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 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.

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.

Maltreatment ‎– A Searing Path To Enlightenment

Maltreatment A Searing Path To Enlightenment MC Cloister Recordings 2020

This appears to be the debut release from Maltreatment where its approach is based around controlled power electronics blended with moments of charred noise. Five tracks make up this EP length tape.

Sonically the tape demonstrates a sort of split personality, which on one level features an undercurrent of brooding synths, but over which layers of chaotic and scrabbling higher pitch noise erupts. Vocals are also an excellent element, where they featuring as a hollowed out roar sitting off in the background, which sonically treated samples are also sporadically employed and function to hint at unpalatable themes. With the tonal spectrum charting a heavy low-end rumble to fierce higher pitch squalls, there is also the tone of raw scrap metal abuse sessions forming part of the recorded input. On more than one occasion the relatively loose approach to blending elements of brooding power electronics and scattered noise reminds of Prurient, but which should be read as a compliment and not criticism.

Packaging involves an A5 booklet housed in zip-lock bag where text and collage artwork functions to hammer home the chosen theme. With the credits then providing a thank you to ‘anger, depression, anxiety & drug use’, it gives a clear indication of the strongly negative vibes captured on this tape. Certainly a strong debut.

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.

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.

Linekraft – Subhuman Principle

Linekraft – Subhuman Principle LP Tesco Organisation 2019

Over recent years I have heard a number of Linekraft albums, all of them solid and punishing in a freeform scrap metal abuse / noise industrial sort of way. While I have certainly enjoyed those albums, I have also stopped short of becoming an obsessive listener. Now Subhuman Principle has changed that, because this new album has twisted the known Linekraft sound into a much more focused power electronics frame of reference, and the results are simple amazing.

Eight tracks feature in all. Spitting pulsing synths, mangled sampled voices, and a rough industrial ‘beat’ open the album with Archaic. But just as it gets going, the track concludes in little over a minute, which leaves me wanting A LOT more and feels like a misfired opening shot. No Loss in Weeding Out fixes that and charts a slow building sound of wavering synths and crowd chatter/chanting, before surging forward with interweaving atonal synth lines and flourishes of junk percussion and flanger-smeared vocals. A similar sound and approach is showcased on Hunger which runs a knife’s edge between controlled and chaotic – a description that could be applied to much of the album. In essence, there is a strong compositional basis on display here, constructed around shuddering bass, looped conveyer belt rhythms, divebombing atonal synths etc., over which are overlaid more chaotic tonal bursts, shredded processed vocals, documentary samples, and sections of scrap metal abuse. Stand Alone is a late album standout with its strong pulsing rhythmic beat and urgent wavering synth textures, and is reminiscent of mid-era Genocide Organ if any sort of indication of quality was needed.

Thematically and visually the album is concerned with the Khmer Rouge regime (the Communist Party of Kampuchea – aka Cambodia). The title is partially explained by a fragment of the promo blurb: ‘Controlling the people is to kill their bodies and spirits. Human beings are animals. They can’t form a perfect social group. Music presented here is a soundtrack for “subhumans” who starts to act by oneself’. The visuals reinforce the horrendous human toll of the more than a million people who died during the Khmer Rouge’s rule from 1975 to 1979. Sonically and thematically, this is another essential album from Tesco Organisation HQ.

Himukalt – Vulgar

Himukalt – Vulgar CD Found Remains 2020

By way of background, in 2018 Found Remains released Himukalt’s fifth release, Come October, on cassette in a limited run of 100 (reviewed here), and a year later reissued it on CD. In 2020, Found Remains have turned their attention to another earlier Himukalt release for the reissue treatment: fourth cassette, Vulgar, which was originally released in 2018 via No Rent Records. For this version, two bonus tracks have been added to the original eight tracks, and remastered by Grant Richardson (Gnawed), which makes for an extremely impactful result balancing sonic clarity with ample tonal filth.

