I was a little intimidated by overly "pushy" album marketing from gashed!. this intimidation usually results in a very critical approach. but almost instantly I recognized "seven steps of nervousness" as a phenomenal album, that despite a few obvious shortcomings leaves in the dust almost every ebm/dark electro project out there.
I like it on many levels, first of all, the atmosphere - fun, energetic, at times violent and always diverse. this balance is what elevates it above grim and boring old-school industrial acts unable to "grow up" as well as poppy commercial electro efforts that become nothing more than pure synthpop or trancey techno. maybe this is what it takes - a band free from oppressive heritage of previous releases, previous fame and fans; someone able to take a whole different approach. ncc did exactly that. I simply love how they have combined so many genres together in a unique way that does not reek of ebm legacy or skinny puppy/dm influences. this album is immediately captivating, and from the very first moments its "splatter industrial" (I guess the title had to move as some of the bands get older and fade away) is incredibly captivating.
it is amazing how the band doesn't seem to be constrained by any of the genres it is happily referencing in its music. be it classic trance build-ups or almost gabber-like high-bpm violence, or corroded ambient textures, or splintery cut-up idm-like percussion, or sample-filled melodic electro or even catchy analog bliss.
after years of listening to ebm and dark electro, this album took me by surprise, presenting a completely unique and innovative approach to the genre. I thought over the last year I have heard every way the genre strived to evolve out of the grave it dug for itself - be it a rhythm&noise bandwagon, or synth-pop electro or trance/techno approach. but majority of the efforts either lost any touch with dark electro or failed to move away from old school material.
I am glad to see how ncc remains within dark industrial atmosphere, but takes its composition to a whole new level. not a single time it insulted my intelligence by familiar 4-by-4 beat or cheesy composition. at the same time it never is poorly stitched together quilt of various genres and styles that some of the artists nowadays sound like, striving to find new sounds and forgetting about melody and composition.
if you listen closer, on every single track you would find so many new sounds, unexpected arrangements, unusual use of strings or percussion, unique composition. it is simply breathtaking how the music changes, sounds emerge, evolve, and fade away; tempos change, vocal styles switch (from heavily distorted to slightly vocoded, to clean and melodic, with addition of occasional female vocals). and yet the whole track still "makes sense" as a solid incredibly rich piece of music, all different genre element used simply blend together and the result will please an eclectic audiophile as well as casual melodic electro fan.
I do have to say that my favorite tracks are the most energetic and aggressive ones, since this is where the unusual nature of the music if most fully apparent (and plus they are simply *fun*), and still I welcome the quieter elegiac pieces. this album is the first in the genre since "ultra hard shadow" by index that truly refreshing. it might not be as "solid" as eric chamberlain's work, and is not completely smooth all the way through, but for a debut album it is simply amazing.