Gridfailure is sickness given aural form as the experimental project of madman Dave Brenner (ex-Theologian), and marks a departure from his death industrial treatments in favor of hallucinogenic sound collages bringing to mind legends like Nurse With Wound, early Current 93, or a number of experimental film soundtrack composers from Japan or Italy. Compared to his first album however, Sixth Mass Extinction Skulduggery I takes on a much more straightforward, vocal industrial noise approach with a general emotion of hatred and bitterness pervading the record.
Conceptual in approach, this record is meant to be the first in a series of albums exploring a pre- and post-apocalyptic reality based on humankind’s current trajectory, and includes a wealth of guest contributors, with many of the tracks having been written at different stages in the past, including before the project’s inception.
The first track “Sandy” introduces us to the barrage of bile and hatred starting this album off, with David’s heavily treated vocals flooding a storm of different organic sound sources, eerie bells, and harrowing wails having that same chilling effect as a tornado siren in a grey dismal afternoon in an abandoned park complex….. much of this recording is executed with real instruments used in unconventional ways, creating the feeling of different fragments of dreams. The found sounds left untreated sprinkled throughout the recording seem to root us to a foundation of mundane reality and the feeling that what we are hearing is happening in real-time.
Each track is meant to reflect a different stage in the decay of the human race, realistically reflecting the current events facing humanity today … our economic crisis, political chaos, rampant racism, religious terrorism, raping of resources and destruction of the planet leading us to a seriously fatal collision with reality, and collapse of the human civilization. The truth is out there, the clock on humanity is running out, and it’s far too late to reverse the course. This adds a very welcome element of diversity to the recording as it truly feels like a story unraveling, though the tone is very much consistently dark from the very beginning of “Sandy” up to the inevitable cliffhanger “Exsanguination of the Utopians”.
This recording only leaves me curious as to the further development as this post-apocalyptic saga unfolds.
New York hostile alchemist Gridfailure will launch the extensive Sixth Mass-Extinction Skulduggery concept album series through NEFARIOUS INDUSTRIES.
Nearing the beginning of a new decade, 2020, a year once shrouded in myth, the essence of underground music has been unfaltering in the face of its adversaries; but even as we reach the homogenization of music as a whole due to the inevitable repeat of once revolutionary ideas, even the underground can be affected. To battle this rapid approach, certain bands rise to the occasion – one of them being Deafkids. Proving that old ideas can be refreshed to craft something revolutionary on its own, this high energy noise assault challenges your ears at every corner.
Metaprogramação is steeped deep within traditional Brazilian music, as the intro hails back to ancient times with a deep chant from the most ancient shell pyramids of Brazil, as if coming within the deep recesses of your very blood. The album is immediately sprung into an animated Latin drumbeat that rarely finds it way into heavier music, yet it adds to the atmosphere of chaos and dissolution entirely. The vigorous energy is backed by an aggressive display of noise and indistinguishable robotic vocals, creating an aura of unease, followed shortly by a cathodic pulse that begins to invigorate each blood cells in your stream.
“Mente Bicameral”, is where Deafkids begins to display their mastery of punk music as well, adding addictive and aggressive guitars into the mix, turning all of the signs of your body wanting to move into bursts of galvanized violence, constructing an urge to destroy something bigger than us. Amidst all of the anarchic energy is the ever present psychedelic lull of the archaic chants and languidly deviating soundscape, adding an introspective mindfulness to the assault. The overall experience cultivates itself as a complete rebellion against your surroundings, the system were trapped in, and your mind itself.
Metaprogramação challenges what we know about the new wave of noise punk with an unexplored cultural flare and an intense youthful energy. Despite the lyrical content being mostly obscured behind the multiple layers of noise the album feels political, how could it not, with the looming shadow of Jair Bolsanaro’s wicked hand crushing the country under its grasp.
Deafkids challenge you to take a look into yourself and destroy the walls put around you by the constraints of society, the unrestrained ferocity of youth is only captured rarely in music, and has the ability to make tremors deep within the minds of others. The combination of masterfully executed Latin drumming, callow punk energy, and deviation from the benchmarks of noise music, forge a glance into the true future of underground music, all while containing a relevant commentary on fascism for both today and tomorrow.
Brazil’s Deafkids will release their third album, Metaprogramação, their first studio full-length for NEUROT RECORDINGS.
