Fall of Nature Batch 2017

Fall of Nature’s recent batch of tapes reveals four projects working within the spheres spanning dank and minimalist death ambient, to abrasive and harsh death industrial. With each project demonstrating their own twist and personalised take on these styles, following below is a brief overview of each of the four releases.


N. – Hospital Murders MC Fall of Nature 2017

With this long standing Italian project, their approach is of a sustained and minimalist death industrial type. Twelve tracks span both sides and with the recordings themselves deriving from 2003 this is a reissue of a tape from 2004 (but also issued on CDr in 2016). After a lengthy intro (based on a dialogue/ soundtrack sample), things get down to the business of issuing tracks based on moribund and loosely wavering oscillations. Despite the material being relatively simplistic, an all-important morbid atmosphere sits front and centre, regardless of whether the tracks are slowly plodding; or bass tone rhythmic; or minimal and soundscape based (Side B also contains a couple of tracks which use some prominent samples). Overall N. very much embodies an Italian underground minimalist death industrial sound (think Atrax Morgue for good measure), and this alone will give an idea of the quality to expect.


 

Subklinik – Monothestic Entrance of Seclusion MC Fall of Nature 2017

Subklinik is the solo project of Chad Davis, and on for this release it is a physical edition of a previously a digital only release from 2015. Taking its sonic reference from a grim death industrial sound, this has been distilled down into a minimalist death ambient/ dark ambient hybrid. With muted sub-orchestral elements (i.e. treated elongated vocal chants) and dank catacombal droning ambience, the sound is equally widescreen as it is enveloping. A general mood of muted stasis vs catatonic drift features across the 3 lengthy compositions. It also reminds of Lustmord’s heralded classic Heresy on more the a few moments, particularly as the sound and tone is not in any way clean or digital (more like choking grey to black toned). An excellently minimalist and deathly atmospheric tape.


 

Vitriol Guage – Gone Septic MC Fall of Nature 2017

Vitriol Guage are an American solo project of Anthony S. Kuchta III (operating since 2012), who incidentally recently joined another American project United Front as their permanent vocalist. As for his solo works, on Gone Septic the sound is a murky but extremely heavy, and is delivered in a direct and pounding death industrial style. Generally the sound is based on heavy and slow bass driven layers which are mixed with muted minor keyed synth loops, but on occasion it pushes towards harder power electronics intensity. Likewise, when vocals are used they are either a blurred mass of distortion (fierce in their tone and delivery), or otherwise presented in a drawling spoken chant. Nine tracks are spread over the two sides of the tape, and while the tracks are each relatively short and to the point, they hit hard in the time they hang around. Being very much aligned with other current American projects such as Gnawed and The Vomit Arsonist, this is a very strong tape and a great introduction to this project.


Kadaver – Hypothermiasma MC Fall of Nature 2017

With Hypothermiasma the long standing and prolific Israeli solo project Kadaver delivers a sonically fierce tape . From the outset the sound is multifaceted and shredding, and stepping beyond a strict death industrial sound, given the sound features a swirling sonic maelstrom of loose noise and intense feedback. In the most part the tape is an exercise in the abrasive over the atmospheric. On Side A two of the four tracks are effectively straight noise workouts, while the other two are based on a variety of forceful loops that intersect and intertwine (and fall in out of sync based on some being slow and others fast and chaotic). The humorously titled 23 Shades Of Decomposition (first track on Side B), bring some respite given its ritual tone, sampled chants and minimalist soundscape, but this is short lived given the later introduction of an invasive needling tone. Likewise the following track Maruta reverts to obliterating overdrive, while the final track Pink Sabbath is of a muted death industrial type. Perhaps more chaotic in tone than what I would usually choose to listen to, this is still an expertly executed tape.


As noted in the introduction, there is clear diversity in approach to be found on these four tapes, but based on my own sonic preferences, Vitriol Gauge is my pick of the bunch and followed closely by Subklinik.

