Categories
Review

BLACK EARTH deliver a Pandora’s Box of torturous perfection on “Gnarled Ritual of Self Annihilation”

Fans of Abruptum and Gnaw Their Tongues take note! Black Earth present us with their sophomore release that can only be described as schizophrenia given form. Densely layered waves of noise, chaos, and pure black ambiance drown us in an ocean of blackest night, this is what a nyctophile’s nirvana sounds like! A Black Earth release is an ordeal plunging head first into the nightmare of a mind long destroyed, and emerging on the other side forever changed, if not gasping for release.

On their debut, this relatively new outfit from Spain had more of a distinct black metal framework from which they wrote their songs, but here we’re presented with a slightly different and broader palette of sounds. The atmosphere is very mechanistic, inhuman, a sort of grinding and hammering intensity that slowly works into the bestial side of your subconscious, as if SPK decided to record their debut using layers of EVP recordings from places better left not traversed.

The opener is a building industrial track that goes from a subtle churning of demonic whispers and growls into a dirge of martial drumming and chaotic wails. Like the debut, one should note this recording is neither for the timid, nor the uninitiated. If you feel an act like Abruptum or Stalaggh is too “unmusical” or extreme for you, you might want to give this a pass and steer your attention to something more palatable. This is for demonic noise fiends of the deepest order.

The crescendo of densely packed nightmares continues on throughout the album while barely giving the listener room to breathe, but there are indeed breaks of atmosphere here and there. The odd warped choir near the end of “Behold the Serpent” over the unnerving hum of some sort of generator, or the deep bassy tones of the ominous tank-like crusher that is “Drowned Under Seas of Coagulation”. Each track delves into a maelstrom of mutated voices, percussion, guitar feedback, mutilated samples and various other instruments jutting like stalagmites out of the fray. Listening to the album through and becoming more familiar with each song, one truly appreciates the attention to detail in putting together this complete work of concentrated darkness. As overwhelming as the style is at times, it is also very much structured and ingeniously each song flows, or bleeds, into the next.

Each listen to this record reveals a new layer previously unexplored. This is more than music, this is a full on exploration of what broken minds hear in their final moments, and this is really only meant for the darkest and most “alone” minds out there. A true zoetrope for demonic noise maniacs, I’m actually excited to see how this unit could take the sound and level of extremity further on future releases. Anyone looking to scour the depths of how far the black ambient genre can be taken should pick this up, now!! You can’t blame anyone but yourself, however, for whatever might be conjured afterwards!


CYCLIC LAW unleashes a CD edition of 500 copies in 4 panel digisleeve, LP edition of 200 copies on black vinyl, 100 copies on clear & black splatter in collaboration with SENTIENT RUIN.

BANDCAMP
FACEBOOK

Categories
Review

PETER BJÄRGÖ goes beyond melancholy into the dust of ruin with “Structures and Downfall”

Peter Bjärgö is a household name to anyone worthy of calling themselves an underground music fan. A name that hearkens back to a vibrant and very exciting time in music, where artists on the fringes of the metal, goth, and industrial scenes sought out labels like Cold Meat Industry and others to produce some of the most creative and unique milestones of dark ambient, post-industrial, and neoclassical darkwave.

These sounds called forth the legions of outsiders who wanted dark music without the rules, fashion, stereotypes, and restrictions that had begun to plague major underground and alternative music subcultures. His musical ventures matched the eclectic mindset of the era, whether it be with his dark apocalyptic Swedish death metal unit Crypt of Kerberos, or ventures into medieval romanticism with his most famous project Arcana, and his excursions into powerful martial industrial hymns with Sophia.

Though criminally underrated some of his strongest works were his less-known solo albums. This began with his powerful darkwave/dark ambient masterpiece Out of the Darkling Light, Into the Bright Shadow, a collaboration with Lithivm’s Gustaf Hildebrand, to his many subsequent works of slow, atmospheric darkwave. His solo efforts are usually much more personal and provide a contrast to his more grand escapist compositions with Arcana. With previous solo efforts Peter Bjärgö, had focused a large part of his work on melancholy and beauty, appealing to followers of acts like Dark Sanctuary or even Sopor Aeternus, culminating in the heart-breaking epic work Animus Retinentia.

