For a moment it looked like there might never be another Dälek record, with rustling in the ranks, talk of an “indefinite hiatus” and then, almighty silence. Founding member Oktopus isn’t along for the ride, but DJ rEK, MC dälek, and Mike Manteca (Destructo Swarmbots) remain. The result is a record that’s sometimes less aggressive than its predecessors, reaching for greater emotional dynamics and perhaps forming an aesthetic blueprint for the group’s future. Maybe our future too.

The title Asphalt for Eden suggests the end of an era in which mankind destroys the natural world in favor of one driven by progress and profit. The lyrics of “Shattered” speak of a world with “cataracts” over a soundscape that features noisy guitars, unsettling ambiance and a resolution that feels more like a warning than a goodbye. “Guaranteed Struggle” provides the listener with a terrifying glimpse of the world not as it will be if we don’t stop but as it is now. Who needs black metal or grindcore when we can see death, decay or hell itself by taking a walk or drive?

But the rage doesn’t always come on full blast. “Masked Laughter (Nothing’s Left)” relies on nearly seven minutes of hypnotic, ambient droning and rage-filled lyrics that speak of suffocation. Is it the suffocation of the individual by society? The suffocation of Staten Island’s Eric Garner, who died in a chokehold back in 2014? Or both? Either way, the rage is real and as frightening as anything else described on this album.

“Control” offers more observations on the nature of this suffocation, detailing the various ways in which restrictions are placed on our lives and our minds. It’s not rage so much as straight reportage. Like early spoken word maestro Gil-Scott Heron, who declared that the revolution would not be televised, the men of Dälek are painfully aware that the world is a ghetto, albeit one with great data plans and designer filters to distract us from the real content of the images of this decaying world that we post for all our followers to see.

Described through the prism of the individual rather than the monolithic prism of the “we,” the world we’re immersed in during Asphalt for Eden becomes all the more frightening because we sense the real helplessness evident in times such as these. This is a language we can all understand even if it isn’t one we necessarily want to continue to speak. The hypnotic beats and beds create a kind of aural quicksand, an inescapable quagmire that forces us to hear what’s being said even if it’s not the message we hoped we’d be tuning in for.

In the end, that’s what we get, more than anything: A message one that’s meant for us to meditate on long after the final notes have faded into the night. What more could we want? What more do we need?

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