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Crush [reviews]
The Red Pill |Crush, 2009|

1. Believe, 2. Dirty, 3. New Rome, 4. Everything I Say Is A Lie, 5. Sacred, 6. Time Alone, 7. Proof, 8. Cry Me A River, 9. 9, 10. Fast, 11. Wish, 12. unholy, 13. Dawn Approaches, 14. Tic, 15. Nothing

I'm really enthusiastic about "The Red Pill" because I found an album that I liked & I didn’t have to dig into the depths of music history. "Crush" is the recent solo project of Mark Blasquez. It was published in 2009 & was risking going unnoticed in the immense multimedia container that is the World Wide Web.

For those not familiar with the works of Mark Blasquez, I recommend that you check out my review of "Screaming Down The Gravity Well" by his former band Death Ride 69. Mark played for Death Ride 69 in the 90s before starting a productive collaboration with Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Tweaker). NIN appears to be a good source of inspiration contributing to the feel of this album.

"Crush" is a great Industrial Rock album. It reflects all the strong points of "American Machine Rock", and as I said, it has several points in common with NIN, but is very much unlike the multitude of Reznor clones that permeate the web. Mark Blasquez (he's in "The Downward Spiral" credits) has directly suffered a contamination having collaborated with members of Nine Inch Nails.

This recent solo work is full-bodied, having as many as 15 songs on the track-list. It is enjoyable, energetic and complete with an excellent hand-crafted production that hasn’t been obtained by chance, but has been achieved with considerable experience, accumulated over the years, that doesn’t have regret for seemingly more popular and sponsored productions. It’s an honest and remarkable DIY album, where Mark plays all the instruments as a one-man band. You will be shaken by hard-rock inspired solos, disruptive driven guitars and even orchestral elements that emphasize the sound. Marks voice easily adapts to different circumstances. It can be aggressive as in the epic "New Rome" and in "Proof", or feeble and affected as in "Dirty" and "Everything I Say Is a Lie".

The brilliant electronics (synths and distortions) are reminiscent of the NIN/Skinny Puppy golden years that pervaded the 90’s in songs like "Everything I Say Is a Lie", but also more recent hints can be heard in the chorus of "Sacred" (reminiscent of "Survivalism") or "9" that gets closer to the sound of "Year Zero". There aren’t only Industrial Rock songs to be found, but also strong influences of Alternative Rock as in "Wish", coming across as very Tool-ish, while the brutality of "Tic" reminds the listener of Ministry in the "Animositisomina" days.

Much energy and heavy guitars are to be attributed to this album, but there are also soft atmospheres like in the grim sounding "Dawn Approaches".
I’d briefly dwell upon the theme of this album, which is as important as much as the excellent quality of the songs. The mindset is clearly suggested by its title, "The Red Pill", which is centered on falsehoods. Mark uses the movie "The Matrix" as a metaphor, while his lyrics clash against the modern world supported by an endless column of lies.

We could go on for hours about the meaning of lies and their use in everyday life... There are innocent childish lies, the "well-meant" lies, & the "Reason of State" contingent of Giovanni Botero/Machiavelli memory. The art of lying is a dangerous tool; a tool used to model our reality according to our purposes. This evil is inherent in our minds & is difficult to root out... Even when we discover the deceptions that hide behind facts and words in an infinite expanse of hypocrisies open before us.
This is the idea behind the album, and Mark Blasquez deserves my compliments, because in addition to letting you spend a pleasant hour of distraction, he manages to make you "ponder" other things.

Going back to the music; if I were to nominate the songs that particularly struck me, I would say without a doubt: "Nothing", "Believe", "Dirty" & "New Rome" were top on my list, but choosing just 4 was really hard. I would also like to mention that the only song I didn’t fully appreciate was "Unholy".

A great album, full of dynamics, well performed, with a '90’s flavor that will certainly pleasure fans of NIN, Gravity Kills, Stabbing Westward and Machines of Loving Grace.

(Marco Gariboldi, 05/01/10. Proofreading: Scott M. Owens)

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