Detrimental Effect ‎– Be My Enemy

Detrimental Effect ‎– Be My Enemy LP Unsound Recordings 2018

Following relatively quickly on the heels of 2017’s debut tape (reviewed here), sole project member Kim Vann has returned with his debut vinyl release. To make reference back to my review of the debut tape I noted that: ‘Detrimental Effect is project to keep an eye on’, which is proven absolutely correct with the release of Be My Enemy. This new album has also been issued with the following ideological statement, which frames its thematic focus and intent: ‘A perplexed continent adrift with ever more fractions while claiming to have the solution for the crisis at hand. Indifference or resignation is no longer an option and confrontation is called for’.

In noting that the debut tape showcased a modern take on the traditional German power/heavy electronics/industrial blended sound, pleasingly everything on Be My Enemy has been refined and stepped up a notch. Essentially this is demonstrated with devastating impact on the opening track Relentless, based on jittery and tensile fractured loops, prior to a vocal barrage blasting into frame. And to speak of the vocals, these have become a standout element of Be My Enemy where everything from their delivery to sonic treatment is perfectly executed. Although the saturation with delay/pitch/phaser treatment effectively renders the vocals another sonic element in the mix, yet the aggression and force of their delivery is still palpable in their blood boiling intensity. An array of samples are scattered throughout the eight tracks, where some take key focus, and at other times they function as track intros/outros. One such example is on Grinding You Down, where the minimalist atonal throb and sustained wavering noise backs a lengthy movie dialogue sample, prior to the standout vocals appearing front and centre late in the track. The pairing of tracks No Borders, No Nations and Victim Morality as the second half of Side A uses simplicity in the best way possible, with variations on the use of cyclic throbbing loops, fluttering noise, bulldozing static and the standout vocal attack.  Side B maintains the momentum of the first, where Herded Into Submission features slight sonic variation with a mid toned, fast paced modulated throb, sporadic panning distortion blasts. In then pulling back on overt aggression Gods & Guns evokes controlled queasy atmosphere with its central swaying loop. The final of the eight tracks The Burden of Symbols also functions to widen out the project’s sound palate by showcasing a slightly mellower and melodic drone approach, which is a partial reprieve following the sonic barrage which precedes it.

In many ways the sound and approach of Detrimental Effect on this album could be deemed to be an updated, modern and slightly more direct and attacking version of Operation Cleansweep’s heavy electronics approach, where I apply such a comparison with absolute high praise and respect. Yet, a limited pressing of 100 copies seems too few for an album of this quality but is partly explained but the current emerging status of the project. But don’t let either this limitation or current obscurity of Detrimental Effect turn your away, as surely this will be sought after album in years to come. In a word – recommended.

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Various Artists – Darkness Descends: a post-industrial compilation

Various Artists – Darkness Descends: a post-industrial compilation CDr Live Bait Recording Foundation 2018

This release was originally issued to coincide with the festival of the same name which was held in Cleveland on 16th June, 2018, but as the festival has now been and gone, the role of this compilation has now shifted to that of a commemorative release. Featuring exclusive tracks from the ten artists who performed at the festival, they effectively form a selection of some of the best American death industrial related projects.

Being already well familiar with the output of nine of the ten artists, despite the fact that they all operate within similar genre confines, it is positive to note that each of the tracks stand apart from each other and that the individual stylistic nuances of the featured various projects shine through. The only project I not heard before is the female duo Cunting Daughters, whose piece of obtuse muffled factory ambience hints at a distant lurking horror and a positive introduction to the project. Elsewhere Murderous Vision opens the compilation with a varied death industrial offering, including rolling tribal beat and ranted religious themed sample, while the shrill strings and garbled background noise of Abjection Ritual’s delivers a strong suspense feel, before descending into looped mechanical churn and fried static. The introductory floating drones of Shock Frontier’s piece takes it time in elevating to full blast furnace intensity, while Vitriol Gauge delivery a relatively straight forward but classic toned death industrial track of mid paced looped distortion, subdued static and agonized vocals which are smeared across the sonic spectrum. Compactor’s piece stands apart given the slightly cleaner sonic edge and heady atonal pounding structure, while Gnawed’s track is far more controlled and considered than typically would be expected, here with muted sub-orchestral drones, slow mechanical agitations and trademark treated vocals. Steel Hook Prostheses follows with their distinct brand of clinical tinged death industrial, but of note is the greater than normal reliance on underpinning synths. The Vomit Arsonist also delivers with a devastatingly bleak track of minimalist rhythmic structure and cavernous rumble, while Theologian concludes the album with heavily animated rhythmic driven thrum and moody wavering synths which is strong backing for the stylized half sung/ screamed vocals.