Digging through the the freshly renewed mass grave of death metal is a slog through gore and refuse, with fresh corpses being dumped in constantly. Among the stench of decay, you can catch a more pungent malodor, stemming from a writhing pile of extremely rotten flesh. The mass seems to move and shift still, ripe with bacteria and maggots, this pile is Fetid. Within its genre, Fetid manages to slither to to the top of the bowl as the most disgusting of it all, with its invariably shifting rhythms that conjure a mass of fluctuating rot that you can’t help but marvel at.
Steeping Corporeal Mess introduces you to its repugnant form with an unsettling sample and immediately presents you with the sludge of peeling off a fresh scab. A slow and intoxicating riff takes hold, ripe with nausea, slowly dissolving your innards. As the riff continues it only continues to get more brutal. Muted open strings are complemented by excellent drum fills, where the kick drums evoke hammers upon your skull and the uncertain time signatures of each bar perpetuate your vertigo. Even as you are exposed by a primitive breakdown with a rotten bass tone, the next next riff displays a subtle dissonance that crawls into the back of your mind and twists your logic.
Each section continues to evolve rapidly, never setting with one mold. This is all due to the brilliant drumming, which carries each rhythmic section with uncertainty, continually carrying the oppressive darkness of the album. The guitar and bass tone are ripe with melting viscera, both deep and distorted, roaring like the bowels of hell, violently ricocheting from one moldy idea to the next – the overall intonation reeking of a murky eclipse. Occasional shrill guitar solos bounce off the walls of the corpulent chambers like carrion banshees, adding an element of terror to the vile odyssey.
The only reprieve from Fetid’s everlasting assault of bone shards and vile entrails is granted in the last song, “Draped In What Was”. Leading with a unsettling keyboard intro reminiscent of classic John Carpenter, the anxiety created is rightly justified by being followed by arguably the albums most crushing riff yet, one that you can feel in the very pit of your stomach and the marrow of your bones. The final slow trudge through the dregs encapsulate the album in a glorious technicolor yawn ripe with blood and tripe.
While Steeping Corporeal Mess may be a familiar listen for fans of similar bands like Undergang and Triumvir Foul, Fetid escalates the repugnance to new levels with an inventive understanding of this barbarous new niche of death metal. Each member has mastered the nuances of the genre, accentuated by dramatic and impressive rhythm changes, creating an intimidating new standard for bands that want to capture the aura of decomposing gore.
20 BUCK SPIN will deliver the horrifying Steeping Corporeal Mess debut album on CD and LP from cult death metal outfit FETID.
Hailing from Finland, Vargrav is the sole creation of prolific Black Metal veteran V-Khaoz. Reign In Supreme Darkness is the follow up to Vargrav’s 2018 release Netherstorm, which rightly earned high praise for its proper execution of Symphonic Black Metal. Though keyboards are often shunned by Black Metal’s inherent elitism, Vargrav have demonstrated an understanding of the mystical capabilities of the synth. Reign In Supreme Darkness is a refinement of the sound captured by Netherstorm, and a distillation of its best elements.
Ambience and bell chimes consecrate the air. We begin our journey with an ominous keyboard intro that gives us a premonition of the fantasy to come …
Beginning with a solid drum roll, “The Glory of Eternal Night” draws us in with fantastical, and epic riffs. Keyboards and guitars meld together to form a unique distortion with a mystical layer that hovers over us like a cold fog. Vocals echo through cavernous chambers; a trembling vibration of demonic tone.
“Dark Space Dominion” leads us down dark corridors of melancholy. A dynamic, charging rhythm, galloping across the astral plane.
“In Streams From The Great Mysteries” paints the sky dark with somber lead guitar melodies. The haunting layers of synth can only be described as Frozen; the earth is embraced by ice.
A powerful clash of elements, “As The Shadows Grow Silent” contains some of the most catchy, and fierce riffing of the album.
“Crowned By Demonstorms” ascends from the depths of glacial chasms to soaring altitudes where permafrost reigns. No life may grow at these heights, yet we reach out to grasp the zenith as magic ensorcells us. This track is the pinnacle of Vargrav. It leaves the listener in a state of astral projection, rising to the heights of the firmament.
“Godless Pandemonium” grips the listener with an immense atmosphere. Whip strike snare hits, and reverberating drum fills create ominous echoes, as crisp cymbals penetrate the air and ring out into the ether.