By contrast, his latest offering Structures and Downfall is much more withdrawn and desolate sounding. The style is very similar, yet the tone and atmosphere here tend to veer away from the warm gothic-sounding melodic pieces, and into something along the lines of wandering through ruins of a half-remembered life, with a layer of dust and time obscuring the features and details of old paintings. “Inner Cathedral” welcomes us to a warm plot through the desert of existence with Peter ‘s distant chanting vocals providing a bleak narrative on the things seen and places revisited. The feeling on longing and emptiness is really a strong player on this album – a faded gallery brought to like through distant acoustic instruments, piano, and percussion that acts like a gateway from one place of remembering to the next.

Towards the second half of the album, the feeling of being alone begins to weigh down on the listener and a sense of tension and fear begins to creep more gradually into the remaining tracks, foreshadowed by the eerie haunting intro to “When Thoughts Become Your Enemy”. With acoustic guitars over cloudy ambient drones, “Dreaming of Some Purpose” brings to light the urgency of an encroaching menace, while “Disintegration of the Mind” impresses upon the listener the futility of existence and the embrace of impending inevitability, as “Winter Song” finally takes us into the quiet night, leaving our mind an empty blank space where thought and memory previously was, giving us the relief of oblivion. While it may not be quite as powerful or entrancing as The Architecture of Melancholy or Animus Retinentia, this is very much a natural progression building into the cycle set forth by those albums. A mesmerizing voyage into decay and nothingness, and the serenity of being released from the flesh. Best listened to as a whole piece of work, on a rainy autumn evening gazing out at the steel grey skies of solitude and losing yourself in nostalgia.


CYCLIC LAW will release Peter Bjärgö’s next opus on CD and LP formats, along with selections from his back catalog.

BANDCAMP

 

Categories
Review

TREPANERINGSRITUALEN turns back towards primal urges with “ᛉᛦ — Algir; eller Algir i Merkstave”

Trepaneringsritualen, for anyone who’s been following the darkest corners of the post-industrial underground over the last fifteen years or so, needs no introduction. Building up a reputation for their punishing live performances, pounding rhythms, heavy-as-fuck bottom end noise, and lyric-driven orations of apocalypses, bringing back to mind some of the raw-as-decaying-meat moments of groups like SPK, NON, or even In Slaughter Natives. However, this time around Mr. Ekelund has decided to take a subdued route this time with a very minimal ritual ambient release.

Simplicity, desolation, and sparseness is the approach this time around, as a near-complete departure from the straightforward industrial assault previously developed over their last two records. ᛉᛦ — Algir; eller Algir i Merkstave is a collection of unsettling sounds, sparsely placed chimes, whispers, horns, something resembling a waterphone, and deep bassy drones carried out in two ordeals, each being exactly 19 minutes long. Whether or not that would turn off fans of their more vocal work, it really speaks more to the primal ritualistic elements of the band’s genesis. Throughout the record, the sense of tension and encroaching fear never leaves, as our instinctual sense of unease is triggered by our natural reactions toward high and low frequencies of sound, that same sense of inexplicable queasiness we feel when hearing certain unexplained sounds in nature or haunted areas, setting our teeth on edge.

The second half turns more toward elements of tranquility and gives off a general atmosphere of rebirth, after experiencing “death” in the first half. Towards a new plane of experience, yet having to go through pain and fear in order to emerge on the other side. After experiencing the overpowering darkness of Deathward to the Womb, the relentless hammering of Perfection & Permanence, or the slight nods to industrial accessibility in Kainskult, this really doesn’t resemble much of TxRxP’s other works, but feels like a new piece of the mosaic being filled. This is a multidimensional beast with so many sides to their mystic view of the world and the darkness lying just beneath the veil to explore and be expressed. It will be interesting to see what next turn their journey takes in their ever evolving excursions into the murky caverns of existence.

As we head into the autumn season after having the world set on fire the last few months, this release provides the perfect soundtrack for settling down into some place dark, letting the shadows overcome your thoughts, and peering anew at new possibilities for the future as one who rises from the ashes, and still hasn’t lost their lust for the fire.


Released into the wild by COLD SPRING RECORDS on CD in 6-panel digipak and Limited first edition LP of 500 copies on 180g black vinyl.

HOMEPAGE
BANDCAMP
FACEBOOK

Categories
Review

COMMON EIDER, KING EIDER delivers an ode to the moon, black air, and burnt soil “Egregore”

Common Eider, King Eider present us with Egregore, a beautiful ritual ambient collaboration between Rob Fisk and Arexis, known for his work in Stille Volk, invoking spirits of nature in four parts. A new chapter in the Common Eider, King Eider catalog, this work of magic brings to mind some of the most powerful works of groups such as Arktau Eos, Halo Manash, Lamia Vox, and others producing night hymns of shamanic potency.