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Trapdoor Tapes Batch 2017

Here is another batch of underground goodness from the ever-reliable Trapdoor Tapes label, with a short overview of each provided below.


Luke Holland – Purgatory Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Purgatory is another solo release from the Trapdoor Tapes head honcho, but upon further investigation it is noted to be a re-issue of a 2015 tape released on Altered States Tapes. Featuring a single track of around 16 minutes (repeating on both sides), the sound is rough yet muted, minimalist death industrial. Accordingly slow morphing and oscillating textures set a grim and minimalist mood, while the later section is differentiated by a dose of heavy thuds and distorted rumble. Short but effective and certainly to the point.


Luke Holland / Mama Baer – Split Trapdoor Tapes 2017

On Luke’s split with Mama Baer, each feature around 20 minutes of material. Luke takes the first side with two tracks of his death industrial meets industrial noise crudeness and which effectively bleed into one longer continues piece. While continuing its repetitive and minimalist approach, the sound is quite bit more animated than Purgatory, featuring splitting and grinding loops to hammer home an invasive industrial noise atmosphere. Being absolutely grim in tone, it also ratchets up its squalling intensity with late sonic textures reminiscent of distant wailing fog horns, and overall is more ‘on point’ material from Luke.

Having then not come across Mama Baer before, it is the solo project of A. K. I. Hjuler and based on this material this sits more towards an experimental industrial approach. The first track Matecto is a wonky layers soundscape of pulsing sound and swirling textures and processed chats/ vocalisations, while other random sound cut and slash across the track, while on Regina which follows and spans a sweeping dark ambient piece, fused with a heavy dose of spitting static. However, the final track Seaworld is not really to my sonic taste, based on its weird playful mood derived from programmed rhythms and stilted musical elements ( and two out of three is a reasonable strike rate though).



Nothinghunger – Livestock Management Strategies Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Nothinghunger, this is the (death) industrial project of Jael Edwards who is perhaps more recognised from his underground death metal band Ignovomous. However Nothinghunger is then not to be considered a ‘fly by night’ side project given it is reflective of his decades long interest in the post-industrial underground. Commencing with a sample relating to society control the first piece Illuminate quickly establishes a brooding mood of a churning mid paced rhythm, layered sustained drones and associated burrowing tones. The following cut Livestock Management opts for a more minimalist path of muted rumble, wavering drones and occasional dialogue sample, which all sprawls out over extended length. Only For Slaves rounds out the tape, following a similar path by featuring minimalist wonky loops, repeated sample and occasional tonal stabs for good measure.

In an overarching sense the approach displayed on of Livestock Management Strategies reminds of the no-frills death industrial sounds being explored on early Sound Source or Old Europa Cafe cassette tape releases from the 1990’s (or even the approach of Puissance as featured on their two early demos before they headed off into far more produced martial industrial and neoclassical realms). So while Nothinghunger certainly engender a sound rooted in the 1990’s northern European industrial underground (complete with a large number of dialogue samples peppered throughout), the resulting impression is this tape is not purposefully regressive, rather is the simply the resultant sound of Jael’s writing and recording process. Perhaps sitting midway between dark ambient and death industrial mood, this is a decent tape for those yearning for ‘that’ particular sound of yesteryear.


Rudolf Eb.er – 4444 Trapdoor Tapes 2017

Rudolf Eb.er (aka Ruzelstirn & Gurglestock), is someone I have been aware of for a long time, but admittedly have not familiarised myself with his recording output due to the rather imposing back catalogue. This tape now rectifies that and while I get the feeling the sounds on 4444 does not deviate from his established approach, equally I am not certain on this either. Anyway, on 4444 it feature disorientating and minimalist experimental industrial soundscapes, being framed around sustained yet sparse mid-spectrum tones, and static washes which are further augmented with lots of unidentifiable minute ‘up-close’ elements and on occasion a slow ritual like thudding beat.

