Utøya – Lay Down And Rot

Utøya – Lay Down And Rot MC Cipher Productions 2020

When I previously tried to check out Utøya I missed out on available stock when attempting to order from various distros. I was luckier with Lay Down And Rot which is the third solo release from this newish project in as many years, and it functions as an excellent introduction. The presentation of the release immediately sets a grim tone, with the ‘standard’ edition featuring a cover image affixed to a hand-painted paper envelope. The ‘special’ edition includes the same cover image affixed to a black zip-loc bag which is wrapped in sturdy wire and slathered with thick tar paint.

Five tracks are spread across the two sides of the tape, and there is a degree of singularity in the approach to tone and composition which generally sits within a heavy/power electronics frame of reference. Specifically, the tracks are structured around raw static, buzzing noise, looped oscillations, morbid sustained synth tones, and semi-buried samples, rounded out with guttural vocals. There is also a notable hollowness to the tone, where its sonic elements are amply separated, while the slow rhythmic loop and sustained alarm wailing on Enough Is Enough injects a clear death industrial tone to proceedings.

Overall Lay Down And Rot demonstrates a clear directness, although not necessarily ‘unique’ or bringing something new to the genre. Despite this, it is still an extremely enjoyable tape of straightforward death industrial and controlled heavy/power electronics sounds.

Various Artists – Dies Natalis Invicti Solis

Various Artists – Dies Natalis Invicti Solis CD Live Bait Recording Foundation 2020

The Dies Natalis Invicti Solis compilation brings together 12 extremely varied tracks from both known and more obscure acts within the broader post-industrial underground. Devised in Autumn 2020 with a conceptual focus on the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice rituals, miraculously all contributing artists managed to hit the required deadline, with the final result released in time for the end of 2020.

Kleistwahr, the long-running solo project of Gary Mundy, opens the album with Despite It All, Still We Rejoice. Being a stark track of slow morphing melodious but abstracted guitar-based drones, it sets the introductory tone nicely given that it resembles a dour organ dirge at times. Gnawed follows with Ritual In Depths (Protect Me From An Unconquerable Sun), a track of doom-addled death industrial in their now immediately recognisable style and sound. This comment about a ‘recognisable sound’ equally applies elsewhere, where the perhaps more well-known artists such as Brighter Death Now, Deutsch Nepal, and Contrastate each bring a strong contribution in their particular trademark sonic styles. But to talk of the perhaps less familiar projects, ORD is a post-industrial ritual ambient project from Russia, who present Winterdrone, a track that balances a strong ritual undercurrent with muted caustic post-industrial debris. Murderous Vision somewhat differ from their usual approach, given their track May Diana is a collaboration with Crow Hill Gnostic Temple who deliver a theatrical spoken-word monologue over sparse windswept ambient backing which shifts towards a laboured death industrial style later in the track. The previously unknown to me Konstruktivists impresses with a rhythmic ritual industrial composition Future Days, where the shimmering drones and spoken and chanted vocals give a further unique edge. Envenomist’s We Live Here Now charts the outer edges of the dark ambient void, with tensile drones elevated and receding from the inky blackness. Dream Into Dust’s Cycle’s End brings the sound back to an earthbound realm given its neo-classical focus with sweeping string and stoic percussion, while the sparse distorted guitar pushes the sound ever so slightly towards goth and doom territories. Failing Lights is another project I am not at all familiar with, yet Herod Walks In Nativity Night is a positive introduction to some sparse yet evocatively rendered (guitar?) drones. The compilation closes with a collaboration track between Theologian and The Vomit Arsonist. Raw Nerve is the result and faithfully blends recognisable elements of each project to create a forceful track based on sub-orchestral drones with a death industrial pulse, rounded out with a charred vocal smear.

At their best, compilations that are framed around a central theme where contributing artists manage to submit their strongest work can become more than the sum of their parts. This is a far cry from many compilations that do not hang together coherently, and in some cases feel as if contributing artists have submitted second-rate offcuts. Thankfully Dies Natalis Invicti Solis sits squarely in the former camp given that there are simply no dud contributions. Although in its early days of release, the impression is that Dies Natalis Invicti Solis stands with the best of what a compilation can achieve, and strongly reminds me of the early classic compilations such as the Death Odors compilations on Slaughter Productions and the various Cold Meat Industry-related compilations of the mid to late 1990s. A slick design and beautifully printed six-panel eco-wallet rounds off the physical presentation, but 300 copies will not stick around long with a compilation of this quality.

