Following a long line of post-hardcore frontmen ditching full bands for synthesizers and drum machines, Ryan Patterson has reinvented himself under the dark wave guise of Fotocrime. To see this move was easily predictable look no further than Coliseum's 2015 album Anxiety's Kiss (Deathwish). Complete with revolutionary bravado and a video featuring fluttering sheets, the album's single "We Are The Water" was an all too on the nose impersonation of post punk legends Killing Joke. At this point, Patteron's descent into 80s industrial tinkering was inevitable.
Two years later, we have Always Hell. The EP beats with a gothic intensity, but never truly finds a voice of its own. Perhaps its a mistake to think geographically, but Patterson's low register theatrics and subtle English inflections feel put-on for a guy from Louisville, Kentucky. The title track's over the top quality recalls the early Ministry single "Revenge" from the days before Al Jourgensen found heroin or tiny sunglasses.
The bright spot of the EP comes with its third and final track "Tectonic Shift," which finds Patterson channeling Leonard Cohen over a menacing blend of arpeggiated notes and post-apocalyptic soundscapes fit for a Terminator reboot. Unfortunately, just as the song finds its momentum it fades to black.
Overall, Always Hell features the instrumentation and composition one would expect from a musician as experienced and talented as Patterson but plays like the result of a bedroom infatuation with a period sound. Maybe this is just the start and Fotocrime will find its footing in the densely populated field of industrial solo projects. Conversely, maybe the world just doesn't need another hardcore frontman's synthesizer dream. Although he was referring to the genetic engineering of dinosaurs, Dr. Ian Malcolm's statement comes to mind when listening to Always Hell: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."