Although four tracks are featured, these play out less as individual pieces, rather the tone is akin to listening to the audio track of an experimental film but without benefit of seeing the visuals, with this impression only being amplified by the fact that over the course of the tape with the sound randomly flicking or cutting between segments. Adding to the surreal edge are various morphed and twisted voices, choking vocal sounds and a multitude of field recordings elements, but also the material never sounds random or improvised, given it has been meticulously constructed (and also executed in line with the agenda of the artist which has been described on Discogs as:“Combining abreactive and cleansing actionism with sonic rituals and psychoactive acoustics, Eb.er generates audio-environments into which he plants grotesque psycho-magic rituals and tantric exercises to trigger a higher awareness”).

In essence 4444 has caught me by surprise and is an excellent and particularly rewarding experiencing if fully submitting to its slightly surreal and experimental approach (which is also a slight deviation from the harder and harsher focus of many of Trapdoor Tapes releases).


 

Dødsmaskin ‎– Fullstendig Brent

Dødsmaskin ‎– Fullstendig Brent CD Malignant Records 2017

Dødsmaskin (…translating to ‘Death Machine’) are new project and signing to Malignant Records. ‘Fullstendig Brent’ is the debut from this Norwegian duo, and from a geographic perspective Norway has far less of a profile than say Sweden when dealing with this type of music. Thematically the album then deals with 17th Century witch trails, with the title translating to an approximation of the English words ‘holocaust’ or ‘completely burnt’ provides further conceptual context for its darkly hued drones and jaggedly erupting post-industrial soundscapes.

Crackling fires samples underpin the majority of the opening track ‘Baldom’, which is coupled with an archaic and forlorn atmosphere driven by a maudlin violins, mid track dour synth melody and later segment of intense fire blasting factory floor ambience (…aka solid death industrial). ‘Heksetimen’ follows with an offering of hollow, grinding drones and mood of lurking malevolence (…again with fire samples featuring as a prominent and consistent element), where this track also follows the format of the first track by evolving into a slow, pounding death industrial soundscape. ‘Christoffering Orning’ is the 10 minute centre piece, which commences with chanted religious proclamations, prior to leaping into a cinematically tinged, throbbing post-industrial soundscape with the anguished wailing a lone female (…clearly representative of the torture of an accused witch).  After the grinding intensity of this track, ‘De Ti – 1621’ takes a more atmospheric route, with a sparse echoed dark ambient soundscape, with floating female vocals (…but mid-track this also drives towards a grinding death industrial frame). For the final of the 5 tracks ‘Dømt På Sitt Liv Til Ild Og Bål’, it perhaps demonstrates the greatest degree of restraint with a distant tolling bell, manipulated micro-tonal textures, and a final segment consisting of a ‘duet’ between sparse strings and a tragically toned piano melody.

With ‘Fullstendig Brent’ featuring 5 tracks between 7 to 10 minutes each provides an overall run time of 42 minutes, yet given the presented material is varied and highly detailed in sonic scope the album feels much longer than this (…this observation is meant in a positive light). In sonically articulating its heavy weight theme, the means of recording is highly detailed, nuanced and expertly constructed, where passages of relative calm provides for balance and relief from other passages of highly tensile atmospheres. Likewise ‘Fullstendig Brent’ is noteworthy in that achieves a cinematic soundtrack feel (…rather than a more typical ‘song’ oriented framework), and consequently has resulted in a divergent and high caliber death industrial offering.

Anima Nostra – Atraments

Anima Nostra – Atraments CD Malignant Records 2017
The collaborative duo of Henrik ‘Nordvargr’ Bjorkk and Margaux Renaudin have returned and in building upon 2016’s album ‘Anima Nostra’, that title has now been adopted as the as the moniker for the project’s continuation. Although taking clear cues from the debut (reviewed here), this sophomore album demonstrates a refinement and streamlining of musical approach. While also broadly drawing influence from the multi-faceted approaches of Nordvargr over his career to date, the involvement with Margaux Renaudin allows the music to chart new stylistic territory.

