Is Klayton simply the next generation in hunky, goth-industrial anguish? The album packaging on this debut release by former producer and founder of the 90s cult band Circle of Dust stomps hard on the high concept: Think the chiseled Crow of the comix meets Danzig meets Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie. But spin the disc, and hype evaporates. Despite all the Trent Reznor overtones of a guy who plays, programs and wails under a cool pseudonym, Celldweller is far from NIN Revisited; simply put, Klayton makes appealing, thoughtful and emotionally driven music.
He's also the master of the weird mix, as "Stay With Me" drops, loops and chops up beats and samples; or for more straight-ahead electro-guitar fare, there's the very catchy "Switchback." Klayton can also make it heavy, as "The Last Firstborn" and "Own Little World" reveal -- at times the dude can crush with the sledgehammer ethos of Biohazard, just as he's capable of weaving together acoustic guitars and techno beats so subtly it's hard to tell where the organic stops and the artifice begins.
For a dip into Lords of Acid, house-style decadence, check out the erotic "Frozen." But just where you think you're positioned on the map, Klayton throws in a touch to spin your head around -- and around -- "synthetic ecstasy" carries its own price.
It's rare that an artist comes down the pike with a little bit for every taste who doesn't resemble some marketing person's canny prototype. In Klayton's case, behind the body makeup and the fluorescent red hair there's abundant talent. This is a truly satisfying album.