Blind Ruler Cursed Land – Chrysantheme Delirium

Blind Ruler Cursed Land – Chrysantheme Delirium MC Rum Fixion Records 2021

Blind Ruler Cursed Land is a side project to UGFC which takes a slightly different thematic slant by: ‘exploring various shades of cultural & moral decline, post-defeat societies and dark esoteric “fanaticism” fascinations’. With some further investigation, Chrysantheme Delirium appears to be the debut tape from the project (after a couple of digital singles from 2020), while thematically focusing on Imperial Japan.

Musically speaking the sonics issued under the Blind Ruler Cursed Land name is not worlds apart from the main project, although its stylistic framework is based more on drone and dark ambient with only fleeting tinges of martial industrial inspiration. Four interlinking compositions deliver a combined runtime of around 20 minutes of material, where the pacing is slow and atmospheric, letting musical segments slowly shift and change in a controlled drone-ambient manner. More specifically synth-based orchestral textures, looped structural drones, and various choir vocals are used, which functions to balance the sound somewhere between whimsical, melancholic, and uplifting. However, the final of four tracks In This Sign You Shall Perish introduces overt martial industrial elements, featuring air raid bombing sounds, speech samples, distant martial percussive pulse, and a rising storm of muted distortion, before the tape concludes with a sample of a stirringly nostalgic 1940’s era Japanese song.

To conclude on the album’s chosen theme, the promo text reveals: ‘Imperial Japan symbolism is just one gate left opened for you to come. Tread softly, but come wholeheartedly!’, which functions as oblique instructions for a sonically strong release. A full-colour, fold-out, doubled-sided j-card and transparent lurid fluorescent green tape round out the physical presentation.

Heretic Grail – A World Without Order

Heretic Grail – A World Without Order MC Total Black 2021

Here we have a project that has been rather active in the last few years, but which is also couched in a reasonable amount of obscurity. Having then only been able to track down a couple of their releases to date, A World Without Order is the latest three tracks tape (billed as a ‘demo’), which delivers a bludgeoning and no-frills power electronics attack.

In quickly getting to the point the tape reveals static fried dive-bombing distortion is coupled with muted synth lines, squelching electronics and a caustic vocal barrage. This combined into relatively simple structures, but which are also delivered with control and intent. Likewise, with melodious oscillations providing for song-oriented structures, these are balanced with static and noise to provide an unhinged edge to match the intensity of the distortion-drenched vocals which are unintelligibly strained in their delivery.

With three short discrete tracks (two on side A and one on Side B), A World Without Order whets the appetite but is not long enough to properly satisfy hunger. Regardless, this is a tasty morsel for the time it sticks around.

H.C.O.D. – Instruments Of Destiny

H.C.O.D. – Instruments Of Destiny CD Chondritic Sound 2021

Instruments Of Destiny was originally issued in 2016 on tape via the US label Fieldwork, and now five years later has been given the reissue treatment on CD, featuring new artwork and remastering by Grant ‘Gnawed’ Richardson.

With respect to the project’s name, it is noted to be an acronym for Hideous Colors Of Decay which suitably describes sonic intent, and at the time of the original release Instruments Of Decay appeared to be the formal debut. Featuring seven tracks spanning around 60 minutes, the general approach draws a clear parallel with a northern European post-industrial ‘post-mortem’ sound, where, H.C.O.D’s approach is sprawling in scope and is a hotbed of caustic industrialized noise which bleeds out over greater length. Caked in sonic soot, the tone is one of analog filth where the tracks work on a dual-level involving sustained cavernous widescreen bass rumble over which mid-toned squall, higher-pitched ‘whistling’ feedback, and junk metal crunch is belched. Will to Oppression provides some variance with its centrally featured echo-tinged and half-chanted vocals, as does Mutilated Victory with its garbled and undecipherable dialogue sample. Perhaps with its singular overall approach, Instruments Of Destiny is something akin to a marathon crawl through a post-industrial dystopian nightmare of wrack and ruin.

A six-panel, matt digipack with suitably oblique and bleak imagery rounds out a very welcomed reissue.

