KFJC 89.7FM

Lord Gravestench

Interior One – ‘Family’ – [No Rent Records]

Lord Gravestench   7/7/2020   A Library, Cassette

Rusty Kelley and Emelia McKay, who operate the Breathing Problem Productions label, also perform as the similarly named industrial noise duo Breathing Problem, of which Interior One is an offshoot. The difference between the two projects lies primarily in subject matter: while their Breathing Problem material tends to explore topics of eroticism and sexual angst, Interior One operates within the time-honoured industrial noise tradition of true crime, charting the psychic terrain in the vicinity of serious breaches of the social contract— ‘evil’ acts, if you like— with a particular sympathy for the victims.

2019’s ’Family’ EP deals with perhaps the greatest of all anti-social acts: a father deliberately harming the family he is supposed to protect. The artists say: “Interior One is a personal research project . The audience is always secondary. This release is based around family annihilation cases and abuse at home. For perfect fathers.”

T.s 1, 4 and 5 deal with fathers who killed their families. T.s 2 and 3 deal with sexual molestation. This is not pretty stuff, but it is sensitively approached, compiling a variety of primary sources (e.g., 911 calls, personal testimonies) into an immersive, documentary-like experience. The sounds composed by Kelley and McKay themselves — needling electronic synthesis, clattering scrap metal, heavily distorted ranting vocals— will not be unfamiliar territory for fans of power electronics, but all are very well done. The synthesised tones are not full-on headsplitting harshness, but rather seem calculated to convey apprehensiveness and paranoia. At moments they are strangely beautiful. All in all it’s a harrowing 22-minute listen. “There was no specific reason why he did this.“

PGM: t.s 2 and 3 contain fairly graphic references to child sexual abuse.

Irkallian Oracle – ‘Grave Ekstasis’ – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

Lord Gravestench   7/7/2020   12-inch, A Library

Irkallian Oracle is a Swedish black/death metal band active since 2012. Supposedly the group has six members, but I think there were only three people onstage when I saw them live a few years ago. In any event, the roles performed by all six people are given as ‘various’ on the web, so perhaps we are dealing with an amorphous collective of some kind. Ambiguous though the actual lineup may be, there is real personality and clarity of vision to be found on this 2013 debut album, which was probably one of the cooler new releases I heard that year. 

In I.O.’s musical balance of doom elegance and death metal lycanthopy, as well as in their dead-serious thematic focus on the occult (that’s magick, not satanism), I perceive a fondness for the German group Necros Christos. Also comparable are Nuclear War Now!/Iron Bonehead labelmates Grave Upheaval, Sinistrous Diabolous, Temple Nightside, and Vassafor. In fact, those latter four bands are interconnected via an assortment of overlapping members; and for that matter, at least one sometime-player in S.D., T.N., and Vassafor has also been part of Irkallian Oracle in the past.

In the company of such projects, we find ourselves squarely in the territory of what the contemptible metal journos of seven years ago were known (perhaps jokingly, as if that were any excuse) to term “murkcore”– the implications of which term may include cavernous production, often-lengthy songs, hypnotic repetition of lead riffs, and a poised, serpentine, slow-burning sense of ritual. One could also trace aspects of  this record’s atmosphere back to classic groups like (for instance) Beherit, Order From Chaos, and Mortuary Drape, but seven years after its release I’m prepared to admit that this particular crystallisation of black and death metal aesthetics was of its own moment in time. 

‘Grave Ekstasis’ achieves a really satisfying balance of  implied menace and outright aggression, conjuring esoteric mystery and bestial savagery with equal aplomb. It is sinuous grey smoke from the fading embers of a massive sacrificial pyre, rising to spell out hidden glyphs in the near-complete darkness of some long-forgotten underground vault. Grab hold of its eldritch sigils if you can.

