Month: June 2018 (Page 2 of 2)

Salò Salon – The Scent of Voluntarism – Review

Artist: Salò Salon
Album: The Scent of Voluntarism
Release date: 11 February 2018
Label: White Ashes

01. Mind-Body-Problem
02. Primat des Willens
03. Kampf ums Dasein
04. Decadenza
05. Beyond Affirmation and Negation
06. La Volonté Aveugle
07. Alienated Vitalism
08. Urnichtung
09 Emptiness is Form, Form is Emptiness

“Beauty is but the cloak of happiness. Where joy tarries, there also is beauty.” Ludwig Klages

You maybe know the feeling : an immense wave of joy captures you, but at the very same time, that voice on the radio, those people on the TV screen, the charming, fascinating attraction that is submerging you, despite it all, an inner voice is telling you that what is going on is probably wrong – nonetheless you can’t help but drowning in the collective enthusiasm. This is exactly what the instantly grabbing “Mind-Body-Problem” is likely to arise. With such intro and opening track, Salò Salon immediately sets a very high standard. The rest of the album, The Scent Of Voluntarism keeps up to the promises and never diminishes in strength. Crushing death industrial, wide amplitudes of frequencies, with no place to hide – any little corner will be invaded by the forceful atmospheric noise. My initial reaction at first listen has been: “A diamond”.

Not a newcomer at all – prior to The Scent Of Voluntarism, Salò Salon has issued Execution Tourism (The Dialectic Of Violence) (CDR album limited to 120 copies) on the British label 412Recordings (that released stuff by Slut Kull, Bagman, Steel Hook Prostheses, among other delicacies) in December 2015, followed by Agonal Pessimism (cassette mini album limited to 50 copies) on German Obsessive Fundamental Realism (a label maintaining a “crude DIY approach, (with) no interest in humanistic values and unauthentic artists, (…)rooted in the idea of Post-Industrial being a means of transportation for brutal and antisocial world-views, urges and mindsets”). The rather limited editions should not at all be a measure of disregarding these releases, as they are milestones in an ongoing rise of one of the most promising projects in this field of musical expression, likely to reach cult status in a not too distant future – and all these recordings are available as digital downloads at Salò Salon‘s Bandcamp anyway.

This new release is a factory pressed CD limited to 100 copies on the German label White Ashes, mastered by Sven Bussler (White Ashes‘ owner, and mastermind behind the martial industrial almighty Wappenbund, also a collaborator with Anna Gardeck and Wiener Aktivisten). Handmade box sealed and wax-closed with the logo of Salò Salon. Inner cover artwork by Quadreria Romantico Seriale from Italy, introducing themselves as “ethics, esthetics, genetics – esthetical and political deviance – autonomous and radical action – a mise en scene – an entity that acts among eugenics forms and terminal beauties – a misanthropic showgirl and disciplined daughter of the disaster ruling in the void, enemy of the Five M Order : Multiculturalism, Mundialism, Modernity, Mundanity, Materialism – an antinomian in the Great Civilizing Persuasion : here and now the verities are only moments of the fake, where every destiny succumbs to dissolution and every concept is subjected to oblivion – a cardiac wave, its organs are vital where others would die”. Needless to say, Salò Salon has gathered a bunch of allies of caliber for this album, which should be re-released as vinyl LP later on this year. And in the pipeline is a collaboration with UK legend Satori.

That has been the formal section. Going further: a very prominent aspect of the work of Salò Salon is cultural pessimism, as envisioned and investigated by German thinkers such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Ludwig Klages, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Johann Caspar Schmidt aka ‘Max Stirner’, and the impact that such psychic explorers have had on the historical march of humanity. Delusional rationality… and indeed, not to be confused with any ideological positioning. Question everything – no restriction – no taboo – never take anything for granted. For the sake of the reviewer’s credibility, if I would have to propose some sort of a comparison, then I would maybe succumb to citing Anenzephalia. No less. But to the extent of the mindset / attitude context, not the sound. Salò Salon doesn’t have the very prominent use of speech that is a distinctive trait of Anenzephalia. Rather drowning the listener in a forceful exhilaration, than submitting to the crowds. Somewhere between death industrial and heavy electronics, between contemplation and brute force, blending hypnotic sample loops, fanfare tones, massive atmospheric, rash textures and noisy backgrounds. An album that is impossible not to play one track after the other in succession : once the wine is pulled, it must be drunk, drink the chalice until the dregs. An instant classic.

