Sound: First, a little history: 16Volt have been around since forever (forever here being 1988, the same year I was born, so it counts). Formed in 1988 by Eric Powell, they released a solid stream of albums from 1993 onwards. SuperCoolNothing was first released in 1998, but the version we're dealing with here (SuperCoolNothing v. 2.0) was released in 2002 with an additional 6 songs, mainly being demos or remixes.
Stylistically, they are standard industrial rock fare, this album probably benefiting from a more mainstream sound (some songs being featured in the cult game Primal), yet still managing to retain a certain grittiness which will appeal to fans of early Ministry, KMFDM, or indeed relative newcomers Sinisstar.
The songs flow well, with the mixture of different elements being used to great effect. Vocally, Powell demonstrates his ability to both scream his face off and be a proper singer in the vein of Trent Reznor, and does both well. In saying this however, it seems that the vocals are quite buried in the mix and do suffer from the staple process the hell out of them industrial vocal sound.
The guitars have a good tone to them as far as I'm concerned, nothing at all wrong with it. They certainly are a welcome change from the usual distort it till it's inaudible, and cut the bass and push the mid and high range sounds of some previous industrial metal, and sound quite organic. I don't really know whether or not a guitar effects processor was used here, but the sound is very rich if it was. // 9
Lyrics: Being a child of the Nine Inch Nails school of lyricism, the lyrics aren't exactly a ray of sunshine. However, in saying that the lyrics here aren't the extremely personal cries of anguish we've come to expect from the aforementioned band. They are dark and brooding, sometimes laced with references to the occult (And I Go), but that's what industrial is all about, right?
Lyrics, to me, are an important part of a record. I'm not one for the whole we are evil, I like the devil school of thought, but if they fit then I can overlook it. Powell's lyrics here are the general thing you get with this genre of music, making them easy to overlook. However, they're worth a read at least once, some of them can prove quite interesting little reads. // 6
Overall Impression: Overall, SuperCoolNothing delivers everything you could want from an industrial metal record. Harsh electronics, cold pads, driving drums and angry guitars. I like the way Powell has taken a blueprint of a genre and reinvented it in his own way. The songs aren't too short and they aren't too long, and each one has enough variety and massive riffs to keep you listening on. I don't really dislike anything about it, but I think the vocals could have been mixed a little bit higher into the mix. Standout tracks include And I Go, Dead Weight, Keep Sleeping and At The End, but that does not mean the rest of the album is filler. By no means is it.
It's pretty much impossible (and impractical) for anyone to steal this record off me, since they're giving it and the rest of their back catalogue away for free at their website. So I suggest going and checking it out, for some background noise if nothing else. They're all definitely worth a listen. // 8