Peterson, J. – ‘Refusal’ – [Wonderland Media]

Lord Gravestench   2/12/2020   A Library, Cassette

Sound artist Josh Peterson runs the Force Neurotic label. This 2019 cassette release consists of two very dark 20 minute pieces. Both are rambling and disquieting sound collages accompanied by the artist’s voice reading found texts from criminal cases. The A side piece deals with murders and the B side piece concerns unsolved disappearances. The compositions have a desolate attitude, combining melancholy and eeriness in a turn somewhat comparable to the films of David Lynch. Manipulated and damaged tapes of spelunking piano and other tuneless, toylike instruments, field recordings of public places, mournful clanking, desperate scrabbling.

Peterson intones, whispers, and declaims the dry facts of an uncertain number of these sad cases. Forensics. Autopsies. Surveillance footage. Traumatised family members trying to make sense of it all. The last few minutes of side A assume the aspect of Power Electronics, as piercing and squealing electronic tones back a more aggressive, urgent vocal delivery. Subtler side B ends with peaceful field recordings from a natural spot. Is it a hopeful epilogue… or is that what it sounds like where the poor girl’s body is buried?

The scrambled cut-up texts, intimately delivered, will remind some people of recent work by Sutcliffe Jugend and Consumer Electronics, and indeed Peterson has published a book with Philip Best’s Amphetamine Sulphate press. No FCCs but some edgy stuff (postmortem description of “anal injuries”) on side A.

Brel, Jacques – ‘Poetic World of Jacques Brel, The’ – [Philips]

Lord Gravestench   2/12/2020   12-inch, International

Jacques Brel was born in 1929 to a wealthy Belgian family. He moved to Paris as a young man and eventually became a singer and songwriter, achieving fame across French-speaking Europe by the late 50s. Brel is credited with taking the traditional French popular song (or chanson) out of ‘La Vie en Rose’ sentimentality and into more cynical territory rich with wordplay, social satire, and dark humour. Outside of the francophone world he was a cult figure in the 1960s, even captivating a young Scott Walker, who went on to cover many of his songs.

Brel could be pretty grim, but on this 1970 compilation for American audiences you mostly get the lighter side. There is bitterness here, but nearly every song is humorous, or at least playful in approach. Highlights include the mockingly misanthropic ‘Les Singes’ (The Monkeys) (A4) and the evergreen romantic comedy balled ‘Madeleine’ (B1). The bleaker aspects of post-war European existence, dealt with more explicitly in other of Brel’s songs, are present as mere subtexts here while his characters drink, flirt, daydream, and social-climb. However, more sombre moods can be found on ‘Seul’ (Alone) (A6) and ‘La Statue’ (B5).

Some arrangements are more elaborate than others, but the piano is more or less a constant. Brel, of course, has a great set of pipes, whether or not you can understand his words (the LP has helpful side-by-side French and English lyrics). The material on the B-side seems to be live, as there is applause between tracks. Dreamy.

Impiety- ‘Salve The Goat: Iblis Exelsi’ – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

Lord Gravestench   2/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Formed in 1990, Singapore’s Impiety were one of the first extreme black/death metal bands from East Asia. They are still active to this day, and still revered within the international “war metal”/“goat metal” scene. This 2017 LP from NWN! is a collection of their earliest, rawest shit: 1993’s ’Salve the Goat’ 7” (A1-A2), 1992’s ‘Ceremonial NecroChrist Redesecration’ demo (A3-B3), and 1991’s rehearsal demo (B4-B7).

Fans of the rottenest blackdeath bestiality from Canada (Blasphemy), Brazil (Impurity), Finland (Beherit), and the USA (Nunslaughter) will be well at home here. It is excellent material like pretty much everything else from this project. Be advised that A3, B3, B4, and B7 are brief intro/outro-type synthstrumentals. Elsewhere caveman grunts and howls chase compressed and lumbering walls of bass, guitar, and cymbal noise as we lurch through cleverly composed yet Metal-Blade-proof devilworship rituals. Nasty.

Unholy – ‘From The Shadows’ – [Peaceville Records]

Lord Gravestench   12/14/2019   12-inch, A Library

When the Finnish death/doom metal quartet Unholy (est. 1990) originally released 1993’s ‘From The Shadows’ on Austria’s Lethal Records, it was either their first or second album, depending on whether you consider the previous year’s ‘Trip to Depressive Autumn’ a demo. Peaceville’s great-sounding 2017 reissue on double 12″ was the first vinyl pressing of this trendsetting record. 

