Linekraft – Industrialized Criminals History

Linekraft – Industrialized Criminals History MC Hospital Productions 2020

After the excellent power electronics/industrial noise album Subhuman Principles (reviewed here), Linekraft have promptly followed up with a major sonic ‘left turn’. This has resulted in a completely surprising release, given Industrialized Criminals History is very much of minimalist ‘Japanese ritual industrial’ style.

Based on a synth and ritual percussive based song driven approach, the tape featuring five tracks and 28 minutes of material. The opening track Introduction Of Conspiracy takes a few minutes of nominal noise before shifting tact with a moody synth melody and slow paced ritual beat. The divergence of this cassette then really comes to the fore on the following Death By Hanging which is very much a continuation of the sound based on a repeated dour minimal synth melody and ritual industrial percussion, coupled with smatters of low level static. The pace of the ritual percussive elements then takes a step up on Die Like A Dog (even featuring clanging chimes), while the title track is the longest at eight minutes, and is looser and freeform given it is more of a looped industrial noise soundscape with melodious synth undercurrent. Late track it reverts to a song based Japanese ritual industrial percussive style. Execution Room is the final of five tracks, being noteworthy for its melancholic melody and stilted, off kilter percussion.

The total physical edition of this release is only 200 copies, where the standard edition (150 copies) features a strong DIY and hand assembled aesthetic, including: hand painted envelope with attached cover image and tied with twine, plus printed inserts and pro-printed tape. Musically this release is an extremely surprising one, but is also broadly in line with the stylistic diversity of other Japanese projects. GRIM is the most obvious comparison to be made, and noting that Masahiko of Linekraft is a live member of GRIM, it is perhaps indicative of both influence and inspiration. But more importantly Industrialized Criminals History has a sound which is brimming with vitality and functions to further highlight exactly why Linekraft are currently receiving substantial accolades from underground post-industrial spheres.

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.

Dødsmaskin – Verdenssmerte

Dødsmaskin – Verdenssmerte LP Tesco Organsation 2020

Dødsmaskin are a Norwegian duo who since 2017 have issued four albums on Malignant Records and Cyclic Law. Verdenssmerte is their new and fifth album, this time on Tesco Organisation. With reference to my review of 2017’s album Fullstendig Brent (reviewed here), I described the project as consisting of: ‘darkly hued drones and jaggedly erupting post-industrial soundscapes’. While that description remains relevant, on this new album its cinematic elements have been refined, coupled with a slight dialling down the caustic industrialized noise strains.

Opening track Lysett features immediately evidences the refined approach with its maudlin piano line, which is soon swept asunder with fizzing electrical static and rougher and heavily echoed metallic tones. Åndenød follows with a seething death industrial track of overloaded drones and bass throb, yet late track the heavier element fall away to a reveal a section of muted melodious element (guitar perhaps?). Borte I Tiden is then a clear album standout and is effectively ready made for the soundtrack of a dystopian sci-fi movie, featuring emotive elevating rhythmic structure and central minor keyed melody. Being industrial dark ambient in tone, this track also draws heavily from electronics musical elements outside of a typical sound. Processed vocals are also a notable feature, while the sound through late half the builds to a point that it begins to collapse in on itself. Side B brings more sonic diversity, where Når Mørket Tar Deg is heavily weighted towards a roughly pounding rhythmic industrial style, while Disiplin Ble Smertens Grøde charts a predominantly minimalist droning dark ambient tone. As for the final of the six tracks is Aksion, where after the first half of minimalist wind tunnel drones, arcs off in the second half with an achingly beautiful melody (again perhaps a processed guitar?), and ebbs to the album conclusion in an melancholic and understated way.

Given the diversity of its approach while drawing in selected elements which are not typical of usual post-industrial fare, this has resulted in an excellent album and the strongest yet from Dødsmaskin. As of the presentation, this has been pressed in an edition of 300 copies.

Blitzkrieg Baby – Genocidal Sextasy

Blitzkrieg Baby – Genocidal Sextasy LP Cloister Recordings 2020

Following quickly on the heals of 2019’s Homo Sapiens Parasitus album (reviewed here), Blitzkrieg Baby have returned with their third album. Visually the cover is immediately notable as it continues the Looney Tunes inspired artwork of the last and reinforces the bleak cynical streak of pitch black humour which underscores the project.