Die Kombination – Signale

Die Kombination – Signale CD / 7”EP Endangered Species / D-A Tonträger 2020

Although Signale is the second full-length album from Die Kombination personally I have not heard the 2017 debut. But as per the saying ‘first impressions count’, Signale immediately makes a heavy impression based on the packaging and presentation alone. The standard edition* is anything but standard, being reminiscent of the lavish and sophisticated packaging of the early works of Der Blutharsch and Les Joyaux De La Princesse (LJDLP). As such the CD and 7”EP are housed in a black cardboard box with the project symbol and title printed in silver foil blocking. Additional insets then include: a photograph; stamped information card; and 16-page booklet held together with coloured twine. This beautiful presentation gives an immediate sense of dedication and attention to detail which absolutely sets the tone before any of the musical content is heard.

As for the music, Sopimus opens the album with a tone of bomb-blasted and ash-strewn landscapes, where sweeping winds and tensile sustained synth line are the main elements underpinning a lengthy Finnish speech sample. Brooding and intense, it immediately captures a tone and atmosphere often attempted but rarely achieved. A similar mood follows with Tali-Ihantala, where the stilted rhythmic synth elements have been over-processed to replicate the sound of exploding bombs. Narvan Marssi then comes as quite the musical surprise by featuring rolling martial snare drums and strident organ melody. The short track Interludium recedes into a furrow of deeply brooding slow synth melody, which functions as the introduction to Gefechtsverband Kuhlmey, which elevates into a grinding, mid-paced heavy electronics track of muted swirling tones and heavily echoed textures. Unternehmen Silberfuchs reverts to an atmosphere of minimalist battlefield atmospheres (again with lengthy dialogue samples), where synth and layers elements are added and subtracted over the course of its extended length. Playing out as a largely instrumental album, vocals then do appear on a single track Poltetun Maan, and are an absolute standout element. Here the track is based around atonal shuddering loops and sweeping widescreen textures, where the heavily processed vocals are of the classic-sounding heavy electronics type (treated with echo and distortion), and while unintelligible they sonically articulate a sense of baying anguish. The main album concludes with the short piece Erinnerung, an ambient industrial soundscape which in its features an achingly beautiful musical motif that carries through to the dying moments. To then mention the 7”EP, while it contains a further two tracks these feel to be more aligned with rounding out the thematic context of the set given they are original songs (1936 & 1942 respectively) from the period the theme of the album relates. With further reference to the theme, as titles and samples are not in English it makes it difficult to grasp the concept overall. Yet based on the title of one track (Operation “Birke”), it appears the theme relates to a conflict between Finland and Germany towards the end of WWII.

Musically speaking, clearly, there are passing shades of LJDLP, but perhaps a greater influence and homage to early 1990s German heavy electronics material such as early Predominance and Dagda Mor. Yet while such linage and inspiration are clearly noted, in no way does Signale sound to be a mere copyist as there is ample individual flair and considerable sonic and musical variety across the album. Likewise, when then sonics are appreciated in combination with the content of the lavish packaging, it ensures Signale is a mandatory album.


* – a private edition of 15 copies also exists, with the album on a cassette, with it and the 7”ep and other inserts housed in a vintage German metal ammunition box with the Die Kombination symbol sand-blasted into the paintwork.

Code Neda – The Inner Enemy

Code Neda – The Inner Enemy MC Cloister Recordings 2020

The new album from Code Neda features eleven tracks and continues on the same honed European industrial / power electronics / heavy electronics path laid down on 2019’s album Tomorrow Double The Body Count (reviewed here).

Simple but direct synth elements feature, which includes revving loops and loosely rhythmic structures to form the backbone of compositions, around which scattered distortion and other sonic textures interweave. Vocals are also an upfront element but heavily treated as an additional seething mass of sound. Tonally heavy and with its sonic elements clear and balanced, it gives the sound real impact and sense of blood boiling urgency, where the machine-gun rhythm of Best Friends Slaughter is a prime example. Dead Silence In Phnum Penh then charts a slightly more ominous and brooding tone where Tamon Miyakita of Am Not provides spoken vocals. For more variation, the looped element of The Scream provides a militant rhythmic underpinning akin to a rolling martial beat, while the final track Anfal Operation concludes the album as a heady and unhinged track of eruption noise, swirling distortion charred vocals and underpinning alarm pulse.