This being their 11th album thus far, Common Eider, King Eider have undergone quite the transformation in their 12 year existence of releasing albums, a culmination of dabbling within the realm of folk, noise, experimental, and ritual psychedelic textures to give us a haunting sound quite unlike anything before it. Starting out as a surreal blend minimal acoustic passages, haunting opera wails, and string drones; the middle of their discography took quite the turn into much darker and slightly more frightening territory, more focused within the otherworldly and arcane. This album continues in that tradition of sound evolution, while keeping the spirit of their trademark organic approach that binds the gap between the earthly and the ethereal.

On display are four chapters of elemental dualism, four phases of transformative ordeals, focusing on a variety of hypnotic and bewitching sounds and textures. Ritual percussion, rattles, and distant whispers set the tone for a journey into the spirit self, as most of this recording was done live, in a cabin in the Pyrinees in France through midnight into early dawn. One can’t help but notice a certain planned spontaneity of the recording, but set to the backdrop of instrumental and vocal drones that hook you in for the ride.

Being a dark moon folk magic ritual, this recording is best listened to in a meditative state around midnight, with very minimal light and few distractions. This is a complete escape from the flesh into the realm of the various spirits and entities both conjured and retreating during the experience. You feel yourself in a dream travelling down a spirit path deeper and deeper into this primeval forest of manifesting energies, and it’s best to let yourself be swallowed and inspired by the visions conjured.

Live @ Ascension Fest 2019

This work represents Common Eider, King Eider at its most minimal and primal, but simultaneously most profound and pure, eschewing a lot of the modern sounds characteristic of their earlier work. Containing a multitude of chants, wails, whispers, and other inhuman vocalizations one is taken to that twilight world in a half-dreaming state where the influence of spectral energies is at its most potent and profound.


COLD SPRING RECORDS presents this ritual housed in a beautiful matte-laminate gatefold ecopak, with visuals prepared by Kevin Gan Yuen (Sutekh Hexen).

BANDCAMP
FACEBOOK

Categories
Review

LLYN Y CWN leads excursions into the depths of night to confront “Twll Du”

Llyn y Cwn is an up and coming dark ambient unit from Wales, heavily influenced by the countryside from which the project spawned. The name “Twll Du” is in fact the name of a gorge in Wales known as the Devil’s Kitchen, where smoke from the depths is occasionally seen rising. It’s rare in the wide world of underground music that we’re exposed to the many treasures this nation holds.

From the outset, this is a rather minimal work focusing a lot on deep dark drones and what appear to be cavernous field recordings. You get a lot of that similar feeling as “deep ambient” artists like Amon occasionally generate, building layer upon layer of deep tones in order to generate a feeling of wide open spaces and deep chasms, but by the second track things take a much darker turn as the deep dirges and foreboding melodies kick in.

This isn’t just a nature walk or cavernous excursion, but the suggestion of something much more sinister and profound is lurking just out of sensory reach through the minimal melodies that act like a guide throughout this journey. Occasionally reminiscent of some of the darker moments of Dense Vision Shrine or even Vinterriket, though the ghostly atmosphere here is much more present and oppressive, like a thick tension in the air as one enters a haunted area.

On a whole, this is actually a very simple release. We never really get to see or hear what’s beyond the sinister door, but what we get instead is a very moody walk through the bowels of night, through foreboding landscapes, and a bit of a tour around the rim of the abyss without really falling in. Probably the best listening experience reading your favorite dark fantasy work by candlelight while this album throbs its magic through your headphones, or out for a walk through a mountainous landscape at night.


Presented by COLD SPRING RECORDS in a 6-panel digipak with breathtaking photography by the artist.

Categories
Review

CUT THE LIGHT approach tenebrous forms through black formlessness on “Aphotic”

Black Mara Records from Russia is a label this world needs when dark music has grown alarmingly safe and predictable. The dark ambient genre seems especially tame these days, often with artists prioritizing production values over content, or building pretentious themes the music can barely live up to let alone recreate.

The debut album from Cut the Light, a mysterious project with little to no background information, give us a refreshing blast of straight up darkness, and once more we are plunged back into the glory days of the genre, the focus itself once more being on pitch black atmospheres and fear. The term “Aphotic” itself refers to pure and absolute darkness, a place devoid of light, where demonic energies take being.

