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This 2010 CD is the most recent proper album from Anti-Free-Speech Action’s favourite gay, vegetarian, British-working-class, pro-Israel neo-Nazi.
Douglas P. is a legendary figure and voice in the post-punk scene, and as a matter of fact, KFJC co-presented his last show in San Francisco, where a small and rather pathetic congregation of picketers made known their displeasure with the artist’s consistent use of Third Reich imagery, as well, I’d imagine, as his refusal to disavow his own curious brand of New Right/Post-Left (but hardly Hitlerian) politics. His outlook and uniforms are an uncomfortable combo to be sure, but I wonder if that’s the point… Gee whiz…
Another point: there is and shall be no band in the world like Death in June; furthermore, Death in June has never been a political band per se. The artist’s interrogation of modernity’s numerous betrayals (on the personal and international scale) certainly lends itself to political analysis (e.g. t.1), but ‘Peaceful Snow’ is essentially distilled from the thoughts and feelings of a poetically-inclined gay man facing old age on his horizon and with a lifetime of refusal to compromise at his back. Although there is some bile here, in many ways it is the most tender album he has ever done, summoning the inevitable spectre of his old group, Current 93 (‘Soft Black Stars,’ anyone?) in its sober treatment of lost connections and truths long tried by the passage of time; you could say there’s some Leonard Cohen in there too, actually, whose body of work is an apter point of reference for Di6′s than one might think.
The songs are all enriched and expanded by Douglas’ newest collaborator, Neofolk neophyte Miro Snejdr (he has a Death in June tattoo), who transcribed them from guitar to intricate and fragile piano passages, somehow evoking both Burt Bacharach and Ozymandias.
I was a fool not to have checked this out sooner, because it was easily the best Death in June album since ‘Operation Hummingbird.’
Masked and anonymous quintet of serial killer worshipers from the United Kingdom. This is their second full length release, from 2012. It is really one 40-minute song, but the CD version divides it into three tracks. The first part is basically instrumental rock with wandering guitar and funerary violin, like a more evil Godspeed You Black Emperor. Parts two and three are Black/Death/Doom Metal monstrosities of unforgiving heaviness with demonic shrieks and crushing guitar vortices. Shreds of Bolt Thrower, Bethlehem, and Portal surface. All three parts feature samples from interviews with famous psychopaths, sometimes buried in the mix like on that one shitty Pink Floyd album. I think Dragged Into Sunlight are one of the sickest Death Metal bands around today, and they definitely push the genre to its limits here. Very evil, in a timeless way. The “widowmaker” myocardial infarcation is the occlusion of the anterior interventricular branch of the left coronary artery, which causes a massive and lethal heart attack, which means one less carbon footprint and one less boring opinion.
Dirgey Swamp-Rock (or swampy Dirge-Rock?) from Der Blutharsch’s drinkin’, whorin’, sunglasses-at-night-wearin’ court jester, AKA Novo Homo. The Australia-based Black Irish bastard offers up two slabs of tongue-in-cheek fatalism sounding like The Scientists, Roland S. Howard and The Gun Club boot-partying Roy Orbison at the wrong speed. This is on King Dude’s label but Wolfkind does the Neofolk-Country-Cough-Syrup-Blues thing much better than Dude could ever dream. Threats on side A, come-ons on side B. FCC side A.
Rashad Decker mastered this 2013 release, our local Drone Ranger’s only work on Mego to date. Don’t you dare call it noise, it’s “electroacoustic music”; after all it was created at the Djarassi resident artist’s program. Sweet Jimmy H. collected source sounds between 2007 and 2012 but says the only contexts he can remember are “the desolate howl of a metal screen activated by a desert wind, the hissing air compression from the cooling apparatus for a laser at [SLAC], and the tremolo rhythms from a thin wire” and yep that’s the vibe here, lonely desolate haunted sounds, part organic and part constructed, disconcerting even in lush moments. The two-track A side is more eventful, with dense rushes of startling static and crackling electroshocks speckling grinding gears and passing traffic. The B side is like a wide, windy, abandoned place where squinting reveals shuffling hordes of ghosts. Sometimes curiously sterile and sometime bursting at the seams with emotion, this collection of manipulated sounds is intended to convey “[e]xistential rupturing, the collapse of the self, the aftershocks of dark energy, and a belief in the hope for renewal.” A mesmerizing effort on par with Nurse With Wound (they have collaborated), Lustmord or Crawl Unit.
