Transcending Metal’s Norms with TRON MAXIMUM

TRON MAXIMUM

It often seems that music, especially extreme music, likes to lean heavily in one direction or another with little variation. While this site often strives to celebrate artists who straddle creative divides, it is rarely done in such a way as to include seemingly opposite approaches within a single vision. Enter TRON MAXIMUM, a Washington based musician and game developer whose unique brand of vapor metal had me intrigued from the first listen. The project of Natasha Dawn, TRON MAXIMUM is an outpouring of overwhelming emotion and stress that needs no words to capture themes like police brutality, personal rebellion, and lived experiences of being black and transgender in a world where both are dangerous things to be. Still, rather than wearing these themes and identities as a genre tag for easy (read: lazy) categorization by writers like myself, TRON MAXIMUM feels like a form of connecting with similar minds and similar experiences, a true offering of unique and challenging creativity.


We’ll begin examining the music of TRON MAXIMUM with Berserker Generatoran album of pure chaos that was released in June of this year. In many ways, I’m still trying to process the experience of this album, as there are so many things occurring simultaneously, that it is as close to a literal sensory overload an album could be without devolving into pure static wall noise. Polyrhythmic structures process well enough for the listener, yet cannot be described in any cohesive way. Feedback and spastic bursts of digital warmth constitute a large amount of the instrumentation here, yet they’re channeled in a way that straddles the line between music and noise in a way that seems almost more accidental than purposeful, as TRON MAXIMUM seems to be just in control enough to prevent the whole thing from coming apart while still allowing it to bubble and swell up in the most hideous and unexpected ways.

Berserker Generator by TRON MAXIMUM

When composition comes to the forefront, as on tracks like the strange build and collapse of “Cycloid Emperor,” it’s still enveloped in layers of digital muck and screeching ambiance. While this sort of suffocating experience doesn’t often garner mass appeal, it conveys its message so brilliantly. As an album that strives to serve as a picture of the mess of politics, policing, and inherently flawed hierarchies of American society, this is a jumble of misery and misanthropy, with a huge portion of resistance and vitriol thrown in for good measure. It’s not easy to digest, but it’s not meant to be an easy process. After multiple listens, I find myself coming to better find my personal place within the album’s sound and message. Alienation and frustration are common topics in extreme music, yet I’ve never found them to be displayed in such a fashion. While initially this didn’t sound like it would work at all to me, I can’t help but feel that creating something so outside of any conventional musical community is half of the purpose of this work. Berseker Generator is equal parts urban warfare and digital escape from a world that is wholly uninviting.

The ominously titled Colossus is an entirely different beast, yet one of equal scope and weight. Colossus seems to hold the entire static frustration of its companion within a place at its core, but approaches the listener with a controlled yet forceful presence. If Berserker Generator is panic and rebellion, Colossus is a true expression of personal freedom from all pain. There is an acknowledgement of suffering, fear, and hate, yet the deliberately paced and accented moments of intensity on Colossus create an experience that is almost soothing. While suffering can lead to growth, it’s important to seek a healing process, and this album feels like the sonic embodiment of absorbing one’s struggles and moving beyond them without forgetting what has been left behind.

TRON MAXIMUM - Colossus

Instead of jarring static and rhythms that conflict, TRON MAXIMUM moves through these songs with grace and composure that seem alien to the works of Berserker Generator. It’s a perfect companion in a way, with songs like “Colossus I” and “Dysphoria/Euphoria” feeling like safe ports in a musical maelstrom of inhuman proportions. Guitars and synths harmonize nicely over controlled and mesmerizing percussion to guide the listener safely through whatever they may experience along the way. While danger lurks in the corners of the rumbling “Chrysalis Emergence” or “To Liberate (All, is to Liberate) Thyself,” it’s ultimately a tale of rebirth that could not exist without great torment and despair to set the stage. If you’re on the fence about these albums, I recommend Colossus as a fantastic way of piercing the chaos and finding where TRON MAXIMUM will impact you the most, but each of these releases earns attention rather than begging for it. If you’re ready to commit, the artist has a fantastic package deal for both albums on compact disc, or you can even download the entire TRON MAXIMUM discography for a mere $13.50 right now on bandcamp.