As for the recording and composition, the theme is definitely consistency, hearkening back to the days of Lustmord’s Paradise Disowned or early Endvra, where nearly every track is given the sonic backdrop of water. Water is the conduit spirits use travelling into this world, and the recording is made out to be like some sort of trip down a subterranean riverway, the waters and shores and cavernous walls and ceilings teeming with all forms of malignant life as all manner of sounds and voices and beastly moans enter the fray just out of reach of the lone traveler’s dying torchlight.

The composition itself is straightforward enough, not trying to reinvent the wheel of the genre, but pushing the envelope of tension and dread with each track, as more and more layers of subterranean madness are explored. Where an album like Lustmord’s Heresy would focus on the environment itself, and the deep subterranean rumbles from the bowels of the earth, this record takes form from the point of view of a lost traveler exploring those lost passages and encountering long-lost forms of predatory life and horrors better left undisturbed. At the heart of the album, one can even make out unearthly chanting and singing suggesting we’ve crossed the threshold to an undiscovered civilization, where their bestial rights and sacrifices to long undead gods continue unabated in the black-lit realms unseen by any human eyes.

Even to seasoned dark ambient listeners, this voyage is not for the timid or the weak. The atmosphere of this record is as obscure and genuine as a proper dark ambient record can possibly get, though be forewarned … the moment your mortal eyes glimpse the pale shores and Cyclopean ruins of the lowest realms, you won’t be coming back!


BLACK MARA presents the pitch black entity in a unique bound book with dark illustrations and description of spirits. Inside the handmade book features: audio CD, bottle of natural black oil, and black candle.

Categories
Review

GRIDFAILURE moans of a thousand encroaching illnesses with “Sixth Mass Extinction Skulduggery I”

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.

FACEBOOK
BANDCAMP
TWITTER

Categories
Review

KOLLAPS rage against the malaise & disease of our current reality with “Mechanical Christ”

Kollaps have returned to resurrect the ancient apocalyptic ethos of industrial music that nowadays was thought to have long been buried under mountains of overproduced kitsch bands, gimmicks, and subgenre-conventions of hollow form over substance. In more ways than one, Mechanical Christ is a revolt against the conventions and complacency of the modern world.

This is not merely an artistic tribute to the style the godfathers like Throbbing Gristle, SPK, and Einsturzende Neubauten created, but takes that influence on to a new hammering visceral directness that continues the themes explored on their previous record, Sibling Lovers. In some ways, parallels to early Swans can be felt in how the percussion and feedback seem to hammer out chunks of discordant rhythm and sound that almost seem to stretch on into infinity while forcing the listener to submit to their will.

Simplicity and atmosphere are two major components of their formula that seem to work so well in conjunction and give each song its own direct flavor and identity. The album begins with an ominous plodding processional march and film sample before leading into their first full track, the piston fire rhythms and cavernous caterwauling of Wade Black that characterize “Crucify”. Though already by the time “Fleshflower” kicks into high gear, we hear a distinct stylistic shift towards a gattling gun pace with bass guitar noise fighting its way into the fray.

A large portion of this album is vocals, bass, percussion and screeching, rumbling unnerving noises, though the variety of textures and moods this album explores is quite remarkable. The album takes on a journey through many different styles with a bleak shadowy post-industrial wasteland serving as the backdrop as we navigate through the scrap metal labyrinth towards the echoes of a final desperate cry. “Lights out…….” The title track churns on in its own sickly way as the cancer of hopelessness spreads slowly to the brain.

There are times when the tragic post-punk elements of their debut EP are brought back, and create a sort of formula that brings to mind some of Chu Ishikawa’s outings with his past band Der Eisenrost, or the work he’s done on various soundtracks, but taken to a much darker level. In some ways, the visceral imagery surrounding this offering does conjure up imagery of an old black and white dystopian body horror films such as Tetsuo: The Iron Man, or Eraserhead.

This release is the sort of harsh realism this world needs, as a perfect expression of rebellion against modern soul decay, and the sanitized and filtered picture of culture we seem to be almost force-fed at times. Mechanical Jesus rises as a caricature of the sterilized spirit of man. This record is an expression of cold, apocalyptic, mechanical machinations of death orchestrating a soundtrack of your life gone wrong and decaying emotionally day by day, a dirge of the voluntary slave state we submit to in our every day lives. Cold Spring have definitely struck gold with this act we can only expect great things from.


Kollaps’ Mechanical Christ is available on all formats and merchandise from COLD SPRING RECORDS.

BANDCAMP
FACEBOOK