Gary Numan - Savage: Songs From a Broken World - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Gary Numan - Savage: Songs From a Broken World

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2017-09-15

In Numan’s early career I perceived him as the asexual evil twin of unisexual tramp, Marc Almond. Both cultivated an impish appearance which smacked ostentation, but Numan’s was more self-conscious. Both delved in austere electronic sounds punctuated by bursts of energy. Essentially pop, although Numan was relentlessly dark. A colder ambience, enveloping but never welcoming, and never particularly fun. The gloomy subtext though suited his music, and his talent for awesome chord progressions and abrupt but exciting changes of volume and tempo ensured a growing fanbase of goths who loved to dance.

Numan eschewed his pop sensibilities but never his grand themes. Whilst his latter career has been characterised by a pronounced focus on industrial metal, his ability to write spellbinding anthems has never waned, and Savage: Songs from a Broken World sits well on his trajectory as a major force in the electronica and industrial metal market.

A concept album, which you’ll be unsurprised to learn, has an apocalyptic theme. The world has been ravaged by war, reducing its remaining inhabitants to scavengers devoid of sophisticated emotional response. Barely surviving and racked by guilt at what has happened to the human race, Homo-sapiens have become a near extinct race. The uni-cultural environment is a vast desert of little opportunity except the exploitation of others. Religion again comes to the fore, as paranoia and intellectual dwarfism ensure, once again, a turn towards heaven for respite. Hang on, that sounds like the present world.

More interestingly, this pretext is reflected in music with a vaguely Persian flavour. Numan dressed as a waifish Bedouin on the front cover is a giveaway. The bombastic industrial structure is still there, but the synths implore a bit of dervish, less dance and more mischief. The crunchy, processed guitars ring loud and maintains the foreboding, and the beats are oppressive but not uninteresting. In fact they’re really well designed, weaving in and out of Numan’s android vocal, clothed in warm and oddly comforting sheets of keyboard sound.

‘What God Intended’ is the track which spells the ruination of the human race. The despondent inhabitants of the devastated earth are resigned to a prophecy determined for them by god’s will. Religious idolatry has taken precedence. All Numan’s musical tropes are used on this track. The slow and maudlin intro with a cataclysmic and bludgeoning beat right up front; an inverted Lawrence of Arabia synth progression (just imagine Peter O’Toole riding his stag from the industrial ashes of a metal compound rather than across the sands of the Sahara) and a pleading vocal that sounds at times like Numan’s dying breath. Staggeringly awesome or pretentious artifice, depending on your viewpoint.

Comments (2)

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Great review, Rob. Newman's stuff continues to interest me after all these years.

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Thanks Jim. I still like his stuff as well. It's pretty timeless if not always on target. His overweening nature is a bit grating but some of the music on Savage... is great.

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