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Reutoff – “Gute Nacht, Berlin!” – [Hau Ruck!]

Reutoff_berlin CD

Reutoff is a post-Industrial trio from Russia. An occult approach (somewhat similar to Coil’s), combined with a sinister inscrutability, makes them intriguing but also difficult to describe. This 2003 release came out on Hau Ruck!, the Tesco sublabel curated by Der Blutharsch. It’s a unique take on dark Industrial, with a strange and lasting appeal.

The music is very abstract, sometimes verging on ambient techno. The second and third tracks are the most beat-driven, the rest is hazy (especially near the end). Loops upon loops of noise and synthesizer. Cinematic bummer atmosphere. Understated melodies. Pulsing machine sounds. Martial salutes to the host label. Steam hiss. Voices: some of them are historical samples, some of them may be from a band member, it’s frustratingly difficult to tell in some cases. I don’t speak Russian. There is a historical theme, I’d wager centering on the Russian sack of Berlin in 1945. Like a lot of Reutoff’s work, there seems to be a riddle here, but I’ll leave it to someone else to figure it out. A spooky album.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 28, 2017 at 10:37 pm
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  • Atrax Morgue Featuring Morder Machine – “DeathShow” – [Slaughter Productions]


    Marco Corbelli AKA Atrax Morgue AKA Morder Machine AKA Atrax Morgue Featuring Morder Machine. He founded Slaughter Productions, perhaps the most influential Italian label specializing in Industrial Noise.

    Beginning in 1992 Atrax Morgue was the primary outlet for Corbelli’s Death-Industrial atrocities until he committed suicide in 2007, at the age of 37. Along with groups like Brighter Death Now and The Grey Wolves, Atrax Morgue was essential to the development of uncompromising anti-commercial Industrial music as an art form. Corbelli was obsessed with necrophilia, serial killers and cross-dressing. He wore his damaged psyche on his sleeve.

    This 1998 album is a lo-fi, nasty, analogue synth journey through the psychopath’s hell. Monotonous pulses and chirping oscillators, heavily distorted. It really does sound like a murder machine, with each track comprising a set of repetitive electronic sounds grinding along in unison. There is a subtle build to each song, though, except the last one, which is truly monotonous and empty. Corbelli’s inhuman shrieks, squeaks and whispers of pain, run through heavy delay effects, drift like thick smoke across the scarred wastelands of the first five tracks. In most cases title=lyrics.

    Sleazy, wretched, hateful, superb.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 24, 2017 at 7:31 pm
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  • Black Whispers – “Shades of Bleakness” – [Prison Tatt Records]


    Black Whispers is a Depressive Black Metal band from Costa Rica. Kjiel (the girl) seems to be from Italy. Multi-faceted frontman/multi-instrumentalist JF is only 20 years old (born in 1996).

    The self-mutilating edge of these fine tracks is somewhat dulled by narcotic Slowdive synth patterns and a general pink haze. It’s definitely not orthodox in sound, although there is a definite connection to bands like Sortsind and Hypothermia, actually track 5 is a cover of the Hypothermia-affiliated Swedish band Life Neglected.

    This is ‘night thoughts’ music that is not quite Heavy Metal but definitely possesses a thick and viscous shoegaze glaze.

    Kjiel contributes some ghostly ‘clean’ vocals, not operatic, but warm lullabies of self-orchestrared demise. And then the screams of agony, which are good. Lying with Clair Cassis and Sleeping Peonies in a soft bed for a comfortable death.

    Speaking of which, this 2015 CD is one of the last things sent to KFJC by Prison Tatt founder Wm. Berger, now deceased. It’s exactly the kind of outsider Black Metal he loved and tirelessly promoted. Rest in Power, Wm.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 21, 2017 at 10:14 pm
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  • Raison D’etre – “Mise En Abyme” – [Transgredient Records]


    Peter Andersson (one of two men thus named who have done valuable work for Sweden’s Cold Meat Industry label) creates ingenious electronic music under multiple names, including Raison D’Etre, Stratvm Terror, Atomine Elektrine, Panzar and more. Under the Raison D’Etre name (est. 1992) he is a Dark Ambient legend, and KFJC has many of his CDs.

    This 2014 work is more recent and it exposes the crafted subtlety of Andersson’s tried-and-true approach to recreating complete emptiness and hopeless melancholia. Aching arrangements of deep synth drone, creaking metal and samples of Christian chant. It doesn’t get much better than this. Mise en Abyme is a French heraldic term meaning “placed into abyss,” and refers, among other things, to endlessly recursive images.

