Alright everybody, I’ve got a huge Synthwave Sunday post for you this week! I’m not just reviewing one album. No! I’m reviewing TWO! That’s right, FacexHugger and Dreddd got together this summer and created a duo of Vs albums. Not only did they push each other creatively, they also did so while juggling live shows and an already prolific spring and summer of releases. Needless to say, these two artists are juggernauts and we all know that the winner in this Vs. fight is us, the listeners. Ready to get to the music? Let’s ring that bell!
Round One! Fight!
FacexHugger comes out swinging with Solace Denied, and without question he’s one of the best science fiction inspired musicians on the scene. This introductory track sets the stage for what is to come, and it sets that expectation very high.
Dreddd responds with Machine Gun Baby, and it’s immediately obvious that he’s not pulling any punches. It blows my mind how Dreddd is able to continue putting out heavy hitters like this considering the amount of songs he writes.
Round Two! Fight!
Dreddd hits back quicly with Run Rabbit Run, a dark nightmare of the hunter and the hunted. He does an excellent job of transferring the feeling that you are the one being chased…an unstoppable entity stalking you, with no hope of escape.
Not to be outdone, FacexHugger picks up the pace with Can You Fly, Bobby? A nod to one of the great lines in one of the all time great movies, Robocop, is always going to earn you some brownie points. It also doesn’t hurt that the song is equally entertaining.
Round Three! Fight!
FacexHugger continues with yet another pop culture reference with Gimme the Bat, Marge. Simpson’s fans should recognize it immediately and I love the Treehouse of Horror direction the music takes. FacexHugger’s music leans toward things that go bump in the night anyway, whether it be here or in space (where no one can hear you scream, of course).
Dreddd’s third track is another banger named Vs Season. Heavy beats, bombastic drums, and a killer synth hook get you moving within seconds. It’s also a big of an atmospheric slow burn with great keys that balance out the darker mood of the bass line. This thing is neck and neck folks!
Round Four! Fight!
Smelling blood, Dreddd seems to go for a knockout blow with Hypocrite! Double bass drums, dark synths, and a tone that is even darker give this track instant “wow” factor. The heat has been turned up, that is for sure!
Just when FacexHugger seems to be on the ropes, he reveals a trick up his sleeve. Hradvanger (Headbanger) features none other than the guitar god himself, Dimi Kaye. It’s an equally dark song with seriously ominous overtones, allowing FacexHugger to deftly dodge the double bass barrage from Dreddd.
Round Five! Fight!
FacexHugger brings it down a notch. Prize fights like this are a marathon, not a race, after all. Falling Down is a delicate transition into the second half of his Vs. album and a nice chance to take a breath of air before we continue.
Dreddd levels his eyes and sees an opportunity to reserve some energy as well. He brings If You Loved Me to the ring with atmospheric harmonies and a seriously catchy beat. So far this fight is far too close to call. We may be going to the judges if it continues this way!
Round Six! Fight!
After catching his breath for a round, Dreddd turns the heat back up with Ghost in the Machine. A futuristic outrun track at heart, it sets the pace for the second half of this fight, for sure! Will he be able to keep up like this? Let’s press on and find out!
FacexHugger seemed to have used his “catch a breath” round well and comes out guns blazing with Life Form Detected, bringing his own dose of double bass drums. The synth work that plays over the killer drum track and deep, deep bass makes for one of the best tracks on the album, hands down.
Round Seven! Fight!
FacexHugger confidently moves into round seven with the skillfully crafted Wayfarer, a track that (in my head anyway) lends itself well to the golden age of science fiction space travel. I can see many great stories being set to a soundtrack like this. I can also see FacexHugger using the ship to dodge any incoming attacks this round from Dreddd…will it work?
Dreddd says not so fast…his track this round is called Escape to the Stars, as if he was ready for FacexHugger’s move. He has apparently taken the course less traveled, one fraught with danger, where a careless move could mean an end to everything.
Round Eight! Fight!
Apparently Dreddd dodged all the dangers to survive round seven! I Really Hate You, in title alone lets you know we’re coming down to the wire here. It’s not nearly is vitriolic as you would expect…perhaps some admiration or respect has been built over the course of this fight?
FacexHugger’s flight through the stars has taken him into dangerous territory, the always mysterious Dimension X! He does a great job of conveying the inherent dangers of this oft spoken of but rarely seen zone that lies beyond black holes. What could possibly be coming up in the next round?
Round Nine! Fight!
FacexHugger knocks it out of the park with his next track, Season of the Witch. I don’t know if it’s themed around Halloween III, but it very well could be because that movie had one hell of a soundtrack. Possibly my favorite song on his side of this Vs battle!
