Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
Osama bin Laden may have been slid off a plank into his watery grave, but to listen to Atari Teenage Riot, the world is still going to complete shit. It's all still falling apart and destroying public enemy number one does nothing to rosy up the outlook. It's a shitty, shitty world and the best that anyone can do is just break a bunch of stuff, get overheated, recover just a little bit, then turn it up a thousand notches and do it all over again, trying to bust all of the things that you didn't get busted the first time. The world of Atari Teenage Riot's making - since the band broke out of Berlin in 1992 - is one of dark darks and low lows. It's a place where glimmers of hope and lights at the ends of tunnels are nowhere to be found. It's all bleakness, but it's still a party. It's something of a last gasp before everything just blows up or falls off into the ocean, swallowed up by a cruel world.
Almost 20 years since the band's start, Alec Empire and Nic Endo (along with new-ish MC CX KiDTRONiK) have never sounded more fed up or pissed off at the futility of it all. Each song is an onslaught of punishing backbeats and driving hailstorms of vitriol and ire, never letting up, just punishing us with their ideas about the desperate lives that we're forced to lead. Empire sings on the extra heavy "Into The Death," from one of the group's classic records, "Burn Berlin, Burn," "Life is like a video game with no fucking chance to win." There are no secret codes that you can enter to proceed to higher levels or that will deliver you special powers, just a dead-end street that you get to travel down, mostly at a pedestrian rate, enabling you to take in all of the disappointing sites, sounds and feelings in real time. You're just stuck, they want to remind you, and you're doomed to exist without much pleasure.
The moods that ATR forces you to confront or to ooze are those of great disgust, of feeling like you could howl your head off and you'd be right back in the same spot - you could rage and rage and rage and you'd wake up the next morning seeing that nothing's been altered, nothing's been changed and that's going to get to you after a while. What then? Where do you go after you've bashed through the currents of digital hardcore that they make? Perhaps you just smoke a lot. You just take your useless body and head to a poorly lit, terribly ventilated room and just chain-smoke your time away, wallowing in the thought that you had might as well let it go, for there's no reward for clean or moral living. Just do what you want and take on all comers.
Atari Teenage Riot