San Francisco’s Xorcist (actually just Peter Stone, who goes by the name “Bat”) specializes in “torture tech,” the most brutal, unrelenting form of industrial music. Damned Souls would make a fine soundtrack to any Clive Barker film; death and destruction imagery pops up all over the place, wanting nothing more than to scare the water out of hapless listeners. Between the bludgeoning beats, creepy synth melodies snake around distorted, caustic vocals. Samples lifted from films like The Dead Zone, Death Wish, Blade Runner, several porn flicks and, naturally, The Exorcist series further add to the unsettling mayhem.
On the Bitches EP, Xorcist briefly takes a break from all the pain and chaos long enough to do a whimsical industrial version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that must be heard to be believed. But the rest of the album — the title track, another new song titled “U R the 1 (Fux Version),” along with remixes of “Xorcist” and “UNGDSOB” from Damned Souls — reverts to style, wallowing in danceable ditties saturated with violence, perversion and despair.
As with other Xorcist releases, Phantoms unleashes nightmare-inducing chaos in powerful portions. It’s violent, it’s disturbing, it stops at nothing to terrify-and it works, especially on the edgy opener, “Bitchend.” Scary as this material sounds, though, the truly frightening thing about it is its ability to make such awful visions so compelling.