Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Test Department: The Unacceptable Face of Freedom

Back in the day, the term "industrial" applied to the noisy grinding of non-instruments, clamorous beats, and genuinely scary shrieks—and not to the anemic bastardization of metal and dance music that goes under the name today. Early industrial outings were released by small labels like Great Britain's Some Bizarre; among the bands on that label was Test Department, a British group that mashed the listener's face into the grindstone that was its music. From its opening track on, 1984's Unacceptable Face of Freedom is a battle cry for people of all races lost under the weight of free-market imperialism. Test Department's musical assaults are set up to counter what it saw as the intangible everyday assaults of the state. For example, on one of the album's more effective tracks, "The Statement," a real-life striking Welsh miner recounts his story of a peaceful picket line being broken up by police thugs; in the background, the band provides a muted soundscape of blows, cries and sporadic drum beats. The Unacceptable Face of Freedom is a classic which should not be kept from any fan of industrial, political or aggressive music. Test Department also appears on If You Can't Please Yourself, You Can't Please Your Soul, a Some Bizarre compilation that features The The, Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV and six other bands. Every track is coated with seething anger, which is released in either machine-gun outbursts or, in the case of Marc Almond's "Love Amongst The Ruined," cabaret camp. If You Can't Please Yourself is a good snapshot of industrial music in its prime. Noisy, angry and melodic, it's bound to obliterate the idea that Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails are the alpha and omega of industrial music.


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