ALBUM REVIEW: Personal Computer – Master Boot Record

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Hailing from Italy, electronic metal practitioner Victor Love has returned with the eighth outing for his MASTER BOOT RECORD project, titled simply Personal Computer. Funnelling a highbrow concept of ‘spellware’, which Love describes as somewhere between magic and software, while decrying the term synthwave and instead insisting on the project being referred to as ‘metal done with a synth’, could it be that this record will simply be too artistic to be enjoyable, or will Love be able to deliver on these concepts?

Opening up like the soundtrack to Stranger Things, 8086 then transitions into a barrelling, almost thrash-like meld of bounding rhythm and soaring synths. This isn’t synthwave per se, but instead feels more like a metal song where the lead instrument is a buzzsaw synth instead of a gnawing guitar. 80186 opens with what sounds like the introductory music to some half-forgotten JRPG’s opening equilibrium theme before a murky but surprisingly heavy synth lurches into view. It’s overlaid with flashes of lighter, almost sparkling keyboard fluff and juddering 8-bit riffing (if that is even the appropriate term to use) and it makes for a very engaging listen, even if it does draw on a bit towards the end of its nearly nine-minute runtime. Still, this is a tremendously effective opening salvo.

80286 feels like a boss encounter. While it barrels along leaving vaporous trails of coiling, ornate keys in its wake, you can almost see the low-resolution villain rising from the floor of the arena. The song even has a respite cutscene and a second stage, which puts some truly monstrous groove into the mix. Lo and behold, what we thought was the second stage, was actually just a warm-up for 80386, which opens with a very pleasant arrangement before a juggernaut of a distorted synth riff comes in and utterly flattens it. One of the highlights of this song comes in the form as what can best be described as a guitar solo that isn’t played on a guitar, which clocks in in the track’s final moments and is as likeable as it is odd.

The riff that starts 80386SX is ludicrously heavy, considering what it’s made from. It will raise questions about how MASTER BOOT RECORD manages to coax such a hard sound from an instrument that some feel doesn’t have a place in metal at all. If that is you, please allow this track to rattle around your brain case and it will more than likely cause you to re-evaluate your opinion. This is a theme that is repeated throughout Personal Computer’s midriff. 80486 is a grandiose and histrionic mini-opera, fired through waves of electronic distortion which frequently blossoms out into a Metroidvania-style roiling soundstage, whereas its successor 80486DX is a juddering monolith of jerky, harshly distorted synth chords and threatening bass fuzz lurking beneath the surface.

The final three tracks, which clock in at over twenty minutes between them, begin with 80486SX, which starts on what sounds like a Cornerian victory march before dissolving into more staccato electronica; 80586 follows, bringing with it more tense keys and tooth-rattlingly powerful chord progressions. The album’s finale, 80686, while starting out with a taut, F-ZERO reminiscent gallop, is overall a much more restrained affair, feeling more like a postscript series of title cards and giving closure to an otherwise finished storyline.

The major complaint that hangs over Personal Computer, despite the utterly infuriating song titles, is simply that it does have a tendency to drag on. It is doubtful that most of these compositions need to sit around the seven or eight-minute mark, but on the other hand the best way this can be described is actually as probably one of the most interesting thrash albums to have come out in years. Possibly even decades. It’s a murky, bludgeoning miasma of harsh digitality and compressed, 8-bit riffs that has no business being as good as it is. It is the soundtrack for the best game that the Sega Megadrive never produced and if you like your metal unusual and firmly from outside the box, this record may well be your low-resolution dream come true.

Rating: 8/10

Personal Computer - Master Boot Record

Personal Computer is out now via Metal Blade Records.

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The post ALBUM REVIEW: Personal Computer – Master Boot Record appeared first on Distorted Sound Magazine.

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