Written by: Nicolas Dupont

Theologian – Exclusive New Track Premiere!

Theologian is slowly creeping their way to becoming one of the most covered artists here on This Is Darkness. I’ve been following the artist, Lee Bartow, for a good while now, through his project Theologian, his previous project Navicon Torture Technologies, and his label Annihilvs Power Electronix. But I really started to dig into this artist when Theologian was featured as the soundtrack/soundscapes on a number of Cadabra Records spoken-art releases, the most recent being The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft, read by the brilliant Andrew Leman.

Photo by: Gretchen Heinel


Theologian – “Tetanus” from the upcoming album, Reconcile.


After covering last year’s Forced Utopia (read the review here), we are pleased to premiere a brand new track from his upcoming release, Reconcile. This new track, “Tetanus”, will immediately stand out to many from the more recent previous works by Theologian. There are airy dronescapes that gently blanket the 6 1/2 minute experience, while cavernously reverberating percussion hammers and voices are heard, in a sort of irreligious long-form chanting dirge. While the percussion, in particular, will keep this outside the boundaries of your standard definition of dark ambient, I think what Theologian is doing here may end up being one of his more dark ambient friendly tracks to date. I’ll be covering the album in a full review soon!

Below you can read the full press release for the Theologian – Reconcile album, to be released on 16 June 2018 via Cloister Recordings.

Cover photo by: K. Berlin


Hot on the heels of The Icy Bleakness of Things, Theologian’s collaboration with The Vomit Arsonist, Cloister Recordings presents Reconcile. Timed to coincide with the upcoming live appearance at the DARKNESS DESCENDS festival, this 60-minute cassette (and digital) release contains brand-new material featuring input from Andy Grant (The Vomit Arsonist), Mike McClatchey (Lament Cityscape), Stephen Petrus (Murderous Vision), and Derek Rush (Dream Into Dust). The album was mixed by Mike McClatchey. The word “supergroup” has been jokingly bandied about in reference to this collection of artists, but the final product is indeed a unique composite of industrial sounds, reflecting another step in the evolution of Theologian.

Perhaps most notable is a return to an earlier, less harsh and distorted iteration of the project, with cavernous drones and thunderous percussion creating the sort of dense sonic environments found on the 2010 debut album, The Further I Get From Your Star, The Less Light I Feel On My Face.

Eschewing the longform drone/ambient tracks of older releases, here we find Theologian attempting to approximate the immediacy and memorability of pop, using rhythm and melody to elicit slightly less sprawling emotional landscapes. The album’s eight tracks are interconnected by brief interludes, serving as touchstones along the journey to the album’s denouement. As the title suggests, Reconcile is ultimately about coming to terms with past versions of oneself, while examining the present and fretting over the future. Cloister Recordings is issuing this cassette in an edition of 100 copies, which will become available for the first time when Theologian headlines the DARKNESS DESCENDS festival on Saturday, June 16 at Pat’s in the Flat’s in Cleveland, Ohio.

Also performing are The Vomit Arsonist, Steel Hook Prostheses, Gnawed, Compactor, Shock Frontier, Vitriol Gauge, Cunting Daughters, and Murderous Vision. The Theologian performance will include Andy Grant, Stephen Petrus, and Derek Rush as live collaborators. The event is sold out.

Soft Tissue, the 2016 collaborative release by Lament Cityscape and Theologian, will be reissued later this year, featuring completely new mixes of the original album and remixes by Achromaticist, Compactor, Cutworm, Kidaudra, Neurospora, Orphx, Over Hold, rRhexis, and Snowbeasts.

Murderous Vision and Lament Cityscape have both recently completed new albums yet to be released, while The Vomit Arsonist produced a new cassette, entitled Further, in April of this year via Gutter Bloat. While Derek Rush has mostly been busy as SysAdmin for heavy electronics project Compactor, a 20th anniversary vinyl reissue of the Dream Into Dust album The World We Have Lost is in the works for April 2019.

