Murderous Vision – Ghosts of the Soul Long Lost: Volume Three 3xCD Live Bait Recording Foundation 2014
Here we have a triple album which functions to archive various limited and out of print recordings from the group. Being the third in the archive series, it also marks a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Murderous Vision and contains recordings from number of different eras of the project.
In reissuing an album from 2000, ‘Suffocate…The Final Breath’ takes up the first disc, where its title is very fitting for the overall atmosphere and mood. Here the material forms stalking yet subdued soundscapes which drift between dark ambience and death industrial. As such slow thumping beats, tribal-esque rhythms and churning factory sounds are offset against the disorienting ebb and flow of a sweeping undercurrent. Other album pieces occupy a freeform style with a general tonal abstractness, where an electronic fog evokes a trancelike ambience. Whilst this album certainly has it excellent moments, some tracks are slightly ambling and directionless at times and with a length of 74 minutes, dropping a few of the less engaging pieces might have made this a far more focused album. Also one notable aspect of the sound is its general sonic ‘crispness’, which is slightly more clinical in tone than European counterparts of the equivalent time.
‘Salvation on Sand Mountain’ takes up the second disc and jumps forward a decade in the creative arc of the project. Originally forming a cassette album from 2010 released on Danvers State Recordings, the stylistic shift is clearly evident given this album straddles a death industrial to power electronics sound. The release also functions to showcase seven guest vocalists, with project lead Stephen Petrus featuring on a further two tracks. Fierce and focused in tone, the second disc mirrors all the best elements of the current American death industrial/ power electronics scene with caustic, focused and slightly rhythmic driving tracks. Likewise the divergent approach that each of vocalists take provides a clear degree of variation between each composition, demonstrating that individuality is still a clear possibility in the ‘yelled distortion drenched vocal’ style. Of the vocal led tracks ‘Lies of the Beast?’ differs given it is more subdued in tone and includes female spoken vocals. With the bulk of the album constituting a rather punishing collection of tracks, the concluding piece is rounded out with a longer form, pounding and distortion fried industrial offering. Accordingly the instrumental framework serves as a base for religious based sermon samples relating to the track’s title and its thematic focus (i.e. a fringe Alabama religious sect which involves the handling of deadly snakes as a demonstration of faith).
For the third and final disc it compiles two prior separate releases, including a four track live studio recording ‘Echosphore’ from 2010, in addition to three tracks originally issued in 2011 on the ‘Corpse Abuse’ split with Skin Graft. Up first is the ‘Echosphore’ material which interestingly achieves a kind of mid-point between the first two discs. Here the material is more soundscape oriented and less ‘song’ focused than the second disc, but far more direct, rough and loud than the first disc. As such the sound sprawls as a swirling distorted mass, punctuated with looped rhythmic elements, scattered improvised noise squalls and quasi-chanted / moaned vocal textures. The tone also has a sharp, harsh and overblown aesthetic with hints at the live studio creation. Alternatively the ‘Corpse Abuse’ tracks function as much shorter and more focused compositions. By providing slightly more breathing space and rhythmic undercurrent, these tracks are more controlled in a throbbing/ oscillating death industrial style, complete with suitable thematic dialogue samples and aggressive vocalisations.
As a complete package this is a strong document of the varied approach of the project, which as displayed here extends from sprawling, occasionally ritualised dark ambient/ industrial soundscapes, and on to focused aggressive and focused death industrial to power electronics compositions. As an archive this is also a testament to the long-standing and ongoing dedication of Stephen Petrus to the post-industrial underground.