Influential Darkwave from New York City, closely associated with Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s Projekt Records. This album is from 2012, recorded in Germany and Texas. Active since 1999, Unto Ashes is the pet primarily of Michael Laird. Delicate Neoclassical and ‘Dark Folk’ arrangements with male and female vocals, more Dead Can Dance than Sol Invictus. Other possible influences in the Gothic vein include Ordo Equitum Solis and Jarboe. Furthermore, a solid streak of Psychedelic Pop runs through this CD, bringing up associations with Syd Barrett and others of his ilk (‘Pilzentanz’ indeed).
Much of the material comes from other sources, including theology (the 12th Century Apocalypse of Golias), poetry (Ambrose Bierce, Robert Frost, Cicely Mary Barker) and other bands (Apoptygma Berzerk, Van Halen) but the interpretations are quite brilliant and form a cohesive statement here about aging, regret and death. You and everyone you love are on the graveyard train. BTW there is bagpipe on some tracks. Respect the bagpipe.
Sutcliffe Jugend was founded in 1982 when Kevin Tomkins was still a member of Whitehouse. William Bennett may have abandoned noise music for the sequenced Afro-worship of Cut Hands, but this offshoot project is still going strong. When you want to compete with Whitehouse you need to be pretty extreme, and Tomkins certainly always has been. Does he really hate women as much as he claims to, or does his career amount to 30+ years of serial-killer-themed performance art? I dunno.
Over the years Tomkins (also a painter) and co-conspirator Paul Taylor have gradually let slip the ultra-formalism of Come Organisation synthesizer torment to dabble in various experimental electronic styles, although retaining the core of extreme hatred that keeps emotionally unwell fans returning time and again. This 2016 album is one of four releases from last year, and it is definitely more traditional than the duo’s other recent releases on Cold Spring (e.g. 2012′s extraordinary death ambient opus ‘Blue Rabbit’). Here a robust mixture of digital and analog electronic tweaks (with hinted beats on t.s 3+4) back Tomkins’ profane, confessional prose poetry, delivered with the frothing impotence of a straitjacketed mental patient. Some of the invective may in fact be leveled against the consumer of industrial music, i.e. you. Tomkins is a pretty great improvisational vocal stylist, too. Listen and you’ll see what I mean. FCCs on all tracks of course.
Finnish Black Metal from a lone hatemonger going by ‘War Torech,’ the only other official member of Satanic Warmaster, where he used to play guitar. Torturium has not released anything since this 2006 album. These songs employ similarly ceremonial repetition but are generally more anguished and off-kilter than SW’s, and a little more baroque than Finnish BM in general (this 2006 release is on a French label). He’s a good guitarist with the strong fingers of a classical player, and the dramatic flourishes are appreciated. Unobtrusive keys dis-grace some tracks. The voice is a highlight, cracked and disturbing. Despite some moments of ‘Black Metal Deja Vu,’ (Dimhymn?) the riffs are generally fresh and compelling, conveying melancholy and delirium. Synth intro commences track one.
When Abigail played KFJC in September of 2015, Ares Kingdom and Gnosis rode into the pit on the coattails of the Japanese greats courtesy of the always generous NWN!. The largely unknown Gnosis surprised intoxicated netcast listeners with a tight set of diabolical Death Metal that managed to hold its own. For some reason it took a really long time to track down this LP.
These four blasphemers from Florida carve Death Metal with a Black edge out of obsidian riff poison, atypical melodic sensibility, and drumming just clumsy enough to sound interesting. I hear Dissection, Nihilist and Vader. Newer bands like Vasaeleth and Ignivomous are comparable to this also. The occult-themed lyrics, occasionally intelligible through the growl, are vaguely highbrow by the standards of Death Metal. I wouldn’t be surprised if the full album were intended as some sort of ritual. This promising debut sounds ridiculously fresh by the standards of the contemporary scene.