The album closes with an inspiring display of majestic summonings. At times introspective, and other times all out fist pumping; “Arcane Stargazer” is the perfect conclusion to an epic journey.
Vargrav have once again produced a truly phenomenal offering. Their sophomore album contains all the elements of melody that made early Dissection, Dimmu Borgir, and Emperor so memorable, while maintaining the grim sincerity that Black Metal requires. A spellbinding adventure to the barren tundra, Reign In Supreme Darkness is a hypothermic journey through polar night.
WEREWOLF RECORDS, in conspiracy with HELLS HEADBANGERS, is proud to present VARGRAV’s highly anticipated second album, Reign in Supreme Darkness, on CD and vinyl LP formats.
A collection of swansongs from a doomed world, We Proclaim Your Death, O’ Lord is the fourth full length from death-doom band Encoffination, following a gap of as many years. The two-man band features members out of Georgia and California from similarly insidious groups Father Befouled and Vomitchapel (among others.) Drums are by Elektrokutioner (Wayne Sarantopoulos) while all other sounds- keyboard, guitars, bass, and vocals- are performed by Ghoat (Justin Blake Stubbs).
In keeping with Encoffination’s established style, the album is defined by its ultra-low sound and slow creeping pace giving rise to a cavernous and oppressive soundscape. Amidst the tectonic density, keyboard, percussion, and comparatively melodic guitar and bass lines stand out above the cacophony, providing direction to an otherwise inordinate deluge. The atmosphere is encompassing and all-devouring, casting forth a mood that is unrelentingly brooding and bleak. Vocals are almost exclusively low, inhuman growls, at times with a murky howling quality. Drums beat a primal pulse, ominous and spacey or ritualistic and tribal. The cymbals have a raw, tinny quality that contributes to the ambiance of ruination.
“Ebony Skulls” makes evocative and chilling use of bells and keyboard as accents to somnolent funerary riffs. “Graveside Monoliths” is one of the most interesting offerings of the album, with sudden jarring blips of flatline noise joined halfway by droning keyboard tones in a dense, subtly warbling barrier of sound. “Mysterium Fedei” begins with a thin, churning unease, dragged slowly deeper into a turbulent madness that cumulates with a single shrill, sustained squeal. Engrossing and dominating riffs lumber throughout “The Keys of Hell and Death”, wrapping the listener in the grip of an archaic evil.
The imagery of the album is a cry from the end times – the death of Christ with no light of rebirth or redemption. The title is taken from the beginning of the Memorial Acclamation of the Eucharist, where the purposeful omission of the completing lines “and profess your Resurrection, until you come again” hangs like a sword of Damocles, promising a tide of decay and hopelessness. Continuing this theme, “Mysterium Fidei” – meaning “the mystery of faith” and typically denoting a lead-in to other ceremonies of holy communion – here is twisted and defiled: the deific mystery gutted of wonder and filled with festering rot and filth.
With We Proclaim Your Death, O’ Lord, Encoffination have again conjured forth a pure manifestation of malice and decay, with which they beckon forward all who would jump eagerly into the cold and despairing grip of death.
SELFMADEGOD RECORDS has unveiled the foreboding new album on CD and forthcoming LP. Merch is available from the label as well.
That pivotal moment in time is nearly upon us once again, a fleeting three nights of morbid celebration to the outermost regions of the sonic realm: Covenant Fest V. Looming like some hideous mecca for the lost and the damned, the annual event has drawn out a veritable array of degenerates, blasphemers, and prophets of the end times. Among the tide of bestial noise already setting its sights on Vancouver, the death obsessed collective, Mortiferum, promises to deliver a particular shock of devastation to the fest proceedings.
With two feet in the grave and a firm grip on the heels of the world, Mortiferum channel their bleak visions of post-mortal horror through their pummeling approach to death doom. “On the demo, lyrically, the songs deal with death, dying, and what happens after you die.” states guitarist/vocalist, Max Bowman. “There’s plenty of this on the upcoming full length, Disgorged From Psychotic Depths, but some of the lyrics on this album have been fueled by dreams, stories, and a few recurring lyrical themes are post-mortem consciousness, ascension, descent, chaos.”