Open Season On Homo Sapiens opens the album and is short intro track consisting of looped vocalizations and sinister sounds, before the cynical swagger of Blitzkrieg Baby kicks in full force with Kill Them All – an excellent track machete slashing rhythms, bass plodding beat, and minimalist horror synth melody. To throw an early curve-ball, the following instrumental cut Manhunt charts a fast-paced driving beat/bass driven track complimented with stabbing piano line, which although not quite EBM in production, certainly edges that way in song writing. One By One then arrives as both a standout out and album highlight. Being a track I first heard played live at the Cloister Recordings Dominion of Flesh festival in Stockholm in November 2019, and is equally as immediate here. Framed around a mid-paced rhythmic sway, heavily pounding and counterpointed percussion, sinister synth lines and anthemically whispered vocals it is an absolutely cracker of a catchy track, while Feed Them To The Pigs rounds out the first side of the LP, opting for subdued death industrial loops and half sung/half spoken vocals. On side two the instrumental horror movie soundtrack style returns in full force on Fuck Toy For The Death Patrols and the title track Genocidal Sextasy, where each achieves a differing sinister stalking vibe using throbbing beats, shrill strings and atmospheric drones. After the pairing of two short instrumental interlude pieces (They All Died With Spit On Their Faces II and Pop.0), the album closes on another high-point with the track Piggy. Mid paced and militantly rolling drums drive incessantly forwards, further complimented with backing drones and minimalist synth strings and rounded out with apathetic yet commanding spoken vocals.

By now you should be well versed in whether the quite unique sound of Blitzkrieg Baby is to your liking, with Genocidal Sextasy being a further continuation and honing of this established approach. The album displays significant black humour in the way it plays with its conceptual cynicism, but with the musical backing is treated with utmost seriousness it never approaches anything close to being deemed a joke project. Another great album from these Norwegian piggies.

Lust Fist – Kropeer Uten Mellomrom

Lust Fist – Kropeer Uten Mellomrom MC Nil By Mouth 2020

The Italian label Nil By Mouth certainly have the knack of digging up new and currently unknown, but equally top notch projects. Lust Fist being one of the latest discoveries to be added to the list. Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Lust Fist sit squarely within a classic European power electronics sound of loosely structured but staunchly song focused tracks; seven in all being presented on this 36 minute tape.

With a similar thick and pulsing tone and approach being employed on each of the tracks, they feature mixtures of semi-burred maudlin synth lines, queasy loops, helicopter rotor blade tones, revving engines, dive-bombing textures, arching electricity and general mechanical thrum etc. Those elements are then further complimented with flange processed and over-saturated vocals which are a standout element, and when taken as a whole the tape manages to deftly balance aggression with a sense of lurking menace. In then applying the trusty services of Google Translate to interpret the Norwegian titles, the resulted translations (whether or not accurate) are certainly telling of mood and atmosphere; titles such as: To Die In A Dying Time; Orgy Of False Existence; Instead of Ending As Abandoned, I End As A Plague Spirit.

Perhaps not necessarily winning on the originality stakes, this is still an excellent no-frills Euro PE tape in the ballpark of The Grey Wolves, Survival Unit etc, which nails its sound perfectly. Packaging wise, it contains a multi-panel fold out card cover with various inserts, and further wrapped in camouflage cloth and sealed with metal wire.

Un Regard Froid ‎– Accélération

Un Regard Froid Accélération CD Cipher Productions 2020

Un Regard Froid are a French-Canadian industrial/power electronics project whom I am not overly familiar with, but who have issued a handful of releases dating back to 2013.I then note that the project is intriguingly self-described as ‘Inhumanist Singularity Electronics’ (whatever that is meant to mean).

Opening with Géotraumatisme (Introduction), it is a track of muted granular rumble blended with erupting fissures of sounds, before distortion charred and ripping unintelligible vocals of angst and disarray. As an introductory piece, this is fairly straight down the line stuff, but on the following tracks the album splays off into significantly more diverse territory, blending elements of power electronics, industrial, noise and other varied sonics. Layering and composition is also noted a critical component, where despite its jagged tones and sharp, noise and distortion, these are looped, chopped and sliced into clearly composed tracks. Early album track Attrition with its crumbling noise and weird pulsing electronics reminds of the long defunct Swedish project Iron Justice, yet the French language of the vocals clearly sets it apart. Verticalité follows with hefty track of looped industrial rhythmic elements and lower to mid-toned distortion, again with the gruff aggressive vocals being a key element. However, to this ear Piratage sounds to be so out of place to actually interrupt the album’s flow, given it features a fast programmed pulsing beat and atonal guitar representing a sort of industrial black metal riff, but the end this is just an odd combination which does not really work. This misstep is soon forgotten given the following track Infrarouge/Greffes delivers a militantly rhythmic track of pounding programmed beat blended with flayed noise and gruff up-front vocals. Towards the back of the album Singularité is schizophrenic in its sonics display, the first section features French dialogue samples, minimalist wonky tones and gruff echoed vocals, before launching into a heady pulsing barrage of brutally thick distortion. As for the final track Inhumanisme (Conclusion) it finishes the album on a high note, it features with layered loops ranges from tensile sound textures to pulsing overblown bass drones, while the vocals are delivered as an echoed whispered (and appear to be the only vocals presented in English and reciting mathematical equations of all things).

