I got in contact with the Norwegian Industrial Metal band GROUND ZERO SYSTEM several years ago, at the time of their first release, “Newropa EP”. This came out in 2006, contained 4 tracks and was a very solid proof of the guys’ skills. You can read the review here. Two years later the debut full-length came out under the title “Molotov”, but I can’t say anything about it. However, since it was apparently a very good release, it got the band a spot at the Inferno Festival in Oslo, Norway, the year before the release. As it goes, a follow-up needed to be written and so GZS put their head together to come up with new tunes. Titled “CounterCulture”, this second album came out as an online release, in November of 2011. Head over to the band’s website to know how to obtain it.
“Counterculture” contains nine tracks, totalling a playtime of about 40 minutes. Even as it all sounds very interesting, it’s over before you know it. And then you play it again. It begins with “Endgame” and its groovy Metal with cold, industrial atmospheric backing. And then the violent, aggressive sounds of the verses kick in, contrasting with the melodic, emotional chorus. This sounds almost like a protest. The industrial feel is indeed present, as there’s nothing warm here, nothing comforting. The power of the guitars, the firmness of the drums and the hoarse vocals… you cannot get around those. Halfway there’s a nice headbang moment, during which you can imagine footage of prostesting in the street, of people fighting the police and vice versa. Very well composed and executed.
“False Flags” has an atmospheric intro, including alarm sounds and dialogues by politicians (?), as if extracted from a film (which one?). The first impression so far is a cold one. And then the harsh grooves set in. The chorus is melodic, by contrast, but again with a touch of emotion, of disaster, of hurt and destruction. Of being powerless (as an observer). There’s a moment to headbang later on, but it doesn’t sound like happy music. Overall, a dark and depressing song. “iConoclasm” is also cold and depressing. First with the industrial beats and sounds, taking the lead after the intro, while guitar and drums offer power. The tempo is slow. The vocals are screamed through a megaphone (that’s how it sounds) at one time, the other time you get growls. Here as well, the chorus was made melodic with a more clean way of singing and a demonic rasping of “repeeeent!”. Halfway there’s a speech (again an extract), but I don’t know if it’s by a priest or not. In any case, the Norwegians again did well.
“Sensory Domination” is another song where happiness cannot befound. Its dark intro, dominated by the piano, is one of mystery and suspense. I also got a DEPRESSED MODE feeling. Drumsamples come in, to be followed by firm grooving Death/Industrial Metal. Maybe a wrong comparison, but it made me think of RAMMSTEIN with the main difference that, personally, GSZ are heavier and better with regards to Industrial Metal. The electronics play a big role here. The chorus is rather doomy with raspy vocals. The piano theme returns, during which a speech is played (from a film? which one?) about the destruction of mankind. So far, so very good. GROUND ZERO SYSTEM has really improved over the years.
Up next is “Blackout Revolution” with a war speech. Who the deliverer of that message is, I don’t know. And then the grooving Industrial Metal breaks loose, firm, dark and distorted. The aggressive vocals seem to serve as counteract against the political decisions. Contrary to the verses, the chorus is more straight-forward, more normal, so to speak. Later on the music does the talking before bridge and chorus put an end to it all. “Seven Bullet Synergy” starts with firm but smooth grooving, grinding music where the industrial sounds make the composition complete, almost in a percussionistic way. Semi-symphonic melodies help to not let the grooving guitarwork dominate. All in all, quite a diverse track we have here. The chorus is where the full power is let out, where the electronics/samples are important for the atmosphere, setting, mood. Especially halfway this is the case, when things don’t sound exactly happy. But it’s all again very well done.
“Be All, End All” is a slower track, but to the point. No thrills, no frills. Like saws. It’s also an emotional song, dark and depressing with the chorus showing it the most. Over halfway all falls silent and clean music (piano and vocals) is left over. The calm before the storm? Very nice stuff here. In “Fed To The Wyrm”, as you can imagine, the music adopts again the violently pounding and grooving character of before. The Metal dominates strongly here, though there’s atmospheric backing in the verses, which are slow, dark and vile. The electronic influence becomes more prominent around halfway the song, while the Metal aspect remains constant and unchanging. The album ends with “Freebasing Democracy”. This song begins with an organ and clean guitar, but it all sounds a bit distorted. Another political war speech is played, something about attacking a nation that has not yet attacked the USA? Who said those words? Which military leader? Don’t you just hate it when a real life sample is played and you can’t put a name to it? Anyway, the music is like before, and it’s powerful. Mainly Metal, but the electronic touches are needed for accents and completion. There’s an instrumental piece halfway the track, albeit emotional and doomy, dark and gloomy. And so it flows over into the powerful grooves of the chorus.
GROUND ZERO SYSTEM pleasantly surprised me in 2006 with “Newropa EP” and I was looking forward to heard “Molotov” (2008) as well (haven’t heard anything from it so far), but I’m glad to have heard album no. 2, “Counterculture”. I’ve listened to it several times, never got tired of it. In fact, I found it too short. Like it’s over before you know it. Aside from that, the Norwegians confirmed my earlier findings and exceeded them somehow. This is a very well done album, perhaps the best GZS release to date. Each song is strong, to the point and has meaning. If you’re into Industrial Metal, or firm grooving Death Metal with Industrial touches, then by all means, get your copy of “Counterculture”. Very much recommended!
- False Flags
- Sensory Domination
- Blackout Revolution
- Seven Bullet Synergy
- Be All, End All
- Fed To The Wyrm
- Freebasing Democracy
Alf Magne Andersen – vocals
Kristian Speich Eide – guitars, synths, samples
Peter Nordin – bass
Lars Erik Asp – drums, percussion