It’s hard to stand out in extreme music these days. It’s been almost 40 years since musicians discovered that screaming over top of a field of static is compelling enough content to garner a career, and the field is starting to slow down. Artists like The Rita have created the heaviest form of music that is possible with current technology, and artists like Atrax Morgue have experimented with dredging the bottom of the lyrical barrel for shock value. The only way left to stand out is to just be really good at what you do, and that’s where Author and Punisher come in.
Author and Punisher is the stage name of one Tristan Shone, a very scary looking man with a whole garden of his own homemade “instruments” that he uses to make some blood-curdling noises. His music is heavy enough that it loses bearing as a genre, melding in the minds of most listeners into that vague bucket called noise. However, if you have an ear for this sort of thing (or like me you cheat by reading his website), the music is best understood as industrial metal. However, those instrumental machines he builds distort this categorization, as the sounds of conventional metal are still constrained by what noises you can produce with a guitar.
Author and Punisher uses some truly imposing instruments. The visual aesthetic of his performance is, as you can see from the photo, some kind of torture chamber. However, if you go over to that website link and take a look at his ‘machines’ tab, another reference point might be BDSM gear. Regardless, the sounds these instruments create match their appearance.
The novelty of homemade torture instruments gives way to some pretty engaging music. Author and Punisher is truly at the top of his field, taking some of the most recent trends in noise and synthesizing it. Since the arrival of Cut Hands, noise musicians have had to step up their rhythmic game, incorporating actual pulses and beats to the clattering of noise. Similarly, fatigue with the hyper-masculine posturing of extreme music more generally has forced musicians to incorporate more emotional and grounded themes to their music. Author and Punisher doesn’t fully represent either of these two trends, but both can be found in some amount. The music is engaging rhythmic level, though by no means complex, and while I would never describe his music as vulnerable or emotionally honest, I do get the sense that Tristen Shone has a soul.
Author and Punisher isn’t going to change your tastes forever or open up genres you thought you hated, but if you’re at least open to noise, metal, or industrial, this artist has a unique level of craft and artistry that will make it worth your time.