Leifendeth is the industrial project of Toronto producer Dan McDonald. Since 2009 he’s been regularly releasing music under the Leifendeth banner. He has had roughly fifteen releases during this time. His latest, “Narrow Escapism” is a mini-ep featuring five remixes from artists including Braphonyte 7, Real Wilkinson, and Armageddon Speaking.

On the cover of “Narrow Escapism” is a back alley somewhere (maybe in Toronto), sprayed with graffiti. While I personally don’t particularly like the aesthetic of the photograph, I do think that it plays well into the idea of this EP, being that the photo feels claustrophobic.

Musically, I really, really like the title track of this EP. It reminds me “Mechanical Renaissance”-era Psyborg Corp, Xperiment, and C-Lekktor. It’s quite dancey, (Batty von Bats eat your heart out) and has in no way any ties to the current “retro” style that’s in vogue right now. This is the kind of aggrotech infused, industrial music that died a quiet death way back in 2012 with the advent of dubstep. To this day, I’m still not entirely sure how or why this type of music went out of style, maybe it has something to do with the proliferation of the “Goth Bridge Rave.” Regardless, “Narrow Escapism” is a concise track that is well-written, well-produced, and quite familiar to my aging old soul. McDonald makes creative, well-placed use of EQ, reverb, and reverse cymbals (my favorite) to help create this memorable track.

I tend to enjoy EPs like this as they help to expose me to new artists I haven’t heard of before via remixes. The most memorable of these remixes is “Pandemic” by Braphonyte 7. There’s just the right amount of aggression here that just makes me giddy with evil glee. Braphonyte 7’s remix is reminiscent of 2000s-era :Wumpscut:. Armageddon Speaking’s remix of “Not Again” is downright weird, a little ambient, and definitely old school. “Parasomniac (ghost panic mix)” has a good aggrotech styling to it, but the vocals come off as a little dry for my tastes. That’s not to say that they don’t fit, they do, I just think they should’ve been a little more wet, or slightly more in the background of the track. Of the two Real Wilkinson remixes of “Narrow Escapism” I much prefer the “Narrated Breakout” remix as it comes off as a tasteful reprise of the original track. The “Extended ‘Press the ESC button” remix is a lot more experimental, diverting a lot of attention from the original theme by focusing on various creative cuts and button presses.

Overall, I think that this is a pretty good EP. If there had been two other new tracks by Leifendeth here in the same polished style as “Narrow Escapism” in addition to all the extras we get here I think it could’ve been better. In general, if I had to pick one aspect of how Leifendeth could improve, it would be in the visual aesthetic of the project. Looking back at McDonald’s body of work I feel that the music is too amazing for the visual style that was settled upon for Leifendeth. “Narrow Escapism” also suffers from this lack of visual stimulus as well. If there was a little more flashiness to the art design, I think it would push this project over the top as something a little more noticeable, a lot more threatening, and more befitting of the wonderful music found within.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of 2000s aggrotech, late 2000s industrial dance.

STAND-OUT TRACKS: “Narrow Escapism” (this is near perfect) and “Pandemic (Braphonyte 7 remix)”

Album Color Profile: #BDC3C7

You can find all things Leifendeth at https://leifendeth.bandcamp.com/

Terrordyne is a cinematic darksynth project a producer from California. Terrordyne has been releasing music since early 2019 starting with their debut album entitled “Wasteland.” “High Tech Low Living” is their latest album and it was released May 13th, 2020.

The cover artwork for “High Tech Low Living” is by Nigel Silva from NGHT Studios. It features a large high tech looking pyramid structure situated in some kind of dark canyon. There appears to be a lone woman walking on light towards the structure.

“High Tech Low Living” is a futuristic concept album that centers around the year 2084. During this time, the “World Law Act” was passed as a method to further the globalist agenda of those in power. The law apparently makes it mandatory for all humans to be implanted with something called a “neurolink” at birth. Based on what I can tell, people who refuse to follow this new law are ousted from the niceties of society and forced to live a life without in a dystopian world that demands social compliance. What’s kind of interesting about the title of the album is it sort of pokes fun at those people who elect to comply with social tyranny in exchange for “the good life.” Those types of people may be living a nice high tech life, but it’s a low level existence because they had to forsake their morals and personal autonomy in exchange for it.

Sound wise, “High Tech Low Living” is wholly instrumental, though it often features long cinematic voice samples to help flesh out the ideas presented. The album is extremely slow-paced (110 BPM or less, with the exception of Wraithwalker’s “Protectorant Remix”) in an ambient Interstellar meets Mass Effect sort of way. That said, there are definitely some bangers on this album, “Brain Dance” and the title track especially come to mind as the type of songs I enjoy dancing to. What Terrordyne really excels at is presenting his ideas in a way that lends itself more to music fit for a film or video game soundtrack rather than something you might hear on Miami Vice. “High Tech Low Living” feels like it’s more influenced by early 2000s aggrotech rather than 1980s inspired synthwave, however, I think that it also retains qualities from both genres that help it to do something new.

I have to note that this album is best experienced in headphones. I made the mistake of listening to it while doing dishes without headphones and I missed a lot of the atmospheric nuance to this album that make it really fucking good. The low end on this album is especially dark, which isn’t easily heard if you’re listening to it from crappy phone speakers. So do yourself a solid and listen to this on a proper stereo or with headphones.

I think that the deluxe edition of “High Tech Low Living” runs a tad long for an instrumental album. As a matter of preference I would’ve released “Mass Hysteria,” and all of the remixes on a separate EP release. That said, the deluxe edition of “High Tech Low Living” is a great value for what you get. There’s a lot of kicking tunes here.

Generally, this is the type of music I really get into when I’m relaxing—like drawing or playing EVE Online. It’s not the type of music that you’re going to get distracted by. It doesn’t scream “HEY PAY ATTENTION TO ME.” Instead, “High Tech Low Living” wants to sweep you up into it’s dark and calm vibe. I think that it’s definitely worth checking out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who like their darksynth slow and dank. This is soundtrack worthy music.

Stand-Out Tracks: “High Tech Low Living,” (I fucking love this track), “Titan (Interlude), “Brain Dance,” (dance to this song) “Back Alley Chop Shop” (for Command and Conquer vibes).

Album Color Profile: #FAFAFA

You can find all things Terrordyne at https://terrordyne.bandcamp.com