Darkness Descends: A Post-Industrial Compilation – Review

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Darkness Descends: A Post-Industrial Compilation
Release date: 16 June 2018
Label: Live Bait Recording Foundation
Reviewer: Nicolas Dupont, debut review on This Is Darkness!

01. Murderous Vision – “The Final Enemy”
02. Cunting Daughters – “Awaken The Beneath”
03. Abjection Ritual – “Tiny Atrocities”
04. Shock Frontier – “Your Cross Is Not Illuminated”
05. Vitriol Gauge – “No Calm”
06. Compactor – “Ultimatum”
07. Gnawed – “The Harrowing Dark”
08. Steel Hook Prostheses – “Orbitoclast”
09. The Vomit Arsonist – “Dispirited”
10. Theologian – “I Shed Your Corpse”

The undead thrasher may feel hunger when thinking they’ve spotted some review of Dark Angel‘s second album from 1986, but the mistake is certain (homage is not), as this Darkness Descends does not belong to Combat Records catalog, rather to Live Bait Recording Foundation, referenced LBRF 051 ; subtitled A Post-Industrial Compilation, be sure that black prophecies and merciless audio death are anyway to be expected, and that in the sonic process of the burning of sonic landscapes, the listener might as well perish in flames.

The compilation opens like a mechanical procession towards the Styx with “The Final Enemy” by Murderous Vision, long going project of Stephen Petrus, owner of Live Bait Recording Foundation, confirming again the faultless majesty of dark atmospheric procedures and deep explorations of unhealthy corners with which he has established himself. Processed vocals and a pounding final section mark the beginning of a journey requiring assistance – ladies and gentlemen, this way please.

Cunting Daughters drowns you in stagnant, noxious swamps with “Awaken the Beneath”. Rise up and try to escape those liquid textures, as if coming back to life through metempsychic rebirth, the wet begins to dry with caution. Death ambient, industrial, atmospheric. A project formerly known for a very limited release (55 copies) in 2011, seemingly oriented on post-mortem evocations.

Abjection Ritual furthers the awakening with “Tiny Atrocities”. A, maybe, more electro-acoustic affair involving violin, ropes slippage above the intimistic power rumblings that are present throughout. Tension in the air, human order still prevails in the environment of rebirth, this new existence is not going to be peaceful. From a project introducing itself as “influenced by mental illness, disease, self-hatred, shame, failure and disgust for humanity”, the weight of the karma has to be borne.

Shock Frontier – Tumult

Shock Frontier continues the anamnesis of apprehending this world. “Your Cross Is Not Illuminated” convokes religious orders, spiritual coercion. The death industrial is profound. Flowing, somber drones, bit by bit, arise to a more crushing structure. Hearing this, I wonder what their previous two CD albums, Tumors 64 & 110 on Malignant Records, could have been like – must check those.
[Editor’s Note: You can read our review of Shock FrontierTumult here.]

Vitriol Gauge, a project emanating from one half of United Front, and who has recently issued a new excellently thick-frequencies-ridden opus, entitled Routines on the label Concrete//Contrôle, pursues the topology of being coerced : “Are you real, or are you just in my mind?” – “Doesn’t matter at all…” Harsher, due to the heavily-processed vocals, noisier, although the atmospheric, death-industrial tone is kept. Outbursts of resistance among a (post?)apocalyptic haze, “No Calm” indicates the persistence of will, despite the blurry consensus.

COMPACTOR photo by Stephen Petrus in Vantaa, Finland 11.06.17

The unleashing follows with Compactor – “Ultimatum”. Pounding powerful craft with titillating bleeps, stomping the contained rage. A project by Derek Rush, also responsible for the artwork on the compilation, and long go’er known from Dream Into Dust, labels The Order Of The Suffering Clown and Chthonic Streams, as well as involvement in Loretta’s Doll and The Sword Volcano Complex.

