[Reviewed by stark]
I have to admit that there is something unusual for martial industrial standards here, even though the components the artist is using are often threadbare. This promotional disc deals with – what else – war; the fact that it has been the driving force of mankind over the centuries, connecting politics, economics and religion, and also the fact that it’s like a cycle that will keep repeating over and over again until the human species eventually turns itself into ashes. A whole bunch of projects have already discussed those themes, the best ones did it many years ago, while the young wolves have never proposed anything new. And musically Esgal is not discovering America as well. It follows the similar path as Triarii or Auswahlt, combining dynamic rhythmic parts with lofty melodies straight from the battlefield.
So nothing that would distinguish Esgal from tons of other similar projects – where’s this new element, you may ask. Well, contrary to all other martial industrial artists Ryan Starr seems to know what he wants to communicate. According to a press release, he’s a veteran who completed two tours before being discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m guessing he was somewhere in the Middle East, Iraq or Afghanistan, because the music has a lot of Arabic ornamentation. All this gives a lot of honesty and truth to the music often made by people who’ve only seen war on the big screen watching “Black Hawk Down” or – nomen omen – “Saving Private Ryan”. I don’t know if he has seen real action, but even if not, being far away from home and knowing that somewhere nearby there are men who’d love to see him dead surely made an impact on the musician. One can agree or disagree with American foreign policy, but we have to remember that a lot of these soldiers are victims as well, the victims of people in grey suits on the highest levels of power.
I have to mention two curiosities: the promotional photo shows the musician as a mixture of Mortiis and Sunn O))), which adds the element of mindfuck to the whole structure. But even more interesting is the fact that Ryan composed the whole thing on his iPad using several programs. How he did it, I don’t know. I even have problems with writing a text message without making any mistakes… Anyway, the full album is scheduled for October 2016. Of course, I’d like to see something new in the music as well, perhaps some dealing with modern warfare, a more contemporary approach, as these bombastic tunes bring to mind images from the First or Second World War which is quite typical for the genre. But let’s wait and see.