Steel Hook Prostheses – Wounds Bathed In Piss Water

Steel Hook Prostheses – Wounds Bathed In Piss Water DLP Breathing Problems Productions 2019

Wounds Bathed In Piss Water is not a new album by Steel Hook Prostheses, rather it is a reissue of an older obscurity. Originally issued as a CDr in 2007 in an edition of 100 copies on the Italian label Blade Records, few will have managed to hear this. The 2019 reissue has also been remastered for good measure. Generally, perhaps Wounds Bathed In Piss Water is less tonally sharp, refined, and clinical than current material from the group, but it nevertheless features the high calibre, US-style death industrial that the group assisted in defining. The medical obsessions remain as a thematic core, with smatterings of related dialogue samples. The vocals are heavily processed with smeared distortion, although their sound is not yet of the seething trademark style which would characterise later albums.

As a listening experience Wounds Bathed In Piss Water functions as a collection of individual tracks spanning three to six minutes each, allowing differing moods and sonic approaches to be explored. Graft is notable, with its blend of subdued death industrial and melancholic-tinged synths, over which the vocals feature in an upfront spoken style. Ether Dream also stands out with varied passages, swinging from fried static to machine rhythms with upfront vocals and onward to widescreen ambience. Rounding out the 11 tracks is Drifting Towards The Light, which – as the name might suggest – is a widescreen dark ambient affair of muted intertwining drones and deep echoed production. A bonus track has been added in the form of Hunting For Humans – Tribute To Schloss Tegal, which is a rather faithful, yet slightly more urgent, cover of the Schloss Tegal track of the same name.

With a high-gloss gatefold sleeve this is a solid release that fills a gap in the back catalogue, also illustrating the refinement of the group’s sound on subsequent releases following the original release of Wounds Bathed In Piss Water.

Absterbende ‎– Gebärmutter

Absterbende Gebärmutter MC self-released 2019

Sitting well within the depths of the post-industrial underground, here we have the debut tape from this obscure German project, which has links to another project, Die Kombination, and the Deutsch Asphalt label and distro. The title translates to ‘uterus’, derived from the Greek word root ‘hysteria’, which I have been informed provides a hint as to the thematic underpinnings. But with a predominantly instrumental presentation, and liner notes and track titles being in German, further interpretation of the theme was difficult (yet clearly something to mull over while listening to the tape if you can read the text).

The 12 tracks on offer span just over 75 minutes, and the material is perhaps better described as ‘movements’ rather than ‘compositions’. Consisting of longform / freeform layered synth oscillations and filthy analogue tones, the material is predominantly instrumental other than the use of psychological and addiction-related dialogue samples on two tracks on Side B. Sonically speaking, the tape displays an inherent paradox by being low-key yet at the same time animated. Gebärmutter contains sonic contradictions: minimalist yet detailed in layering and blending elements that are sonically forceful with others that are equally subdued. Being generally grey-hued, obscure, and unassuming, selected tracks feature wonky oscillating machine-like loops that drive the flow forward, while others have an incessant idling militant rumble blended with caustic bass tones.

For contextual rather than comparative purposes, the material featured on this tape sits somewhere in the dank in-between spaces characterized by the off-kilter industrial post-mortem sounds of Proiekt Hat, the long-form modulating synth experimentations of Atrax Morgue, and the subdued power electronics / heavy electronics tone of later-era Anenzephalia. Although not sonically derivative, those comparisons should nevertheless give a clear indication of the post-industrial furrow being ploughed by Absterbende. Gebärmutter is a tape I have both enjoyed and returned to for numerous repeat listens, which is clear enough indication of its quality. Although this tape is limited to only 50 copies, evidently a re-release on CD is to occur at some point which is a welcome proposition to give this greater coverage and reach.

Analfabetism ‎– Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur

Analfabetism Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur Not On Label (self-released) 2019

Following a couple of albums on Malignant Records in 2015 and 2017, Analfabetism have issued two self-released albums in 2018 & 2019. Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur is the latest album from mid-2019.