“The Harrowing Dark” by Gnawedthen, steps into power-electronics territories, due to determined, yet jaded vocals ; flanged vocals is the leading element in power-electronics? – yes madam, ‘cos as you can hear, even when the soundscapes are layers of death-industrial undertones and slow pounding, the commanding vocals crowning it all renders it power-electronics. The unleash remains uncertain, too many past lives, too many sticking memories, crusades failed, thus all has corroded. Gnawed is for me a very pleasant discovery here, I will for sure keep an eye on this project, which already has an imposing discography.
[Editor’s Note: Grant Richardson of Gnawed also runs the dark ambient project Atrox Pestis, whose debut EP we reviewed, and debut full-length we premiered.]

Steel Hook Prostheses next. Woops! Gnawed has been a fair warning? Okay… Drones are sumptuous and wide, almost orchestral, which does not prevent distortion and sepulchral shriekings from interfering. “Orbitoclast” sets a nauseating crawl, despite the beauty that may surface. Full blown heavy electronics with always the death-industrial measure that accompanies the trip. Since Steel Hook Audio Mastering has been in charge of the entire treatment of the compilation, you know which crushing efficiency to expect.

Are the visitors having enough? The journey is relentless. The Vomit Arsonist keeps reminding you that you are “Dispirited”, an avalanche of frequencies that is somehow closing the circle which Shock Frontier had initiated. You tried, you lost. Again.

Theologian concludes with structured awesome potency. “I Shed Your Corpse” sounds vibrant, poignant buried vocals and again an almost orchestral tone, culminating in rhythmic military reshaping that appears almost hopeful. So, this is the very texture of the darkness that we all have to deal with? Indeed – therefore you have been enlightened. Be merry.

Although a various artists compilation, it could almost sound as an entire album by  the same artist in that the tones are so unified. Not one weak track, not one filler, all almighty and powerful. Blending, both older and more recent, projects in a constant progression that creates the feeling of chapters within a book. A psychotopography, detailing specific aspects of an inner meltdown. The physical version of it will be a professionally printed CDR in a digi-sleeve limited to 200 copies, which will be available at the Darkness Descends Festival held in Cleveland, Ohio on June 16th, 2018.

Written by: Nicolas Dupont

Guest Sessions: Piblokto Frigid Ambient Mix by Cryogenic Weekend

Cryogenic Weekend is the latest collaboration of Oleg Puzan, best known for his work as Dronny Darko. For this new project, he teamed up with Vitaly Lebukhorski of Oil Texture. In celebration of their new album and the scorching summer months that are upon us in the northern hemisphere, Cryogenic Weekend created a 90 minute seamless mix of the coldest ambient soundscapes. Dark ambient favorites like Northaunt, Thomas Koner and Ugasanie, are blended with a selection of other ambient artists, many of which fall outside the realms of dark ambient. But nonetheless, this should be an entertaining mix for our readers, and a cool breeze to help cope with these horribly humid summer days. You can also check out their new album here.

01. 00:00 Jacob Kirkegaard – Cave (Day 0)
02. 08:10 Craig Vear – Adélie Penguins (Jenny Island)
03. 12:46 Northaunt – Part II
04. 17:28 Simon Whetham – The Innocence of Deceit
05. 23:14 France Jobin – Scène 4
06. 28:39 Richard Chartier – (rework of Autistici)
07. 36:13 Thomas Koner – Novaya Zemlya 2
08. 39:19 Llyn Y Cwn – Y Garn
09. 42:50 Robert Henke – Teboi
10. 45:43 Steve Roden – Mobile Stabile
11. 51:35 Craig Vear – Cravasse Blue
12. 54:15 Mika Vainio – Viher [Green_Cellular]
13. 63:24 Tu M’ – Monochrome # 02
14. 70:42 Francisco López – Untitled #225
15. 74:31 Llyn Y Cwn – Cwm Bochlwyd
16. 77:26 Jana Winderen – Drying Out In The Sun
17. 81:02 Ugasanie – To the Land of Storms and Mists

Simon Šerc – Bora Scura – Review

Artist: Simon Šerc
Album: Bora Scura
Release date: 22 April 2018
Label: Pharmafabrik Recordings

1 – 10: Action I – Action X
Runtime: 1.2 hours

When I first received the message about this new Simon Šerc album, I have to admit I wasn’t very impressed with the first sentence: “The album is composed exclusively of recordings of extreme Bora wind blowing in Ajdovščina, Slovenia.” I generally am less fond of the idea of untouched field recordings, and similarly, improvised jam-session-turn-albums. I just have a bit of a bias that attending to details for months after creating a foundation inherently makes an album better. But, there are always exceptions to my prejudices. In this case, Bora Scura is an exception! So, getting that out of the way for myself, and hopefully for you readers as well, I’ll get into the specifics here.

