The single ‘Music is Violence’, the title track of the sophomore release of electropunk band St. Lucifer, is very much what one might expect of an electropunk band named St. Lucifer. The song pulls the steampunk techno aesthetic that just sounds like a dystopian future together with the rough sounds of early punk and even some nu metal. An ensemble of synths and a conglomeration of mechanical sounds driven by a repetitive hook and a drum loop, ‘Music is Violence’ is a somewhat messy and thoughtless attempt at a catchy night club dance/pop song.
While the press release describes the song as ‘insanely catchy…pop perfection’, the hook, ‘music is violence, confusion is silence’, is actually quite monotonous. Sure, it’ll get stuck in your head, I’ll give it that, but it’s the kind of thing that gets stuck even though you maybe don’t want it to be there. The main vocal track on the hook is not only too low in the singer’s register but also isn’t quite in time, singing just a little ahead of the beat, to the point that it almost completely tears away from the backing tracks, resulting in a sloppy texture during the most important part of the song.
The song itself is very repetitive; it starts with a chorus and an instrumental which together totals about 30 seconds, and by the end of that 30 second period, the listener has already been introduced to every musical idea the song has to offer. Nothing new happens to retain attention. The verse and bridge are just variants on the instrumental, with the most interesting thing being the start of the bridge when a new chord progression is finally heard. Now I’m not one to frown on repetition, especially in the genre of dance music where repetition is the name of the game. The issue with this song is that the hook and the drum loop that drive the song are not interesting or catchy enough to carry the song, and a repetitive song with a weak hook is just a weak song.
Even so, the instrumentation is really pretty good. All the synth sounds work for what St. Lucifer is doing, which is an eclectic electronic kind of sound that even hints at some 80s techno-pop inspiration. Additionally, the guitar work was very well placed. This kind of song really doesn’t have a lot of room for guitar, making the job difficult, but the guitarist did a great job of fitting right in with solid parts to give the song the extra support where it was needed. The only thing I didn’t like was the mechanical beeps, squeaks and squeals in the background, mostly in the left speaker. They didn’t contribute anything except extra commotion and chaos, and being so high-pitched and exposed, it reached the point that it was painful to listen to.
The lyrics were difficult to understand, especially in the verses when the clean vocals were not as loud as in the chorus and bridge, leaving the distorted vocal to carry the melody. Semi-meaningless rabble, probably written more because of the phonetically pleasing rhyme scheme and the repetition thereof. While fun and semi-meaningless lyrics can be great for a light party song, when the lyrics are weak, the melody needs to be strong to pick up the slack. The lyrics did a lot to contribute to the vague steampunk aesthetic, with lines like ‘disaster for the solar system’ and ‘machines don’t talk unless you insist them’, but there wasn’t any clear storyline, topic or message. I couldn’t even tell you what they mean by the main lyric ‘Music is violence, confusion is silence’, or at least not with any
more certainty than an educated guess.
Amidst a turbulent year and a half of lineup changes and other obstacles, the road to this release was a tough one for St. Lucifer. All in all, I think this song isn’t much more than a collection of mechanical noise to one day add to the growing mass of mechanical noise left in the gutters of the music industry and forgotten. It isn’t the worst thing I’ve heard, but it’s definitely not a great piece of music. There are good ideas at the roots of it, but ‘too repetitive’ and ‘not engaging’ are textbook signs of a less-than-successful release.