    The volume ranges from extremely quiet to very loud. T.2 has some particularly angry metal mingling. Embrace the emptiness within yourself.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 17, 2017 at 9:22 pm
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  • Fire + Ice – “Runa” – [Fremdheit]


    Pagan reconstructionist and rune magician Ian Read was the second leader of the legendary English Chaos Magic collective The Illuminates of Thanateros. He is perhaps best known for having lent his bucolic croon to works by Current 93, Sol Invictus and Death In June.

    Fire + Ice is Read’s own Neo-Folk outfit. This 1996 album is the fourth main release. It was created when Read was master of the Rune-Gild, some sort of rune-magic group, as his “Master-Work of Lore.” It is a distillation of the singer’s occult Norse philosophy. I don’t know what most of the lyrics mean, but they contain many wonderfully affecting poetic images.

    This is stern post-Industrial ‘Dark Age’ (jk) with a lot of keyboards, similar to Blood Axis and Ain Soph in its manic medievalism and ritual potency. Light guitar and percussion. Read’s dreamy shamanic song and verse. T.4 is an epic song suite and a highly recommended tour-de-force. T.2 is heavier. T.5 is martial, with lyrics by Odinn himself. T.8 is a kind of drinking song. T.9 has a brief recitation from a woman named Ingrid Wultsch. Instrumentation is provided by Matthew Butler AKA Lux E Tenebris.

    “Fire and Ice will burn both king and thrall. But many are blind what ‘ere the light. Othal is the sacred stronghold which the Lord protects; the aetheling’s blood is thicker than any water. But each must assume his allotted place.”

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 15, 2017 at 8:17 pm
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  • Petrification – “Summon Horrendous Destruction” – [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]


    2017 tape from the Oregon Death Metal band. Bloody thick guitar sound, deep guttural growls, erect punk gallop. The tone perfectionism of Entombed and Immolation might be an influence. The Sentient Ruin label, run by a member of Abstracter and Atrament, seems to specialize in up-and-coming extreme metal bands from the West Coast. Some of the lyrics are actually intelligible and manifest the usual goofy grandiloquence of splatter wizard bong poetry. Morbid excruciation by the newest generation of ghouls. Program repeats on both sides of the tape.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 10, 2017 at 9:47 pm
  • Filed as A Library,Cassette
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  • Liquidated Error / Ragnar [coll] – [L.White Records]


    More excellent extreme sounds from Germany’s minimally packaged L. White CD noise label. Ragnar is a German producer active for many years in Berlin. Liquidated Error is a group that includes Ragnar and someone named Matt Eno. So this 2002 release is not so much a split as a two person session where one guy leaves halfway through. The L.E. tracks 1-5 are on a rhythmic Death Industrial trip to hell similar to the classic Swedish sounds. “Inspired By The Shadow of Our Times.” Are those bedsprings? Ragnar solo 5-10 is more abstract Power Electronics, really exploring the outer limits of digital frequencies along with some morbid dungeon synth moodiness. Psychoacoustical Hitler sitcom moments work best played loud to damage cheap speakers. T.10 is patience testing.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm
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  • Yeats, William Butler – “Poems of William Butler Yeats, The” – [Spoken Arts, Inc.]


    An icon of world literature and Irish nationalism, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was among the greatest of the Symbolist poets and is sometimes called ‘The Last Romantic’ for his verses’ rejection of the modern world and materialism. Yeats’ Irishness was a funny case as he was in fact born part of the Anglo-Protestant middle class, but he was driven to deep fascination with his homeland because he felt that certain intellectual developments of the 1800s had made Christianity obsolete as a value system for true believers in the spiritual. Yeats experimented with different occult philosophies as well as different literary techniques and political movements during his lifetime.

    You can hear him reading his own poems and essays on A1-A4. A2-A3 are just poetry. A4 is part of an amusingly catty essay on the Modernist movement. A1 has a lecture and two poems. Yeats has a great voice, decadent and rich; my mum calls it “plummy.” The other readers on this record are actress Siobhan (“SHUH-VAWN”) McKenna and actor Michael MacLiammoir (“MEE-HAWL MACK LEE-AH-MORE”). MacLiammoir was a famously gay “Gaelic” actor who turned out to actually be an Englishman from London, i.e. basically an imposter, or an early example of transracialism? The B-side is a single long track of Mac Liammoir reading a long selection of poems.

