Tag: Dark Ambient (Page 1 of 18)

To Satan, a poem by Samuel Loveman to H.P. Lovecraft

To Satan, a poem by Samuel Loveman
to H.P. Lovecraft

paired with the album:
Unimagined Space by Skincage


The name H.P. Lovecraft has become more and more prevalent within the dark ambient community in recent years. It’s no surprise, when reading his works, to find that so many artists of all sorts have found something to love and inspire them. Whether we are talking about the series of Cadabra Records spoken word releases over the last few years, or the Lovecraftian gods series of dark ambient collaborations at Cryo Chamber, Lovecraft keeps coming back to the top of the to-do list.

So, in the search for all knowledge Lovecraftian (I’ve become a bit of a fanatic), I stumbled across a mention in S.T. Joshi’s exhaustive, yet exceedingly interesting, biography “I Am Providence: The Life And Times of H.P. Lovecraft” of this poem. The poem, “To Satan” written by Samuel Loveman to his good friend H.P. Lovecraft seemed too interesting to be ignored. The poem was featured in the July 1923 edition of The Conservative, Lovecraft’s amateur journal. Then, so far as I can discern, the poem fell into the obscurity of distance and time.

So, after I tracked it down, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it, I decided to share it with the readers of This Is Darkness, as a soft start to another new section, “Writers’ Corner”, where we will cover some older works like this, but more importantly, we will share new works by up and coming authors/poets.

With each new “Writers’ Corner” article, we will share some musical work that seems particularly fitting to the subject matter. I’ve decided to pair this first article with an album that has already been out for some months, but has made a great impression on me, and doesn’t seem to be picking up the recognition it deserves. (I’ll be doing  a proper review of the album in the near future.)

The album Unimagined Space by Skincage, released on Annihilvs Power Electronix / APEX, is a brilliant tapestry of soundscapes. The first thing that stood out to me was the technical prowess of the artist. This album feels really tight, expertly produced. The second positive was when I realized the subject matter is, for the most part, about specific H.P. Lovecraft stories, with a nod to Robert W. Chambers’ The King In Yellow short story collection, to top it off.

So, I hope you will enjoy this first pairing. Give us any feedback you’d like about the new section, the poem, future literary submission, or whatever else you fancy!

A special thank you goes to S.T. Joshi for offering me some quick and critical guidance about the copyright information on this poem!


To Satan

Published in: The Conservative, Thirteenth Number, July 1923
Edited by: H.P. Lovecraft

To Satan

By: Samuel Loveman

“Tu tires ton pardon de l’eternal martyre
Inflige sans relache aux coeurs ambitieux.”

To H.P.L.

When, mid the hyacinth deep that girds the sky,
You saw, O Brother, ere your eyes grew dim,
In wrath and loneliness the sight of Him,
Amid His bow’d and litten hierarchy:
Heard songs that fell from lips half-strange with years,
Outcast and ruin’d, beautiful in flame,
You–with the lost among the damned few,
The fallen rebel crew–
Hearing the flattery that fawned His name,
Turn’d back to hell a face that shone with tears.

Did you not at the sunken portals wait,
And where the golden estuaries fell,
Gazing at heav’n before the glow of hell,
Stretch forth your hand to where the tyrant sate?
With the first cry that shook th’ enslaved world,
Swift, silver, clarion, Lo! I make you free,
Free as the winds and as the waters are,
Sons of the morning-star!
O souls of mine, I give you liberty–
No withering hate into the darkness hurl’d!

Not from those spaces charm’d to dusk and rose,
Nor in the scarves with light and music pent,
Came the soft wail of disillusionment,
But lower than the lowliest in their woes,
The trodden and the dispossess’d of fate;
These, brooding in a quiet flash of tears,
By stars that to the massive night are graven,
Recall’d their austere haven–
The sorrow and the bitterness of years,
Conceiv’d in ruin and embalm’d in hate!

And now shall men no longer fear and dread!
For heav’n is shatter’d, faded is the host,
That without pity judg’d the tortur’d lost,
And radiantly parcell’d forth the dead.
See! where your molten throne uprears in night
The legions gleams, the drowsy vultures wing;
That which first met your plaintive, human eyes,
Ev’n that, is paradise……
At last, my Brother, the awakening!
Ere Dawn appears, a perfect chrysolite.

For more Samuel Loveman poetry, check out: “Out of the Immortal Night: Selected Works of Samuel Loveman”, edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz.

Article compiled with additional information from these sources:
Lovecraft, H.P. The Conservative. London: Arktos, 2014.
Joshi, S.T. I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft Vol. 1&2.
New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013.