Browning Mummery – Live / Berlin & Melbourne

Browning Mummery – Live / Berlin & Melbourne CDr Inner City Uprising 2021

Andrew Lonsdale’s long-standing post-industrial / experiment project Browning Mummery has been reasonably active in recent years, including both new studio material as well as sporadic live performances. Obviously, the title of this album indicates the live context of this release, but in being more than a straight live recording of a single show, this album features material culled from two live performances. The liner notes further confirm the four chosen tracks cover the full history of the project by spanning the years from 1984 to 2019, where the opening track Disintegration of Personality derives from one of the earliest tapes Obiter Scripta, originally issues in 1984.

With a wonky semblance, there is a deft mechanical ebb and flow to these experimental-industrial soundscapes, while cleanly dynamic noise and a metallic rhythmic churn also underpin the general atmosphere. Each track functions as a lengthy standalone composition, where the tonal framework is detailed in the layering and construction, and which on occasion rise to segments of muted tonal ferocity. Sampled and processed vocal chants appear on Slaughterhouse Sutra, as do choppy and slightly chaotic metallic shards, and off-kilter revving tones blended with misfiring industrial-noise textures. Foreign Devils on the Amber Road further differentiates itself with driving bass and programmed percussive rhythm, where the associated choppy sampling of orchestral movements and choir vocals becomes increasing unhinged and noise infused as the track progresses. With the first three tracks being recorded in Berlin in 2015, the fourth and final track Abandoned was recorded in Melbourne in 2019, and at a show, I was able to witness in person. While this track contains many of the same sonic elements of the earlier tracks (such as a loose mechanised churn, multiple sampled vocal textures, and sub-orchestral styled movements), the atmosphere has been pulled back to a contemplative ambient-industrial soundscape.

Given the clarity and force of the sonics on display, the recordings have clearly been taken directly from the soundboard and I assume to have been further treated with suitable studio mastering for release. The end result is a recording that functions excellently as an archival document of the live performances and as standalone listening.

UGFC – Ost

UGFC – Ost LP Grom & Lord Records 2021

Following 2019’s Stalinist God (reviewed here), this is the second album I have heard from UGFC, which incidentally is an acronym of Uncle Grasha’s Flying Circus. As an immediate observation, Ost is again concerned with high calibre martial framed ambient-industrial soundscapes, containing a distinct hint of satire which I can’t quite put my finger on. But to also start with a comparison, with its prevalent tone of obscure martial industrial atmospheres Ost it is very much reminiscent of early Laibach, or other notable martial industrial projects like Toroidh.

Mother (Guilt) acts as a short introduction, framed around rolling kettle drums and sampled nationalist type song, which leads into Mother Lied (Zeppelin Dance). Here it features a central unwavering drone, slow martial percussive thrum, while whispered vocals and wailing air raid siren provides a brooding warlike mood. Von Richthofen’s Flying Circus then steps up the pace a notch with faster-paced industrial loops, loose mechanised clatter, and further nationalistic song sampling, while the back half of track is far more atmospherically melancholic despite maintaining a rougher industrial edge. On Side B the lengthy Hüzün Horns features ‘post-battlefield ambience’ at its finest, with thick bass-toned sub-orchestral drones and windswept barren bomb-blasted landscapes. The final track East Is The Best edges into anthemic territory with rousing martial percussion, industrialised loops, and gruff vocals which are later replaced with lamenting chants and church bells.

Not an overly long album by any stretch (totally just over 30 minutes), Ost still maintains a strong mood and atmosphere throughout which edge towards a more ambient-industrial mood overall. But of note, Ost functions to strongly demonstrate that it is still possible to create interesting results with a broader martial industrial style, which for a number of years fell out of favour due to the genre becoming rather tired and derivative through the mid to late 2000’s.

Jagath – Devalaya

Jagath – Devalaya CD Cold Spring Records 2020

Jagath is a relatively new Russian ritual-industrial project concerned with recording in unconventional locations such as underground sewers, mine shafts, and other abandoned industrial spaces. This results in the spatial sonic timbre of such locations being infused with other musical elements including vocals and handmade instruments (while also specifically avoiding the use of digital means such as synthesisers). The generated sound then sees a blending of raw post-industrial metallics and more archaic ritual elements of the vocals and handmade instruments. Evidently, the chosen recording location for this album was a monolithic decommissioned oil tank.