Unholy must have been easy to lump in as part of the the funeral doom movement emerging from their fatherland in the early 90s, but really they were always doing their own fucked-up thing. The vibe is kind of stoner on this record, with lots of slow, sludgy, atonal riffs. Psychedelic keyboard work on some tracks takes the concept of organ doom in a far more psychotic direction than other Finn-doomers like Skepticism. Passionate and disgusting death grunts are dominant but there are some moments of surprising variation in the singing, including 1980s-style belting on a few tracks (e.g. A2). Occasionally the sombre doom tempo explodes into amazing death metal parts. A love of traditional metal harmonics is also in evidence, making the death and doom flavours equally strong. Autopsy, Goatlord, early Cathedral, and Candlemass all seem equally important as influences. The somewhat disparate components of Unholy’s sound balance into a pretty perfect whole, one in which any doom metal afficionado will be happily buried.

Over a decade later, another influential Finnish doom project paid tribute to Unholy’s impact when Reverend Bizarre, in the lyrics to their cult classic track ‘Goddess of Doom,’ included this band among a famous lyrical catalog of their influences— definitely check out every band mentioned in that song btw, it offers a great index of other groups to explore if this record appeals to you…

…But enough talk; time to pay your tithe to the Suomi metal godz!

Encoffinized – ‘Chambers of Deprivation’ – [Maggot Stomp]

Lord Gravestench   12/14/2019   A Library, Cassette

Encoffinized from Huntington Beach (not to be confused with Encoffination from San Diego) play lean, mean death metal. When KFJC added their debut demo last year I knew this band were something special, and they have totally delivered with their first full-length album (if you consider 22 minutes to be album-length).

These short, punchy deathgrind songs are propelled by fluid riffing, purring double-bass fills, faster-than-the-ear blasts, and zombie death gurgles declaiming morbid poems. The songwriting is not a reinvention of the medium but, I mean, it’s DEATH METAL… you don’t always want distinctive songwriting– sometimes you want Immolation and Nihilist worship, which Encoffinized accomplish here in spades, and without recourse to cliche as the riffs feel familiar BUT never derivative. I dare you not to nod your head along to the groovy bits or thrash around frantically to the chunky assault of the on-point drummer when the time comes for our boys to grind. Production-wise, this tape sounds like it was recorded in a mausoleum, in a good way.

When there’s no more room in Hell the dead will walk the Earth.

“…And The Loser Still Is…/Untitled” [coll] – Roedel Records

Lord Gravestench   11/19/2019   7-inch, A Library

Agathocles – Belgian crustgrind institution active since 1987. Body odour, dumb politics, and a respectable level of sonic brutality. Think Extreme Noise Terror or Phobia. Bellowed and gargled lyrics cannot be made out. First track has some voices speaking a European language, maybe Flemish, possibly newscasters. This side was originally titled simply ‘…And The Loser Is…’ (not ‘…Still Is…’) so I don’t know if this is a bootleg or a reissue or what.

MPG – Pomona CA grind/fastcore founded in 2004. High-pitched androgynous vocals a la Antichrist Demoncore. More samples than the Agathocles side, including Magic Johnson talking about his AIDS on the first track. Lyrics are once again unintelligible. 

Photo finish split on red seven inch vinyl, with Agathocles as the winner by a greasy hair. Originally released in 2015.

Sutekh Hexen – ‘Sutekh Hexen’ – [Cyclic Law]

Lord Gravestench   11/16/2019   12-inch, A Library

A fixture of the Bay Area experimental scene, Sutekh Hexen has purveyed solid ‘black noise’ fare for close to a decade, typically compressing ragged metal riffs and murky ambience into challenging walls-of-sound. 2019 saw the release of their self-titled 4th full-length, brought to you by the German-based label that has recently functioned as the de facto foster home for Cold Meat Industry artists orphaned by that Swedish label’s sudden dissolution six years ago. I’m not sure that S.H. is the first American band to release on Cyclic Law, but nonetheless, this double LP constitutes a significant moment in the transatlantic partnership that has long defined the industrial noise scene. S.H. had displayed an affinity for the Euro milieu even before their collaboration with Sweden’s Trepaneringsritualen, which was performed live deep in the woodlands of the Pacific Northwest at 2013’s Stella Natura festival. The group’s fusion of black metal guitar stylings and nonlinear experimental soundscapes is very compatible with the aesthetic sensibilities of our friends on the old continent (MZ.412 and Paysage D’Hiver come to mind). 