The Inner Enemy essentially functions as an album of eleven distinct tracks that play out as variations on the same core elements of sound. With each composition being sonically well thought out and expertly presented, Code Neda again presents material that showcases some of the best sounds of the current industrial / power electronics / heavy electronics underground.

TØLERANT ‎– Advanced Exercises In Resource Denial

TØLERANT ‎– Advanced Exercises In Resource Denial MC Cloister Recordings 2020

This is my first introduction to TØLERANT, where this may also be their debut release, but I am not completely sure on that either. So, with scant information, I suspect this may be an American project, as musically speaking this tape would fit neatly alongside a recognisable American death industrial sound which has been further spliced with a controlled and seething heavy electronics bent.

Ten tracks make up the cassette where the broader atmosphere is one of control and restraint, rather than a sound of an overly aggressive attack. Careful and meticulous layering as well as clear attention to sonic detail is a key aspect of the mood, as is the slow and controlled pacing in which the compositions unfold. Slowly idling synths and revving textures function to create soundscapes of controlled atonal tension, while other rawer tones such as crumbling scrap metal abuse are added for good measure. Likewise, with a ‘widescreen’ atmosphere the heavily processed vocals sit off in the distance and provide an edge of angst and desperation. Tracks such as Peace Through Strength and Rank Slaves do slightly up the pace, but even so, they remain as mid-paced affairs. Yet Bait and Bleed stands out with a strongly warfare-oriented mood, given bombing noise and gunfire chatter underpinning the swirling atonal synth textures. The final track Tipping Point is then a monolithic standout track, featuring slow pounding beat, squelching distortion, divebombing textures and hefty vocal barrage.

If I were to through around guiding compassions, TØLERANT has carved out their own niche somewhere between the death industrial of Gnawed and the industrial / heavy electronics of Serration, meaning this is another excellent release from Cloister Recordings. An oversized clamshell case rounds out the physical presentation.

Satori – Angor Animi

Satori – Angor Animi MC Cloister Recordings 2020

Notably Satori has been operating since the late 1980’s, and included their debut release on the cult Broken Flag label. Then since the early days, the lineup has shifted a couple of times and included a decade break from the mid 1990’s. In its current guise Satori a solo project of original member Dave Kirby.

On this new eight-track album-length tape, it features pulsing power drones and heavy electronic soundscapes. There is perhaps a singularity of approach on display where semi-melodious bulldozing tones blend with thick and corrosive industrial-grade distortion, and with the layers of sound being stacked like concrete slabs it provides for monumental total weight. This provides the tracks with significant strength and presence, and which surge forward in an amorphous and evolving way, where some tracks featuring a catatonically slow rhythmic undercurrent in the form of a programmed beat. Vocals are also sporadically present, but heavily treated with distortion and echo and consequently, they barely rise above the tidal waves of sound, and where samples are employed they are limited in use and tastefully incorporated.

While I have only sporadically dipped into Satori’s discography over the years, Angor Animi is certainly a strong tape and partially remind of the hefty live recording from the Tesco Disco Heavy Electroncis II set from 1997, rather than any of the dark ambient focused albums which were issues under the Satori name during the period when Dave was not in the group.

Griefer – Communication Denial

Griefer – Communication Denial MC Absurd Exposition 2020

Griefer, a Canadian power electronics / death industrial project have been releasing material since 2004. Although this new 2020 cassette is the fourth album releases, it functions as my introduction to the project.

Of immediately note is the relatively clean sonic tone of the overall sound, which perhaps reflective of or at least aligns with the technological slant of the lyrical focus. Sound wise it features revving tones, looped metallic textures, wailing ‘air raid siren’ sounds, and echoed field recordings, which have been chopped and hewn into a series of compositional structures. Select tracks have a more focused power electronics bent, yet others contain a more ominous death industrial core, based on deeply echoed soundscapes, caustic noise and slow thudding beats. On the tracks which are based on looped structures, this gives a rhythmic aspect to the sound, yet this is not of the rhythmically driven type generated through programmed beats. Vocally, this also functions to set the material apart as they feature as a gruff yell with minimal treatment and which are balanced within the mix.

