Album Review: IAMX – ‘Metanoia’

By October 20, 2015 Album, Reviews

Former Sneaker Pimps front man, Chris Corner, has been gradually making a name for himself in the synthpop world through his solo project, IAMX, for over ten years and continues to forge a path through his most recent release, ‘Metanoia’.

IAMX cover

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From a period of personal hardships and struggles, ‘Metanoia’ rises from the ashes to be the first release from IAMX in two and a half years. Overwhelming electronic sounds and theatrical melodies counter gritty, tortured lyrics to provide the ultimate contrast. Corner’s undeniably impressive vocals are one of the biggest selling points of this album as a whole. Paired with emotionally raw lyrics and complex beats and rhythms, on paper, ‘Metanoia’ has the potential to be a powerhouse album.

Unsettling feelings of religious animosity and distress are immediately introduced in ‘No Maker Made Me’. An ominous silence builds to a quiet electro intro with ghostly female vocals and an industrial beat throughout, only broken by dark, piercing electronic notes. Right away Corner’s angelic vocals shine through, even while repeating the aggressive line ‘you f*cking sinner’ to end the track. ‘Happiness’ brings a more upbeat sound to the album with catchy, but still moderately unnerving melodies. Mesmeric percussive beats match beautiful harmonies and Corner’s gentle vocals with a counterbalancing, powerful vibrato to create a well-rounded track that leaves us waiting for more.

Unfortunately, the complexities and subtle nuances of the album are left in the dust early on through tracks such as ‘Say Hello to Melancholia’ and ‘Lookoutside’, both dark, theatrical tracks that seem to rely on Corner’s vocals to carry them and fall short for us. There’s no denying the emotional vulnerability of the album, but the personal nature of the lyrics is lost through the overpowering theatrics of the music in most tracks. ‘Oh Cruel Darkness Embrace Me’ is an example of the misplaced theatrical overtones by beginning to build a dark, almost burlesque inspired track and leaving it hanging in the balance with little variation. ‘North Star’ uses a disorienting electronic intro met by powerful vocals and heavy bass to drill the electro sound into the ground with tortured, spoken lyrics over a beat that builds to an echo of ‘I am real, I am good’.

Impressive, genuinely beautiful melodies can be found in ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Surrender’ while tracks such as ‘The Background Noise’ add a much needed complexity to the album with familiar, haunting female vocals and a disorienting electronic sound, helping to narrate a disturbing story that builds to a hypnotic beat.

While patiently waiting for ‘Metanoia’ to progress into an entrancing, multi-dimensional, complex piece of work, we were left with familiar sounds and inert beats. The passionate, personal nature of heart wrenching lyrics is largely unmatched by the music.