On this magnum opus, for which recording first commenced way back in 2012, S.H. seem to have both tightened up their compositions and broadened their palette, perhaps owing to a new and expanded lineup. For whatever reason, longtime member A.C. Way (AKA Thoabath) is no longer involved; here core members Demian Johnston (Great Falls, solo as BLSPHM) and Kevin Gan Yuen (Circle of Eyes, Disgust) collected contributions from Nathaniel Ritter (Burial Hex), Bay Area art-drone luminary Jim Haynes, Jim Kaiser (AKA Petit Mal, and sadly R.I.P. as of 2017), Mackenzie Chami (Terror Cell Unit, Disgust, solo as Koufar and Crown of Cerberus), Jason ‘VENIEN’ Ventura (founder of seminal Bay Area black metal group Von), Ryan Jobes (Grave Babies), James Martinez (provenance unknown), and Vial Magazine editor Patricia Cram. There will be a quiz after this review, so try and keep up.

A Frankensteinian agglomeration of black metal, dark ambient, deep drone, harsh noise, death industrial, electroacoustic, field recordings, and ritual music, ‘Sutekh Hexen’ is a vicious beast indeed, reflecting its diverse contributors’ varied approach to soundcraft. At times brooding and at times extremely violent, it impressively realises the promise of earlier releases and brings the project to a new artistic peak, one with perhaps a wider appeal. Be ye headbanger, noise junkie, Mills College avant-gardist, or dark ambient creeper, Lord Gravestench advises that you drink deeply of this silver-hued nightmare.

Blood of Chhinnamastika – “Promise of Delusion” – [Fusty Cunt]

Lord Gravestench   7/28/2019   A Library, Cassette

No-brakes Power Electronics from San Jose’s Dario Puga, who also runs the noise label The Pet Goat. 

In some senses Blood of Chhinnamastika is a continuation of Dario’s previous work as Botched Facelift, but upon that foundation he has built a distinctive new edifice of damaged sound, as cartoonish as it is bleak. Dario is also a free jazz musician (check out his old band A Fashionable Disease for proof), and brings a touch of jazz-like complexity and spontaneity to his industrial noise work. On this 2018 tape, his first release on the delightful Fusty Cunt label, he assaults the listener head-on with constantly metamorphosing juggernauts of spastic and stuttering synth severity, tethered lightning bolts of feedback, diabolically sliced-up samples, and scornful outbursts of Black-Metal-influenced shrieking. Frequent and violent terraformations occur, the artist’s supply of psychotic tones seemingly inexhaustible.

Botched Facelift was a terrific project, but the B.O.C. “makeover” (to quote Lexi Glass) really came into its own on this release, picking up the Power Electronics genre where the experiments of people like Slogun, Con-Dom and Sutcliffe Jugend left it and carrying it forward into even stranger nightmares. His performance in the KFJC pit (5/28/2019, alongside Microwave Windows) really drove home just how much precision and effort goes into maintaining control of his sound. Afterwards he told me he considers noise the easiest genre to fuck up. Whether or not that is the case, B.O.C. definitely does NOT fuck it up here. A scorcher.

SOOT – “A General Theory of Tears” – [Obsolete Units]

Lord Gravestench   7/27/2019   A Library, Cassette

SOOT (stylised in all-caps) is the experimental project of Oakland, CA’s James Livingston, who has enjoyed a long working relationship with KFJC as proprietor of the eclectic Black Horizons label, on behalf of which he has brought numerous exotic bands into our live pit. SOOT is a fairly new act, seeming to have debuted on a 2017 split with Thoabath, and although he has played in various bands previously, this is also a new direction for James’s personal musical endeavors— although by no means outside the aesthetic turf of his label. Keywords for this 2018 debut album could be Death Industrial, Musique Concrète, Dark Ambient, or Sound Installation. Influences might  include Brighter Death Now and Stratvm Terror, but not only these.