These thematic elements are less preconceptions than they are a miasmal after-effect of the band’s own musical exploration. “It starts with just the music.” says Bowman, offering some illumination on the band’s process. “Chase and I split the riffing duties pretty evenly, but Alex and Tony (and early on, Dan) also add major contributions. The songwriting process is collaborative, deliberate, and contemplative. It’s also painstakingly slow at times. But the end result is always worth it, to us. I wouldn’t really say songwriting is conceptually driven. That part usually comes naturally a little later on as the music develops.”
Perhaps this allowing the sound to dictate lyrical direction is part of why Mortiferum sounds so crushing. There is no pretense at trying to fit a mold, or satisfy anyone but themselves, and it is that selfish drive that is arguably the most pure in any artistic undertaking.
One of the key components to what makes Mortiferum one of the most promising acts on the rise is the group’s knife sharp utilization of the death doom genre’s defining aspects. The funereal lurch of low tempo expanses juxtaposed with the spasmic high energy of violent blasting sections culminates in a varied spectrum. “Slow parts of classic death metal songs can be extremely powerful. Take, “In The Grip Of Winter” by Autopsy for example. THAT SLOW SECTION IS SO FUCKING HEAVY!” Max muses, but as he speaks further on the band’s views regarding their style, it becomes clear that feeling and atmosphere were always the driving factor. It just so happens to fit into what we categorize as ‘death – doom’.
“There is a time and a place for speed and technicality (even for Mortiferum), but it’s important to let riffs breathe a bit and to create a more ominous feeling. Slower sections invoke a certain emotion that’s hard to put into words. Our music is supposed to invoke a feeling of darkness, anxiety, and dread. And while I LOVE blast beats (we try to use at least one in every song!), these emotions are best displayed in the slower sections.”
Though they follow their own creative whims, Mortiferum do not shy away from emulating the greats. Hearing the thousand pound impact of Altar Of Decay’s currently existing four tracks brings to mind the likes of Disembowelment and Incantation, among others, while never crossing into hack territory.
“Our music is embedded in a lot of traditional aspects of death metal and doom, but when writing music we try to make sure we aren’t being too predictable with arrangements and changes.” Bowmen explains. In this modern era of over-saturation in the way of music, to stand out is becoming only ever more challenging, and it seems that it is those bands that can both see and walk the line between the familiar and the original that come out on top.
“I’ve definitely noticed that a lot of newer bands experiment with similar things, and we definitely don’t want to sound like everyone else. That said, trying to sound totally “original” is close to impossible, and usually results in something weird. If people can hear our influences in our music, that’s not a bad thing to me.”
Having made their live debut in Vancouver last year, Mortiferum left a lasting impression that they were not going to be forgotten anytime soon. The band has undoubtedly stirred up much anticipation for their future, touring voraciously on their four track demo, alone. “While [touring is] not always easy for various reasons, we love it. It’s pretty simple – playing death metal live feels fucking good! In only 2 years of being a band, we’ve been lucky enough to tour with bands we love and can now call our friends, and in doing it this way, we have sort of set a precedent for ourselves when it comes to touring: We do it with people we like hanging out with, who inspire us musically. Fetid, Superstition, Spectral Voice, and Hyperdontia have made touring so far such a privilege. And there’s more to come.”
Mortiferum has recently been taken in by the underground metal powerhouse label, Profound Lore Records, that in and of itself is surely proof of the quality of the band’s upcoming full length debut. “The new record, Disgorged From Psychotic Depths is finished and being mastered. It comes out to just under 44 minutes. You can expect to hear more of what we did on the demo, but more atmosphere, heavier riffs, and more DEATH.”
One can only hope that we might get a taste of what Mortiferum has in store during their much anticipated set at Covenant Fest V.
The journey of the protagonist, in the song “The Antechamber” seems to parallel that of Nocturnus founding member, Mike Browning. Just as we descend into the deep recesses of ancient Egypt to awaken unearthly forces and their bizarre machinery, so too has Browning revived the corpse of his past work in Nocturnus to forge yet another chapter of the occult, interdimensional epic that he first began back with 1990’s The Key.
Enter, Nocturnus AD, a true titan reborn from out of the sands of time long after having irreversibly influencing the death metal genre, steering the minds of both contemporaries and successors alike toward forbidden, interplanar vistas in both subject matter and mind bending instrumentation. The Key undoubtedly helped set the standard for what would come to be modern technical death metal, which has blossomed into a mass tangential limb of musical style, which makes it only more momentous that Nocturnus AD have re-emerged onto the scene that it helped define in the form of the band’s debut full length, Paradox.