Although this is one of the early releases from Himukalt, it is intriguing that the project appeared ‘fully formed’ in 2016 and – rather than showing ‘improvement’ or ‘refinement’ over subsequent releases – it has been more of a case of variations on a composed, razor-sharp approach to industrial noise / power electronics. This is very much the case with Vulgar. The eight original tracks are broadly framed around erupting fissures of analogue muck, pulsing atonal synth textures, roughly oscillating ‘conveyor belt’ loops, and misfiring drum machine ‘beats’. Such elements have then been hewn into a selection of equally brooding yet punishing compositions, where vocals and dialogue samples sporadically break through the sonic muck, yet for the most part are unintelligible or only partly detectable. Of the bonus tracks on the CD, Not In This Body was originally issued on the 2019 Found Remains tape compilation, and is slightly more tonally ferocious than the material that precedes it. Featuring a droning and sonically stalking aesthetic, tension builds before sporadically erupting with pulsing bass hewn malice. The final track Want You To See Me (The Voyeur Tapes #15) is by far the longest track at over 16 minutes – twice as long as the longest track of the main collection. The track unfurls in a traditional pulsing death industrial style, with a consistent bass thumping pulse, while mid-tone drones interweave in a sonically invasive fashion, and become increasingly unhinged as the track proceeds.

The original tape version featured non-existent black artwork, but this reissue comes with a 16-page booklet featuring evocative collage artwork by the artist. The quality of the printing and weight of the card stock is also noteworthy, creating a solid tactile presentation that perfectly suits the fetishization of physical media in an era blighted by the instant gratification of media streaming. The liner notes are also an intriguing addition which provide further detail about both source material and inspiration. Recommended.

Herukrat ‎– Darkness Over Najaf / Junta Cadre ‎– The Red Detachment

Herukrat Darkness Over Najaf LP Total Black 2020

Junta Cadre The Red Detachment MC Total Black 2020

While I have not heard the handful of prior releases from Herukrat, Darkness Over Najaf comes six years after the last album in 2014. It is common practice for the post-industrial underground to play with ambiguity. Yet this is not the modus operandi of Herukrat: the project is used to strongly project Jackson Abdul-Salaam’s own worldview following his conversion to Islam in 2014. The liner notes further explain that the album is concerned with the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, as well as Abdul-Salaam’s personal relationship with Islam.

Blood In The Sand Of Sectarian Nights opens the album with an Islamic call to prayer, before bursts of gunfire that place the listener in the middle of urban guerrilla warfare, with a palpable sense of urgency. Soon after, these field recordings are blended with bristling and seething synth lines, while the angst-filled strained and echo-treated vocals partly remind one of the early works of IRM. Steps of Faith follows, a caustically direct track where a central wailing synth loop provides the structure around which scrap metal abuse and harsh noise are overlaid, and vocals bellowed. The title track rounds out Side A with a fierce and barely structured squalling mass of mid- to high-toned distortion and semi-buried dialogue chatter; the personal proclamations of the vocals are particularly rabid (“My God has saved me”). Al-Adiyat opens Side B and offers clear respite by pulling back on the overt sonic chaos; this is a moody ambient track based on a low drone as a backing to Islamic prayer chanting (although the final moments imply military intervention through a helicopter hovering overhead while US soldiers conduct what sounds like a stop and search operation). God Has Delivered Me arcs back to tensile sonics, here with a buzzing fast-paced oscillating loop and Arabic chatter, prior to the arrival of Jackson’s throat-shredding vocal barrage. The final track is March 20th, 2003 which leave no question as to its preoccupations. Being a soundscape track based around a variety of field recording samples and minimalist drone, it is the intermixing of air raid sirens, missile fire, distant explosions, and Islamic prayer calls that give this a tensile sense of being holed up in a city in Iraq as the US ground invasion is underway.

Both the artwork and text of the cover further flesh out the album’s focus, but even without this visual material a blind listen will illustrate how thematically strong this album is; the sonics are perfectly executed, swinging from fierce and bristling to brooding and understated. The album has been mastered by Grant Richardson and has been issued in an edition of 199 copies, and this has been a very rewarding introduction to the project.

In moving on to Junta Cadre, this is another project of Jackson Abdul-Salaam, but this project differs from Herukrat both sonically and thematically. In terms of theme, The Red Detachment focuses on China’s Communist revolution under the guiding hand of Mao Zedong, aka Chairman Mao, evidently following on from the same theme on the debut tape (which I missed).

With Junta Cadre there is less white-knuckled rage on display, rather a heavy electronics / brooding power electronics approach. This understated tone leaves the burrowing, oscillating, interweaving synth lines to generate the atmosphere of the tracks, occasionally underscored with elements of metallic resonance. Vocals are delivered in a spoken ‘manifesto proclamation’ style, and with slight echo treatment sit submerged within the middle of the mix. The tape’s theme is further fleshed out with documentary samples in both English and Chinese interspersed throughout.

Six tracks span the 30-minute tape. Each demonstrates clear focus and control in compositional approach, further showcase the sonically and conceptually strong material produced by Abdul-Salaam.