Author & Punisher
Women and Children (Seventh Rule)
San Diego, unlike Tampa, Savannah or the Bay Area, rarely gets much mileage from its metal cred, despite having bred some diverse and influential heavy acts over the years. Proto-metal band Iron Butterfly got their start here, two years before dropping the epic "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida," as did glam metal band Ratt and animal-rights deathgrinders Cattle Decapitation.
Yet some of the most crushing sounds of the last half-decade have come from local noisemaker Tristan Shone, aka one-man industrial-metal act Author & Punisher. On his 2010 debut Drone Machines, he put his titular inventions to use, his home-made crafts acting as a vessel for dense, mechanical doom metal, which grew even more refined on 2012's Ursus Americanus.
On his third album Women and Children, released June 11 via Seventh Rule, Shone maintains his commitment to dark, terrifying heaviness, yet he widens his scope to allow meatier hooks and more accessible melodies into his fearsome murk. Not that Author & Punisher has gone pop—far from it—but Women and Children invites in more layers of nuance and approachability, which counterbalance its menace nicely.
It takes a while before this more melody-driven side rears its head; the opening title track begins as little more than a solitary hiss of static, which drones on for a solid minute. A sequence of drums begins to boom and clack, a digital delay treatment of Shone's voice echoes into a dark, bottomless void and, by the 3:40 mark, some jet-engine guitar sounds commence lift-off. Women and Children officially begins its ascent.
Second track "In Remorse" is where Shone diverts from the familiar path of ominous machine pummel and opens up with a more radio-friendly sound. Where industrial-metal pioneers Godflesh provided a tidy reference point for past Author & Punisher albums, here Shone comes much closer to another one-man wrecking crew: Nine Inch Nails. From there, he adds infectious chants on "Melee," piano on "Tame as a Lion" and dreamy synth on "Miles From Home." Every song crushes, of course, but on Women and Children, Author & Punisher has matured gracefully.