Seven tracks in all feature, with a total run time of around 35 minutes, which demonstrates Griefer to have both individualism in sound and sonic skill to back it up. Despite its adherence to a power electronics / death industrial sound there is a quite surprising degree of sonic and stylistic variety within this framework, making for varied and far from one dimensional listening.

Prurient – Casablanca Flamethrower

Prurient – Casablanca Flamethrower 2xLP Tesco Organsation 2020

As Dominick Fernow’s main project, Prurient is somewhat of a sonic chameleon which has explored a myriad of underground noise and industrial styles over a huge number of releases and span of years. While Prurient have also had a close association with Tesco Organisation for some time, Casablanca Flamethrower is the formal debut album for Tesco given other releases to date have been reissues on Tesco’s sub-labels. To quickly mention those reissues*, each were within an industrial/power electronic/heavy electronics frame of reference, therefore closely aligned with the Tesco’s prevailing style and sound. In a similar context Casablanca Flamethrower follows suit and is very much a Prurient album, and with its broader thematic focus on the hidden stories and forgotten victims of war, it definitely feels at home on Tesco.

In terms of the arc of Prurient’s main/core albums, Casablanca Flamethrower follows the massive seven LP Rainbow Mirror (self-described as ‘doom electronics’). Casablanca Flamethrower is notable by the fact that although not too far removed from the sprawling and mellow tone of Rainbow Mirror set, that sound has also been repurposed with a focused attention on a European heavy electronics/industrial sound. This may then be partially explained by the involvement of Kris Lapke of Alberich (who is credited as providing loops, percussion and synths), whose own project takes clear influence from a European heavy electronics sound, which has perhaps further cemented the sound and direction of Casablanca Flamethrower.

Black Iceberg open the album with a squelching bass throb, distant scrap metal tones and angst-ridden rasped vocals, while Peace and Bread Humiliation is a short track of hollow radio scanning static, whistling noise and semi-buried radio broadcast announcements. The following D-Day Rape is then an early album highlight, featuring bulldozing bass, mid-toned insectile noise squalls, while the spoken vocals are featured upfront but rendered undecipherable due to the treatment with an off-kilter warbling effected. Marvelous stuff. Fucked By Traces maintains momentum with static squalls, thick bass drones, vague rhythmic backing and charred echo chamber vocal barrage. Beneath The Wheels of the Black Raven is also an excellent track of stalking menace, where the tone is one of militaristic death industrial involving droning bass, slow shuddering rhythm, and vocals delivered as agonized chants and treated spoken fragments. Late album track The Thrust of the Spear is another highlight. Opening as a low droning and treated vocal piece it soon evolves into a minimalist yet highly hypnotic track of militaristic tinged rhythmic loops and swirling rotor blades. The track title then obviously then cross references the collage image of the Spear of Longinus shown on the back cover (contributed by The Grey Wolves). Yet when the spear collage is considered in context of the adjacent phrase: ‘the risen Christ holds the spear of destiny in his side’, it shrouds the intended meaning, which is at least consistent with Dominick’s established approach to abstracted thematic presentation. Sphere From Christ’s Side also uses similar militaristic rhythmic loops for brooding result, while the close to ten minute Directionless World rounds out the album in subdued fashion with minimalist tonal rumbles and radio scanning static (but perhaps could have been half as long without foregoing ideas or loosing impact).

From my own perspective Casablanca Flamethrower is an an intense yet brooding take on a heavy electronics/industrial sound, and is inherently more listenable, engaging and digestible than the sprawling Rainbow Mirror set. Yet even so, not all tracks reach the same peak level as the album’s standouts, meaning if it were paired down to a single rather than double LP, it would have increased immediacy and impact, and duly elevated the album from being good to great. Regardless, that is really quite a minor observation and is hardly a reason to not seek out this album, which is stunningly presented in a full colour gate-fold sleeve.


* – 2015’s Annihilationist CD on Functional Organisation and 2014’s Palm Tree Corpse LP and Despiritualized 10”ep on Tesco Archaic Documents.