    Yeats leaves nearly every other 20th century poet in the dust. Beautiful words, read VERY dramatically, dealing with love, death, illusion, mysticism and, of course, lovely Ireland.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm
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  • Wolfskin – “Campos De Matanca” – [essence music]


    Reactionary esotericism and deep ambience from the Portuguese cult post-Industrial project of Johan Aernus. This is only the second release, from 1998. This CD is a 2003 reissue on a Brazilian label. Mostly this is dark, layered Industrial drone compiled from a variety of sound sources. Chimes, martial percussion, occult recitations scattered throughout lending structure and meaning to some tracks. “Sound Structures, Loops, Voice, Accordion, Flute, Tin Whistle, Ronco, Percussion, Electric Guitar, Bells, Carillon, Tambourine, Iron, Ceramic Box, Talara, Wheels And Bones.” Guest musicians provide synthesizer and hunting horn. Vampiric hypnosis for fans of Crash Worship, Inade, Ain Soph. “A ritual fertilization of fields by ashes and blood.”

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 5, 2017 at 6:55 pm
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  • Vomir – “Application a Aphistemi” – [Maison Bruit]


    Romain Perrot is a French dad who makes “walls” in his spare time: long recordings of harsh, loud, dense and nonmusical sound that change little over time. This style has been dubbed Harsh Noise Wall or Static Noise, other practitioners of this vile art including Richard Ramirez (as Werewolf Jerusalem) and The Rita. In an interview, the composer discussed the concept of the ‘Harsh Noise Will Manifesto,’ which has to do with the increasing atomization and selfishness inherent to modern Western society. For him, he says, Harsh Noise Wall is a place where he can exist away from the world. In this sense the practice shares the escapist qualities of a religion. Performing live, Perrot often wears a garbage bag over his head, in defiance of France’s laws against sporting religious head coverings in public.

    Two tracks 2011:

    T.1 = ‘Paulina Semilionova Would Go To The Knacker‘ = 40m = noise generators and effects = will make you grind your teeth.
    T.2 = ‘The Appearance Of Truth Is A Moment Of Falsehood’ = 20m = electro-acoustic 12-string guitar = will make you shiver.

    Don’t expect much to happen.

    Vomir means ‘to vomit’ in French.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on August 2, 2017 at 4:46 pm
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  • Rites of Thy Degringolade – “Totality” – [Bird of Ill Omen Recordings]


    Another example of the particularly ferocious Black/Death Metal cults enshrined by the obsessives at Nuclear War Now! Productions (U.S. distributors of this release). R.O.T.D. was started by Paulus Kressman as a solo project in 1997. On this 2001 release he handles guitar, bass, drums and vocals, looking to one-time Begrime Exemious member Jay Wroth (AKA Deathcamp Executioner of the Nazarene Faith) for additional guitars and the yowling of further blasphemies.

    This is tight, effortless War Metal machinegun fire in the style of Black Witchery, whose ‘Desecration of the Holy Kingdom’ came out the same year. ‘Degringolade’ is English of French origin meaning “a rapid decline or deterioration,” and is definitely NOT the name a sports drink sold in Tijuana. Some pretty strange noises occur on the B side, bestowing a “metaphysical” aspect that may have inspired subsequent releases from the likes of Antediluvian and Aevangelist.

    Guttural voices, frantic guitar noise, blasting drums. Hymns for the chosen.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on August 2, 2017 at 4:38 pm
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  • Cadaverous Condition – “Destroying The Night Sky” – [Klang Galerie]


    From the very interesting, very awesome Austrian Death Metal scene (Pungent Stench, anyone?) came Cadaverous Condition, originally a Death Metal band but in recent years embracing a ‘Death Folk’ sound that sometimes incorporates somber acoustic instruments alongside death growls. As if that weren’t eccentic enough, they had a slew of sympathetic experimental musicians remix material from their 2006 album ‘To The Night Sky’ into new compositions. The result was this 2008 CD. The remixers are Thighpaulsandra, Andrew Liles, Nocturnal Emissions, Product 8, Colin Potter, Nurse With Wound, Gjoll, Holy McGrail, Asmus Tietchens, Controlled Bleeding, and Ali Helnwein. It’s about as strange as you’d expect, especially because the electric guitars and growls do make it through in some form on most pieces. Still, “[t]his is no ordinary remix album, this is alchemy.”

