It’s been 13 years since Genghis Tron unveiled their groundbreaking album Board Up The House. A genre-defying, multilayered masterwork later remixed in five editions by such luminaries as Justin Broadrick, Ulver and Danny Lohner, the album’s daring hybridization of extreme rock, metal and electronic music has never been matched.
Until now. After a lengthy hiatus, Genghis Tron will return with a new album in 2021. Entitled Dream Weapon, the band’s third full-length features founding members Hamilton Jordan and Michael Sochynsky alongside new vocalist Tony Wolski and Sumac/Baptists drummer Nick Yacyshyn.
For those in the know? It’s true: former Genghis Tron vocalist Mookie Singerman is no longer involved. There’s no drama. Everything’s cool. Life goes on—as it tends to do—and functioning adults have more demands on their time. It happens.
For those less familiar, a quick refresher:
Formed in college by Jordan and Sochynsky, Genghis Tron concocted a dizzying yet compelling mix of grind, metal and electronic music that defied both genre and rational explanation. Their drummer was a machine. Both Jordan and Sochynsky did the programming before adding dense layers of frantic guitars and lush synthesizers.
“I was 19 when we started writing songs,” Jordan, now 36, recalls. “Michael was 20. The first thing we tried to do was cram together all our influences—shredding guitars and blastbeats, and then out of nowhere comes this really pleasant sounding Boards Of Canada or Autechre moment. It seemed like a great idea at the time.”
They dropped the Cloak Of Love EP in 2005. Produced by über-guitarist Colin Marston of Krallice and Behold … The Arctopus, it was glitchy electronica, grind, and other disparate genres run through a blender in the most satisfying—and occasionally polarizing—way. As Canada’s Exclaim! exclaimed, “Adored or reviled, Genghis Tron are now nearing the head of the line in pushing the extreme music envelope.”
Not content to merely mash genres, Genghis Tron made their full-length debut with 2006’s Dead Mountain Mouth. Produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, the album was considerably more nuanced than its predecessor. “We developed the idea of writing records that worked on multiple levels,” Sochynsky explains. “We wanted to make a brutal, heavy record—something you could really lose your shit to—but we also wanted to make a record that was incredibly layered and detailed at the same time. Something you could listen to on headphones and hear stuff you didn’t notice the first couple of times.”
There was touring—tons of it—with bands as disparate as Dillinger Escape Plan, The Faint, and Baroness. Singerman even detailed the band’s adventures in a monthly column for Decibel magazine. Meanwhile, the creative philosophy Genghis Tron had applied to Dead Mountain Mouth ramped up several levels.
When Board Up The House hit in 2008—complete with a guest shot from Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato—the underground went bananas. Rave reviews piled up; the UK’s Rock Sound named it Album Of The Year. Even the mainstream wanted a piece, with the New York Times hailing the record as a “Critic’s Choice.” The curators at Coachella took notice, booking the band on the 2009 edition of the renowned desert festival.
As if that weren’t enough, they collaborated with Converge on the song “Wretched World,” which appeared on Converge’s 2009 album, Axe To Fall.
And then? In late 2010, Genghis Tron went on hiatus. Now, the hiatus is over.
Lyrically and conceptually, Dream Weapon picks up where Board Up The House left off. “That album's closing track, ‘Relief,’ was about how humans have become a burden to the planet, and how Earth will endure long after we're gone,” Jordan explains. “There is sadness at the end, but some relief—and beauty—too. Dream Weapon is, loosely, an album-length meditation on that theme.”
The album’s title is open to interpretation, but the phrase itself comes from a lyric by English experimentalists Coil. “Coil has always been a great source of inspiration for us,” Sochynsky offers. “There's a Coil song where John Balance announces that ‘now is the time to re-launch the dream weapon,’ and you can just feel the magic pouring out of the speakers. Dream Weapon can of course mean anything you want it to mean, but I like to imagine it as a special tool that is just waiting for you to pick it up. And once you do, you'll never look back.”
Due to the pandemic, Dream Weapon was recorded piecemeal in various locales across North America. Yacyshyn recorded his drums at Rain City Records in Vancouver with engineer JJ Heath. Wolski record his vocals at home in Detroit, and then Ben Chisolm (Chelsea Wolfe) provided vocal production. Similarly, Sochynsky recorded all his synths at home. Then he and Jordan decamped to Godcity Studio in Salem, MA, to track guitars and mix the album with producer Kurt Ballou. “It was challenging to write and record so much of the album remotely,” Jordan says. “But it forced us to be especially thoughtful and deliberate about putting all the pieces together.”
Seasoned GT listeners will find Dream Weapon to be both excitingly fresh and reassuringly familiar. “Though it sounds a bit different than our previous albums, I don't think we approached Dream Weapon any differently than the others,” Jordan explains. “Michael and I take years to write and trade demos, with about 80% of our ideas landing on the cutting-room floor. Once we have a rough song idea we both like, we write dozens of drafts of a song over months before we end up with a final demo.”
“I think one difference in our approach for this album was that we had a strong sense from the outset of what kind of vibe we wanted to create,” Sochynsky adds. “Something more cohesive, meditative and hypnotic.”