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Cranioclast – “Iconclastar” – [Musica Maxima Magnetica]

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Conceptual dark ambient from 1992 courtesy of two German dudes. Ominous rumblings, croaking frogs, gently wailing guitars,the occasional whispered female vocal: about as scary as that haunted house you and your friends made in 7th grade. Tracks run into each other and are divided strangely, so play on continous and dip in wherever. For fans of Barn Owl, Fennesz, Tim Hecker.

  • Reviewed by Phil Phactor on July 19, 2017 at 7:11 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Au:Tone:Al – “S/t” – [Cloister Recordings]

    au.tone.al

    Intriguing trips into the hidden dark ambient recesses of your mind. Two side-long tracks on this cassette, each in the range of 17 minutes long, recorded live at the Luggage Store Gallery in 2010. Joining forces here are Andre Custodio (Say Bok Gwai, Nihil Communication), Dave Ed (Neurosis), and Kevin Gan Yuen (Sutekh Hexen) on Moogs and other synthstuff, along with guitar/amp/noise. Long, extended tones, sometimes meditative, sometimes more outward-reaching, wash over the listener. Reminds me of a subterranean journey through outer space, even though that’s not actually possible… I don’t think.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on July 18, 2017 at 8:54 pm
  • Filed as A Library,Cassette
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  • Raven – “Wiped Out” – [Neat Records]

    wipedout

    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
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Pacific 231 – “1983-86 Compendium” – [Functional Organisation]

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    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
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Carroll, Doug & Nunn, Tom – “Twine #20″ – [Self Released]

    IMG_20170711_210241_1

    Tom Nunn and Doug Carroll are improvisers who have been working and performing in the Bay Area for decades. In the early 00s, the duo met weekly to make and record improvised sound art and released the results on homemade CDRs under the name Twine. This CDR, recorded in February of 2002, is the 20th volume of this project. Nunn builds his own original instruments (he has made over 200), including a series called electroacoustic percussion boards, wooden boards fitted with sound generating objects (nails, wooden sticks, strings) and amplified with pickups. We hear several of these inventions, such as the Octatonic T-Rodimba, in this work. Doug Carroll is a cellist and composer. Here, he plays a Zeta electronic cello using non-traditional techniques.

    The CDR opens with a long, curious piece. Nunn’s playing is like listening to an crazy Rube Goldberg machine: I imagine twine being drawn through pulleys, marbles rolling around chutes and down wooden ramps, rows of dominoes falling, scrambled tones like a cartoon computer crunching numbers. Carroll’s playing moves through this maze of sound with plucking, bowing, and guitar-like strumming. The electronic treatments give the cello a coarse, lo-fi edge, and adds woozy slides between the notes. On the second track, Nunn introduces some questionably traditional percussion – a driving, deeper beat accompanied by an melodic, bell-like rhythm, as Carroll’s cello growls. The remaining three tracks combine Nunn’s sound effects of T1 and the rhythms of T2, and we hear the two improvisors exploring this wholly original world of sound.

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on July 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm
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  • Human Bodies / Leather Chalice [coll] – [Prison Tatt Records]

    hblc

    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

    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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  • Glochids – “Ni Fila” – [Ascetic House]

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    Glochids is the project of James Roemer, a sound artist from Arizona currently working in Oakland. We received his new LP from Ascetic House during his Mayhem 2017 performance in the Pit, during the fourth and final installment of Teachers AIDS’ and James Livingston’s Black Horizons Mayhem.

