Stress Orphan’s Top 5 List of Power Electronics in 2020

A Comprehensive List of Grande Huevo PE

by Eric Trude

-Vigilantism – Nox Ultra (CD, Freak Animal)

Vigilantism is quickly becoming one of my favorite projects. I always enjoyed Edge of Decay, but since the first Vigilantism disc a few years ago I’ve found a whole new respect for the dude. This album takes a nice step up from 2018’s Incessant Authority, while maintaining its same smothering presence. It makes consistent use of reverb diffusion and stereo space to give a torrent of pulsating gritty electronics a kind of all-encompassing spread that sucks me right in. The sounds are very modern and almost cinematic. It reminds me of some of the best products from greats like Nyodene D and Am Not. The album is paced fantastically and is much better listened to end to end than sampling tracks. The first time I listened I was almost disappointed with the first few tracks, but by the end realized how essential they are to the
vibe of the whole thing. An essential album of modern power electronics.

-Chain Rite – I Have to Do This (Cassette, Fusty Cunt)

This is the only newcomer on my list this year. Or maybe they aren’t a newcomer, but they’re
anonymous now so whatever. New kid in town. Great debut tape. Short and sweet c15ish. But man does it pack some shit into those 15 minutes. A loving mix of true crime PE violence and 90s Slaughter Productions death obsession, all with a presentation that is unmistakably Midwest. Like listening to Machismo cover the best of 90s PE. You can feel this dude whip his shirt off through the tape. You might want to too. This came as a regular tape and a special edition in a box of dirt. I bought the dirt on impulse after Jim confirmed that it was playable. Once I heard the shit, I was so happy I got the dirt. Its where this tape belongs, in a black bag in the dirt, screaming about murder. “Over and over, I kill to feel nothing”. Incredible.

-Chaos Cascade – Creep Aesthetics (CD, Bestial Burst)

This does not sound like other records you heard this year. The first thing you’ll be thrown by is the intro of the first song that sounds like a 1-man pornogrind demo. But if you bail at that point, you’re missing a seriously wild ride. In no time flat whatever bass riff and drum loop completely caves in on itself and what ensues is a little over 50 minutes of relentless, grinding, disorienting power electronics. Every song is coated in a lot of harsh layers that all seem to be bursting with meaty tone but never choking one another out. Vocals eschew any pretense of communicating a message and instead bark metal madness through a million blown out delay pedals. The occasional droning riff or snare pattern that crops back up serves as a reminder that you’re listening to an insane record, that at times feels like Gnaw Their Tongues living up to their potential. This album isn’t flawless, and the long song at the end could maybe have been split up a bit or something. But all in all its an engaging and unique album by a project that has now become a “must buy” for me going forward. Even when it takes a misstep, it’s never a boring

-Grunt – Spiritual Eugenics (CD, Freak Animal)

I had a project with Mikko in it on my list last year (Selected Killing) and had done some complaining about how I couldn’t look to newer Grunt releases for big PE jams from him. Well apparently if I had just shut up and waited a bit he’d be back. And damn is he back. Whereas his last few albums like Castrate the Illusionist and Myth of Blood had seen him going for a more stripped back approach, Spiritual Eugenics seems to pick up the baton left by Petturien Rooli and World Draped in a Camouflage and runs with it. The layers and thickness of his mid-late 00s material fill every track. Trembling, battering synths and metal, vocals cutting through it all with a knife-to-the-gut wailing passion. There are throwback elements, some bass riffs feel like they were plucked from the 90s archive, but the final product is distinctly modern. I was pretty skeptical that a double disc would be necessary. Usually, things like that should have been edited into 1, to me at least. But here I get it. Pretty much every song feels slotted into make sense where it is, needing its neighbors for context in the broader picture. It feels like an album
that took a lot of careful work and planning to keep it from being boring. Feels good to have Grunt making this kind of shit again. Feels right.

-Herukrat – Darkness Over Najaf (LP, Total Black)

I really love the style and intensity that a lot of west coast PE artists have brought to the table in recent years. They’ve brought a nice breath of fresh air to the genre in America, choosing to push forward with their sound rather than look back like many of us are prone to do. And high in the ranks of those weed-country innovators is Oregon’s Herukrat. While plenty of things Mr. Krat did this year could slot in on this list (Junte Cadre’s Vietnam Forever comes to mind), this LP really hit me. To me this is the most complete Herukrat product to date. From the first note the album is well-paced and engaging, starting with a quick hook that is followed up by an unstoppable energy for mounting synth walls painted in furious vocals. A fresh take on a distinctly American style of electronics that at times reminds me of Control. When you are given breathing room, the harsh gravity gives way to floating static murk that’s easy to lose your head in. Darkness Over Najaf has a clear sonic narrative that paints vivid pictures of swords and temples drenched in blood. There is no god but god.