En Nihil / Procession of the Black Sloth – Mask of the Predator, Flesh of the Prey MC Whispering Eye Recordings 2013
This split cassette features En Nihil – whom with I am already familiar with – and introduces the interestingly monikered Procession of the Black Sloth. But rather than just being a basic split, here each act have focused their material around the following concept: “The reality you know could change at any moment. What you once knew will never come back beyond this point. In the blink of an eye an existence of serenity and normality can change into a horrific, living nightmare. You are now just prey at the mercy of a predator”. So clearly no happiness and sunshine to be found herein then.
En Nihil lead of the first side of the tape where is quickly becomes apparent for this release the project have forgone the recent brooding dark ambient template and opted for a death industrial to industrial noise style. With a generally loose and rugged approach En Nihil’s side spans both the harsh and subdued. The first two tracks (‘The Death Collector’ and ‘Bone Trophies’) follow a general pattern of loosely structured industrial noise to evoke a stalking and seething death industrial tone. ‘And Time Will Crumble With Their Bodies’ then functions to elevates the mood, consisting of layers crumbling static, loosely looped bass rumble and stabbing shards of noise, where these elements are structured to achieve a gradually elevating intensity. For the final of En Nihil’s track, this steps into an all-out static noise squall and sporadic harsh and chaotic noise cut ups. Despite this description it is not of a HWN style given the track ebbs and flows in intensity, building to noise crescendos and falling away again.
Moving onto the flip side the relatively young project Procession of the Black Sloth (PotBS) are a both a surprise and a revelation with their strong ‘cinematic’ death industrial offerings. The first track ‘Unexpected Demise’ features a clanging metallic structure which brings to mind early Megaptera. In other words it off to a great start. When the vocals appear they are rather unique for the death industrial genre, having an aggressive guttural yell to unhinged shrieking style, which is more akin to underground metal spheres than typically of industrial or power electronics. Across PotBS’s side the vocal delivery and sonic treatment is highly varied (echoed, delayed, flanged etc.) which makes the vocals a standout element of the project’s style and sound. Following the opening cut the next offering ‘Take the Power’ pulls back on the aggression and contains a deep reverb drenched death ambient atmosphere, complete with distant wailing vocals and rattling chains (…the track then morphs into caustic death industrial in the latter half of the piece). The remaining tracks (‘Under the Floor’, ‘The Only Way’ and ‘Discarded….Forgotten’) variously contain combinations of junk metal clatter, loose creaking noise, sweeping synth drones, distant echoed layers, scattered dialogue samples and diverse vocals which facilitate a general death ambient to death industrial tone. Likewise across PotBS’s side of the tape there is a general suspense/ horror soundtrack vibe, which is evoked by snippets of movie dialogue or the vocal approach used to achieve same effect. Thus in some ways the project’s approach brings to mind the heavy dialogue sample approach of Propergol, even if the end result of PotBS sounds rather different from this comparison.
This is a commendable split tape where both projects have approached the same conceptual theme but which has resulted in vastly different sonic results. From my perspective each project turn in solid offerings, but if comparing the two it is a situation where the newcomer wins out in style and interest due to the ‘new project surprise’ factor.