Where dystopian sci-fi meets pounding industrial metal, there is Realize.
Founded by Kyle Kennedy of Tucson, AZ, powerviolence pillars Sex Prisoner, Realize debuted in 2018 with Demolition, a seven-song explosion invoking the mechanized crush of classic late-80s/early 90s industrial. It was essentially a solo operation, with Kennedy handling all instruments and drum programming while sharing some vocal duties with his brother and fellow Sex Prisoner Kevin.
“I’m a big fan of industrial metal, and it just didn’t seem like there was a whole lot of new industrial metal to consume,” Kennedy says of Realize’s origins. “I thought it’d be fun to try my hand at it. I thought it would be a good composition project—a different way to write and play music. With Sex Prisoner, I’d have song ideas and present them to the band so we could hash it out—but with Realize I’m using a drum machine and writing everything.”
“I wanted to make something super abrasive and aggressive,” he adds. “Something that people who are fans of Godflesh or Nailbomb could appreciate. But it’s not a linear process. You record stuff, listen critically and make edits and changes here and there. So it started off as a composition experiment, but eventually that’s how Demolition came to be.”
Fast-forward to the Year Of Our Pandemic 2020, and Kennedy has returned with an expanded Realize lineup and a new album. On Machine Violence, Kennedy is joined by guitarists Matt Underwood—also of Sex Prisoner—and Matt Mutterperl of Tucson death-grinders Languish. “With Machine Violence, I wanted to take everything a step further,” Kennedy explains. “I’m still the primary songwriter, but the Matts have input so it’s a little more of a collaborative effort.”
Recorded at Homewrecker Studio in Tucson with engineer and producer Ryan Bram—who recorded almost all of the Sex Prisoner releases, not to mention albums by Gatecreeper and Languish—Machine Violence was tracked in less than three days. “I’ve known Ryan since middle school, and he’s an excellent engineer and producer,” Kennedy says. “He’s even recorded some of the bands I was in back in high school, so it’s real easy to work with someone you’ve known for a long time.”
Oddly enough, there were no amplifiers used during the recording process. “It was all direct input into the computer and then re-amped,” Kennedy explains. “I’m sure a lot of engineers would disagree with me, but you almost don’t really need amps to record these days because the software has gotten so advanced. But maybe that’s just true for industrial because of how it sounds. So between that and the drum machine, there was nothing really analog with how it was recorded.”
Musically, Machine Violence is very much in the spirit of early Godflesh, Napalm Death industrial offshoot Scorn and Ministry’s late 80s/early 90s touchstones Psalm 69 and The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste. It’s stylistically similar to Demolition, but with a different vocal approach. “On Demolition, the vocals were pretty much pitch-shifted the entire time,” Kennedy offers. “On Machine Violence, they’re a little more dynamic. The pitch-shifted demonic vocals are used almost more like a garnish—they’re only in certain parts of songs where we thought they’d sound good. The rest of the vocals are organic guttural screams.”
Kennedy used the same drum machine for both Demolition and Machine Violence. “I got a little bit more sophisticated with some of the sounds and programming composition as I got more experience with how to use it,” he explains. “It still sounds like a drum machine, but I think the quality has improved over Demolition.”
Lyrically, Kennedy drew inspiration from science fiction authors like Philip K. Dick and Frederik Pohl. “I don’t explicitly reference any specific books, but while I was writing a lot of the lyrics for the album, I was reading Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, by Philip K Dick,” he offers. “There’s another book called Gateway by Frederik Pohl that I was reading as well. That kind of influenced the songs ‘Disappear’ and ‘Melted Base.’ Other songs are inspired by personal experiences, but I’d say the overarching themes of Machine Violence are pondering alternate realities, anxiety and isolation.”
When humans are allowed to congregate again, Realize will be hitting the road with a massive sound system to play songs from Machine Violence at maximum volume. “I actually bought a PA dedicated to the drum machine,” Kennedy says. “So we’ve basically got a wall of amps behind us—the bass amp, three guitar amps and the PA system for the drums. It’s going to be very, very loud.”