Genghis Tron’s third album Dream Weapon comes after 11 years of uncertainty. 2008’s Board Up The House was a classic of its era, a loud, abrasive joyride exploding with wild energy. But Dream Weapon is nothing like that. There's no screaming, no blast beats, none of the ‘Nintendocore’ that previously defined Genghis Tron. This is sparse electronica post-rock, something the band played with in the past, but never fully embraced. Fans hoping for Genghis Tron to tread on their familiar ground will be disappointed. Those who recognized them as trailblazers the first time around will be impressed.
One of the biggest changes is the introduction of drummer Nick Yacyshyn. Genghis Tron used to leave out drums altogether, preferring drum machines to create their chaos. Nick Yacyshyn uses his many cymbals to create a shoegaze background wash. It’s more Tangerine Dream than The Dillinger Escape Plan, despite being produced by the legendary Kurt Ballou. Still, Yacyshyn’s performance on “Dream Weapon” and “Pyrocene” shows that his addition was a good choice.
The other major change is the new singer Tony Wolski. Drenched in vocal effects, he channels Chino Moreno and Slowdive at times and was a great pick for the new style. There’s a sense Wolski could be more dynamic if he chose to, but the music doesn’t call for it. His voice acts as another instrument in the atmosphere, echoing out over the ten-minute “Ritual House.”
Dream Weapon does hide some heavy moments. Hamilton Jordan’s guitar still finds a place in the mix even when the keyboards threaten to drown him out. He pulls off his best work in album closer “Great Mother,” which ends in a giant crescendo of noise. The nasty industrial beats on “Pyrocene” are a nice touch, as is the echo of a scream in “Dream Weapon,” whose central riff is the closest thing to ‘metal’ on the entire album.
Of course, many fans will be wanting the shrieking hardcore of 2008. But Genghis Tron seem far moved from that time in their lives, older, more competent. The closest they had come to this previously was on Board Up The House’s “I Won’t Come Back Alive.” But even that isn’t close to what they are doing now. There is a trend toward this type of electronica project among the Myspace-era legends, probably stemming from their generation’s love for Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. Between Greg Puciato’s The Black Queen, Thomas Giles’ Giles, and Keith Buckely’s Tape, Genghis Tron feel the most comfortable in their new role. Perhaps it’s how much time has passed, giving them more time to ease into their new sound. Or just the fact that Genghis Tron were always outsiders, which makes their transformation seem like a natural process more than a sudden shift.
Genghis Tron’s return will polarize fans. Those who are close to the band in age will understand the maturity that went into creating Dream Weapon while the younger listeners may dismiss it. Both sides have merit, but the younger listeners will get older too someday. In the end, Genghis Tron do what they want. That's what got them the 'Nintendocore' tag in the first place.