Taphephobia & Kave – Monuments – Review

Artist: Taphephobia & Kave
Album: Monuments
Release date: 10 April 2018
Label: Cyclic Law

01. Taphephobia – Entwined with the Dark
02. Kave – Doldrumin

Taphephobia is Ketil Søraker from Trondheim, Norway. His project has been active since his 2007 debut, House of Memories, which has just seen a re-release on Reverse Alignment. Before this time, Søraker was the second member of Northaunt. Søraker made his Cyclic Law debut in 2013 with Escape From The Mundane Self, an album which showed a honing of his style and was lauded by the general dark ambient community. Simultaneous with the release of this split, the latest full length by Taphephobia, Ghostwood, is also available.

Kave is a musical project by Bram Gollin of the Netherlands. My first experience with the project was his 2015 release on Cyclic Law, Ominousium. But, before this, Kave had already released a full length, Dismal Radiance, on Eibon Records and self-released the EP, The Language of Stones. On all these releases, Kave delivers a reserved style of dark ambient. One that evokes long lonely nights, walks through the vacant streets of some northern town, or through the coniferous forest, on its edge.

Monuments takes both artists into a territory that seems to be incredibly fitting for their styles of sound, contributing tracks which roughly run 20 minutes each. This gives the reserved styles of both artists time to fully evolve into something beautiful. Taking the cover art and album title into consideration, the theme feels to me as if it is describing humanity as monuments among the barren landscapes of the past, and likely the future. Or, from a different perspective, a single human, standing atop a beautiful vista gazing at the world beneath, both wishing to be a part of it, and content in solitude, at one with nature.

From a technical perspective, the opener, “Entwined with the Dark” by Taphephobia is a bit more dynamic in approach. Starting at a gentle whisper, the track gradually expands in density and volume, reaching an apex shortly before its close. Taphephobia incorporates guitar drone in a style that will be familiar to his loyal followers. Toward the end of the track there are some softly spoken vocals, adding a warm, human element to the otherwise frigid and barren soundscapes. On “Doldrumin”, Kave also uses a gradual build up, but his reaches its mid range sooner, and allows for a more ritualistic sort of experience, in comparison to the emotional edge on Søraker’s piece. As “Doldrumin” reaches its final minutes, the sound of beautiful choral chanting lulls the listener into a total trance, bringing the album to a triumphant and elegant close.

I don’t usually cover many split releases, and I can’t think of a previous Cyclic Law split. But, Monuments really does work out well. It genuinely feels like two pieces of a whole. Two sides to a similar set of emotions or ideas. The length seemed to work out great for both artists, but I particularly was impressed with the work by Kave. Though I should add, I’m always pleased to hear new works by Taphephobia. But for me, this has become a given. So, it was nice to also find the second half of the release as appealing as the first. I would recommend Monuments to listeners that like more relaxing, laid-back dark ambient releases. This is not going to keep the full attention of the ADHD stricken for a full 40 minutes. But for those of us who enjoy a nice dose of subtelty, this is the perfect companion to your night in solitude.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Stromstad – New Devoted Human – Review on the Periphery

Artist: Stromstad
Album: New Devoted Human
Release date: 8 December 2017
Label: Malignant Records

01. Inherent Resurrection
02. Fever Wave Dream Function
03. Blood Consciousness
04. Nattsvermer
05. Reluctant Traveller (feat. Grutle Kjellson of Enslaved)
06. Exchanging Eyes
07. New Devoted Human
08. Kosto

Stromstad is a collaborative project between Jasse Tuukki and Toni Myöhänen of STROM.ec and Kristoffer Oustad. STROM.ec of Finland have been spreading their variety of industrialized darkness to the world since their debut on Freak Animal Records, back in 2000. Since then, they have continued to make a name for themselves through such labels as Annihilvs, Malignant and it’s sub-label Black Plague. The Norwegian artist, Kristoffer Oustad, known for work under his own name, and also as part of the Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester with Peter Nyström, has proven his dynamic set of abilities as a high caliber dark ambient producer.

We got a morsel of Oustad’s taste for the heavier and grittier cousin of dark ambient, death industrial on his contributions to the latest, and highly recommended, Tumult by Shock Frontier (reviewed here), which released just prior to New Devoted Human, also on Malignant Records. STROM.ec have stayed consistently heavier throughout their career, having little room for the more reserved dark ambient sections that we hear throughout New Devoted Human.

So, when we get both projects together, STROM.ec and Kristoffer Oustad, the outcome is not entirely surprising in its style, but what is more surprising is the sense of fluidity and comfort these artists seem to have working together. The chemistry is what makes New Devoted Human such a gem for the small but passionate international community that follows this sort of music. Malignant Records saw it coming, which led them to the choice of giving the Stromstad debut a vinyl edition, which is something they’ve been doing more frequently, but still quite selectively.