To make further comment on the vocals, given they are presented almost exclusively in French, it means I have no idea of what is being articulated, so I can only comment on how they sound in enunciation and delivery. This then leads to the observation that I am not sure if French is the most suitable language for power electronics. Compared to blunt harshness of the tone of other non-English languages such as Finnish, aggressive vocals in French don’t seem to hold the same razor-sharp spite (however I expect the impression from French speakers will be quite different to mine). Likewise, with a variety of French language samples spread throughout the album, clearly I am missing aspects of both themes and concepts on display. Yet, in the post-industrial underground it is no surprise that there are many projects with follow a similar approach and sound. In this context to not fall into that trap and Un Regard Froid should be commended for creating something quite different and diverse in the process. Although not all of the tracks nail it, the positive strike rate is certainly greater than the misses. Packaging includes a small cardboard board with 16 page booklet with lyrics (in French) and collage artwork.

Haare – Brain

Haare – Brain CD Aussaat 2020

This Finnish project have been recordings since the early 2000’s and in the process has generated an imposing back catalogue of raw industrial noise and muted power drones enveloped in hallucinogenic bad vibes. Personally, I am only familiar with a handful of releases, but I do have an impression that rather than jut using synths and noise equipment, Haare utilizes a guitar as a key sonic input, albeit one which is used in a very abstracted and atypical way.

Of the earlier Haare material I have heard it was noted to contain a greater degree of shrilly harsh, raw and freeform industrial noise. That sound then differs somewhat from this latest album, and when the promo blurb describing this a ‘psychedelic industrial monolith’ this is quite an apt and spot on description. The opening track Electric Buddha functions to set the scene and unfurls slowly with an aquatic rumble, off-kilter sounds, mid-toned abstracted guitar squalls and vague melodious strumming. The title track follows and burrows into the sensory cortex with thickly echoed, yet muted looping drones, which also embodied an early 1980’s industrial noise type. At the centre of the album Azathoth is the sound of an acid trip turned sour, with muted rumble, disembodied whispered voices, flailing percussion and free-form guitars. The back half of the album features two lengthy tracks. The first, Spirit Trip, is perhaps the wonkiest track on offer, with segments of ritualized percussion, interspersed with lengthy passage of sweeping atonal guitar drones. The final of the five album tracks is Portal which concludes the album with a meditative tone. With a crawling pace the muted layered drones and catacombic industrial rumble it generates a suitably dank atmosphere over its close to ten-minute span.

Beyond the sonics, the ‘acid generation’ imagery of the artwork in combination with the lime green, black and white colour scheme reinforces the psychedelic edge of the album. Brain is an album that will clearly appeal to listeners of raw industrial sounds, yet more importantly it contains ample elements of individual weirdness to stand completely apart from the pack.

Kjostad – Environment Electronics

Kjostad – Environment Electronics CD Found Remains 2020

Environment Electronics was first issued by Found Remains on cassette in 2018 (reviewed here). Now it has been reissued on CD with updated artwork, along with two additional tracks and subjected to remastering treatment by Grant Richardson (Gnawed) for good measure.

The original tape version of Environment Electronics featured six tracks intent on blurring the line between environmental field recordings and man-made elements, self-described on the cover as ‘exercises in electronic-organic synthesis’. The original tracks span a variety of sonic textures and approaches including elongated and abstracted drone minimalism, light washes of static counterpointed with bird song, and a general underpinning of bass rumble and mid-spectrum static. Of the extra tracks on the CD, first bonus track Regression was originally issued on the 2019 Found Remains tape compilation Through A Glass Darkly and, based on the micro-tonal detailing, it sounds to be mostly the sonic result of a night-time forest walk complete with insect noise and bird calls. The means by which the sounds have been captured and processed is unclear, but they sound amplified and hyper-real in tonality. The middle of the track evolves into more mechanized territory with a series of intertwining elevating loops and panning static rumble. The second bonus track, Arrowhead Killer, is an abrasive cut of ‘upfront’ and detailed junk metal tones and overblown sonic textures put alongside other naturally-toned sound elements. With its careful looping and layering of elements, it makes for sonically complex and engaging listening.

The careful balancing of organic and man-made tonal elements here maintains an industrial noise rather than academic ‘sound art’ approach. The newly remastered sonics pleasingly elevate the sound to greater heights and, with the bonus tracks and new artwork, this a welcome reissue and expansion of the limited original tape.