I had to look up some information on Chris Connelly before I felt comfortable saying anything about “Artificial Madness.” Connelly has always been someone vaguely known to me, but who I’ve never really listened to. I mainly know of him through his association with various industrial bands like KMFDM and Pigface in the 80s and 90s.
I’m not a fan of the industrial genre, so I was honestly relieved when upon playing “Artificial Madness” I found it to be more of a straightforward rock album. It definitely has its moments, but it’s an inconsistent album to my ears. What sticks out for me is that there’s an ongoing juxtaposition between Connelly’s vocals and the music being played around him. That’s exactly what it sounds like.
On the opening track, which shares the album’s title, the guitars swirl around in a manic, drunken style that reminds me nothing less than Drive Like Jehu. Connelly’s vocals sound aloof, as though they’re somewhat divorced from the proceedings of his own album. On the more quiet, relaxed tracks, Connelly sounds much more relaxed and in tune with his own music. Those tracks are the ones I enjoyed the most. Also, for a rock album, I didn’t hear what I would consider a stand-out “hit single” style song. For a rock album, I tend to think that’s much more important than it would be for something more experimental. I mean, KMFDM had “hits.”
Likewise, Connelly’s vocals sound like they’re very distinctly grounded in the late 80s and early 90s. This was a small negative for me, but if you love 80s music, it would be a welcome sound, charming even. On one had it made me feel nostalgic, on the other I’m not really a fan of the era. Your results may vary.
I didn’t love “Artificial Madness”, but found it to be enjoyable.