There are tracks where the two different styles come together perfectly in a single track, through a whirlwind of noise and emotion. Tracks like “New Devoted Human” with its distorted guitars, industrial drum sections, and enraged screams, blend perfectly with Oustad’s more reserved and delicate dark ambient undertones. Early in this track, we can hear that dark ambient element lingering in the background, behind the much thicker noises of the STROM.ec guys. As the track progresses these dark ambient elements slowly, and almost subconsciously, move to the forefront. The track takes on a sort of violent narrative, as we move from the viciousness of the beginning sections into this wall of subtle darkness, a sort of uneasy calm as the dust settles just after a city is besieged.

Other tracks, like “Inherent Resurrection” and “Blood Consciousness”, keep the energy at maximum throughout their duration. Electronics blaring and angry vocals dictated, Stromstad give us the perfect example of a sort of post-industrial metal band. Yet, the meshing of varied genres can go even further afield at times, like on the chorus section of “Blood Consciousness” which features a dubstep-like component that is incredibly unlikely, but fits beautifully.

Intermingled with these high-energy tracks are dark ambient soundscapes which help the listener to paint a picture of this imagined future, which is as technologically advanced as it is apocalyptically devastated. The listener can get a sense of a future which took A.I., military-grade weaponry, and robotics to their darkest ends, creating a war-torn planet, upon which human life is no longer so cherished; a place where greed and technology come together, achieving the worst possible outcomes. “Nattsvermer” is one such track, where the perfectly executed dark ambient elements take prominence above a tapestry of industrial noises which lie in the background. Another is the closer, “Kosto”, which is the most reserved track on New Devoted Human, using gentle waves of synth to create an almost serene atmosphere, which helps the album to end on a more philosophical than apocalyptic note.

New Devoted Human is certainly a unique experience. This is something that will find a wide and unlikely set of fans. While I’ve focused on a few of the more prominent genre elements presented here, listeners will likely find a number of other genre influences which will enrich their personal experiences with the album all the more. I would foremost recommend this release to listeners that find the more dynamic releases on Malignant Records to their liking. For fans of a more strict definition of dark ambient, this will be a bit too heavy, but with that said, I think it is still worth giving it a try, they really have found a nice chemistry here, which doesn’t take any one element to too great an extreme.

Written by: Michael Barnett


Concert Coverage: Phobos Festival 2018

The Phobos Festival has run for 9 years now, but for me it was the very first visit to the fine city of Wuppertal, Germany. About time. The idea of the event is to invite only the crème de la crème of dark ambient, without any less known artists for warm-up, so the high level of professionalism is almost certain from the very beginning.

I decided to combine the event with a short holiday trip around Germany and Czechia, so we arrived at Wuppertal on Friday, late afternoon. The town turned out to be nice and friendly, with a lot of green spaces and a unique suspension railway going from one end of the city to the other. Like a flying tram. I don’t think there is this kind of city transport anywhere else in Europe. Maybe in U.S. or Asia? Anyway, after a walk around the city and dinner, we went to the venue around 7pm.

The event took place in Alte Reformierte Kirche Elberfeld (Old Reformed Church Elberfeld). In the previous years the artists were performing in Sophienkirche which is located almost around the corner, but since I haven’t attend the earlier editions, I can’t really compare one to another. Still, the church is a church, it’s a much better location than a club, for example, and it gives a feeling of great importance to the event.

New Risen Throne

The first performer was Shrine from Bulgaria. I have been following Hristo Gospodinov’s works since the very beginning, that is his digital-only album Harmony, Bliss, Rust released by now defunct Mirakelmusik (but there will be a cassette re-release soon through the effort of the Amek label). It is a great pleasure to watch Hristo’s evolution as a musician over the years. Even though I prefer his early works a little bit more, it is impossible not to notice the progress he has made and the possibility of performing on Phobos, among the best of the best is definitely deserved. Hristo’s music was the least dark and oppressive of all the performers of the evening, the strong organic feeling made me think of fighting elements, the water, wind and fire. The majestic walls of sound were intermingled with moments of calmness and meditation, and all this in his own individual style, which he managed to develop during the last decade.


Each invited artist is a craftsman in a certain sub-genre of dark ambient, so with the first sounds of Frederic Arbour’s Visions performance we entered the post-apocalyptic world of slightly industrialized drones. I always considered Visions as an under-appreciated project, while his two albums, especially Lapse, have a special place in my heart. Unlike his studio albums, this performance was devoid of any cosmic atmospheres, it was but an essential, monolithic vision of a decaying world. After half an hour or so Frederic was joined by Gabriele Panci of New Risen Throne, and they played together for a while. It was a point of transition, the other aural shapes began to appear and when Frederic left the stage the music morphed into a still dark, but more sacral (or rather anti-sacral) form of ambient, oppressive yet infused with melancholic elements here and there. All covered with a strong aura of occult, which was intensified by the evocative visuals. Since this form of dark ambient is not my favourite one, I have to admit that Gabriele and his New Risen Throne is one of the best in what he does and the whole show was truly impressive, even though a bit too long (around 70 minutes in total).


