Liebestod ‎– Escaping Freedom

Liebestod Escaping Freedom Chondritic Sound CD 2019

My introduction to Liebestod came from their first full length Beta Male from 2016 (reviewed here), but I then missed the self-titled cassette from 2017, and had already missed another self-titled cassette from 2014 (featuring different material). Thankfully Escaping Freedom functions to reissue all tracks from both of these earlier cassettes. In an overarching sense it is again a case that atonal shuddering synths, pulsing static, throbbing / squelching tones, distortion charred vocals and an underbelly of field recordings are the order of the day, with variations of these elements chopped spliced and structured into distinct noise compositions. As such Escaping Freedom again demonstrates Liebestod balancing a sound on a razor’s edge between a heavy electronics and power electronics sound.

The 2014 tracks come first, where For the First Time I Look Vulgar features an early tensile standout with wonky intertwining textures and a heavy elevating tone. The Most Irritating Pose is another noteworthy track of sonic restraint yet building tension, while vocals feature in an echo tinged deadpan delivery. Darkness is Easeful rounds out the collection of 2014 tracks with a solid offering which aligns with a modern and direct American death industrial tone. Going Home arrives as the first of the 2017 tracks, and uses a very effective use of a distressed voice set against a grimly brooding synth drone and field recording backing, while a rhythmic pulse appears only briefly in the later segment. One Day In April works quite distinctly on two separate levels: the first with lower end drones providing an ominous quality, while the higher shrill tones, erupting gunfire and charred vocals function to elevate the tension. Crimes Of Love provides yet further sonic diversity, featuring sonic breadth and space. Here the synths are pushed into the background, leaving the field recording in the foreground (dripping water in an abandoned building?), couple with upfront and whispered vocals for a ‘stalking’ tension driven track. This mood bleeds through into the instrumental track Strokes, before moving onto a deliver a sonic pummeling on The Things I Learned From Men. That track is very much an noise and aggression fueled power electronics piece framed around a stilted pounding rhythm, spliced with fluttering mid-toned distortion and guttural vocal barrage.

Despite featuring tracks from two separate releases, the combined material actually hangs together well as a single album collection spanning 12 tracks and 45 minutes. Yet if any criticism is to be leveled, it is in relation to the tracks being quite on the short side, given the shortest is under two minutes and the longest is just over four minutes. But this is also a sort of compliment, as based on the sheer breadth and variety of sonic ideas on display many pieces could be extended for greater impact and without losing focus, tension or momentum. Presentation wise featured a pro-printed six panel digi-pack with artistically designed imagery which hints rather that hits you over the head with grim imagery.

Vigilantism – Incessant Authority

Vigilantism – Incessant Authority CD Freak Animal 2019

Vigilantism are a new Finnish industrial noise project from one of the members of another Finnish noise project Edge Of Decay, with Incessant Authority being Vigilantism’s debut release.

Perhaps then as might be expected for a project from Finland, there is a rough, aggressive and chaotic edge to proceedings. Thus Punkt Ohne Wiederkehr opens the album with fried and fracture mid tones bass rumble, while raw scrap metal type distortion features heavily. With a thick and overblown sound, its elements have been sculpted into a grueling track, while forward momentum is also provided with a slow stilted pounding throb, while occasional distortion drenched vocals also bleed across the sonic frame. Yet on the second track Never Cross the mood takes a decided step up with an incessantly pounding martial-esque ‘beat’ and swirling fissures of caustic distortion, while dialogue samples are buried and barely intelligible in the mix. Although still distorted and rough, Chemical Conversation features greater space and depth within the mix, where grinding layers loop and intertwine, while alarm like buzzing tones elevate the tensile atmosphere. Unbinding The Angst differs again, being of a composed industrial/ power electronics approach, based around a pulsing rhythm and bass pounding tone, duly completed with apathetic and distortion tinged vocals. Although aspects of both sound and visual presentation of Incessant Authority could be described as aligning with the likes of Zyklon SS (which is a clear positive in my estimation), the final track Stepson Diaries is the most obvious example of this. Featuring caustic noise, urgent wavering tones, scrap metal crunch and completed with suitably grim dialogue sample, it is an excellent conclusion.

