The Chicago based industrial duo HIDE were formed in 2014, and have since released a series of excellent EPs and singles, building up towards their debut album, Castration Anxiety. Comprising of visual artist Heather Gabel and percussionist Seth Sher, the sonic territories that HIDE explore are diverse. Structuring their sound around the darker side of industrial music, they also take a fair amount of inspiration from electronic music, and its experimental extensions, as well as an intricate projection of gothic rock aesthetics and deathrock concepts.
Castration Anxiety arrives in a bombastic fashion, and for the most part it displays a very imposing and full sound. Structuring their musical identity around industrial music, the backbone of the record is the percussion and rhythm. The opening track displays that characteristic with the heavy hits arriving relentlessly, while throbbing pulses are also implemented granting a more electrifying manifestation to HIDE’s repetitive rhythmic notions.
The creativity of the band when it comes to the synthesized sounds is the winning part of Castration Anxiety, making simple use of their instruments in order to maximize the impact. This is not found only on the percussive elements of this work, but in the lead and background instrumentation. Through this soundcrafting the band moulds the atmosphere into a darker mystical experience, as is the case with the opener “Fall Down.” Their adventurous outlook also finds them making use of these machinations to move further into electronic music territory, with “Wear Your Skin” diving deeper into these concepts, leaving behind the strict industrial renditions. Even more impressive is “Fucked (I Found Heaven)” as the duo combines their dark sound with the vibe and imposing characteristics of EBM, resulting in one of the more powerful moments of the record.
The vocals of Gable are key in HIDE’s dark endeavor. There is a ritualistic, ceremonial-like quality about her delivery, as she repeats the lines as if reciting ancient mantras that will lead to a state of ecstasy. “Wildfire” is such a moment, where the strong ritualism of the track is further enhanced by Gabel’s performance. Her presence also acts as the link between the diverse ideas that take place in HIDE’s mind, ranging from the strict and militant progression of tracks like “Bound-Severed” to the hazy and mesmerizing “Wear Your Skin.” As much as one can see the blueprints of masters of dark industrial, one can also detect the spirit of acts like Rudimentary Peni being infused to produce this result.
The sound of HIDE might be imposing and experimental, morphing the different synths to produce the desired results and injecting noise into their soundscapes, but there is also a direct element that is constantly present. There is an almost anthemic quality about HIDE’s songs, presenting a more solid and straightforward form with distinct hooks, as in “Bound Severed,” that stick with you. Even when more minimal actions are implemented there is still this direct mentality present. And it is the combination of all these aspects that make Castration Anxiety such an enticing record. The destructive forces of industrial, the aesthetics of death rock, an overarching experimentalism, but also the direct approach that these can take.