Senser – SCHEMAtic

Album Review by Mark Bayross

You can add the near break-up of Senser to the long list of near misses in musical history as it was only when the seven-strong collective got together for their swansong performance that they decided they’d actually rather carry on.

Essentially, this is the follow-up album to the monumental debut STACKED UP – 1998’s second album ASYLUM was the product of half the band, Heitham, John and Haggis having left to form Lodestar. Ten years on from STACKED UP and quite a bit has changed, not only in the global backdrop that so inspired their original, confrontational music assault, but in music itself.

The idea of crossbreeding guitars with electronics and/or hip-hop is no longer revolutionary – a few years ago every dumbass nu-metal band from Orange County to Swindon was doing it in their sleep. But Senser always offered more depth than that, whether it was through Heitham and Kerstin’s rough vs. smooth vocal attack, their politicised lyrics, or the sheer eclecticism of their musical range.

SCHEMAtic possesses all of the above, although this time the musical arsenal is heavier on the riffs. From the portentous opener SILENT BY to the chugging 101 INFOBURNER and the Dead Kennedys-meets-Faith No More punk thrills of CRUCIBLE, this is the sound of Senser as a rumbling techno-metal juggernaut. No new age nonsense here.

Heitham still sounds like his head is about to explode, although there isn’t anything on the album to match the bloodshot hysteria of AGE OF PANIC, while Kerstin sounds even sexier than before, especially on the mesmerising FORMULA MILK (although that may be because her vocal partner sounds like Mike Skinner until the chorus).

Lyrically, the targets have been updated 2004-style – everything from music industry stagnation (FORMULA MILK again) to current suburban enemies-among-us paranoia (BOMB FACTORIES) – while the stop-start tempo changes of album closer and recent single THE BRUNT demonstrate how far the band have evolved as a musical force.

5 stars

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