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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
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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