Oddly named Enclave, this young band hails from San Jose, CA. They contacted me through the Web, after apparently digging up the remains of my old web-zine Blood Servant. Right off the bat, I have to say that Artificial Hell is definitely one of the heaviest industrial albums that I have heard since the absolutely brilliant Streetcleaner by Godflesh. With the running time of 37 minutes and 26 seconds, you get 5 tracks full of depression and cold mechanized noise. Enclave is what Winter (still remember them doomster freaks?) would sound like if they'd decided to record an album in a more industrial vein. Slowly building the atmosphere of alienated ambience, Enclave definitely makes you sense their violent frustration with the world around us.
The band is a three piece consisting of Jarek Tatarek, Jason Silva and Terry Coldwell. They employ an impressive variety of instruments to create their music. Basically, alienation from reality is the underlying theme in their music. To be honest with you, I'm not the biggest fan of distorted vocals, but here they fit the music perfectly. Interestingly enough, some of the tracks reminded me strongly of the latter-day Sepultura with their deep grooves and slow grinding riffs. Overall, Enclave definitely have a lot of metal in their music which is commendable, considering the fact that industrial nowadays is nothing more than just another euphemism for being a Nine Inch Nails clone or a Ministry rip-off.
The band has opted for an artwork on the CD that is somewhat different from what you'd expect. Monotony of a brown background with some hieroglyphic symbols suits the music very well. It sets the mood for your journey into the depths of monotony and despair. Plain black print of the song titles accompanied by some Egyptian symbols forming the biohazard symbol finishes off the tasteful artistic touch on the CD. My favorite track on the album is definitely "Human Inc". It has tons of really heavy death metal riffs, even with some Celtic Frost-like feeling to it. Jarek does an awesome job on vocals, screaming out the words of pain and hatred. The song really leaves an oppressive feeling after you listen to it 2-3 times in a row. The other song that is really good is "Otherworld", which has a lot of truly unique moments to it. It somewhat makes you feel as if you're running through a labyrinth filled with dirt, rotting stench and disgusting mutants. (!)
Overall, Enclave did a very good job on their first full-length. My only complaint would their usage of clean vocals that just don't fit in the music due to them being heavily distorted. Otherwise, this album is definitely a worthy purchase for all the fans of early Godflesh and just heavy music in general. This is far from being a candy-ass pseudo-alternative industrial that MTV is trying to sell to you in a form of Prodigy or Marylin Manson. Enclave has firm roots in the underground metal. Support them!