Synthwave Sunday: Confrontational, A Dance of Shadows, Exclusive Full Album Premiere!
With the explosion of synthwave over the past couple of years and the myriad micro-genres and stylistic expansions within it, it’s easy to forget that the genre’s roots (a whopping five years ago) are heavily linked to horror film soundtracks, in particular those associated with John Carpenter, the director behind classics such as Halloween, Escape From New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China and more. Though Carpenter scored many of his own movies and released a standalone album as recently as earlier this year, his influence on synthwave is more figurative than it is literal, felt more than heard in the imagery the music provokes. If synthwave were a metal genre some know-it-all internet asshole surely would’ve dubbed it Carpentcore by now.
Sardinia, Italy synthwave artist Confrontational certainly lies on the Carpentercore side of the spectrum. Just a few notes into A Dance of Shadows album-opener “Shadowdancing” and you already feel as if you’re walking down Elm Street on a cool fall evening. Go grab the blanket and a bowl of popcorn, because Confrontational’s understated beats, smooth bass, undulating synths and spooky sound effects elecit chills and goosebumps and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up straight. Project mastermind Massimo (“Max”) Usai even went as far as to tap Cody Carpenter, John’s son, to deliver a sparkling, arctic blast of a keyboard solo on one of the album’s standout tracks, “To Live and Die on the Air.”
Also, how’s this for the whole “synthwave is metal” debate? Guitarist Monte Pittman, who spent six years with Prong and released a metal album under his own name in 2014 — he’s also Madonna’s current live guitarist, and is the one responsible for the introduction of Pantera’s “A New Level” into her live set — lends a scorching lead to album song “Like a Curse.” Darren Travis of seminal thrash act Sadus also contributes vocals to spoken-word track “Script.”
Confrontational will be playing at Synthzilla, the first French synthwave festival, alongside Carpenter Brut, Perturbator, Dan Terminus and others, on October 31 in Lyon.