Test Dept

Cold Waves Festival

Live at The Regent Theatre

Los Angeles, CA

September 13th, 2019

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Test Dept were the headliners for this year's Cold Waves Festival in Los Angeles. This is the first North American tour for the iconic industrial pioneers since 1996. Dubbing themselves "sonic material handlers" they represent the true roots of industrial music, or agitation as they like to put it, utilizing found industrial materials like scrap metal, coils, springs, and what ever other various pieces of construct that they can use to build their percussion heavy discourse.

Always politically active since their inception in 1981, they continue to rail against the current cultural and political climate of this global age. Featuring the core of the original group with a few new-comers as well, they slam against the right wing and corruption that abounds.

Their video feeds projected over the band onto a large screen move against fascism from the past as well as what is stirring in the current world. Based out of London they decried the current situation in the UK with imagery of Boris Johnson, Theresa May and other befuddled leaders driving their country off a cliff. The USA was no less of a target with the songs and video culminating in a powerful chant "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!" This resounding chorus built in strength until you could feel the power of it running through you. The audience resounded, with fists in the air chanting along for an end to this current mockery of modern democracy.

Centering around the original two members sharing vocal duties as well as joining in to pummel a large structure in the center of the stage holding their various pieces of metal and materials, it was amazing how moving and rhythmic their industrial cacophony was to see live. I first encountered Test Dept around 1990 so missed seeing them in this raw truly industrial format before but I can tell you, I am really glad I got to see it today.

Test Dept are the actual embodiment of Industrial Music brought to life, taking the modern world and bending it to become a sonic expression that resonates in sound and message: "Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses".

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