With its raw, direct and no-frills approach, Incessant Authority is a varied and creative recording across its approximate 40-minute run-time. A cleanly designed 6 panel digi-pack rounds out the presentation. Clearly you will already know if this album if for you, but recommended from these quarters.

Post Scriptvm – Variola Vera

Post Scriptvm – Variola Vera LP Tesco Organisation 2019

Variola Vera comes as the eighth album for Post Scriptvm in twenty years of activity. While the project has perhaps slightly flown under the radar compared to other post-industrial projects, they continue to blend, splice and manipulate elements of dark ambient, death industrial, and heavy / power electronics into quite uniquely sounding material.

As with earlier works, the broader feel of the album is one of a paranoid ‘Kafkaesque’ disassociated miasma of ever shifting sound textures, sonics treatments and disembodied voices, which equally would not be out of place as an alternative sound-score to the classic sci-fi film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. Yet these impressions do not cut to the core of the album’s theme, given the promotional notes identify that it is: ‘Titled after the outbreak of smallpox in the 1970s socialist Yugoslavia, unintentionally brought in by the pilgrims returning from a quest for divine illumination, Variola Vera is the soundtrack to the somatic and the metaphysical epidemics steering the human enterprise towards its termination’.

For its broadly consistent stylistic approach Born Into Trauma stands out based on its partly experimental and partly heavy electronics menace. Infected with a mutant strain of industrial techno, interestingly an underpinning bass kick is entirely absent, yet the techno pulse remains as a constant thread, while the aggressive, treated vocals push a perilous tone. Another particular album standout which functions to draw together all preceding sonic threads is Storm Puppets based on wonky and warbling intertwining textures and processed scrap metal clatter which are pushed into a heavy electronics expression, complete with treated, seething vocals is one of the album’s standouts. Fondamenta Degli Incurabili concludes the album with a piece of floating abstracted melancholia, where muted synth melodies float and waver. Mid-track some slow thumping and rhythmic textures emphasized a drugged sway which carries the album to its conclusion.

Rather than being any sort of significant deviation from Post Scriptvm, this is an album which demonstrates a honing and refinement of their established sound, which is subtlety more active, varied and sonically complex, building to occasional moments of menace and aggression. Clearly Variola Vera will absolutely be to the liking of ardent followers of the project, yet it is also important to highlight that it is also some of the strongest and varied material to come from the project yet. The printed cover and inner sleeve rounds out the visual side of things with darkly abstracted and slightly surreal visuals. Yes, this is recommended.

Detrimental Effect – Your Truth

Detrimental Effect – Your Truth CD Tesco Organisation 2019

With little fanfare, hype or even basic promotion before the actual release, the second full length album from Detrimental Effect has been dropped on an unsuspecting underground (…perhaps akin to a covert dirty bomb attack…). Noting the last album was on Unsound Recordings (a side label of Unrest Productions), this new release has been issued on Tesco Organisation.

Thematically speaking a phrase featured on the back cover provides some context: ‘and you obey in advance, as you compromise your values, your principles, your heedless acts of conformity’, while an under-tray image provides a visual of what appears to be an example of testosterone fueled, chest beating nationalism. But with little more in the way of explanation, listeners are left up to their own devices to glean their own ‘truth’ of what the album is about. On the sonic front the album tracks draw from a similar analogue sound palette to the debut Be My Enemy (reviewed here), which includes: pulsing and revving distortion, vague looped structures, vocals to processed to the point of unrecognizability and smatterings of dialogue samples. Yet these elements are harnessed and creatively employed compositionally to generate distinctiveness and variation between each piece. Likewise while clearly building on the already established industrial / power electronics sound, Your Truth has ever so slightly dialled down of overt aggression and unhinged sonic elements. Thus by pulling back slightly it has created create degree of brooding restraint which in turn has pushed the industrial sound slightly more towards a controlled heavy electronics frame of reference. After the bristling opener A Righteous Conflict, the following track Cruci-fiction is very much a case in point of this perception, itself being a track based on a low throbbing pulse, sustained needling textures sampled interview dialogue and other distinct layered elements, coming across as a brooding heavy electronics track of the highest order. Homeland Security is also an example of impact through simplicity, framed around a dive-bombing loop, caustic vocal layers and semi-buried dialogue samples. The Lie of the Land is also noteworthy based on its laborious militant pulse and a multitude of sweeping textures, while the final title track ends with a  track of sustained spitting and squelching loops and one final flanger treated vocal barrage.