The opening track states plainly Browning and company’s intention in “Seizing The Throne”, which seems to have broken through from decades past with an unflinchingly old school sensibility that colors the whole of the album, but with a blistering intensity that defies any epoch, cutting to the primal core. The initial seduction of chimes and synths fills the airwaves before Browning’s double bass emerges at a slow march and guitarists, Demien Heftel and Belial Koblak break out into their definitively chaotic stringwork, which whines and screams like stray stars flung across galaxies. But like a mechanism that has been long in disuse, the pace of it all feels at first strained, struggling, even. But like a cruel tactician, Nocturnus AD are only playing at weakness to lull the listener into a state of false expectation before revealing their true face. That mid tempo trudge is suddenly crushed beneath the awakened vigor of Nocturnus AD as they grab the listener by the throat and force them into submission. Thus marks the beginning of a glorious return to form from out of obscurity, bringing with them visions of trans-dimensional horror and cataclysm.
In the course of Paradox’s nine hulking tracks, the listener is rendered into a sponge into which Browning instills scenes of cosmic horror and monumental sci-fi conceptions steeped in the scale and lack of boundaries that defined the genre in the 70’s and 80’s, while the unhinged instrumentation acts as a vector through which these alien visions are communicated. In this way, Paradox is a double-pronged attack of equally striking music and lyrical content, giving the album a twofold weight. While the majority of death metal vocalists use their voices more as an instrument, Mike Browning’s is primarily a tool of narration, which would most likely be a detractor for a style such as this if the stories weren’t as great as they are. The lyrics invest the musicality of the band with an added meaning as their playing and the lyrics themselves mutually feed off one another’s power.
The esoteric energies that characterize the forbidden symbol in the Lovecraftian tale, “The Bandar Sign” are manifested in Josh Holdren’s aeriform keyboard play. The subsequent tampering and invocation of these powers builds to an eventual overload at the midpoint of the song, infecting the keys and other instruments with an uncontrollable spasm that perfectly captures the scene of a misguided human tearing open doorways to unfathomed horrors.
Nocturnus was one of the pioneering forces in death metal to introduce keyboards into the mix, and it shows all throughout Paradox in how perfectly Holdren’s playing blends into and elevates every song, never feeling too pronounced or disruptive, and lathers the brutality of a song like “Precession Of The Equinoxes” or “Apotheosis” with a sense of orchestral grandeur.
As if Mike Browning were not already preoccupied with orating the return of forgotten alien gods to our native dimension, the man somehow keeps up the Herculean feat of his drum performance, a gauntlet which rarely ever eases back, and emotes the tectonic weight inherent in a song like “Paleolithic”, which catalogues the metamorphosis of the ancient world throughout the ages.
The guitarwork of the duo, Heftel and Koblak is nothing short of treacherous in its ability to hypnotize and overwhelm. The descending chords on the monumental sounding,“The Antechamber” mimic the subterranean journey beneath the sands of Egypt, towards that hidden resting place of those ancient alien entities. Heftel and Koblak’s chaotic soloing bursts forth like arcs of crazed electricity born from the unearthly mechanisms, and just as was emblematic of The Key, it is this manic play style that gives Paradox an aura of otherworldliness.
When a band as legendary as Nocturnus AD returns from such a long hiatus, there is a great risk of the titans of yesterday falling short of present expectations, only to result in a disappointing, and likely final entry into their discography. However, Nocturnus AD stick the landing with an album as much built on their past work as it moves them forward into a new future as a band. Offering atmosphere and complex songwriting compositions, all of which is bound together in some fun as hell stories that feel straight out of Weird Tales Pulp and Heavy Metal Magazine, Paradox is the whole package.
Welcome back from death, Nocturnus AD.
PROFOUND LORE RECORDS will release Nocturnus AD’s first opus on all formats. This will be Mike Browning’s first music under the Nocturnus banner in almost 27 years!
In a realization that is as arcane as it is superterestrial, the French band Epectase – comprised of two musicians known as Vague and Avitis – is set to cast forth their inaugural album Astres. Across five tracks and 63 minutes, Astres is a fully crystalized and monolithic vision exploring themes of opposition and polarity in both sound and philosophy.