    The output ranges from glitch techno (t.1) to Industrial Metal (t.s 2, 8, 9), Death Surf (t.5) pure noise (t.s 3, 4, 10), and Surrealist collage (t.s 6, 7, 11, 12, 13). T.7 is the most brutal song ever to namedrop Rod Mckuen. The guest vocal from Death in June/Sixth Comm’s Patrick Leagas is preserved more or less intact on t.8. Yay. The last track is also weirdly moving.

    Pretty strange album. Many tracks could be played to make fun of metal, as many like to.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 26, 2017 at 6:49 pm
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  • Anima Nostra – “Atraments” – [Malignant Records]


    Anima Nostra is the duo of Nordvargr (Mz.412, Toroidh, Folkstorm) and artist Margaux Renaudin, a newcomer to Industrial music. This 2017 release can probably be considered a follow-up to the 2016 ‘Anima Nostra’ album released on Cold Spring under their own names.

    The components of the sound are recognizable to Nordvargr fans — thickly distorted synthesizer, gruff growls, Martial Industrial beats, mournful ambience, manipulated samples of religious chant, creepy-crawly repetition — but never before has this indestructible Swedish noisemaker combined his different sonic interests so seamlessly into one statement. The end result could be called Industrial Doom Metal, Neo-Classical, or Ritual Ambient, depending on which part of which track is playing. Recent fusion experiments from the Karjalan Sissit bunker came to mind, as well as fellow Swedes Trepaneringsritualen (who designed the cover using Renaudin’s calligraphy) and Sanctum.

    It’s almost redundant to compare Anima Nostra to other groups in this vein, though, because Nordvargr himself helped found the Black Industrial cult of Scandinavia decades ago. He has continued to reinterpret and refine his sonic ideas since. His young collaborator seems to inspire him towards even stranger territory, like the opera valkyrie on t.4, the crisp gothic organ drones on t.5, the French whispers on t.6, or the bizarre metaphysical lyrics, which are as frustratingly oblique as other motifs here. The theme may be on the evils of language; perhaps the “atraments” are the printed inks we use to construct our flimsy psychic realities?

    “All words are abuse,” says the booklet, so I’ll stop abusing this great CD. Play it.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 25, 2017 at 6:39 pm
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  • Raven – “Wiped Out” – [Neat Records]


    Raven was founded in 1974, although the first recordings didn’t come out until the early 80s. Fronted by the charismatic Gallagher brothers (no, not those ones), Raven were simulaneously situated at the crest of the ‘Heavy Metal’ wave and the beginnings of the Speed Metal sound. Like other bands on the U.K.’s Neat Records (e.g. Venom) their sound was a little too rugged to follow Judas Priest and Iron Maiden into the realms of superstardom, but they did garner a rabid underground following, many of whom went on to invent Thrash Metal (in the same spirit of friendly oneupmanship that has driven Metal to its present extremes).

    ‘Wiped Out’ is the second Raven album, released by Neat in 1982, the same year as Priest’s ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ and Maiden’s ‘The Number of the Beast’ as well as Tank’s ‘Filth Hounds of Hades’ and, in the U.S., Manilla Road’s ‘Metal.’ Coming at such a critical time, it’s understandable that Raven didn’t make a bigger splash, but to my punk-ass modern ears they seem essential.

    Raven may have been one of the first Heavy Metal bands to understand that male falsetto can be used to tremendously perverse effect, paving the way for twisted screechers like King Diamond and Hirax’s Katon. W. De Pena. Bassists/lead singer John Gallagher delights in driving his bellows up the wall into nails-on-chalkboard muppetry and beyond. Mark Gallagher’s guitar shredding gives some idea of why Raven later chose to deem themselves ‘Athletic Rock.’ A nice mix of the technical and the accessible, jumping between Motorheadish boogie-woogie and elaborate edifices of wank.

    Warning: may cause a desire to bleach your hair, wear sleeveless tees, ride motorcycles, pump iron, shag birds, drink beer and rock all night.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 18, 2017 at 5:43 pm
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  • Pacific 231 – “1983-86 Compendium” – [Functional Organisation]


    Shirtless Frenchman Pierre Jolivet first used the name Pacific 231 (after the Arthur Honegger composition, I suppose) in the early 80s. He has since brought forth a huge number of Industrial releases under this name, with his longest period of creative inactivity being something like 1999-2006. Like some of the other early bands to follow Throbbing Gristle and SPK into the abyss (for instance Nocturnal Emissions, Esplendor Geometrico, Controlled Bleeding and The Grey Wolves) Jolivet continued quietly (or loudly) doing his thing in the Industrial underground years after any mainstream interest in the genre had faded. Guerilla warfare.