Power Electronics methodology but with a Dub-inspired low end preoccupation, generally eschewing harshness in favour of murk. Deep drones just above subsonic ranges, moaning cavern draughts, fidgety clanking of metal, and anguished vocals pitch-shifted down to inhuman levels, all creating an impression of some demonic creature shackled miles underground to bellow eternally for its revenge. Percussive but not rhythmic. Abstract but purposeful. Often quite minimal. Vocals on every track but A1, ranging in delivery from flat recitation to crazed scolding. “No more masks“ on the devastating finale, where he drops the heavy voice effects, then proves he doesn’t need them to make an impact, delivering a fiery and affecting sermon that smacks of genuine hurt.

As the title suggests, the album’s themes are dark and personal, but they are never presented overbearingly. Lyrics on several tracks are drawn from the writings of pessimistic philosopher Emil Cioran, and on A5 from tragic Austrian poet George Trakl. SOOT is not without a sense of humour, however — on t.7 (B2) he is joined by Echo Beds for a sonically perverse interpretation of a Ranking Dread song! Speaking of reggae, SOOT (in a double bill with Obsolete Units founder Rust Worship) played the KFJC pit on 4/20/2019 at exactly 4:20 PM.

Misery Ritual – “Searing Blood” – [Obsolete Units]

Lord Gravestench   6/20/2019   A Library, Cassette

Misery Ritual is the work of an angry and disappointed young man from Los Angeles county — no, not that one. His work under this name first started appearing around 2015 as far as I know, and although his career is gathering momentum, he’s still a fairly obscure artist within SoCal’s oversaturated harsh noise pandemonium. The first Misery Ritual release added by KFJC, 2015’s superb ‘A Victory Over Suffering’ cassette on the Dungeon Dweller label, isn’t even on the almighty Discogs yet.

It will be, though, because (as various others have already noticed) this is a definite artist to watch if you are a CA extreme noise fanatic; for proof look no further than this very satisfying 2018 tape on Rust Worship’s Obsolete Units label. Some people call Misery Ritual a power electronics project but I wouldn’t really describe it that way; it’s more like American-style harsh noise with slight industrial elements and some limited use of raw human vocalisations (mostly on the third piece, a live recording from L.A.’s happening Coaxial venue). A lot is familiar in the basic palette, but the artist exhibits a devastating sense of control even in his most improvisational-seeming ‘harsh bop’ cable-came-unplugged moments. This electronic racket conveys anxiety, catastrophe, and finally despair as the psychological defences come down for good and the anti-gnostic demons flood the brain, delighting fans of Sickness, The Cherry Point, and early Prurient.

My favourite track is the first one, where a world-rocking pulse of gravelly white noise, like deep breathing from some colossus of living stone, is soon joined by Danger Will Robinson robo pants-pissing and everything settles into a nice groove. Kill yourself… (Not you, Misery Ritual — not yet.)

Blue Hummingbird On The Left – ‘Atl Tlachinolli’ – [Iron Bonehead Productions]

Lord Gravestench   6/8/2019   A Library, CD

“Blue Hummingbird on the Left” = English translation of Huitzilopochti, the name of the Aztec god of war, sun, and human sacrifice. Also the name of this Mesoamerican racial nationalist Black Metal group from southern California, part of the storied and controversial Black Twilight Circle, a close association of mostly Chicano musicians orbiting the Crepusculo Negro label. The BTC has included bands such as Arizmenda, Dolorvotre, Tukaaria, Odz Manouk, Volahn, Axeman, The Haunting Presence, Kallathon and many more. Personnel frequently overlap, and there may even be more bands than individual musicians associated with the BTC at this point.