Although technically a CDr release, this is a pro-duplicated disc housed and mini-gatefold cover and if any of the featured acts of or interest, this compilation will be of absolute interest, ans absolutely a suitable document and memento of the Darkness Descends festival.

Zos Kia – 23

Zos Kia – 23 CD Infinite Fog 2017

For background context Zos Kia was the primary 1980’s musical vehicle of John Gosling and holds a special place within the early development phase of industrial music. This is predominantly due to their only official album Transparent, issued on cassette in 1984 via the cult label Nekrophile Rekords, and while that album was labeled as a split/collaboration with Coil, the group membership at the time were effectively interchangeable between the two. As for musical content Transparent, included a live recording of Zos Kia on Side A, being a performance made at the Berlin Atonal festival from 1983, while Side B contained a series of tracks credited to Coil/Zos Kia. In an overarching sense Transparent features early proto ritual-industrial, where tonal noise shards slash across rumbling guitar feedback and underscored with clanging metallic ritualized percussion, sampled dialogue and wailing/ screeched evocation-based vocals. But apart from this lone release, Zos Kia also issued two EP’s in the mid 1980’s, where 23 functions to collect together those EP’s and archive them with a large volume of Zos Kia recordings made over the years, with the addition of a couple of extracts from the Transparent album itself.

Having not delved into Zos Kia recordings outside of Transparent, I was immediately surprised by how different the material in 23 is in sound and execution, where the opening track Black Action has a guitar-based band groove and swagger, with spoken vocals and is unlike anything I would have ever expected from the group. The following track Be Like Me equally surprises when the solo piano format breaks out into an almost electro-funk number of constant kick drum, driving bass and central piano riff and swirling guitar line. It is only when 10 Miles High arrives that the attitude and sonic dissonance of earlier material makes an appearance, and the sinister soundscape throb of Rape calls to mind a hazy drugged sound that Coil would hone in later years, while An Absolute manages to meld the earlier sound of the project but within a ridged guitar/ programmed drum format. As for the second electro-funk excusion on Muggy The Staff, to my ear at least is an entirely redundant attempt at a commercial sound, and has me again scratching my head that this is actually the same band as featured on Transparent. As for the last quarter of CD1, this includes a number of remixes of earlier featured tracks, but which really do not warrant further comment.

CD2 opens with Ake, a squalling feedback and gabled voice-based track, and quickly follows with a doomy synth version of An Absolute, which deviates enough from the original to be individually interesting. The flowing tryptic of the lengthy unreleased tracks from 1982, including Era Vulgaris A1, Era Vulgaris A3 and Harry Wouldn’t Like It, sound to be live recordings or rehearsals and sonically reflects the chaotic ritualized dissonance of the Transparent recordings. In then moving well into the run order of the second disc, it features a short 1984 live recording of Be Like Me, as well as three tracks from the Transparent album (two tracks Baptism of Fire and Poisons from the 1983 Berlin Atonal show, as well as the lengthy tensile guitar feedback soundscape Sewn Open). The archive set is then rounded out with two unreleased tracks, including Sways Backwards from 2006 and Sleazy Said from 2000 and with their respective throbbing/ stilted programming and pulsing choral soundscape gives a clear nod to the surreal atmospheres of late area Coil. In fact, Sleazy Said is noted to be a musical collaboration between John Gosling and the late Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson and for me are perhaps the best and most interesting compositions of the entire two CD set.

Noting that I have never been a Zos Kia obsessive, which then means that while 23 is an interesting collection, from this perspective it is personally a non-essential release, particularly due to various tracks falling well outside of what I would ever bracket under an industrial/ post-industrial banner. Yet for others who Zos Kia is a pivotal artist of influence, this extensive double CD set will be of absolutely intrigue to the early industrial (and beyond) experimentations of John Gosling. A digi-book sleeve and detailed liners notes in an eight-page booklet rounds out a slick presentation.