A key aspect to Devalaya’s prevalent atmosphere is the slow and controlled pacing, where the five meditative tracks unfold over an extended length. Deep guttural throat chanting drenched with reverb and thick bass drones introduces the album on Agadah (Abyss), where the subsequent track titles allude to a journey or transformation of sorts (i.e. Utthana (Rise), Catu (Conversation), Devalaya (Temple), Nila (Darkness)). As part of the broader approach, passages of ritual throat chanting are seamlessly blended with reverb-derived drones and further interspersed with slow percussive segments, distant wind instruments, sporadic use of ritual chimes & mouth harp, and the ever-present interjecting shards of metallic textures. Some aspects of contributed sound are clearly identifiable (such as metal being dragged over concrete, or metal striking metal), while the source of many other sonic elements remains obscured. Also of note, a number of repeated sonic elements across the album strongly remind of Alan Lamb’s classic ‘wire music’ experimentation.

For the physical presentation, the six-panel digi-pack is adorned with stunning photos, including some images that appear to be from the actual recording sessions. All in all, Devalaya is an extremely engaging album of emotive atmospherics which blends archaic pre-modern ritual sounds with a current aesthetic of post-industrial decay. But given its minimalist construct and controlled pacing, it certainly does not sound to be the result of a project with eleven members.

Hive Mind – Hollow Slumber

Hive Mind – Hollow Slumber CD Difficult Interactions 2021

The American label Difficult Interactions issued the last rather excellent album by Hive Mind Elysian Alarms (reviewed here), and have quickly followed up with this newly issued item. However upon further investigation Hollow Slumber is not a new release, rather is a reissue of an earlier limited tape from 2008. On this version, the featured material is slightly extended in length and presented as a remastered 33.33 minute track, rather than being split over two sides of the original tape.

Being an exploration of extremely low sub-bass frequencies, this is music to be felt as it is much to be heard given its invasive sub-audible tone. As such catatonically slow modulated bass drones rise and fall throughout, as other subtle pulses and minimalist textural elements provide ever so slight variation. Equally, there is an ever glacial elevation in tone across its length, but that gradual shift in sound is nigh on undetectable as you are sonically enveloped in an ultra-dense fog of sound. As a comparative observation. given the deep tonal focus and churning minimalist construct, Hollow Slumber does beg a passing comparison to the likes of the subterranean industrial ambient excursions of Swedish artist Jarl.

With its extreme low-end and bass-heavy tone, Hollow Slumber is best appreciated on decent stereo and speakers where the volume can be turned up a couple of notches to give sonic breadth to the deep sub-bass frequencies and allow open-air propulsion of the enveloping sound waves. The resultant impact is the literal vibration of walls and windows as the sound waves can be felt filling the room like oozing black tar. This then clearly differs from headphone listening, as regardless of being armed with decent studio pair, the overloaded bass makes for a rather oppressive listening experience even at low volume. A four-panel digipack rounds out a rather tasty release.

Soleil Satan – Les Couronnes De L’Aube

Soleil Satan – Les Couronnes De L’Aube CD Cipher Productions 2021

Cipher Productions has released yet another previously unknown project for me, so the promo text is then useful in providing context by placing Soleil Satan from the culturally disputed Basque region of Spain. It also clarifies the project is helmed by Miguel A. García: a sound artist ‘working mainly in the field of electro-acoustic composition and improvisation’, while this album ‘is a solemn ambient exploration of voice, guitar and electronics, recorded in a deserted factory in Bilbao’.