    48 hours’ worth of archival reel-to-reel material from the 3-year period mentioned above was recently digitized, and from that the 2 best hours were chosen for this 2014 2CD release. Disc 1 is studio and disc 2 is live stuff. Some or all of the material– unclear how much– is previously unreleased.

    Samples, modulated electric guitar, synthesizers, distorted voice, feedback hum, death rhythms. The compositions suggest carefully controlled improvisation. He really puts his cheap drum machine through its paces. These selections are not necessarily all hard on the ear (most are) but all have an underlying menace. Over the span of these sometimes-lengthy tracks Jolivet seems to form an eerie symbiosis with his various looping, squealing, sputtering inputs. There are a few musical moments scattered throughout, and some very abstract (e.g. 2.1), while a lot of it falls between noise and structure. T.s 1.1 + 1.4 excerpt multiple consecutive pieces.

    This is real Industrial: machine music for ritual hypnosis, kamikaze conditioning sessions as fresh-sounding in 2017 as when they were recorded. Breath-taking.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 12, 2017 at 3:07 am
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  • Human Bodies / Leather Chalice [coll] – [Prison Tatt Records]


    Two Black Metal/Punk hybrids from the Northeastern US. This is a joint release between Prison Tatt and Broken Limbs Recordings.

    I remember when I lived in Boston, Human Bodies were the shit. Whenever I would mention the city’s apparent lack of a metal scene, people would namedrop them. I never saw them live, though. They play a Discharge-infused Raw Black Metal/Punk that would have been a big hit in Oakland five years ago. Still gotta nice cold sound though. Try one of their two seizures with Harassor, Crow or Malveillance. They wear gimp masks on stage and yes they do blast sometimes.

    Leather Chalice is a solo project from New Hampshire, the Granite State. He has apparently gotten caught up in the Northeast’s pernicious ‘White Death’ opioid culture and will die soon. I hope he makes more music first. His side is similar to Human Bodies but with some richer and sicker melodies (and wah-wah!) pointing more in the Black Metal direction. The vocals sound more bedridden and fucked on this side too. Winning. Serve with Coldness, Bone Awl or Aanal Beehemoth.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm
  • Filed as 7-inch,A Library
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  • Erinys – “Manhattan / Dwelling” – [Tesco Organisation]


    Erinys (read your Aeschylus!) was the Dark Ambient project of an American named Gerald Stevens, who also ran an extensive Industrial music review website in the early 2000s. This is one of his only two releases. It was only issued once, in 1998, in this hand-numbered Tesco edition of 800. This is copy number 153.

    ‘Manhattan/Dwelling’ uses heavily processed field recordings made in 1996 throughout Manhattan (t.s 1-7, 13) and in Long Island at the site of Stevens’ former home (t.s 8-12). The artist’s sure-handed electroacoustic manipulations of these textures produce a varied and endlessly fascinating work, from celestial harmonies to violent jackhammering to sewer atmospherics. It has a haunted, melancholy sound and I get the sense of a juxtaposed nostalgia for the high Imperial days of ‘old’ New York (as the faded Berenice Abbott photographs in the artwork may suggest). Anyone who’s spent time in the Apple will recognize the distinctive frequencies of the subway system (t.s 1, 3, 7). Other sounds present in relatively bare form include restaurant chatter (t.5), ghostly voices (t.8), nature sounds (t.9) and children playing (t.12). The distant strains of Celtic march music on the Stockhausenesque pot o’ gold at the end of this rainbow (t.13) were recorded at the 1996 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

    This CD is excellent. So textural, so emotionally rich, so intelligently executed. Some of it is extremely pretty and some of it very harsh indeed. Goes well with Nurse With Wound, Lustmord, Schloss Tegal, NON, The Haters, Troum or, for that matter, any of the snobs on the ‘OHM+‘ compilation.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 4, 2017 at 8:43 pm
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  • Wake, The – “Masked” – [Cleopatra Records]


    This is not the UK Pop band, but the Ohio Goth Rock group formed in 1986! This 1993 CD was their debut album, released on the loved-and-hated Cleopatra Records of Los Angeles. I’m going to level with you: this band is a (pre-’Floodland’) Sisters of Mercy clone. Soundalikes like this are probably the reason that Sister Superior Andrew Eldritch spent so much of his career slagging off Cleopatra and disavowing the Goth appellation.