Based on the earlier Malignant albums I have heard, they displayed a distinct Swedish death industrial angle. Clearly that sound remains here, but from the opening moment of Vættr there is a greater display of experimentation, where dank liquidous tones and deep bass rumbles blend with up front ‘micro-tonal’ textures, while the second have the track focuses on heavier atonal industrial elements. On the following track Kråkeld, given its murky production, distant rhythmic elements, erupting fissures of distortion and garbled voices it is an effective case study in Swedish death industrial. Pushing a more direct and aggressive tone, Vedergällning evokes a mood of seething menace, with the mid-toned droning layers pushing up towards higher pitched distortion, coupled with the vocals being rendered as another seething layer. Elsewhere Miðgarðsormr deliveries a track of thick and laborious muted bass tones, which mid track briefly explodes with noxious distortion. Ihjäl de vittra rounds out the 50-minute album with more muted bass rumble and features an effective use of panning voices between speakers to generate an off kilter feel.

As a general comment I would say that Analfabetism are something of a workhorse project, who with little fanfare delivers strong and varied material within the chosen niche style. As such everything I have heard from the project, including this new album, is both top notch and certainly an enjoyable genre piece. Also, don’t let the ‘self-released’ status colour your impression in any way. The cover is slickly designed and has been professionally printed as a 6 panel dig-pack that suitably rounds out the physical presentation.

Nordvargr – Daath

Nordvargr – Daath LP Cyclic Law 2019

2018’s Metempsychosis heralded a new musical direction for Nordvargr, being the effective culmination of a number of stylistic threads spread across various projects. To then speak specifically of Metempsychosis (reviewed here), it featured a vocal driven, song based death industrial style heavily rooted in real instrumentation, including standing kit percussion and rhythmic bass guitar. Now that well over a year has passed since its release, the follow up Daath has finally arrived, it continues the same path set down by Metempsychosis. Yet by mostly forgoing the bridging ambient interludes, Daath is a far more honed and focused affair, with eight direct song based compositions.

The first track Inner Monarch Awakened functions to metaphorically open the gates, where the wailing horns and looped creaking metallics creates a slow laborious rhythm over which Nordvargr’s gruff throat rasped vocals are bellowed. The Horsemen Ride Out On Foaming Steeds then quickly establishes itself as an early album highlight, with its deep sub-orchestral drones and thundering percussion, mid-paced bass guitar rhythm and again with prominent vocals. With a continued upward trajectory Tabernakelvisa – The Redeemer And The Secret further steps up mood, where the rolling tribal drums of death and deep thrummed bass guitar rhythm perfectly intertwine, being a track of resounding dark menace. As King, As Queen – When Kingdom Collide is yet another highlight with plodding bass and martial kit percussion, but very much framed as a vocal lead ritual death industrial song. Late album track The Light Of The Lord And The Black Sun Behind The Sun contains subtle hints of a sound which pushes more towards MZ.412 given its use of martial snare, deep brass orchestral horns and piano motif. Yet this is partly explained by the promotional blurb, as evidently Daath was recorded back to back with the latest MZ.412 album Svartmyrkr (reviewed here). As for the final track Where There Is Word There Is Enlightenment, it features as a widescreen ritual ambient soundscape, thus opts for a mellow conclusion to the album.

With eight tracks and a mere 34-minute run time, Daath is not a long album by any measure, but it packs a major impact in that short time-frame to feel much longer than it actually is. Given the song-based material is very much suited to the live arena, this was strongly evidenced when personally witnessing a number of tracks from Daath performed by Nordvargr at the Dominion of Flesh in Stockholm, November, 2019 (aka Cloister Recordings 5th Anniversary festival). As a final comment, and without putting too much of a point on it, Daath is yet another high water-mark in Nordvargr’s ever-expanding discography, so yes, this is recommended. LP and CD version comes via Cyclic Law and MC version via Cloister Recordings.

