too much to complain about here. This CD is something unique at a time when itís really needed. I donít think itís for everyone, but itís definitely for those who want something a little different in the industrial/EBM/synth-pop genre.