    Ni Fila explores a variety of weird, dreamlike environments over eight tracks. The A side holds five pieces that build on a central idea and with additional electronic and acoustic elements: in Mossoão (T1), a languid synth melody backdrops mechanical grinding, in “Expense One” (T2), a gently glowing drone anchors twisting, stretching electronic sounds, a looping melody underlies blooms of distorted noise in “Comma Loop” (T3), constantly blinking synths are overtaken by metallic rhythms and someone fucking with the pitch shifter again on “Washir Pulse” (T4). “Village” skips through a long-form ambient soundscape with the fast-forward dial (T5). The second side gives way to longer sound collages that incorporate unusual sounds, such as the bell-like bonang and field recordings from the streets of Guatemala (“Net” T6), a marimba mirage on “KPOCC NO2″ (T7), bleary organ tones on “Net (Orgel)” (T8). There’s more Glochids in our library by way of Weird Ear, hear here.

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on July 4, 2017 at 6:47 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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  • Wake, The – “Masked” – [Cleopatra Records]

    youbitch

    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
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Cartilage – “Dialect of The Dead” – [Self Released]

    dialect

    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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  • Kelley, Greg – “Trumpet” – [Meniscus Records]

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    Solo trumpet. Non- musical approach. Gaseous outbursts from the release valve. Mouthpiece makeouts, valve thumping, brassy breathing, soft frantic knocking. Auto mechanic’s friend. Every once in a while it will startle you. Some tracks very quiet. Can you hear that noise?

  • Reviewed by Hemroid The Leader on June 27, 2017 at 10:45 pm
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  • Vitriol – “I-VII” – [Neurot Recordings]

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    This 2001 CD from Neurot Recordings is the sole release from Vitriol, the solo project of Ben (G.C.) Green, the bassist from Godflesh.

    Vitriol is an archaic term for sulfuric acid, (the word derives from the Latin vitriolum, “of glass”, as crystals of metal sulfates resemble colored glass). The substance was central in alchemical practice for its transformative powers, its importance reflected in the alchemist’s motto “Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem” – “Visit the interior of the earth, and purifying it, you will find the hidden stone.” Green pursued this message, and this album is an account of his personal inward search. Recorded from 1995-1996, these tracks were made during a year long retreat to the mountains of Wales, where Green lived and worked in solitude. “Visita” (T1) opens with beautiful drones looping in reverse. Many of the tracks focus on abstract, textured noise, with additional elements like heavy distortion (T2), bell-like drones (T4), rushes of water and driving pulses (T5). There’s the sounds of the paranoia that sets in during extended periods of isolation: deep voices rising up from the mountains (T3), imagined footsteps echoing in an empty house (T6). The album ends on a (somewhat surprising) peaceful note, with beautiful reverberating guitars (T7).

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on June 27, 2017 at 9:39 pm
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  • Tolimieri, Quentin – “Prepared Piano” – [Creative Sources Recording]

    tolimieri

    This one pretty much writes itself. Eight self-describing pieces for prepared piano from NYC composer/improviser and CalArts grad Quentin Tolimieri. The piano is stuffed with various objects, then bowed (T1), plucked (T3), and hammered. Chaotic and bangy at times, smooth and melodic at others. The works each have a unique structure and pace which doesn’t dawdle and stays relatively busy, expect for the sparse one (T5). Best just to let everything flow over you, and not get too caught up in the notes. All tracks are under 6 minutes, except for the long one (T4).

  • Reviewed by Louie Caliente on June 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm
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  • Dodsmaskin – “Fullstendig Brent” – [Malignant Records]

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    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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  • Galbraith, Kole – “Alptraum” – [Self-released]

    From Washington. Poem about birds and soft dark nights.
    One 30 minute track sounds like humming. Drone. Ambient. High frequency. Guitar flickers and crackles and tones. Becomes more chaotic as it goes on.
    – BJT

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on June 21, 2017 at 5:19 pm
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  • Subotnick, Morton – “Music For The Double Life of Amphibians” – [Wergo]

    LA experimentalist. Long moody tracks from different times and recordings. Sounds like abstract stringed instruments. Some quiet moments. Mostly you can really zone out on this rollercoaster.
    – BJT

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on June 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm
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  • Ikeda, Ryoji – “0 Degrees C” – [Touch]

