The first time I read the name “Genghis Tron,” probably on some website, I laughed out loud. It’s a pretty awesome name, and it helps separate them from the metal hordes—which is a good thing. Despite being on Relapse (after some early EPs and a full-length on Crucial Blast), they’re not a metal band, though crunching guitars and grindcore-ish screamed vocals are elements of their sound. The dominant elements, though, are synths and programmed drums.
Yes, that’s right: Genghis Tron is an IDM act, poorly disguised as “extreme music.” More often than not, their tracks sound like metal-tinged remixes of Aphex Twin or Squarepusher cuts from the mid-’90s. So it’s a good thing they didn’t call themselves something like Cephalic Carnage or Regurgitate or Pig Destroyer (Relapse labelmates all), because that would’ve led potential listeners to expect headlong aggression tempered with brief flurries of artsiness (à la grindcore’s greatest formalists, Discordance Axis), or maybe some malfunctioning-video-game guitar solos in the style of Botch’s Dave Knudson.
Neither of those things is present on Board Up the House—instead, there’s a whole lot of beauty and sadness. Start with the desolate, almost weepy electro-ballad “I Won’t Come Back Alive,” which sounds like Ministry circa 1990 covering New Order’s “Your Silent Face,” especially around the halfway mark, when the analog synths get buried under an avalanche of drum machine. On 2005’s Dead Mountain Mouth, Genghis Tron were intriguing, but a little too reminiscent of James Plotkin’s Atomsmasher/Phantomsmasher project or that two-CD set of remixes of Isis’s Oceanic. This time out, there’s a strong whiff of Isis on the 11-minute album closer “Relief,” but that’s about it, and the blast/breakbeats have been substantially modulated in favor of oozing synth melodies. They’re worth your attention now.