Label: Metropolis Records (2004)
Style: EBM / Synth-pop
Tom Shear is back with another excellent Assemblage 23 (A23)
release. This Storm album basically continues
where 2002's Defiance left off, so if you're
expecting a whole new A23 sound you're not going to
get it. What you do get are ten immaculately composed nicely placed
traditional sounding A23 songs that are easy to get
into and enjoy.
If you're familiar with the music of A23, you will
feel right at home here as things haven't changed a whole lot. That's
not to say there's nothing different between this album and previous
A23 material, but the changes are quite subtle and
won't be immediately noticed.
Tom Shear's father commited suicide in 1999, and Tom poured a lot of
his pain from that unfortunate loss into his 2001 Failure
album making it a rather dark musical journey. But the A23
sound lightened a bit on 2002's Defiance album
bringing in more upbeat moods and pop structures. And this direction
is taken even further on this Storm release.
While the songs here still feature the serious tone that A23's
music is known for, it also has a lot of light melodies and pop sensibilities.
However, unlike previous A23 albums, there's not really
any slow songs. Every song is energetic and driving with frantic electronic
programming and heavy beats. But even though the songs move at a fast
pace, they don't come off as simply club music. This is due to the deep
and powerful feelings and emotions Tom delivers with his lyrics.
As with all A23 albums, there are a few songs on this
Storm release that really stand out and grab my attention. My favorites
are "Let The Wind Erase Me", "Complacent", "You Haven't Earned It",
"Apart" and "30KFT". The closing song "30KFT"
especially stands out, and is one of the best closing songs I've ever
This is definitely the most consistent A23 album yet.
While it somewhat lacks the variety of previous A23
albums, it still manages to deliver some of the most mature and polished
work Tom has ever done.
Label: Metropolis Records (2002)
Style: EBM / Synth-pop
Tom Shear proved on his previous Assemblage 23 (A23)
recording Failure that he’s a masterful song
composer. Tom takes elements of EBM and synth-pop and includes them
with his own dark passionate feelings and emotions. The outcome is mature
genuine electronic music for both the mind and body.
Tom continues his superb songwriting on this Defiance
release with even greater maturity. This overall album feels more structured
and tightly put together than his past efforts. The crisp, clean, polished
production of the songs make them enjoyable to listen to repeatedly.
The mixture of club tracks and ballads is nice for variety.
Tom has an amazing deep clear voice, and sings with confidence and power.
You will be hanging on his every word as you move to his infectious
electronic/synth music. The programming, sampling and melodies in the
songs are done immaculately. Multi-layered electronic sound effects
and beats compliment well orchestrated keyboard harmonies as Tom sings
along perfectly with emotion.
There’s no filler on this disc. This is a solid ten track album not
featuring one bad or out-of-place song. The layout of the tracks couldn’t
have been done better; allowing this recording to flow smoothly from
start to finish. There’s just the right amount of balance to everything.
You get a good batch of club tracks ("Opened", "Drive", "Blindhammer",
"Document" "Light", "Maps Of Reality") as well as a good batch
of more relaxed emotional tracks ("Cocoon", "Fallen Down", "Horizon",
If you’re already a fan of Assemblage 23, this CD is
a must. If you haven’t discovered A23's music yet, this would be a great
place to start as it’s a bit more accessible than past albums.
Since the debut release by Assemblage 23 (aka Tom Shear) was
such a fantastic album, I really had no doubts that this follow-up wouldn’t
be amazing as well. However, I wasn’t prepared for how good it actually
While "Contempt" featured a lot of
great songs, there were a few that were less than stellar. But each
and every song on this "Failure"
release are just as quality as the next. From the opening track
“Naked” to the closing track “King Of Insects” I was in
complete awe the entire time.
Tom Shear delivers feelings and emotions in a genuine and powerful way
that really shows through on each track offered here. When a song can
make you teary eyed due to its passion, you know that you’re listening
to something special.
Tom’s father took his own life in 1999. A lot of this album deals with
the pain of that unfortunate loss. One song in particular “Disappoint”
deals with this issue in its lyrics.
Tom is an amazing song writer creating lyrics that flow together perfectly.
Everything is combined and mixed flawlessly to create an end result
that is immaculate.
The songs here range from dark and dreary to upbeat and catchy to angry
and aggressive. The music is a work of art with multi-layered electronic
programming, orchestrated melodies and solid driving bass beats. Tom’s
vocals are deep and clear delivering his words perfectly.
My favorite tracks are “I Am The Rain”, “House On Fire”, “Tried”,
“Disappoint” and “Silence”. No fan of EBM or synth-pop music
should miss out on this amazing disc.
23 is the solo electro-industrial/EBM/synth-pop project of Tom Shear.
This debut CD of his is simply incredible in every way possible. The
production value is top notch, the track layout is perfect, and the
remixes are excellent. While it's usually rather easy to distinguish
American electro bands from European ones, that is not the case with
Assemblage 23. Upon hearing these tracks you might assume that Tom Shear
is from Europe as his music has the same European sound as acts such
as Apoptygma Berzerk, Cleaner,
Nation, etc. However, Tom Shear is American. It's obvious that
he really did his homework before compliling this CD as all of the elements
that make this style of music work are included here. The songs combine
frantic multi-layered electronic programming/sequencing/sampling, dramatic
orchestrated keyboard melodies and powerful deep male vocals that sing
with passion and emotion. The rhythms and beats are solid making each
track a club floor packer. There are changing moods presented in the
songs giving them a lot of variety allowing everything to stand out.
There really is nothing to complain about here. If you enjoy clean and
polished electro-industrial/EBM/synth-pop music, this Assemblage 23
CD can't be missed.