“An explicit odyssey into Swedish agricultural sounds.” 1999 2CD compilation on Cold Meat Industry showcasing 24 Swedish projects on the Death Industrial, Power Electronics and Rhythmic Noise spectrum. Sweden is pissed.
1.1+1.2: NOD, real name Daniel Wihlstrand. Demonic copy machines and a poetic intro mixed low to blow out speakers. Great mood-setter for the rest of the tracks.
The whole thing was pre-mastered by Peter Andersson… but which one? Most tracks are worthwhile. It will always be a mystery to me why Sweden has such a large and excellent Industrial scene. Get whipped by the Vodka Belt.
More evil, ritualistic Industrial/Ambient sounds from Sweden. No Festival of Light is the duo of Erik Lundberg and Fredrik Bergstrom, once associated with the Cold Meat Industry scene of Megaptera etc. Originally a 1995 cassette on Slaughter Productions, this 1998 remastered CDr (#22/100) is one of only six releases from the Manteinance label.
Creeper loops slowly accumulate with repetition, loping beats stalk lush metallic synths and muttering Electronic Voice Phenomena stumble over one another in mechanical darkness. A few shorter tracks (1, 4, 7) have a grittier power electronics sound and t.6 flirts with techno. Minimal, challenging and quite unsettling, it’s yet another sinister gem from the Scandinavian experimental mines.
Industrial duo of Mike Williams (EyeHateGod) and Ryan McKern. This is the original CD release of the eponymous album, from 2010. Robotic beats, distorted manic poetry from Williams, washes of electric guitar, samples, power electronics, some real drums? In some ways this is just EyeHateGod reimagined as an orthodox Industrial project (Hunting Lodge, Master/Slave Relationship, SPK, Deviation Social) but it’s cool. The composition is sophisticated and often quite musical. The lyrics also have a lot of character, seeing Williams quote The Beatles (t.3) and some medical study about giving opiates to large felines (t.6). Terse and stubbornly nihilistic. Why doesn’t this project get more attention?
PGM: FCC t.2, t.5 instrumental.
Jean-Marc Vivenza is a French philosopher and experimental musician. Inspired by the Bruitism of Futurist Luigi Russolo and the sound poems of the early Dada movement,1985′s ‘Realites Servomechaniques’ is Vivenza’s “automatic and purely mechanical translation of the chaotic sound issuing from factories.” I think it’s all, or nearly all, layered tape loops of machine sounds. For the composer this evidently relates to philosophical ideas of determinism: “the dynamic force of machines and industry in general are in fact the truth of the world, the force revealing the inner principle of existence.”
I have no head for dialectical philosophy but if you strip away the academic conceits he’s basically talking about the ethos of Industrial music, and indeed Vivenza allegedly played a role in the late 70s French scene, before going solo in the 80s, during which time he performed alongside Test Dept and Laibach as well as Iannis Xenakis and Hans-Joachim Roedelius. This is more in the realm of contemporary Avant-garde music than Industrial (is there a distinction?); it was originally, I believe, intended as part of a gallery installation. Reminders of early Neubauten, Haters, Steve Reich, John Cage abound. Maddeningly repetitive and sometimes elusively disturbing, it has a beat, but you can’t dance to it.
I don’t want this review to degenerate into a Valentine for La Sale Famine De Valfoutre, who probably hates us and wants us to die, but he is surely one of the finest living purveyors of Black Metal. Guitar god, manic gutter poet, skinhead terrorist, deplorable gargoyle of Royal France: DJ Famine The Pesto Negro Kommando has been called all these but like the Rooster, the more shit they pile up around him the more he crows. The truth is that even his most assiduous critics cannot deny his musical sophistication, his extensive reading, or his unwillingness to compromise.
