Penal Colony – “Unfinished Business”

Penal Colony

Unfinished Business

Those who actually remember Penal Colony from the olden days of industrial-rock, when Cleopatra was strong, Metropolis didn’t exist, and Re-Constriction was more than just a fond memory, will probably remember them as a punk-industrial outfit, disappointing to most for not being “industrial” enough, more enamored with the Front Line Assembly remixes of their music than the originals. It was a band that wrote harsh downbeat punk music with a sample-and-sequence-laced edge that was hard to get into, but, once familiar, was truly great music for those not over-enthused with the wholly electronic.

Well, you can forget those days… Everything you didn’t like or didn’t quite grab you about Penal Colony is gone. Years later, singer D Madden returns alone to deliver an album that stands to rival anything else heard this year by those who can see more promise in industrial music than Skinny Puppy and VNV Nation. “Unfinished Business” takes those same Penal Colony punk undertones, strips them of their dark grime, and instead creates a paranoid electronic science fiction masterpiece, dragging you for 12 tracks (plus 2 remixes) through the gutters and alleyways of D Madden’s brain.

Where once there were an abundance of live instruments interspersed with samples, there is now a heart and body of sequencing, strong electronica-style drum programming, and cutting guitar lines, with the same familiar vocal style of the previous incarnation, possibly more frenetic and obscure, but with more hooks and catchy choruses than ever. It may not be totally impressive at first, but with every consecutive listen it drags you back, always ready for more. No song ever gives too much of any one thing. Never is a song too guitar-heavy or too electronics-heavy to not be enjoyable to any person. I could name the good points of the album’s tracks, the highlights, but I would only end up telling you about every track on the album and run completely out of adjectives.

Every song is worth listening to and nothing can stand out as a highlight when each track is just as enjoyable as the last. I don’t think I can give better praise than to say that I’ve listened to this album at least once a day for past three months straight and I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon. Envision an album that makes you forget about how redundant and cliché the old guard of industrial rock has become, forget how most of the good synthcore and coldwave bands have moved away from all elements that made them “industrial”, forget how most people would rather have rehashed 80’s new wave music in the form of “futurepop” than to try something truly new and revolutionary. Imagine all this, then listen to “Unfinished Business” and watch it all come true.


from IndustrialnatioN Magazine #18