This album was recorded on the 5th of February in 2015. In this town of Ajdovščina, Simon Šerc captured this glorious anomaly of nature known as Bora. In the Vipava Valley of Slovenia, for an average of 42 days per year, there are incredibly strong gusts of wind, which can reach 200km/h (124 mph) and in 2010 managed to hit 295 km/h (183 mph). This seems insane to me! These are winds with the force of a full scale hurricane/typhoon, and the people in this region just accept it at part of the weather, presenting itself particularly during the cold season.

Listening to this album, one can’t help but close their eyes and feel like they are right in the midst of this incredible anomaly. I came to dark ambient music for the immersion, and that is why artists like Northaunt and Ugasanie have had such impact on me. Because I love these cold regions with frigid gusts of wind tearing at the trees and houses. That sentiment is very much present when I’m listening to this release. While there is none of the actual “music”, these winds are just so intense that they manage to hold my attention, as well as pull me into the experience.

There are other interesting things to listen for in the album, too. The recordings were not captured in a barren field, with nothing to impede their travels. Quite the opposite. One can hear a variety of sounds here. At one point I picked out bells tolling in the distance. A church? Or a warning signal for the locals? At another point we can hear very clearly doors opening and closing, footsteps on a wooden floor, possibly a barn? There are animals calling out in distress, barely audible. These aren’t the sounds of Atrium Carceri, where we are hearing pieces of a puzzle, potentially key elements to a vast story. But that didn’t take away from the experience for me. I still enjoyed picking out these various sounds. Each play-through finding something new, piecing together in my mind the landscapes of these soundscapes.

While attempting to peice it all together, I began to find it hard to believe that all these different variations of this storm were captured in a single day/night. So, I contacted Šerc to verify that it was all captured on 5 February 2015. He responded:

Yes, all in one day, with two different recorders. The wind gusts exceeded 200 km/h on that day, the next day it was only 150 km/h. But, the hard work started then in the studio, cleaning the recordings…it was a lot of useless/overloaded material…

One can only imagine, when recording 200 km/h winds, how hard it must be to capture almost any usable material. To which his response was:

One day is enough. It’s not easy to record audio outside in that wind. It’s essential to find natural covers to protect the microphones, and myself.

So, Bora Scura may be even harder to consider “music” than the dark ambient many of us already defend as “music”. But, this album has really impressed me. I’ve went back to it over and over through the weeks since I first heard it. At first, I was almost positive I wouldn’t be covering it. But, the album quickly and decisively grew on me, so here we are! Of course, it won’t be recommended to people that prefer their ambient melodic or crisply polished. But for those of us that love to sink into an epic storm, allowing its energy to surge through our bodies, this one should make for quite a pleasing experience.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Skincage – Unimagined Space – Review

Artist: Skincage
Album: Unimagined Space
Release date: 10 October 2017
Label: Annihilvs Power Electronix (APEX)

01. Lost Carcosa
02. From Beyond
03. For He Was An Old Dreamer
04. The Call of Cthulhu
05. Azathoth
06. The Whisperer in Darkness
07. Dreams in the Witch House
08. The Pallid Mask
09. With Strange Eons
10. The Colour Out of Space
11. Cool Air
12. The Monkey’s Paw
13. The Lurking Fear
14. The Music of Erich Zann

Skincage is a dark ambient project created by Jon Ray. The first album, Axon, was released back in 2000 on the sub-label, Malignant Antibody, of Malignant Records. Then in 2007 they released Things Fall Apart on the Belgian industrial label, Spectre. On Axon, Skincage was already showing their skill in sound design. Each track had a unique feel. Some with relaxing drones, others thick with instrumentation, vocal samples, and industrial carnage. Things Fall Apart brought Skincage closer in line with their latest release, having a bit more restraint and an overall darker atmosphere. Yet, after Things Fall Apart, Skincage would not release another full-length album for a decade.