Rooted in the post-industrial crossroads of dark ambient, black industrial and neo-classical, ‘Atraments’ is still more varied and complex than those genre tags might suggest. Being musically focused and almost soundtrack in stylistic orientation, Anima Nostra’s compositions are darkly cinematic in scope. Driving martial percussion and slow distorted guitars loom large on selected tracks, which clearly nods to influence from blackened, doom-drone spheres. Yet these ‘band’ instruments are wielded in an heavily abstracted way, where the music never sounds like an actual ‘band’ (…and thankfully avoids any feel of constituting a metal pastiche, or a dreaded industrial/metal hybrid). Further textural variation comes in the ritualised elements such as gongs, chimes, meditative chants, choral chanting samples and treated vocal proclamations, which are combined with shrill strings, drawling brass horns and organ dirges which all woven together into a dense post-industrial sonic tapestry.

During a couple of moments a comparison with Trepaneringsritualen comes to mind, particularly given the use of gruff yelled/ sung vocals and rhythmic/ tribal styled framework (…such as is found on ‘Anima Nostra’ and the final cut ‘The Seal’, but within the context of this album the sound is more polished and refined). For further comparative purposes ‘Atraments’ also sits within the same general sonic sphere as late era Mz.412, yet the sound charts its own individualistic direction, with is powerful atmosphere articulating its own form of grim esoteric spirituality. Despite the sheer number of albums Nordvargr has been involved with over the decades, this is yet another album and project which has struck gold, thus making Nordvargr and Margaux Renaudin akin to modern day sonic alchemists. Recommended.

The Vomit Arsonist – Meditations On Giving Up Completely

The Vomit Arsonist – Meditations On Giving Up Completely CD Malignant Records 2017

With a substantial discography extending close to 40 releases since 2004, ‘Meditations On Giving Up Completely’ is in fact only the 5th full length album from Andy Grant’s solo project.  In then taking a quick looking at Andy’s creative arc over the last few albums, ‘Only Red’ from 2015 was notable in that it took the brooding death industrial sound of 2013’s ‘An Occasion For Death’, but opted to ramp it up with an aggressively rhythmic approach.  But rather than potentially continuing on that more direct path, ‘Meditations On Giving Up Completely’ shows clear sense of honing, refinement and restraint in order to create claustrophobic death industrial atmospheres (…to rival the best moments of early Brighter Death Now).

‘Meditations’ opens the album with a minimalist “yawning chasm” tone (…this metaphor is to be read as industrial hum, echo & rumble), and with its semi-buried dialogue sample it very much feels as an introductory piece to set the mood. The following piece ‘What’s Left’ then features as an excellent offering constructed around a slow pummeling death industrial ‘beat’, idling machines and general wasteland ambience, as Andy’s agonized and unintelligible distortion charred vocals articulate a mood of anguish and desperation. Thus from the template established by the first two pieces, the following tracks effectively play out as further variations on these established theme. However to talk of notable elements, the wailing siren sound on ‘It Never Ends’ is a standout when set against a monolithic and slow pounding beat, as is the morbidly cavernous depth and gradually rising dread of ‘On Living’. During the album’s last third, ‘There is Nothing Here’ features a pounding beat that despite pushing towards a mid-paced rhythm the overall mood remains of one of brooding restraint, and with this same tone seeping into the final track ‘Sick Over’ (..which itself bleeds out in shuddering convulsions over 10 minutes).

With each track spanning around 6 minutes or longer, each of the 7 tracks are effectively elongated death industrial meditations on nihilism, underpinned with an enveloping sense of brooding despair. Likewise given the album’s general minimalism and restraint in deliver, its layered sonic elements and sporadic vocals have been meticulously combined for substantive impact. Without seeking to significantly deviate from what has preceded it, ‘Meditations On Giving Up Completely’ features a clear sense of honed refinement, and in the process has issued an imposing death industrial statement.