The horrors of the cosmic unknown and the deep void of the human psyche emerge as intrinsically linked macro and micro perspectives, with the external veiled universe acting as a symbolic inverse to the internal veil of death itself. Thematically the first two songs center around travel or transition, highlighted by the action verbs of their titles- running/entering. In contrast the final two tracks reference metaphysical destinations of Maze and Sea.
Musically, Astres is a release rooted in black metal with plenty of dissonance and frantic, anxious riffs however these elements work in tandem alongside clean grooves and complex progressive bursts. Catchy, repetitive melodies invoke ruminative effects, expanding on the depth and feel of a riff until the listener is fully immersed. Drums represent significant variation, from relentless crushing blows to spacey clicks and sizzles, or even ceasing entirely to emphasize minimalistic ethereal moments.
The first song “As He Runs Towards the Stars” is a mad dash towards the wicket potential of both the cosmic and inner void. The track snakes between raw black metal and smoother prog-influenced sections, that at times glimmer with a cosmic wonder and at others ring out a sickly warning tone. Next, “Entering the Domain of the Solar Sovereign” is a chaotic nebula of dissonance and floating melody with some of the most memorable and jazzy riffs of the album. Echoed whispering, squealing guitar sections and aggressive low growls give shape and dimension to the sovereign’s epic presence.
Identified as the climax, the middle track “Solar Winds” is highly ambient with half-whispered spoken word lyrics and notes that twang and warble as if warped by the flow of celestial currents. Building to its own apex, droning riffs layer upon lower, denser tones, eventually joined by sibylline clean vocals.
The conclusion of Solar Winds signifies a transition from English to French and to a faster, harsher sound. “La Dédale des Astres et des Âmes” is manic and claustrophobic, it’s peaks of aggression inciting anticipation and terror with every twist. The vocals grow in intensity as growls rise to panicked shrieks drowning in anguish and straining against corporeal decay. “La Mer Pourpre” begins with tidal riffs that rise and churn, slowing to an isolated guitar melody that like mist over still water. The tenuous calm is abruptly broken as turbulent layers return, accompanied by a grim vocal chant.
Astres is exceptionally successful at crafting a bold synthesis of styles, suspiring life into the cosmic and psychological aspects of the album’s vision without relenting the finely wrought threads of existential dread that lie within.
Not two months since the release of his highly anticipated debut album – which we had the honour to present in full – Camp.30 (nee Michael Abercrombie) returns with another collection of surreal, outre, and altogether other-worldly songs. While the first collection, Eyes Only, was distinctly slotted in the dark R&B genre, albeit entirely instrumental, his self-titled psalter of utterly bizarre pieces, is distinctly more formless and experimental.
The trademark Camp.30 ethereal voices wade in and out of the background, and his ever-intricate drum patterns snip away with infectious capability, but there is something plainly different in the atmospheres being presented here. The heart-broken and always cocky Toronto sound that was present on his first full length, and all through his work with PLAZA, hasn’t necessarily been discarded, but clearly placed to the side in favour of something vastly grander.
The opening composition, “Lord Knows”, demonstrates that Abercrombie is an artist at the peak of his abilities. Presenting a stoic and determined sound, open cymbals chime away in a victorious manner that at times hearken back to when hip-hop artists used to perform with live drummers. Bleak synths enter and leave with fascinating melody lines and the straight-faced affair ends all too soon. It is immediately apparent to any and all remotely familiar with his work that this is going to be a unique experience.
When the second song “Doctor What” kicks in, we’re digested deeper into this void, and all expectation of norms should be immediately thrown out. Maniacal laughter calls out from the dark and immediately horrific harmonies, not unlike the work of Claudio Simmonetti, overwhelm the listener. Backed with a classic and slightly distorted bass, this is an effortless blend of what the subconscious expects from this music, and sheer innovation.
After a cut-throat start, the album shifts in to a meticulously chosen and contemplative cruise control. The darkness is omnipresent, but the bombast of the opening salvo is replaced with an ice-cold passage in the dark. Through “M5s”, “Down Again”, and “Grand Stand”, we see a clinical demonstration of Camp.30’s grasp of not just this genre, but too the dark ambient genre. Fantastic and constantly shifting drum production is supported by a soaking wet, under-lying ambience complete with choirs of ghosts, barely audible pads that enrich the songs on several levels, and add a level of care to a genre that sadly often exists for mass production.