BTC founder Volahn is joined here by 4 other players to create, as with all his other endeavours, a fairly distinctive and infectious take on raw Black Metal, in this case blending Death Metal influences with homages to the more aggressive Slavic pagan bands like Astrofaes (check out t.s 5+7) and Nav. Frantic, aggressive guitar lines of slasher thrash, bizarrely mournful lead riffs, very aggressive War Metal-ish structure at times, at others suggestions of the murderous punk gallop of Crepusculo Negro affiliates Bone Awl. Rather odd war yips and tribal drums on a few tracks. TFW your ancestors were eating each other a mere 500 years ago. Volahn really does shit gold. Dig it.

JFK – “Weapon Design” – [Fourth Dimension Records]

Lord Gravestench   4/20/2019   12-inch, A Library

Ani DiFranco — er, sorry, ANTHONY DiFranco — is a current member of Ramleh and former member of Skullflower. You will also find a few albums in KFJC’s library that he recorded for the Freek label under the sobriquet AX. JFK is another solo project, working in a broadly Industrial mode. He seems to have first recorded under this name in the late 80s for Ramleh’s Broken Flag label, resuming operations a few years ago following a lengthy hiatus. The tracks on this 2018 LP could be lazily segregated into Industrial Techno and Death Industrial (although, despite having done a split with The Grey Wolves, I’m sure DiFranco would scoff at the latter designation). 

The tracks I’m arbitrarily dubbing (pun intended) the Techno tracks are vaguely similar to Hospital Productions artists such as Vatican Shadow and Ron Morelli, but with focus shifted from atmosphere to listener alienation. Perhaps Hands Records mainstay Winterkalte would be a better reference. Comprising A2, A3, A4, B1 and B3, the beats account for the majority of the material here. A2, B1 and B3 are built around stuttering, off-kilter drum machine rushes and sound not unlike Footwork made by zombies, while A3 flirts with Dub Techno. A4 unnervingly goes full four-on-the-floor, definitely danceable but also definitely soulless, like Daft Punk’s ‘Robot Rock’ following attack by a serotonin vampire. It would spin better in the control room of a CIA drone base than on the dancefloor of a nightclub.

A1, B2 and B4 are in more familiar (to me) Rhythmic Noise territory, rich in a sense of imminent doom. I was reminded of Deutsch Nepal and, specificially on B2, the fetishistic sequencer sound of Britain’s Iron Fist Of The Sun (a project actually not unknown to dip into Dub-inspired frequencies itself). The sonic pallette is consistently experimental across the whole album, though, and my rubric for thus partitioning it is largely tempo. It’s all dark shit, but it goes down fairly easily for all that. I suspect this one will have wide appeal among KFJC DJs.

Striations – “Collection 1” – [Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   4/19/2019   A Library, CD

Striations, active in the underground Noise scene for nearly a decade, is Oakland’s Mike Finklea. He has performed twice on KFJC, on one of those occasions hosted by yours truly. This 2019 CD on LA’s Oxen label compiles two cassette releases: 2018’s ‘Trauma Code,’ originally on the Gutter Bloat label, and ‘K.P.’ (‘Killer’s Party’) his 2017 effort for Oxen. In the liner notes, Finklea writes that these recordings are “of an exploratory nature,” significant because his usual M.O. involves obsessive control over the structured chaos of memorised compositons. This is indeed more free-form and improvisatory in sound than other works, conforming more to the Harsh Noise stylings of artists like Macronympha and K2. That said, these pieces are at least more Power Electronics than Harsh Noise in that they focus on sustained tension rather than sludgy textural fetishism. “None of this material is what I WANT Striations to sound like.” The liner also includes special thanks “to all hazmat and first responders.”

‘Trauma Code’ (t.s 1+2), mastered by Miscreant’s Sam Torres, is inspired by car accidents. Each 25-minute track passes through balanced phases of relative restraint and full-blown sonic assault. Baleful low-end drones, abject metal-scraping, earsplitting feedback. T.1 begins with synth piece possibly sampled from the score of a 70s or 80s film. Later there’s a sample of a medical examiner calling for the clearing of highway shoulders to reduce crash fatalities. It’s a public health problem, she says. I certainly found myself driving more carefully when playing this in my car. T.2 continues the exploration of scrap metal, hissing static and uncomfortably high frequencies. There is a ‘Red Asphalt’-like sample from a crash scene where it sounds like some girls are trapped in a burning car. In a possible pun on “auto fatality,” the second sample on this side is another medical examiner(?) discussing the most extreme/unusual suicide cases he’s encountered. “Someone who takes on a speeding locomotive at 70MPH is not one of those people you’d expect to be calling for help.“  According to the artist, second and third instalments in the ‘Trauma Code’ series are in the works.

