March 9, 2005

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Cesium 137, Intelligent Design
Metropolis Records, 2006

Cesium 137’s second release for Metropolis may not play many if any new goth-techno angles off the motherboard (and in fact they’ve nearly flatlined the mix, forgoing the wide-pan Cinemascope production everyone was expecting), but the Philadelphia pair have upgraded their layering, found a way to send Isaac Glendening’s methadone drawl into a more symmetrical glide and re-thought their songwriting process, lubing it up enough this time to make their latex-dressed fans feel vindicated for all the times they hit the floor solely out of a sense of duty. There’s still chalkiness to some of the choruses, most injurious during leadoff song “Forsaken,” but the vampire circus rollick of “Hollow” is a sign that Assemblage 23’s Tom Shear wasn’t just out for a quick buck hawking these guys. From there, “Gravity” is by far the best floor-filler in their catalog, while the breakbeaten crackle of “Agonist” swirls on a par with Weed. B-

— Eric W. Saeger