In contrast to the Belketre fealty of early works this 2011 release was kind of intended to piss off Black Metal purists, a group Famine has always held in disdain. Thus, it incorporates Folk, Polka, Ska, Oi!, Industrial Metal, Zouk, Hip Hop, Techno and Classical into one horrendous and singularly grotesque concoction of disgustingly gauche white trash Black Metal thoughtcrime (see also sister band Diapsiquir). Themes include vigilantism (1), sexual sadism (2), “Metal Noir” as cultural saviour (3), sleazy self-parody (4) and the repulsiveness of life in general (5).
In addition to Famine’s crusty shrieking rants there are beautiful soprano vocals on some tracks from Audrey Sylvain, poached from Amesoeurs. A sense of utter alienation from and contempt for modern multicultural Europe is conveyed here through sardonic logorrhea and Medieval guitar wankery. Bref, un fist dans le cul de Marianne. #JeSuisCharlieMartel
Power Electronics from Oakland’s Dario Puga, formerly in A Fashionable Disease and current proprietor of The Pet Goat Records. The project, which usually self-releases, is in rare form on this 2016 C30 EP put out by one of the better American noise labels. I hear an affinity for the Finnish scene (Cloama, Bizarre Uproar, Grunt, one-time splitmate Noise Nazi).
Two fifteen minute untitled sidelong slabs of male rage simmering with spontaneity and violence. Texturally complex heavy-synth worship with raw feedback and overdrive crunch counterbalancing a harmonic core. He screams on both tracks, an impressive high-pitched goblin-like sound that may or may not contain words; his voice is also run through some interesting filters on the B-side, which is the more in-your-face side in general. His use of the machines throughout is efficient and well-versed. Both pieces seem like they could have held my attention for much longer than their relatively short spans. He’s a real pro at this, and yes, he has performed here!
2015 sophomore effort from this excellent Death Metal project out of Alabama. Some members also play in War Metal act Abysmal Lord. Immolation is the obvious comparison from where I sit, but what’s cool about this CD is how fresh it manages to sound even while cleaving to the tried-and-true Death Metal formula. The songs are sleek, short and bloodyminded, with one foot in the hook-based tradition of the early-90s Florida scene and the other in the challenging diabolical sounds of their Incantation-worshiping labelmates. From the explosive production down to the gurgling black hole vocals this is pretty perfect latter-day slaughter that holds up to repeated (and repeated) listens. Most importantly, they have the riffs. It’s all about the riffs. They sounded even better when they played live at KFJC on Friday, January 13th, 2017, alongside Ascended Dead. Killer.
2016 180-gram 2LP reissue of the 2001 opus from the duo of Protector and Silenius. This band is from Austria and its members were part of that country’s ‘Black Metal Syndicate.’ The BMS’s most famous entity was Abigor, in which band Silenius has also played. There are few degrees of separation from Der Blutharsch and the Hau Ruck! post-Industrial scene as well.
On this record, Summoning perfected their compelling mixture of Neoclassical Industrial and Epic Black Metal, utilizing programmed marches and extensively layered keyboard work alongside distorted guitars and Gollum-like screams. It’s just barely Metal– many tracks have long passages of electro-symphonics without guitar. In addition to Emperor and Arcana, Summoning draw on Martial Industrial (Silenius also participates in Kreuzweg Ost) and Darkwave (both members were in Die Verbannten Kinder Evas). There are shades of Mortiis, Dawn & Dusk Entwined, Sopor Aeternus, Derniere Volonte…
As with all Summoning records the themes come from high fantasy literature, specifically Tolkien. There is extensive dialogue sampling from early adaptations of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ (remember that this was recorded prior to the release of the Pytah Jickson movies). You can tell from listening to this that all types of complicated and profound emotions are tied up in Tolkien for these two. The compositions are actually so moving and original you’d think they were really veterans of Pelennor Fields. Perhaps older and more universal themes shine through the cracks: those of the eternal struggle between light and darkness. A strange and beautiful classic of the European metal scene. Agh burzum-ishi krimpatul!