Matt card stock of the 4-panel digipack features simple artwork, which stylistically matches the design of debut and like the artwork the is album is both direct and to the point. Without being a mere retread of the debut, Your Truth is both a refinement and expansion of Detrimental Effect’s now established sound, and consequently has delivered a storming release in the process.

Moral Order ‎– About Degradation And Death

Moral Order About Degradation And Death 7″ep Cloister Recordings 2019

Following the relatively quick release of three heavy electronics / industrial albums on Tesco Organisation, Malignant Records and Cloister Recordings in 2018 / 2019, it has quickly established Moral Order within the within the underground. More specifically Moral order is a Spanish project helmed by Fernando O. Paíno, where this short two track EP then continues the already established sonic style.

The first track on Side A is the title track and delivers an ominously swirling heavy electronics / industrial infused sound, including windswept analogue synths and muted two note droning melody. The second track on the flip side is The Fire Is Still Burning and is another ominous track. Here layered analogue synths blend with sampled choral vocals, but also differentiates itself with a low rhythmic beat and whispered male vocals. Although short in length, both tracks are understated yet caustic and menacing in the best way possible.

For its physical edition the black vinyl has been issued in two version (50 in a white cover/ black envelope and 50 in a back cover/ white envelope), and with the envelope sealed with the wax seal of the label, it clearly plays up to the collectors’ fetishist mindset. Track a copy down if you can.

Heretic Grail – Instruments of War / On The Heels Of Insignificance

Heretic Grail – Instruments of War 2xMC Slave Chandelier 2019

Heretic Grail – On The Heels Of Insignificance LP Breathing Problems Productions 2019

Instruments of War constitutes my introduction to Heretic Grail, yet it seems that as of April, 2019 the project may have already ceased activity. If that is the case the project was active for less than a year since mid-2018, but still managed to issue twelve releases in that time.

The six tracks featured on Instruments of War are spread across the two tapes, totalling around 37 minutes. With a strongly militant edge to the sound, the industrial/power electronics approach is based on loosely constructed and generally mid-paced compositions. As for the broad approach on display, the tracks feature windswept battlefield ambience based on blended layers of caustic electronics consisting of: idling static; trembling distortion; erupting fissures of noise; smatterings of dialogue samples; and rounded out with strained, echo-smeared vocals (which are ranted but unintelligible). To talk specifics, Tortured Lullaby stands out positively with its melodious synth drone and shuddering bass. Regrets Of Termination And Conquest also follows a similar sonic template, but is defined by a dialogue sample where a soldier recounts his first kill in combat (which is revealed to be civilian and in the telling is tinged with repent). Beyond the sonic side of things, specific mention also needs to be made of the packaging, where the two pro-printed tapes are housed in a black elongated paper envelope along with a myriad of collage-based inserts. But being limited to only 60 copies, this is already likely to be difficult to track down.

Although also issued in 2019 On The Heels Of Insignificance is not a current recording from the project, rather is a vinyl reissue of a 2018 tape issued on Fusty Cunt. Although it does inhabit the same general sound sphere as Instruments of War, this LP is also less refined and slightly more direct in sonic expression. In a general sense an elevated level of tension is evident, where the tracks are built around grimly grinding machine like loops and augmented with vocals and/or dialogue samples. Swine.Cleaner sitting at the centre of the album is particularly impacting, based on its searing distortion and grinding noise-based approach which elevates to wind-tunnel intensity.

For the chosen style and approach Heretic Grail have delivered releases which perhaps not necessarily rising to a ‘mandatory’ status, both releases remain strongly enjoyable for what they are in their chosen style. In then comparing the two Instruments of War is the more varied and refined release of the two, and perhaps also warrants a re-edition – hopefully on vinyl.