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Heathen Harvest: Epoch - Purity & Revolution

As the fine people over at the Industrialised Culture Research Network have astutely pointed out long before I ever had the chance to give Purity & Revolution a thorough listen, Epoch is an American one-man martial industrial project whom is currently pushing the thematic boundaries of the genre into more refreshingly relevant areas. Rather than get caught up in the historical longings, obsessions with glory, or religious / occultist fervor that has dominated the genre since its inception and continues to persist to this day, Ken Holewczynski — the man at the helm of both Epoch and Carbon 12 Records — has opted instead to focus on contemporary non-specific socio-political issues as well as those which have existed through governmental manifestations since antiquity. In fact, with track titles like “The Corporate State” and “Capitalism is the New Fascism” — the latter of which has been included here in two versions as if to make sure that no one misses the point — the need to offer an elaborate explanation on the broader theme behind the music of Epoch seems unnecessary if not redundant. The message is all too clear: the Capitalist system is broken, corrupt and indifferent, and the ideas of democracy have been steadily distorting over the last two centuries into blatant tyranny.

Purity & Revolution opens in fairly banal manner with a military march in “W.T.O.” that both misleads the listener into preparing themselves for yet another predictable martial anthem and sets the theme of the album in motion. It isn’t long, however, before an unexpected traditional synth-heavy EBM beat kicks in and surprises the listener by changing the atmosphere around completely. In a nod back to his peers of the late 80s / early 90s, Epoch’s unique form of martial industrial has been hybridized with a non-vocal form of rhythmic industrial to create a sound that is modestly accessible and yet occasionally as aggressive as the theme demands, though as a modest complaint, the album as a whole could certainly stand to find a bit more fury to back its obvious vehemence. As such, the sound on Purity & Revolution lands somewhere between The Initial Command-era Front Line Assembly and Von Thronstahl‘s cover of the Joy Divison classic “They Walked in Line”, with an epic synth-driven style not unlike that of more modern Metropolis projects such as INRI-era Psyclon Nine. Despite the latter comparison, Epoch never slips into the realm of aggrotech and, instead, shows restraint by bringing the already moderate aggression levels down further in tracks such as the melancholic “False Hope, False Victory”, and pushing an even, focused soundtrack underneath of extensive sampling that has been utilized in place of traditional vocals in tracks like “Invisible Empire”, which, specifically, features the eye-opening Progressive Covenant with the People and The Right of the People to Rule speeches from Theodore Roosevelt. It’s in these tracks specifically where a familiar human emotion can begin to be sensed through the all too inhuman electronics that are the music’s foundation: empathy. While tracks like “Architects of the Third World” allude to the immediate theme that exists album-wide, further thought reveals a legitimate concern for humanity, specifically those whom are being crushed under the weight of blood, gold and diamonds.

The considerable use of sampling on Purity & Revolution both completely makes up for the lack of vocals within the music and helps to create the unique sound that Epoch is currently perfecting. Rather than the generic and overused German war-time speeches that eclipse the martial genre today, those utilized here are instead largely from historical American excerpts — excerpts that are either outwardly critical of the U.S. government or which are used out of context to highlight the sense of corruption that inspired the music within. In the end, no words are needed; as expressed in the opening paragraph, the intentions within the album speak for themselves, and they draw a sharp line in the sand. Like any good piece of art, despite its political sentiments, Purity & Revolution is a vivid expression of Holewczynski’s frustrations with the world that he finds himself entrenched in. In a broad sense, the album is a call to arms — a rhythmic declaration in which one man is saying “enough is enough”. In its most genuine form, Purity & Revolution is a martial anthem for the common man whom is increasingly marginalized by today’s First World plights — a work that aspires towards having pragmatic meaning in the conflicts of today, rather than reminiscing on days long gone.

Source: Heathen Harvest Review: Epoch - Purity & Revolution