    Semi-plagiarism apart, there’s some great energy here. And it is Goth ROCK, with barely a Wave in sight despite the angular tunes. The macho, guitar-reliant sound is borne along by really beefy workmanship from the two guitarists and bassist; I think I heard keys on maybe one song. The sultry operatic male vocals are perfectly pretentious, summoning Peter Murphy as well as Uncle Andy. The use of real drums also helps make this a little harder than a lot of its influences. Sometimes it hints at a more listenable version of The Cult. T.4 may be a dig at the suicidal excesses of certain early-90s rock personalities, and I want to believe that T.7 is a love song to Twin Peaks’ Sherilyn Fenn. The last track’s a little weird.

    Histrionic gloom meets solid post-punk songwriting acumen; see also Holy Orange, The March Violets, Fields of the Nephilim…

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 2, 2017 at 6:24 pm
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  • Cartilage – “Dialect of The Dead” – [Self Released]


    Debut album from San Francisco’s Gore-Grinding Death Metallers. Their set in KFJC’s pit last month was the strongest of its kind in quite a while, and they are extremely fucking chill people, which prejudices me somewhat in their favour. There are some connections here to other S.F. bands– Viral, Hemotoxin, etc., as well as Transylvanian Tapes (who released the cassette version of this). Rude’s David Rodriguez solos on t.s 6+8.

    Cartilage recorded this at Brainoil’s Earhammer Studios as a three-piece band but they’ve added two members since, enriching an already ripping live sound. Guitarist Teresa Wallace steals the show with her perfectly syncopated splatter grooves and Carcass-esque melodic tweak-outs. It’s rare for a death metal guitarist to communicate such a sense of (violent) glee. Her brother Mark’s hyperactive vocal lines speed-gargle black comedy vignettes inevitably ending in human evisceration (none of the lyrics can be made out, of course). Drummer Adam Houman (also of ION) adds a little bit of prog precision to the chaos. In the tradition of Bay Area groups like Exhumed and Impaled, Cartilage don’t take their subject matter seriously, but they are dead serious about their playing. Swell.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on June 28, 2017 at 3:02 pm
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  • Dodsmaskin – “Fullstendig Brent” – [Malignant Records]


    This is the physical debut of the Norwegian duo whose name translates as ‘Death Machine.’ They call their music ‘noise-oriented drone’ and Malignant calls it Scandinavian Death Industrial. Both these descriptions are accurate.

    ‘Fullstendig Brent’ (‘Competely Burnt’) is a concept album about the worst of the Norwegian witch trials. In December of 1617, the men of Vardo, in the far-Northern part of Norway, were deep-sea fishing en masse when a sudden storm appeared, drowning most of them. The blame for this and other local disasters was eventually laid at the feet of local women, who were accused of witchcraft. In 1621, Mari Jorgensdatter confessed that she had flown with a friend to the summit of Lydhorn mountain the previous Winter, where, alongside various neighbours magically disguised as animals, they had drunkenly celebrated Satan’s Christmas Party. She also claimed that many women in the area had been copulating with demons while their husbands were out at sea, and that other witches from the area had caused the storm of ’17.

    Her confession was of course extracted under torture, and it implicated many others. From Vardo, the craze seems to have spread to surrounding parishes, with about 150 executions (Sami men as well as Norwegian women) taking place in Northern Norway by 1663. Many victims were publicly burnt alive. According to Wikipedia, the state shared some of the blame (Denmark-Norway had issued new anti-witchcraft laws in 1620), but much of the blood was on the hands of Lutheran clergy who taught rural Northern Norwegians to fear their folk traditions, alleging that evil blew down into Christian Europe from the North (how Black Metal is that?). Dodsmaskin seem to make no bones about assigning blame on Christianity, their liner notes quoting Martin Luther as having said “Devil’s whores shall burn” in 1537. Luther has many misattributions, and I could not find the source of this one, but there’s little question that the founder of Protestantism did indeed believe in witches and call for their execution.

    Dense synthesis, ranging from ethereal chords to glasses-shattering noise, is tied together with loop-driven rhythms and augmented with programmatic samples (weeping or screaming women, crackling flames etc.) and found sounds. This album is a beautiful, extensively-worked-over piece of sound design, but it’s also a genuinely unsettling simulation of a particular type of madness, despite having no vocals or anything else to give overt context. Somber and wrathful electronics recommended for devotees of Mz.412 (Dodsmaskin have actually collaborated with Nordvargr), Asmorod, Megaptera or T.O.M.B.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on June 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm
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