Mz.412 ‎– In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas Luciferi Excelsi

Mz.412 ‎– In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas Luciferi Excelsi DLP Annapurna Productions 2019

In the last issue of Special Interests Magazine (Issue No.10, February 2018) ,I was asked to provide some impressions of my top ten classics, of which this album was one of those chosen. At the time I was not aware of the intention to issue this on vinyl for the first time, which was certainly most welcomed news upon announcement. Regarding my thoughts on this album, those as documented in the ‘top ten’ article were:

‘My initial intrigue with the group was sparked by the partial adherence to an underground black metal aesthetic, but soon enough I was completely taken in by the harsh and hellish electronics; the heavy and occasionally polyrhythmic tribal beats; the general industrial cacophony; and the heavy dose of appropriately satanic themed dialogue samples. This is also the album which resulted in group being furnished with the ‘black industrial’ tag, yet in the years since no other act has come close to touching the sound and mood of Mz.412. God of 50 Names is a particular album highlight for me’.

As for this vinyl reissue, the track listing is noted to be slightly adjusted from both the original version from 1995 and the reissue on Cold Spring Records from 2010, and the slightly expanded version issued via Cold Spring Records in 2010, which included some additional tracks (but minus the track Infinite Hollow here, presumably due to the maximum length of the double vinyl format).

With regard to the sleeve artwork, the main blood red image and internal gate-fold spread builds upon and pays homage to the artwork of the original version, while the back cover and LP labels contains band images associated with the Burning The Temple Of God (which followed in 1996), to round out a stunning presentation on high gloss cardboard stock. All in all, this is a darkly beautiful and immaculately presented version of this Mz.412 classic, and well worth the effort to track this down for your vinyl collection.


Announcement: Spectrum Compendium book cover released!! 

I am extremely proud to reveal the finalised cover of the Spectrum Compendium book!

After a couple of design options, in the end it was decide to go with a cover design both keeps and builds upon the feel and aesthetic of the original Spectrum Magazines, which to my mind has come out as a very strong and striking visual.

The book layout is still being worked on by the publisher, but evidently I will have a copy to proof and approve this month (October, 2018).

More details on publication date will be announced later when known but getting very close now!!!

She Spread Sorrow – Midori

She Spread Sorrow – Midori CD Cold Spring Records 2018

She Spread Sorrow is a solo Italian project fronted by Alice Kundalini, with Midori being her third album since 2015. In making reference to the first two albums, those were broadly promoted as being of a death industrial and power electronics type, however in truth Alice’s approach was a far more restrained and minimalist take on such styles. Thus by forgoing the typical outwardly aggressive elements, She Spread Sorrow’s sound was (and is) framed around creepy and vaguely disturbing atmospheres. To then speak of Midori, it has taken the base template of earlier material and added a heavy dose of ritual dark ambient tonalities to further widen the sound of the project. The trademark vocals also remain as a constant, where they are clearly recognizable for their drawling whispered style, being delivered in English with an obvious Italian inflected accent. In an overarching sense Midori is an album of tensile widescreen ambient soundscapes with smatterings of noisier textures and sonic elements, but those elements are clearly dialed down in tonal intensity when present. Additionally, Midori has embedded a greater use of orchestral synth pads also pushes the album towards dark ambient expression, yet are also used sparingly for added impact.

The evolution of She Spread Sorrow’s sound is then clearly demonstrated on album opener Escape, being an excellent piece of orchestral washes, muted drones, vague percussive elements, with whispered vocals mixed upfront. Following track Night One is a heavier and grim bass addled piece, but ritual chimes give it a differing overall sensibility. That ritual aspect is further amplified on The House through the use of a central ritual percussive texture against an undercurrent of minimalist layered drones. Who Are You, Midori? is of note as it features the most varied instrumentation of the album, including sweeping orchestral strings, a distant plodding piano create a darkly cinematic atmosphere, coupled with sporadic percussive hits and the trademark vocals. To The Light is an album standout based on its darkly moody sweeping orchestral framework and clearly of a neo-classical tinged dark ambient offering, while the album concludes with End of Midori, and has an almost abstract dark jazz tone due to the slow rhythmic percussion set to sweeping sub-orchestral drones.

Clearly building on what has come before, Midori is the strongest work yet from She Spread Sorrow, being an expertly crafted album which has an expanded sound palate and feels to have been created with a greater degree of compositional confidence. Clean visuals and design of the digi-pack cover rounds out the visual presentation, with full lyrics included to further outline its thematic and conceptual story-line which is clearly implied through the titles of the album’s six tracks.

Mz.412 Vs Folkstorm ‎– Live Ceremony

Mz.412 Vs Folkstorm Live Ceremony CD Old Europa Café 2015

With Mz.412 having infrequently graced the stage over the years, it was way back in 2000 (18th August) when two of the three members (i.e. Henrik Nordvargr Björkk and Jouni ‘Ulvtharm’ Ollila) teamed up to perform at the Collapse festival in Rostock, Germany. Being billed as Mz.412 vs Folkstorm at the time, this goes partway to explain the harder and harsher elements of this recording which incidentally was previously issued via Pagan Dance in 2004 in a limited edition of 412 copies. This has now been reissued by Old Europa Café with new artwork and the inclusion of additional bonus tracks not included on the original version.

Having previous heard the Mz.412 live album Hekatomb (recorded at Cold Spring’s 21st Anniversary show at The Garage, London, 5 March 2011 – reviewed here), that recording illustrated a more refined presentation of their existing studio works in a live setting. However on Live Ceremony, the recording is a far rougher sonic affair which would seem to reflect an approach of only partially relying pre-recorded segments of music, in order to focus on the live generation of distortion and feedback. Without the inclusion of actual track names, the seven live tracks have been referred at as Act I through Act VII. But by way of example, Act I includes a short fragment of the classic track God of Fifty Names which cuts through live scattered noise, while an additional dialogue sample more thematically aligned with Folkstorm. Vocals are also present in the live setting, but which are heavily treated and again reflect the Folkstorm angle to the live proceedings. As with Act I, a number of recognizable snippets of studio works are used over the seven live tracks, such as on Act III when Der Kampf Geht Weiter from Nordic Battle Signs is blended with the introduction of Deklaration Of Holy War from Burning the Temple of God. But these recognisable fragments of albums function as short interludes which bridge the live sections of loose distorted noise and on occasion tribal/ ritual rhythmic movements, while he final short Act VII relies on sample of a Penderecki styled choral work to conclude the set.

As for the bonus tracks, the two Folkstorm tracks are solid examples of the spitting noise and raw militant industrial meets power electronics material that the project was producing in the early 2000’s. However perhaps of greater interest are the two-short bonus Mz.412, where there is no indication as to which era these are derived from (although Nordvargr later confirmed these are from around 2006/07).  Mors Solum Initium Est is the first of the bonus offerings and is a darkly ritualistic affair with a deeply cavernous atmosphere, rattling metallic tones and distant wailing textures, and perhaps more reminiscent of early Archon Satani than typically Mz.412 – but an excellent track all the same. Congregation of the Abyss follows to round out the album and slightly differs given its focus on intensive multi-layered garbled to guttural roaring vocals and sweeping sub-orchestral undercurrent, which overall is a replication of the sound of the Domine Rex Inferum album and another decent track.

Being a generally loose, and at time chaotic live recording, this is a worthwhile document of the live performance, but perhaps not an essential release in Mz.412’s discography. But even in saying that, the inclusion of the two bonus Mz.412 tracks gives clear incentive to track this down.