Funerale Classico Italiano – /e·ṣi·zià·le/

Funerale Classico Italiano – /e·i·zià·le/ MC SoundScape 713 2019

If you have not heard of this project before, Funerale Classico Italiano is helmed by Giovanni Maffeis, who notably has been a live member of Brighter Death Now in recent years. This is then the debut tape, limited it physical copies to a mere 23.

Perhaps alluding to the project’s moniker, the first track Nei Tuoi Occhi Innocenti features the distraught wailing of female voices, thus assuming these have been sampled from a funeral recording. From there the backing sonics feature as a grim and laborious bass rumble mixed with sustained but muted synth drones. For good measure gruff spoken and slightly treated vocalizations appear, where the overall atmosphere is very much in the classic 1990’s Italian underground death industrial style heavily characterized by the likes of Atrax Morgue. The second track ups the mood slightly, with a rumbling, fast pulsing synth line which also clearly brings to mind a 1990’s Brighter Death Now verses Atrax Morgue death industrial axis, while aggressive distorted vocals make an appearance from mid track.

With only two tracks and around eight minutes of music, this is perhaps more akin to 7”ep in run time. But in functioning to introduce the project and also to wet the appetite, it would seem that Funerale Classico Italiano are extremely well equipped to carry forward an Italian death industrial sound. I am therefore very much looking forward to what may come next.

Trapdoor Tapes batch 2019

Hal Hutchinson – Steelwork Fabricators MC Trapdoor Tapes 2019

Modelbau – The Whole Truth MC Trapdoor Tapes 2019

Luke Holland – Virtues Of Torture MC Trapdoor Tapes 2019

Being well aware of Hal’s activities in his other projects, I am then not as well versed with his solo output – other than understanding it is of a raw scrap metal noise type. Steelwork Fabricators features two untitled tracks, which are both excellent examples of what can be achieved with slow control noise, opposed to an overtly chaotic noise attack. Thus a laborious and roughly hewn scrap metal approach is the order of the day. Clearly not being from a singular improvised recording session, Hal has taken a multi-layered approach, where the tracks are carefully constructed layered for maximum impact. With a slow, jagged, hefty and ripping bass tone, the production is also thickly hollow, and in select moments contains a thunderous but abstracted oil barrel beat. In essence the sound is amazing and could be creatively described as an the rusting hulk of an abandoned steel cargo ship being slowly crushed and swallowed by expanding sheets of ice. With only 20 minutes run time, this is far too short and leaves me wanting much more.

Regarding Modelbau I I had not heard of the project before before, but then immediately recognised the name behind the project – Frans de Waard – formerly of Kapotte Muziek and the Staalplaat shop/ label, and currently of the Vital Weekly online publication. But to talk specifically of Modelbau, the project is concerned with densely detailed tape experimentation, where two length tracks feature on each side of the tape. The title track leads off with highly animated lo-fi noise, which is blended with treated bells or gongs and a plethora of detailed natural field recordings elements (wind, water, birds, voices etc). Extremely dense in sound, the atmosphere is one of an elevating maelstrom of sound than anything remotely ambient or relaxing. Back There features on Side B, and steps the sound up a notch with a more direct sound which verges on industrial-noise. Here scrambling and scattered distortion sit in the foreground, while abstracted metallic tones and distant echoed field recording elements site far back within the mix. With around 50 releases issued since 2012, this is an intriguing introduction to Modelbau and their forcefully detailed, yet engaging low-fi approach.

On Virtues of Torture, Luke Holland delivers a single lengthy 28 minute track of his particular brand of muted industrial noise. But from the lead off, it is immediately apparent that the the track displays more of an affinity with a loosely rhythmic death industrial sound. As such the slow ‘two note’ rhythmic pulse and windswept oscillating layers generates an excellent dank minimalism, which sits at a mid-point somewhere between Atrax Morgue and early Brighter Death Now. Being an instrumental track and with its elongated length, the track takes its time to gradually morph and shift, but generally not straying too far from the core framework, until a quite dramatic shift late in the track to a section of crumbling distortion, forceful bass tones and wailing horns of death. All in all another solid offering from the Trapdoor Tapes label head.