Pretty recent Death-Doom Metal from a Death Monk side project (the drummer and guitarist of that group are involved and both do vocals here also). Influences may include Autopsy, Winter, Goatlord and Noothgrush. They cannot quite shed the sludge metal trappings of Death Monk here but there are moments of inspired viciousness that made me surprised to learn this release originated in Santa Cruz.
This group is interested in biological oddities (DIP-ee-gus=two pelvises; see Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged Girl From Texas, who was by all accounts refined and charming, going on to conceive five children) unexplained phenomena and bizarre ways to die. There are samples from The X-Files (A3), tarsiers (B2, B3) and a documentary about 1970′s Exploding Whale incident in Oregon (B3). Gritty and eccentric, this debut is an astounding living monstrosity indeed. Recorded directly to cassette. Each 3-song, 15-minute side of the tape tracks together.
Except for the UK’s obvious Lustmord and Germany’s Maeror Tri, it would be hard to find an artist more influential to Dark Ambient’s development than the USA’s Yen Pox.
The duo have been around since 1993 and their output of drone-based synth music has consistently been eerie in its own singular way. This is a 2010 double disc compilation of early works: the ‘Blood Music’ album (t.s 1.1-1.6), one previously unreleased track (t.1.7), the self-titled 1993 debut cassette (t.s 2.1-2.5), 1996′s ‘Hollow Earth’ 7″ (t.s 2.6) and their contribution to 1997′s ‘Release Your Mind’ compilation (2.7). It’s all been remixed by one of the Yen Pox guys and remastered by Thomas Garrison of Control.
The CD1 stuff is seamless flowing torpor with an occasional sharper edge, like a migraine aura both beautiful and painful, or is that the vessel gradually clotting shut? Decay on a small scale.
CD2 is a little harsher and more urgent, slow motion collisions of electronics and found sound, aphasic stroke ghosts dragging chains, the slamming of eternal doors. Decay on a huge scale.
I’ve immersed myself in this material several times and each time I’ve come away feeling like there was so much more left to discover amid its shifting blackness. How can I describe Death to those who haven’t been there? Just listen.
Dead Man’s Hill is the Gothic Neoclassical/Martial Industrial project of Bart Piette from Belgium (also of Death Industrial noise duo NDE), active since 2003. This album is from 2010. In Slaughter Natives is the obvious influence, and why Piette was never signed to Cold Meat Industry is a mystery to me!
Sophia, C.O.T.A. and Sopor Aeternus also come to mind, although this is meaner than the latter. Clanking, multi-layered beats, bombastic choral/orchestral/atmospheric synths and distorted vampyric vocals (on t.s 2, 4, 5, 6) are the main ingredients in this poisoned pie. The lyrics deal with occultism, misanthropy and nature worship. The liner notes thank co-conspirator Alex Wieser of Hrefnesholt, who also designed the packaging.
May inspire thoughts of horror movie soundtracks and/or The Lord of the Rings in some listeners, but I would also recommend this to fans of the always-popular Coil. No pose, all passion. Black shades and clove cigarettes not required. Blessed be, Bart.
2000 split between two moody electronic noise artists.
Sleeping With The Earth is Eric Christopherson from California. To me it sounds like he was into Brighter Death Now, Anenzephalia, Soldnergeist. Was he a Mr. Hate listener? Not as polished as his influences, but primitive in a bedroom angst kinda way, man alone with machines. All tracks were recorded in real time directly to cassette, except for the last one, which is an extended early Esplendor Geometrico tribute collaboration with someone called Big Tex. Pounding, ugly, repetitive, depressing Industrial sounds on all tracks. Distorted voices on some. Good stuff from a short-lived project, the better half of this split.
Combat Astronomy is James Huggett from Minnesota. Don’t discount his material completely. The project later became some sort of heavy Jazz combo (we have CDs), but this is his early work from 1996-1998, all solo instruments and electronics, laptop looping clatter and steam. The last track repeats a schmaltzy Jazz sample into eternity/absurdity. Not as dark as SWTE but it gets pretty out there and heavy. “Tech-noise” is one way to describe it, I guess.
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