‘K.P.’ (t.s 3+4), recorded by M. Chami (Crown of Cerberus, Koufar), concerns the death of Junko Furuta, whose 1989 murder at the hands of 4 Yakuza-connected classmates scandalized Japan. Imprisoned for 40 days, she was raped hundreds of times and tortured until unrecognisable before finally dying of her extensive injuries. Close to 100 people had knowledge of her imprisonment, but due either to complicity or fear of retribution, none reported it to police. Her body was eventually discovered encased in concrete. Although perhaps more synth-driven, both of these 15-minute pieces continue in an aesthetic vein similar to ‘Trauma Code’: nonlinear, screeching, throbbing electronic/concrete noise. Maybe some distorted vocals. No samples on these ones, but plenty of implicit violence all the same.

‘Collection 1’ is a ghoulish encounter with the biological truth of death, up close and personal. Hear, see, feel, smell, taste the end.

Uniform – “Uniform” – [Beggars Tomb]

Lord Gravestench   3/15/2019   12-inch, A Library

Uniform is an industrial duo from New York City. Brooklyn hipster trashlord Ben Greenberg (of Archaeopteryx, Coca Leaf, Little Women, The Fugue, Zs, house engineer/producer for Sacred Bones Records, oh yeah and involved in some band called Bloody Panda…) and Michael Berdan (various cooler bands KFJC doesn’t have) collaborate on paranoiac central nervous system attacks with a debt to classics like Suicide and Iugula Thor, and perhaps specifically to The Guilt Of…, the industrial project of EyeHateGod’s Mike Williams. This 2014 45RPM EP was their first release. One track per side.

Greenberg’s insistent drum machines, shuddering synth textures, and fuzzed-out guitar merge with Berdon’s frantic, hardcore-inspired vocal delivery. Insanity-inducing New York despair. The rent may have gone up but the drugs have gotten more expensive too!

Bone Awl – “Almost Dead Man” – [Klaxon Records]

Lord Gravestench   3/13/2019   12-inch, A Library

Active since 2002, KFJC live mic vets Bone Awl are definitely one of the best Black Metal groups to come out of California. The duo of He Who Crushes Teeth (briefly in Morbosidad) and He Who Gnashes Teeth (see my review of his solo project Amofas from our add last year) derive their names from possible English translations of Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr, the appellations of the goats who drive the chariot of my lord and master Odin. These guys create killer raw BM in the tradition of Ildjarn, adding a distinctive touch of broken-sounding D-Beat punk to the proceedings, not unlike Hellhammer.

This 2018 45RPM 12” is a reissue of a 2007 single-sided demo cassette. Klaxon Records, which released both versions, is run by one of the two Bone Awl dudes. Ultra-primitive, dirty, necro shit. Short songs except for A1 which is a repetitive but oddly hypnotic instrumental. B-side amps up the aggression somewhat. Fuck yeah is all else I have to say.

Trepaneringsritualen – “Septentrional” – [Hanson Records]

Lord Gravestench   3/5/2019   A Library, Cassette

Trepaneringsritualen (which presumably means something to do with drilling a hole in one’s head) is Tomas Ekelund from Sweden. Since 2008 Ekelund has prolifically practised his highly theatrical (or ritual, if you prefer) school of traditional Swedish death industrial. Despite his intense image, he spent the decade previous to founding TxRxPx in the highly emotive (but, as he would hasten to point out, equally gloom-ridden) dark ambient project Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words. It is interesting that Ekelund’s body of work inverts the traditional industrial musician’s paradigm of going from ‘confrontational and ugly’ early on to ‘contemplative and pretty’ later in the career (see Genesis P-Orridge, Michael Gira, etc.)— this is heavy and not at all friendly stuff.

