Trepaneringsritualen – The Totality of Death 2 x CD Malignant Records / Silken Tofu 2013
With a decent number of limited and relatively obscure vinyls and cassettes issued since 2008, Trepaneringsritualen (TxRxP) have now stepped up to deliver their first CD release/s. Essentially forming a double compilation album – issued simultaneously in two parts on two separate labels – ‘The Totality of Death’ features a hand picked selection of tracks lifted from TxRxP’s rare and out of print back catalogue, along with a handful of previously unreleased pieces. Likewise with further reference to TxRxP’s discography, interestingly ‘The Totality of Death’ title was previously used for a 2011 private edition cassette compilation (..but containing a different track list to here), before being conceptually recontextualised for these official releases.
Although at its core ‘The Totality of Death’ is a compilation album, it has not been a case of merely reproducing used material in chronological order. Rather through careful selection and re-ordering of tracks it provides both albums’ with an entirely focused coherence. Thus for the uninitiated ‘The Totality of Death’ contains a superb blend of material spanning all aspects of TxRxP’s occult and ritual infused death industrial sound – a sound which encompasses barren windswept soundscapes, queasy lurching rhythms, oozing ritual menace, croaked/ distortion scarred vocals and tribal focused percussion, all delivered with a damp, musty and inky black production.
Opening ‘Programme A’ (aka CD1 released via Malignant Records) ‘Death Reveler’ is a fantastic statement of intent with its dank atmosphere of clanging ritualized rhythms and caustic garbled vocals. With a similar rhythmic bent ‘All Hail the Black Flame’ is also a great example of TxRxP’s lurching death industrial sound, which subsequently shifts towards more tense and ominous ceremonial soundscapes on the following a pair of tracks ‘Cherem’ and ‘Lord of This World’ (…the later of which rather symbolically has a run time of 3.33 minutes). The lengthy ‘Van Zeven Manieren Van Heilige Minne’ appears to be one of the previously unreleased track, being is a collaborative piece with Hadewych. Over its 14 ritualized minutes the cavernous echoed soundscape relies on distant metallic clatter, sporadic ritual gong tones, disembodied vocals (in both spoken and choral guise), and some more formal instrumentation with the use of minimalist guitar and piano. With the sparse construction for much of the track it oozes forward at a sprawling pace, which shifts during the final third where heavy ritual percussion coalesces the track into a more focused and forceful guise. ‘Judas Goat’ – which is effectively TxRxP’s hit single – is a welcomed late album feature, which then leads into ‘C’Est Un Reve’ (which is credited as a Death In June cover). Here the repeated vocal line is yelled here over a repetitive, lurching and relatively up tempo militant programmed backing and although virtually unrecognisable as a cover song, it is a forceful conclusion to ‘Programme A’.
Moving over to ‘Programme B’ (aka CD2 released via Silken Tofu), it continues the journey through the shadowy underworld of TxRxP’s sound. Early album track ‘Eurcarist of Shit & Piss’ takes a stripped back and direct approach to it crude and distorted atonal pulsing beat and screeched vocals, whilst ‘Sacrament and Crucifixion’ displays TxRxP in full death ambient / Brighter Death Now worship mode. Moving ever onwards through the combined 2 hours of material, there are yet a few more examples of compositions which align with the streamlined ‘song’ based approach TxRxP. These include the stilted clanging uptempo intensity of ‘Veil the World’ with its croaked, distortion scarred vocals, which is equally applicable to the swaying voodoo tribal intensity of ‘Didymus Christ’. Used as the concluding piece for ‘Programme B’, the monolithic ‘Den Fallne Domaldrs Lik’ opts for a slow grinding soundscape of catatonic drums and melancholic synth textures to evoke an atmosphere of brooding ritual menace.
Regarding presentation, both CD’s feature almost identical graphics (save for minor variations in images and text), each being issued as 6 panel digi-packs to form complimentary companion releases. Likewise given TxRxP’s penchant for hidden symbolism it is noted that track eight on both CD’s features previously unreleased material, which perhaps symbolically represents the number ’88’, which itself can be interpreted in a number of ways (…intentional or coincidence I wonder?). Beyond such potential symbolic clues, if cult interest with TxRxP has not already been generated by their earlier releases, surely the ‘The Totality of Death’ constitutes a pair of albums to serve this function for a much wider audience. However noting that ‘The Totality of Death’ does not contain all material featured on earlier releases, these compilation albums can be also considered as the likely generator of additional obsessive TxRxP complete-ists, who will be intent on tracking down all the original cassette and vinyl releases. Worthy, very worthy indeed.