The Guilt Øf… is an industrial duo comprised of Mike IX Williams (EyeHateGod) and Ryan McKern (Wolvhammer). Their third full-length album, Isolation Room, was released in 2013 and dedicated to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, which Williams rode out along with his girlfriend in their New Orleans home. Given the dedication and the chaotic nature of Isolation Room, one could almost listen to it as a soundtrack to the lawless and dystopian days and weeks that immediately followed the disaster.
Isolation Room falls somewhere between noise and industrial, a bit of both, but yet not quite either. I read an online review of the record coming from the noise perspective that criticized it for being too structured. I’m not sure that’s a criticism more casual or non-fans of the genre would make, but I agree there is a framework here. Listening to “The Ideas Ballot” one hears thematic patterns, though they certainly fall outside of mainstream song structures and are more akin to some of the more out there and experimental psych rockers like Les Rallizes Dénudés but coming at you from a more hardcore mindset. A combination of vocals and samples provide the lyrical content, with the singing mostly screamed and anguished. I’ve heard and read comparisons of The Guilt Øf… to Skinny Puppy, and I get it at the most elemental level – the rawness, the metallic quality of the sound (metallic as in the actual physical substance that is metal, not metal music), and the sort of anti-music quality of it; but the link is tenuous even if it is useful from a historiographical perspective.
Listening to Isolation Room while sitting on the sofa in my climate controlled home on a bright Sunday morning while drinking coffee and catching images from the living room’s flat screen TV out of the corner of my eye as I type, my experience seems to be the complete antithesis of what is coming out of my speakers. But there are different ways to connect to music, and the perspectives we bring to the listening experience will influence it. Decibel put out a piece on the album a while ago that is still online and includes three of the tracks, so if you want to see how your brain interacts with Isolation Room you can give it a listen HERE.