In the intervening years dark ambient as grown into an exponentially larger genre. With the advent of Bandcamp, Youtube, Spotify, etc., and the greater access to digital workspaces, artists are able to realize their visions in a way and with a frequency never before imagined. In late 2017, Skincage stepped back into this world, releasing Unimagined Space.

On Unimagined Space, Skincage channels the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft, and to a lesser degree Robert W. Chambers and W.W. Jacobs, for inspiration. Each track on the album focuses on a different story. Skincage is certainly not the first to find inspiration in century-old weird fiction, nor will he be the last. But, he does manage to make his contribution to the “genre” stand-out, if for no reason other than its attention to detail, and top-notch production quality.

The opener “Lost Carcosa”, which is also my favorite track on the album, is an ode to The King In Yellow short-story collection by Robert W. Chambers. Originally published in 1895, The King In Yellow became an immediate success, quickly finding it’s way onto best seller lists around the western world. For those of us in this modern era that aren’t familiar with Chambers, this short story collection was re-invigorated after numerous mentions in season one of True Detective. On this opening track, we hear some truly exquisite sound design, what sounds like, possibly, heavily treated percussion in the background, with a repeating sample, sort of like a cross between a bass guitar and an alien race entering our atmosphere. As the track nears its close, we hear someone (possibly Jon Ray, himself?) recite one of the best (arguably) snippets from The King In Yellow, which was part of a fictitious song from a fictitious play, “Cassilda’s song” in Act1 Scene2 of “The King In Yellow”.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.

The second Robert W. Chambers inspired track is “The Pallid Mask” which takes its inspiration specifically from the short story “The Mask” also in The King In Yellow collection. This one has a very light feel to it, much less cryptic than many of the other tracks on the album. It often reminds me of something from Blood Axis & Les Joyaux De La Princesse‘s Absinthe – La Folie Verte. Again, like with “Lost Carcosa”, toward the end of this track there is another part of the book recited, again from the fictitious play:

Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.
Cassilda: It’s time. We have all laid aside disguise but you.
Stranger: I wear no mask.
Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No mask? No mask!

Many of the tracks inspired by H.P. Lovecraft will likely be a bit more familiar to readers, as these are inspired by many of his most popular stories including: The Call of Cthulhu and The Colour Out Of Space, for instance. One point to mention in general about these H.P. Lovecraft tracks, I found the music compellingly well crafted in association to the stories they conveyed. Many times I hear Lovecraft inspired tracks, which don’t necessarily seem to have any grounding in actual Lovecraft content. As if the track titles and themes were superimposed on the album at a later time. The tracks on Unimagined Space consistently allowed me to close my eyes and imagine scenery and narratives from these various stories. The two most glaring examples being the frigid, yet futuristic feel to “Cool Air” and the utter chaos of the album closer “The Music of Erich Zann”.

This will be one of the most straight forward examples of dark ambient that you could find on the Annihilvs Power Electronix label, run by Lee Bartow of Theologian / Navicon Torture Technologies. Bartow is no stranger to working with Lovecraftian soundscapes, as he has been the main go-to artist for the brilliant and beautiful spoken-art on the majority of Cadabra Records‘ Lovecraft related releases. Annihilvs released Unimagined Space in 4-panel CD digipak. There are plans, and pre-orders being taken currently for a bundle of the release, featuring a t-shirt, CD-R, 7″ lathe cut single featuring a new track, and a limited edition cassette version of the album.

Unimagined Space is a fantastic release. As I’ve stated previously, I’m really impressed with the production quality on this one. The weird fiction theme works out great, making it a wonderful companion to reading Lovecraft, Ligotti, or your favorite weird/horror author. The album art by Josh Yelle and André Coehlo is also quite impressive, which makes the t-shirt a great choice to accompany this release. I’ve been listening to this one a whole lot, since last fall and haven’t come close to getting tired of it yet. I’d recommend this to fans of dark ambient that is reserved, but still holds some activity and surprises, and also to anyone interested in Lovecraft related releases, this one is certainly top-notch.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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