Emo Girl Ex Machina – Rat Jesu

I stumbled on Emo Girl Ex Machina accidentally while searching for new Hi-C songs on the Dismiss Yourself YouTube channel. Though it was the strange half-angel, half-devil anime girl on the cover that drew me in, I was shocked at how good the album was once I hit play. Emo Girl Ex Machina takes the bitcrushed sounds of HexD and distorts them together with influences of punk, emo, and pop. Although the sounds will be familiar for any HexD fans, it’s her songwriting abilities that set her apart from the sea of new releases in the genre. Revolving around themes of gender dysphoria, depression, and isolation, there’s an incredible amount of emotional weight packed behind the distorted vocals. On the album opener “Romantic Vivisection”, the upbeat yet melancholic synths underscore her slightly distorted vocals: “This body I call a prison/There’s a girl inside a cage/While a boy takes center stage/Like an actor on TV/Never been the real me”. Though her vocals are pitch-shifted and heavily filtered, the songwriting manages to convey her anxieties and vulnerabilities in a heartbreaking way.

There’s a lot of interesting ideas introduced in Emo Girl Ex Machina over the course of its 24-minute runtime. From samples of Serial Experiments Lain to harrowing vocal screams to the emo-rap-influenced guitar riffs, the album continually experiments with how melodies intertwine with the bitcrushed synths. Instead of the straight-up noise wall that permeates many HexD releases, there’s a surprising amount of variance in the album’s mixing and instrumentation. Although there are times when the vocals are hidden by noisy production, they often come out far better than other HexD albums. At its best, Emo Girl Ex Machina is unlike anything you’ve heard before as the melodic structures give way to chaotic distortions. On the album’s six-minute centerpiece, “Frogs”, the song pulsates through multiple sections of rap verses, ballads, and guitar riffs before twisting into a noisy barrage of sound at its climax. A lot of Emo Girl Ex Machina is also influenced by Serial Experiments Lain as a way to represent the trans experience and disconnect from the real world. In particular, the titular song examines how our online selves are better representations of the people we actually are as opposed to the fronts we put on.

There are times when Emo Girl Ex Machina doesn’t seem to finish a concept before moving on due to the short runtime of the songs. With so many different ideas incorporated into its eight songs, the sudden changes in between can feel a little unnatural. Emo Girl Ex Machina also has the weaknesses of other HexD projects in how the distortion can completely envelop the vocals to the point where nothing is discernable. For an artist that has such beautiful songwriting, it’s a shame that it can become lost so easily in the noise. Though it doesn’t sound distinctly different from other HexD releases, Emo Girl Ex Machina nonetheless brings something new to the emerging genre with heartrending lyrics and tight guitarwork. The lingering moments of emotion against the backdrop of distortion are executed impeccably and Emo Girl Ex Machina is easily one of the best albums that HexD has to offer.

Must Listens: Romantic Vivisection, Poison.jpg, Frogs


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I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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