This 2010 cassette on Aaron Dilloway’s Hanson Records captures the raw early stages of the project. Heavily inspired by fellow Swedes Brighter Death Now and Nordvargr (and others on the Cold Meat Industry label), this is pulsing, sinister industrial noise with overtones of dark Norse spirituality (‘Septentrional’ means ‘Of the North’). There is a repetitive and simplistic approach to these tracks, but with an artfully organic presence that evokes a bleak environment of cursed machines rather than an impression of mere lazy looping and layering. There are three tracks on each side. A1 and B3 are creepers with unhealthy-sounding and unintelligible vocals. A2 and B2 are exemplary rhythmic noise pieces in the vein of early Genocide Organ. B1 is a more minimal dirge stalker with frightening serpent-speech somewhere between black metal and Bob from Twin Peaks. A3 is a spacier piece with a muted sample that may be Aleister Crowley. All tracks are good, so take the black pill, don your exit bag, and turn it up.

Circuit Wound – “Symbiotic Cannibalism” -[Oxen]

Lord Gravestench   3/4/2019   A Library, Cassette

Circuit Wound is the solo noise project of LA’s Jay Howard, who also records as part of the groups Bacteria Cult and Wire Werewolves, and with Bob Bellerue in a duo called Redwound. Howard has been causing headaches with Circuit Wound since at least 2001.

I think he is one of the more reliable LA harsh noisers, because his pieces tend to be very dynamic, i.e. they very much retain the impression of whatever constant effects manipulation was necessary to keep the sonic fracas flying. 

On his 2018 effort for Oxen, this peddle-torquing Torquemada gives no quarter; the Angeleno sonic torture progresses from side A to side B leaving only skidmarks and tangled ruins. There are many layers of excellently recorded chaos to explore and it definitely doesn’t sound anything like radio static or any of the other tropes employed by harsh noise detractors. I’m not going to sugar-coat this: it sounds like R2-D2 being tortured at a Disney black site. The A side starts off a little more slowly and the B side gets right to it. Ten minutes each. Enjoy.

Unaussprechlichen Kulten -“Sign The Book of Death” -[Apocalyptic Productions]

Lord Gravestench   3/4/2019   A Library, CD

Unaussprechlichen Kulten were one of the sickest bands featured on KFJC’s live broadcast of Nuclear War Now! and Iron Bonehead’s Never Surrender Festival in Berlin last year. The name of the Chilean death metal group is German for ‘Unspeakable Cults,’ and also happens to be the title of a fictional black magic text featured in the works of both Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. U.K. refer to their music as ‘occult death metal’ and it appears to be heavily inspired by Lovecraft’s mythos.

This 2018 CD compilation from a Chilean label contains a limited selection of tracks from U.K.’s 4th album ‘Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X)’ (2017) (t.s 1-3), their 3rd album ‘Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath’ (2014) (t.s 4-6), their 2013 EP ‘Lucifer Poseiden Cthulhu’ (t.s 7-8; frustratingly, the compilation leaves off only one song from this) and their 2012 split with the American band After Death (t.s 9+10). The remaining 8 tracks are live material; for most of the live songs a studio version can be found earlier on the CD, although not t.s 14-17.

This is monstrously heavy death metal, akin to a thick black smoke clogging your accursed speakers. Fire follows smoke in touches of strong melody wrought by the dual guitar interplay of ‘Herbert West’ and ‘Joseph Curwen,’ but always with a demented, demon-summoning twist. Many songs begin by grooving around a deceptively simple phrase before revealing the fuller tentacled complexity of their nameless horrors. The grindcore-inspired drumming and Curwen’s deranged Spanish death-gurgles round out this insanely suspenseful take on death metal. U.K.’s gloom-ridden riffs and unforgiving song structure, owing something to both Immolation and Autopsy, make for a style that goes well with Nuclear War Now!’s roster of sulphur-seared diabolical DM artists (e.g. Ignivomous or Dead Congregation)— although these guys have been playing this style for 20 years, which is quite impressive. All Hail true Chilean death metal.

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