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.

Envenomist & Murderous Vision ‎– Liminal Presence

Envenomist & Murderous Vision Liminal Presence CD Live Bait Recording Foundation 2019

Being more than familiar with Murderous Vision’s dark ambient and death industrial output (which now spans decades), this is less the case with Envenomist, who have released around two dozen albums issued since the mid 2000’s. Of those albums I have only heard the Chariots LP from 2007, and while tagged as dark ambient and drone, it also stood out for its tensile, animated and invasive sound. On Liminal Presence, it is a part collaboration and part split, and by that I meant that each project contributes four tracks each, while the album is bookended by a further two collaborative tracks. But unlike typical splits which effectively segments a release into halves, here the track order is mixed between projects. So rather than seeking to identify ‘who did what’ this review has considered the album as a whole (although it warrants a mention that Murdurous Vision’s contributions sit towards a dark ambient than death industrial sound).

As an overall comment Liminal Presence sits at the ambient and abstracted end of sonic expression, and excels with its blend of caustic industrial drone and abstracted and tensile sub-orchestral ambiences. As a general observation deep rumbling industrial drones are cut across with shrill sonic textures resembling orchestral strings, while in other tracks muted and sustained piano notes reinforce the dank sub-orchestral tone. The pacing is slow and unhurried, yet some occasional looped rhythmic textures provide a sense of laborious forward momentum. Equally the production has a widescreen breadth, while equally being deep and cavernous, which either sprawls out towards the event horizon, or otherwise sonically spirals downward into an unfathomable yawning abyss. The chosen track titles function as being vividly representative of what to expect, with applicable examples including: Time Dilation, Sleepwalker, Naked Singularities, Fathomless Light, Inverted Realm & Liminiferous Aether.

While clearly being a genre-oriented piece given that it does not seek to being in new elements or approaches to dark ambient/drone, Liminal Presence remains as an expertly executed which maintain attention and interest throughout. As may be expected for this type of material, listening to this on headphones perhaps yields best sonic results. A 6 panel cardboard digi-sleeve round out the presentation with artistically abstracted shapes, in a limitation of 300 copies.

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.

Analfabetism ‎– Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur

Analfabetism Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur Not On Label (self-released) 2019

Following a couple of albums on Malignant Records in 2015 and 2017, Analfabetism have issued two self-released albums in 2018 & 2019. Sjön Där Hon Dränkte Sina Djur is the latest album from mid-2019.

Based on the earlier Malignant albums I have heard, they displayed a distinct Swedish death industrial angle. Clearly that sound remains here, but from the opening moment of Vættr there is a greater display of experimentation, where dank liquidous tones and deep bass rumbles blend with up front ‘micro-tonal’ textures, while the second have the track focuses on heavier atonal industrial elements. On the following track Kråkeld, given its murky production, distant rhythmic elements, erupting fissures of distortion and garbled voices it is an effective case study in Swedish death industrial. Pushing a more direct and aggressive tone, Vedergällning evokes a mood of seething menace, with the mid-toned droning layers pushing up towards higher pitched distortion, coupled with the vocals being rendered as another seething layer. Elsewhere Miðgarðsormr deliveries a track of thick and laborious muted bass tones, which mid track briefly explodes with noxious distortion. Ihjäl de vittra rounds out the 50-minute album with more muted bass rumble and features an effective use of panning voices between speakers to generate an off kilter feel.

As a general comment I would say that Analfabetism are something of a workhorse project, who with little fanfare delivers strong and varied material within the chosen niche style. As such everything I have heard from the project, including this new album, is both top notch and certainly an enjoyable genre piece. Also, don’t let the ‘self-released’ status colour your impression in any way. The cover is slickly designed and has been professionally printed as a 6 panel dig-pack that suitably rounds out the physical presentation.

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.

Deutsch Nepal – Staring At My Wall

Deutsch Nepal – Staring At My Wall CD Entartete Musikk 2019

By now Lina Baby Doll’s project Deutsch Nepal is recognised as a long standing, unique and ever dependent fixture of the post-industrial underground. Staring At My Wall comes some four years on from 2014’s Alcohology, although in between there was a couple of splits and compilation collections, as well as a vocal collaboration album Easting the Dust with Reutoff.

In leaping straight in, the music of the opening title track is notable as it specifically harks back to the classic sound of the long regarded classic first album Deflagration of Hell. As such the stellar track features mid paced hypnotic looped rhythms, driving beat and dark drones, while the vocals themselves are also recognised from the track Terrible Place featured on the collaboration album with Reutoff. With this basic structure set, the album rolls through collection of tracks of quintessential vocal lead Deutsch Nepal compositions. This means that some tracks are ambient and mellow, while others are more direct based on looped percussion and bass rhythms, all the while Lina’s bellowed and crooned vocals gives an immediately distinct edge. Butterfly is then notable as it charts both of these styles, where the first passage is a mellow ambient soundscape, before launching into a rousing looped rhythmic and vocal led passage for the balance of the track. How Low in its original form was on 1999’s Erosion but is featured here in a completely new version titled How Low… 2017. While the original featured low crooned vocals and an atmospheric soundscape articulating a floating drugged haze, here in its new version it features brute force martial percussion and commanding vocal delivery, thus very much feels to be a completely different track. Pasolini also stands out positively brooding orchestral drones, muted ticking/ swaying rhythmic elements and surreal and dreamlike lyrics. The final track Let Go And Slip Away then completely surprises given its upbeat and happy ditty of a melody and sporadic hand-clapped beat, yet with Lina’s vocals and mid track twist into nightmarish territory provides enough of a surreal edge to keep a foot squarely in the Deutsch Nepal camp.

With near enough to three decades of activity by now Deutsch Nepal should be a household name in the post-industrial underground. So, while on one hand Staring At My Wall certainly delivers a sound that could only be from mind of Lina. But on the other this new album is both playfully creative and addictively engaging, and a clear demonstration that Lina is still on his game. A worthy addition to the Deutsch Nepal discography.