Various Artists – Dies Natalis Invicti Solis CD Live Bait Recording Foundation 2020
The Dies Natalis Invicti Solis compilation brings together twelve 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 it resembles a dour organ dirge at times. Gnawed follows with Ritual In Depths (Protect Me From An Unconquerable Sun), being a track of doom addled death industrial in their now immediately recognisable style and sound. This comment of a ‘recognisable sound’ equally applies elsewhere, where the perhaps more well-known artists such as Brighter Death Now, Deutsch Nepal and Contrastate each brings a strong contribution in their particular trademark sonic styles. But to talk of the projects of perhaps less familiarity, ORD is one such project being a post-industrial ritual ambient project from Russia, who presents Winterdrone, being a track that balances a strong ritual undercurrent with muted caustic post-industrial debris. Murderous Vision somewhat differs 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 Konstrktivists 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 then charts the outer edges of the dark ambient void, with tensile drones elevated and receding from the inky blackness. Dream Into Dust Cycle’s End brings the sound back to an earthbound realm given its neo-classical focus with sweeping string and stoic percussion, while where the sparse distorted guitar pushes the sound ever so slightly towards goth and doom territories. Failing Light is another project I am not at all familiar with, yet Herord Walks In Nativity Night is a positive introduction of sparse yet evocatively rendered (guitar?) drones, while the compilation then closes out 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 death industrial pulse, and further rounded out with a charred vocal smear.
At their best compilations which are framed around a central theme and where contributing artists manage to submit their strongest works allows such compilations can become more than the sum of their parts. This is then 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 is its early days of release, the greater impression is that Dies Natalis Invicti Solis stands with the best of what a compilation can achieve, and strongly reminds of the early classic compilations such as the Death Odours compilations on Slaughter Productions and the various Cold Meat Industry related compilations of the mid to late 1990‘s. A slickly design and beautifully printed six-panel eco-wallet covers off on the physical presentation, but 300 copies will not stick around long with a compilation of this quality.