First off, can we talk about this cover? If you’re looking to set a tone, particularly when you’re work hinges on cyberpunk themes, you want something like this. Every time I see the cover of Neon Shudder’s W I L D F I R E, I picture Neuromancer, I see Snow Crash.
However W I L D F I R E isn’t lazily in thrall to past tropes and ideas. Neon Shudder wanted to build upon what cyberpunk music can be; mixing things up as much as possible.
Opening track “Infrastructure” actually reminded me of Slipknot’s “(sic).” It’s probably just me, but I both felt and really appreciated it. There are also interesting counter melodies, surging intensity and even a vein of gothic EBM. From the off Neon Shudder signals an album full of dynamic layers and textures.
“R I S I N G” starts off comparatively mellow, but breakbeats and harsher tones add further imaginative licks. There’s a little jazz in there, providing an almost perfect cybernoir soundtrack. It’s playing in whatever smoky dive bar Rick Deckard visits after a hard day retiring replicants.
Interestingly, “Aurometal Sky” and “Highway 38” seem to draw inspiration from 90s gaming soundtracks. Brain-fritzing bullet hell shooters could’ve mounted these, especially the latter. While not as intense/demented as J-core acts like LV.4, both songs really up the ante.
W I L D F I R E closes with “Iconoclast.” The guitars here are just…’fuck yeah.’ “Iconoclast” is thumping electro-industrial of the highest order. The radar pings introduce a tension into what is one of the most nakedly fun parts of the album.
For me, W I L D F I R E, Miles Matrix’s Buena Vista and Alpha Chrome Yayo’s Malediction Boulevard form some kind of holy trinity. They’re the works of three inspired and passionate producers who want to push the envelope. A retrowave revolution has begun.
You can find Neon Shudder here: