What is Industrial Music?

March 15, 2012 · Posted in Music 

A perennial topic on many music forums, with way too many definitions that are far too complicated or specific, so let's define what Industrial is now: Industrial has become a Supergenre, like Rock. It does not have one distinct sound, only elements which definite it very, very broadly. Mostly dark, Often harsh, Largely electronic.  That captures many things some would not consider Industrial, but is a lot more useful in practical terms. Once you think of it as a supergenre, it becomes much simpler to conceptualize all the different subgenres. Like with Rock, it serves as a broad identifier of a sound, without attempting to shoehorn it into a particular version.

Rock encompasses everything from The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, to Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden, to REM,  to U2 and Radiohead. All Rock, but covering many different eras and different sounds, but with a recognizable thread. So has it become with Industrial. From Throbbing Gristle to Psychic TV, from Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, Ministry, to KMFDM, from Test Department, Merzbow to Converter, from Hocico, Die Sektor, to Grendel, from X Marks The Pedwalk to Icon of Coil. Different sounds, different decades, but with a recognizable underpinning that runs through all of them. 

Thought of this way, many things not considered Industrial come under its rubric: Drum 'n Bass, Dubstep, even traditional Techno of various kinds, not to mention myriad experimental, electronic, noise projects along with a plethora of TV show, video game, and movie scores (shows like MI-5 being a great modern example.) It leaves us with a sense of consistency and way to think about and more easily get a handle on a variety of music styles without getting bogged down in genre soup.

This is an old topic, but at this point in its history, has become worth revisiting. Like Rock, Industrial has reached a new stage in its life, where it has broadened to encompass a large amount of music it may never have been associated with, but it's long past time that it got a new treatment, if only briefly, like in this post.


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