Through all of this, there is never the sense of abandonment that is often felt when an artist explores new territory. At its heart it’s still distinctly Camp.30. However, when “SEQ (Interlude)” hits, something happens. Less like the Toronto sound, electronic sound, 40, Ill Angelo, or anything even slightly related to dark R&B, and more closely resembling a Philip Glass synthesizer, it is a brilliant piece that is fully outside of, and alien to, anything the man has released before as Camp.30, and more like his work with North Atlantic Drift (though distinctly quicker in pace). It is a fascinating and poignant piece, that all at once shows why Camp.30 is a pioneering Canadian artist, and shows why much of his music might never cross that thin line to true stardom – it is simply too smart and detailed for mass consumption.
And, as though ripped from a dream, we return to the extra-terrestrial horror of the album’s opening on “Northern Lights”. A demented flute line bums out the top melody of the album, with a hypnotizing, snake-charming sound.
Camp.30 is showcased at his best here, with a total fearlessness to experiment, switch tempos, change rhythms, swap atmospheres mid-song feature weird instruments, and quite plainly do whatever the fuck he wants. Whether he’s being irresistibly catchy, or questionably weird, it’s never forced. The natural flow of the album and its denizens is simply remarkable.
If Eyes Only was a calm first-date where he was afraid to reveal just how strange he really was, on this self-titled disc, you’ve been invited back to his house, and you are shocked at the amount of human bones, incense, taxidermy animals, and chandeliers everywhere.
Lovecraft, perhaps captured the human condition of ignorance best when he stated, “The most merciful thing in the world… is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” However, sometimes that state of grace seems to have been shattered within the minds and works of certain individuals, replaced with a seething energy that, to the masses, would approximate something like insanity.
It cannot be denied that the mystery-shrouded Asthâghul, the singular craftsman behind Esoctrilihum, of one the most deliriously productive projects going, is indeed one such mind. In the span of two years, Asthâghul has let loose four titanic compositions of merciless blackened death bizarrity, the fourth and most ambitious yet being The Telluric Ashes Of The Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods. But to call Asthâghul a mastermind or grand architect might be a falsity. Rather, he seems to have become a vessel for the unfathomed pantheon of cosmic gods his music promulgates.
Every facet of Esoctrilihum’s sound speaks truth to the idea of a mind under siege, and fractured under malefic intent. The instrumentation alone pushes the boundaries of both human ability and understanding, at times mounting to drum speeds so unwavering that the listener is left confounded in the midst of the storm. And as an extension of this, there are moments where Asthâghul himself seems almost overwhelmed by the surge of dreadful revelation that wracks his mind and body, as in “Aborted Sun” which threatens to derail into primal lunacy before being pulled back into cohesion by Asthâghul’s skill and constitution.
Perhaps the greatest plight to the prophet is the highest boon to us as listeners, as this latest album reflects a menagerie of personalities throughout its considerable length. Continuously in a state of change, morphing style and even production, both across and within songs, as in the tracks “Thar – Voknargh” and “Aborted Sun”, with the latter having been invigorated with a booming thunder to its bass drum and overall low end to create a suffocating pressure, while the former is comparatively airy. While most bands might demonstrate a great range in their play, it is rare that such overt leaps should be taken in the way of the mixing and production. But, Asthâghul seems to utilize the mixing board as an instrument as much as the guitar or drums, which vastly broadens his horizons of creation and serves to repeatedly take the listener off guard, consistently defying expectation.
Blackened death metal is a label often laid where it is not warranted, but Esolctrilihum is undoubtedly one of the more deserving of the title. While there are moments that might feel particular to one sub-genre, Asthâghul spins both into a wreath-like equilibrium, building off the dread and far reaching scope of Emperor or even Wolves In The Throne Room in “Stone Of Static Void”, for instance, as he likewise saps the brutish terrorism of Morbid Angel, evident in “Invisible Manifestation Of Delirium God”. One of the primary results of this fusion is Asthâghul’s range of vocals, which reflect one possessed as the laboured screeches suddenly give way under the commanding grunt of bestiality, and often all this over a churning sea of hissing, indecipherable curses.
Esoctrilihum is the manifestation of an illogical vision that goes beyond the breadth all normality. Regardless, if The Telluric Ashes Of The Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods is indeed the outcome of interdimensional influence or simply the psychotic vision of the individual known only as Asthâghul, the awe it inspires cannot be denied, to the extent that the premise of a man’s mind being contested over by conflicting alien forces all vying to bleed their essences into our native dimension seems more likely.