UGFC – Stalinist God

UGFC – Stalinist God LP Grom & Lord Records 2019

UGFC is an obscure project from the Czech Republic, helmed by one Willhelm Grasslich, and with the acronym of ‘UGFC’ being an abbreviation for ‘Uncle Grasha’s Flying Circus’, it immediately gives a strong sense of satire at play. With some further investigation, the project is self-described as being concerned with: ‘surrealistic visions, poems and manifests of avantgarde artist Willhelm Grasslich. Avantgarde and propaganda fascinations and the topics of war, power relations, religions, ideologies, painful historical legacies etc. shape the palette of its inspiration and articulation’. As for the concept of this album, given that the sampled speeches and dialogue on the album are exclusively in Czech, it creates a clear limitation for me to grasp the detailed concept. But at least the liner notes in English provides some strong pointers – and I quote: ‘Stalinist God does not represent a personality, nor idea/myth, nor any form of transcendental being. Stalinist God is a status. A state of power that creates a blind alley for all ideologies and regimes. When your propaganda reach the maximal success and you became a God per se, you must just sound your trumpet for apocalypse and destroy everything you have created’.

Sonically speaking Stalinist God features high caliber, martial tinged industrial soundscapes. But when I refer to ‘martial industrial’, it is not in reference to the overly synthetic sound of that style from the mid-1990s to early 2000’s, rather it harks back to the raw and obscure martial industrial sounds of the earliest phase of industrial pioneers Laibach – which is obviously meant as a large compliment. Early tracks Kaitan and Kasbah are prime examples, with roughly echoed and looped industrial factory noise create grim and soot infused soundscapes atop which political rally type speeches are overlaid. Juche is equally of note, as it features a distant and partial buried martial drumming pulse, as well as samples including speeches, crowd applause and orchestral and choral music, it certainly gives nod to the sonic styling and approach of the likes of LJDLP. As further deviations Culpabilité sonically channels mid-1990’s German heavy electronics sound of subdued but bass heavy pulsing drones and radio waves, while Securitate provides a rousing atmosphere of sampled orchestral loops, speeches and rapturous crowd noise. Within the twelve tracks a number of the tracks are purely instrumental, where Anatolyevna uses loose and echoed metallic percussive as the core of its industrial soundscape (very much evoking visions of abandoned factories), while Scharnhorst uses rhythmically hewed bomb blasts and other metallic clatter. Late album track You Have To Be Death To Be Wise is the longest track at 10 minutes, and unfurls in an elevating capacity of tensile mid toned layers which rise to a rough noise peak as a moody synth melody acts as an underpinning element. Mid track muted horns appear and fade, as do other more caustic sonic layers. As for the final track Headquarters, it rounds out the album which a track which is effectively an unaltered traditional nationalistic type song.

Packaging wise, the album is presented in atypical fashion, where the cover design has been printed on white cloth which is wrapped around a plain white LP sleeve, while two  further multi-page booklet inserts provides text and imagery relevant to the concept. Although having not heard of UGFC prior to this album, this is very much a post-industrial obscurity which I am very happy to have been made aware of. Recommended.

Moral Order – Examples of Solipsism

Moral Order – Examples of Solipsism 12”EP Cloister Recordings 2020

Following on from 2019’s About Degeneration And Death 7”EP (also on Cloister Recordings reviewed here), Moral Order return with a new four track song focused EP of industrialised heavy electronics material.

Content kicks things off with low bass drones and slow stalking and militant tinged rhythm, while processed sampled and treated vocals textures provides a fleeting human element. Black Fire follows and ups the rhythmic throb, with a simple but catchy mid-paced minimalist melody issued via squelching synths, while the vocals rendered undecipherable as a distortion smeared rasp. Overall the impression of this track is a sound that would not at all be out of place on the Galakthorrö label. The Frame on Side B follows up with a sweeping cinematic tone atop and minimalist rhythmic pattern, while A Lie That Poisons You arcs back to a Galakthorrö influenced sound, which balances a minimal construct with vocals delivered in an apathetic drawl.

With four tracks on the shortish side, interestingly the vinyl has been cut as a 33rpm record and not 45rpm as is perhaps typical for a 12″EP. Regardless of this, the vinyl is limited to 200, and another solid addition to the quickly expanding Moral Order discography.