Human Larvae – Behind Blinding Light

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Human Larvae – Behind Blinding Light CD Malignant Records 2016

For those who missed the original LP version released by Freak Animal also in 2006 (…perhaps due to the limitation of 300 copies, or maybe vinyl is not the preferred format?), Malignant Records have been kind enough to quickly reissue this on CD.

Not to repeat the original review (which can be located here), this is an excellent album and one of the best of last year. To then quote the conclusion of the full review: “Without being in any way derivative, ‘Behind Blinding Light’ is a strong, focused and sonically diverse industrial/ power electronics release which demonstrates full control over its sonic elements, both in the recording and their construction”.

All elements of the original artwork are included here, but reformatted in the guise of a 8 panel fold over digi-pack. In a word: recommended.

Gnawed – Pestilence Beholden / Steel Hook Prostheses – Calm Morbidity

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Gnawed – Pestilence Beholden CD Malignant Records 2016

Steel Hook Prostheses – Calm Morbidity CD Malignant Records 2016

From personal experience 2012’s ‘Terminal Epoch’ album was my introduction to Gnawed and with its excellent blend of US power electronics and death industrial musings it received high rotation over many months.  With that template following through to 2014’s ‘Feign and Cloak’, now 2 years on the new and third official album has arrived and seeing Gnawed rerouting their established approach into more brooding and ominous territory.

To describe the general order of proceedings, the album constitutes stark arrangements of drawling foghorn drones, layered synth derived sludge, slow echoed pounding beats and a greater emergence of metallic ‘clang and clatter’ which is roughly hewn into rhythmic structures.  With its overarching atmosphere oozing urban decay, this tone evident from the methods of recording the junk metal inputs, which according to the liner notes: “all scrap metal, performed percussion and natural sounds were recorded within sewers and rotting abandoned industrial complexes in Minneapolis, 2015”.  Although vocals do not feature on all compositions, when they are used they’re universally distortion drenched and agonized in delivery, and as is typical for this fare the lyrics are completely unintelligible, but the aggression and anguish in conveyance is tangible.

With its 9 tracks and 56 minutes, the sound and mood does not hugely deviate, but more plays out on variations on broader sonic themes, thus with the constant mood being grim and grey toned throughout, and with the greater reliance on looped junk metal being an noteworthy element.  With is greater display of structure, control and restraint, this is another excellent addition to Gnawed’s discography.

Moving on to ‘Calm Morbidity’, it represents the new album from US stalwart Steel Hook Prosthesis and would seem to be the 9th formal studio album (excluding splits and live albums), from this project since the early 2000’s, again demonstrating them to be in strong and consistent form.

Constituting a further excursion into their established clinical and medical obsessed death industrial approach, in some ways the album title is a clear synopsis of what can be expected from this album, noting that the overt aggression and sonic maelstrom has been pared back (to the bone?) to reveal greater brooding restraint (…that said, this a still far cry from potentially being tagged as ‘dark ambient’). The heavily processed vocals remain as a particular trademark, while the sonic base is cleaved into slow to mid paced rhythmic structures of throbbing distortion, erupting static, sustained caustic noise and dour synth drones to create varied offerings of brooding intensity and morbid intent.  Yet despite its broader restraint, there are specific instances where greater aggression erupts such as is displayed on both ‘Hand of Glory’ and ‘Stranguary’, which both feature variations on fast paced pulsing distortion, textured noise and garbled static infused vocals.  Also of note are the sonically processed medical based samples on ‘Deep in the Marrow’, which seem to be in complete homage to the same style of treated medical samples used by Carcass on their classic ‘Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious’ album.

With 10 tracks at just short of an hour play time, rather than being a particular step up in refinement this is perhaps a side step into slightly more restrained realms, but with the broader sonic palate remaining staunchly recognizable as Steel Hook Prosthesis.  Noting the ever so so slight shift in focus, I would not say this album is merely ‘more of the same’, nevertheless a key point to be made is if prior output is to your liking, this will again do the trick (…but equally this won’t alter your mind if you were not convinced by earlier output).  6 panel DVD sized digi-pack rounds out the visual presentation.