    Japanese sound scientist. Sounds like glitchy upload download fast forward symphony radar bloops chimes skipping static no signal. Short to medium tracks. Blends well so would recommend continuous play.
    – BJT

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on June 21, 2017 at 5:15 pm
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  • Uthana-Eise – “G.d.g.r” – [Halbwelt Organisation]

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    Halbwelt (‘HalfWorld’) Organisation is a now-shuttered German label with only 8 releases to its name. This was the sixth, from 2005. Testoterone-poisoned harsh Death Industrial from a man who possibly goes by the name ‘Husen.’ He has no identity, no country, no race, and probably no girlfriend, but he wants extreme population reduction and he wants it now. Anyone who’s shopped at the Los Altos Whole Foods can hardly blame him.

    Fascistic drum machines stomp-stomp-stomping along in time with mangled buzzing synths constitute a self-conscious imitation of automated death: slaughterhouses, concentration camps, abortion clinics. Sterile Mengelian vocals delivered through a loudspeaker instruct you to poke and to prod your most uncomfortable impulses with the scalpel. OK, so it’s not the most original pallet ever (Genocide Organ? Brighter Death Now? Thorofon? Folkstorm?) but that’s not to call it totally formulaic. Its crunch-march repetition (perhaps with elements of Powernoise) is great for numbing oneself into a state of disregard for outdated conceits like humanism, conscience and moral relativism. Kill!

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on June 21, 2017 at 3:35 pm
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  • Long Distance Poison – “Twin Lights Twin Lights” – [Prison Tatt Records]

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    Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury have been composing analog synth works as Long Distance Poison since 2010. Most of the releases from this Brooklyn duo are on cassette (though the only one we have so far is a 12″ single) including this 2015 tape from Prison Tatt.

    Each side of Twin Lights Twin Lights holds a sidelong track. “Mosa” (T1) immediately swells into a vicious surge of sound. At the center of the piece are heavy, earth-shaking pulses, but as it unfolds, subtler details begin to emerge. There’s tones twisting outwards, insectoid flourishes, bizarre melodies that hiss, crawl, breathe. The piece includes hydrophone recordings of the East River. “Infra Viam (Live At Death By Audio, 9/19/12)” (T2, Cearley and Bradbury are joined by Casey Block on a Micromoog), a live track from the now shuttered NYC studio/venue, feels like the afterimage of the first side: we hear settling dust clouds, smoldering remains, piano-like notes blurred beyond recognition, glowing embers, droning echoes, absence. Recommended if you enjoyed getting lost in the void of Zaimph’s latest work.

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on June 20, 2017 at 9:14 pm
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  • Ordeal – “Traumende” – [Eibon Records]

    ordeal

    Project of Gabriele Santamaria of Italian death droners I Burn, with some assistance from the other guy in I Burn.

    Unlike I Burn, Ordeal plays ultra-dark Shoegaze with Industrial and Neoclassical undertones. Shimmering LSD therapy guitars via Lycia, Slowdive or ‘Disintegration’-era Cure, dense keyboards, programmed downtempo beats, meticulously arranged. Spare vocals appear in the form of over-the-top, piercing operatics (female) and meaningful whispers (male). The cryptic lyrics deal in some lushly decadent religious mysticism, where it’s not quite clear what is meant but a clear mood does emerge all the same, a hopelessness redolent of kinky sex and grand cathedrals. The Qliphothic atmosphere of this 1997 release perhaps overlaps with Gabriele’s post-Industrial peers in Ain Soph, Skrol, and Sanctum, to name a few. The name of the album might mean something like ‘Dream’s End’ in German.

    Slightly over half the tracks (1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10+12) are instrumental. Some of the shorter instrumentals are more experimental and could be I Burn outtakes.

    Definitely gloomy, but also beautiful, like a fallen angel. “Visions of Hell, they are hope.”

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on June 19, 2017 at 11:49 pm
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