Purity is Dreddd’s response and he’s bringing it with a catchy drum tempo and a slow burn track that shows he has what it takes to last into the late rounds. It’s come down to a battle of attrition and it’s anyone’s fight!
Round Ten! Fight!
Dreddd comes into the final round with Together, a constant and steady track that builds toward dueling solos toward the end of the song (which I really enjoyed a lot). Looks like we may be going to the judges unless FacexHugger can land the knockout blow in the last minute.
FacexHugger isn’t going to go out without at least attempting to land a haymaker in this last round. REM Sleep is exactly that, a finely poised closer that ties together every single track that came before it. It has Delusional Mastering written all over it!
Alright everybody, the judges have called the fight a draw! There’s no way we’re going to be able to pick a winner here, both fighters have shown their mettle and came out the other side with solid albums. Wait, what’s that? Dreddd has TWO more songs! Well, let’s check them out!
Lost With Time and Please Forget Me close out Dreddd’s Vs album and they’re both great songs. Lost With Time reminds me very much of the musical interludes that Depeche Mode used to add as b-sides to their songs in the early 90’s…like Christmas Island or St. Jarna. Please Forget Me could very well have been on the soundtrack to an old first person shooter game, one set in a dark universe with the bleakest of odds. My kind of odds!
Alright! Now that we’re done looking at these two great albums, I’ve got another special treat waiting on you. We’ve got an interview with none other than FacexHugger!
For new listeners, who is FacexHugger?
FacexHugger is my personal contribution to the horror and sci-fi genre. I’m a huge fan of horror and sci-fi-fi and I feel like my music reflects that.
You’ve got new music out! What can you tell us about the Vs. album?
This Vs. album started off as a simple one song collaboration with Dreddd but we soon realized that both of us have a really fast writing process so we just decided to split the albums up into 2 and have our music go toe to toe. I’m really proud of this album. I feel like you can hear the growth in my music. Granted it’s only been 3 months since my first official release but I’m learning new things everyday when it comes to making music.
What was it like working with Dreddd?
Dreddd is one of a kind! He really made me step it up on this album and I’m sure you guys will keep hearing more and more from him in the future. He could make 100 songs in a week if you asked him to.
What was it like to work with the amazing Dimi Kaye?
It was the best 10 seconds of my musical career!
You just had a big live show in Los Angeles! Walk us through that day.
Yes! It was a great time. I got to hang out with cool people and listen to awesome music for a few hours. I pretty much spent all day leading up to the show working on my set. I performed this show only using 2 synths, nothing else. I pretty much created alternate live versions of my songs and there was plenty of room for errors which I managed to fight through after about a song and a half. After that It was pretty much smooth sailing. Can’t wait to play live again!
What is your recording set up?
I’ve recently upgraded to Logic Pro X as my DAW and since my EP I’ve started to use actual hardware synths in my music. On this Vs. album you’ll be hearing a lot of the Korg Ms2000. I am obsessed with the thick sounds that thing produces. I’ve also been using my Roland JDXI as of late especially since it plugs right into my laptop and I can use it as a controller. To capture the hardware synth sounds I use a Presonus Firebox. Ask me this question again at the end of the year and I’m sure the list will be longer. I’ve opened the flood gates into buying hardware synths and I don’t think I can stop myself now.
What is your songwriting process like? Free form or more structured?
It’s totally free form.Typically when writing a song I just start off by jamming whatever comes to mind and when I hear something I like I hit record and start building around that. I think a lot of people start off by doing drums first but that usually comes in the middle for me. The main goal for me when songwriting is I want people to feel like this music has a place in a horror/sci-fi movie.
Who are some artists you’re really into right now?
Hands down the synth roster on Kill All Music has consumed me. The new Occams Laser album “Ascension” is pure madness. Also, Elay Arson and The Warhorse have been what I’m listening to the most lately.
Who are some artists you were into as a kid?
Queen, Aerosmith, Metallica, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre. (Had all those on cassette in 5th grade)
I’m going out on a limb and assuming you’re a big Alien fan. Favorite film in the series and why?
Aliens, hands down. I can never get enough of my queen. Plus, Bill Paxton makes everything 1000 times better.
What’s on the horizon for FacexHugger?
I’m currently working on new music for a Christmas horror movie called “She Was So Pretty 2: Be Good for Goodness Sake”
Aside from that I have another release planned for August. And I’m trying my hardest to play as many shows as I can. So hopefully you guys will see me in person really soon.
Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?
Yes!!! My wife and kids. They are all really supportive in what I’m doing and I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for their encouragement. My wife is the backbone to all this tho. I pretty much just make the music. She sets up everything else.
Shout out to Dreddd for making this whole Vs. thing come to life. It’s been a blast. Also, big thanks to you, James. Everything you do for this scene is amazing and its awesome seeing Echosynthetic grow. You deserve nothing but the best!