On this apparent debut album, an organ-like sustained drone opens proceedings and further sees other sparse acoustic, percussive and reverberating elements flit and weave. Equally the depth of the sound production functions to give a strong impression of a cavernous and echoed space, which obviously typifies the chosen abandoned factory location for the recording. Later on, sparse whispered vocals appear, as do guitars, yet the strings are played in an atypical fashion to provide for elongated and abstract droning effect. This general approach found on the opening tracks continues through the balance of the album’s 40 or so interlinked minutes. Here creaking sounds and a myriad of unidentifiable atonal elements bleed into the sonic frame and very much embedding the impression of experimental and broadly ambient framed post-industrial soundscapes. Although in a few moments the tone does push upwards towards headier and noisier sonic peaks.

A pro-pressed CD and four-panel mini-gatefold sleeve round out the visual presentation of what is an enjoyable and strongly engaging introduction to Soleil Satan.

Haare – Acid Realm

Haare – Acid Realm CD Old Europa Care 2021

Haare has really been making a mark of late with a series of atmospheric ritual meets industrial-noise albums which feature a strong and darkly toned psychedelic edge. The project continues with this approach on Acid Realm, featuring four tracks spanning a shade over 40 minutes.

The title track opens the album with blusteringly windy and hollowed out yet highly evocative soundscapes, with further abstract textural shimmer based on the atypically playing of bass guitar strings. Out follows and is even more minimal during its opening passage, but soon enough echoed and distant raw scrap metal sounds appear to take focus and coupled with the askew baying of a ritual wind instrument and abstract shimmer guitars late in the track. Pillar Of Time opts for more controlled territory of gradually elevating elongated organ-like drones, augmented with various panning elements sweeping across the sonic land, including slashes of loose guitar distortion, treated vocal chants etc, although the meandering improvised melody line which appears later in the track is somewhat jarring to the prevailing atmosphere. The final of four tracks is Taiveet and is another atmospheric excursion into sweeping drones, sparse loops, and subtle guitar feedback.

With the now well-established Haare slogan of ‘Destroy fascism, Love forever’ this rounds out a complete package of artwork and sound which bucks the typical underground aspects of a ritual noise-industrial approach and continues to strongly impress in the process.

Metadevice – Turba

Metadevice – Turba CD New Approach Records 2021

Following the disbandment in the mid-2010’s of the highly respected Portuguese industrial group Sektor304, former member André Coelho has since busied himself with other projects, with Beyond Enclosure and Metadevice being the most visible by virtue of being released on Malignant Records. Metadevice is the newest project, with Turba being the third album since 2020.

In a general sense, Metadevice are concerned with a sound rooted in a rhythmically pummelling and broadly ‘industrial’ style, but has also incorporating wider aspects of dark ambient, death industrial and power electronics. Additionally, on selected tracks more unusual elements are introduced such as twilight-noir atmospheres, as well as battered and overblown electronica. Sonically speaking the fizzing static and harshly brooding soundscapes are further inflected with a percussive rhythmic drive, which perhaps obviously give a nod to Sektor304. Also, despite my assumption that Turba is mostly constructed with programmed equipment and studio trickery, there is still a thread of a band format rather than a straight studio project, given the use of occasional low-slung guitars, metallic percussive tones, and the general vocal approach. To further mention the vocals, they differ from earlier albums here being courtesy of collaborator Rui Almeida, and are notable as they are delivered in both Portuguese and English, and range from spoken word narrative to a more urgent half-sung style. Over Turba’s ten tracks span an hour’s playtime substantial sonic territory and harsh atmospheric spaces are covered, and while each track functions as a stand-alone composition, equally they strongly solidify as a collective album whole. To perhaps to speak of one misstep, the frenetic soloed guitar on Vectores Miragens sounds rather out of place with the balance of the album. But equally, on a more positive note, it is interesting to realise that on more than a few occasions Turba begs a comparison to the ‘power industrial electronics’ approach of Stratvm Terror, which is a stylistic approach infrequently emulated.

Packaging-wise, the CD is housed in an 8-panel digi-sleeve making a strong feature of the striking artwork, noted to also be from the hands of André Coelho. With the painting featuring an amorphous assemblage of faces, it thematically reflects the album’s concept, being: “about collective alienation, raving individualism and a deep dive into the hyperreality of our modern times”. In all aspects of sonics and visuals, Turba is very much worthy of attention.