When I entered the church, it was impossible not to notice the organizer, Martin Stürtzer, running from one corner of the building to another, checking if everything is in order, if the people are content etc. So, I have wondered if he’ll manage to concentrate on his own performance with all the organizing stuff on his head, as Phelios which was about to play next. My worries were totally groundless as his concert was most likely the most intimate and focused of all the projects of the evening. Slowly evolving cosmic drones, some scraps of melody and rhythmic elements along with the astonishing visuals captivated me completely. Furthermore, I think that his sound was also the best of all, but perhaps it’s only my impression. Either way, Phelios did a better job, to me, than on his studio albums, which after all are nice too.


The first joint show of Troum and raison d’être was supposed to be the highlight of the evening and personally I have mixed feelings. I’m not sure if they had some technical issues or maybe it was the case of lack of compatibility but there were a few moments that were chaotic and not entirely convincing. Sometimes, I simply felt the lack of flow, so to speak. Obviously, when they captured the right pattern and timing, they managed to reach the highest peaks of drone atmospheres, but sometimes it took them a slight bit too long. Still, I can’t say it was a bad concert, or even mediocre, I just liked the others better.

Troum & raison d’être

Phobos IX ended about 40 minutes after midnight and I left the premises one hundred percent satisfied. There were a few organizational shortcomings, the beer at the bar was available only in glass bottles, so every once in a while someone kicked the bottle during the show, which, as you can imagine, was distracting and irritating. I don’t mind the beer itself, but maybe plastic cups would be the better option? Also, I’d prefer if the visuals would be projected on a normal flat screen, instead of within the apse (not sure if this is the right definition, I meant that semicircular place, usually behind the altar). I know that on the previous editions they had a normal screen and in my opinion it looked better, at least judging from the Youtube clips. Also, there were a few assholes talking and laughing during the concerts, but I got used to it. Which is sad I guess…

All the performances are now available on Youtube, so you can do your own mini-Phobos in your living room, though obviously nothing will replace the live experience. 2019 will be the year of the anniversary, 10th edition. So, I’m guessing Martin will prepare something special. I will be there again, that’s for sure.

Written by: Przemyslaw Murzyn
Photography by:  Anna Gorgoń & Przemyslaw Murzyn

Full Sets on Youtube


Visions & New Risen Throne:


Troumraison d’être:

The Conductor – New Film Released

THE CONDUCTOR – A Film By Jeremy Mann

The Conductor is the first feature length film created entirely by the artist Jeremy Mann. It is a story told through a dreamscape metaphor of the eternal artistic struggle. Please read Jeremy Mann’s announcement below, to properly understand his vision for the film!

THIS FILM IS FREE TO WATCH VIA YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/6qDpxbatjAQ

*Please read the following, it is essential to the experience*

The music chosen for this film is as important as the visuals themselves, and neither had precedence over the other, but informed and flowed around themselves together during its creation. Without the creative brilliance and open generosity of these two gentlemen below, the film would not have been made.

Pär Boström of Kammarheit, Cities Last BroadcastHymnambulae and Hypnagoga Press


Simon Heath of Atrium Carceri, Sabled Sun, and the Cryo Chamber label.

The classical music chosen has been playing in my ears during almost every painting over the last several years, among many others, and their use was pursued heavily and graciously met with some wonderful souls at Naxos of America, a huge repertoire of the best classical music I’ve found, and Touch who represent some incredible talent around the world, and both without the greed which can hinder creativity.

My greatest thanks to them.

And to the actors and actresses I call as friends, who played out their parts upon the stage of my dreams without doubt or question as to what this crazy bastard was trying to do. Without you all, I would be lost.

I created this film on my own, a horrific struggle the result of which was complete artistic freedom which I recommend everyone to try in their own ways, and I hereby give it to you for free, I hope you enjoy.

A note on its release:

My original idea after this film was completed, was to screen it at several theaters in SF, LA and New York. After contacting a multitude of theaters, I discovered how difficult it is for individual artists to compete with the big companies’ control over most theaters, and therefor what the public is influenced to see. And as I sulked in the basement, finally cleaning the monstrous mound of supplies, tools, chemicals and props that I had yet to put away after two dump trucks came and removed the obnoxious pile of trash leftover from a year of set building in the backyard and bedrooms… I came across each piece, each prop, each object that I had so lovingly spent time with, and had a moment of realization. My greedy pride, which was convincing me that only films seen on theater screens were real films, was suffocating the life of my creation. It was finished, an entire year of blood and love wrapped up in a beautiful little file on my hard drive, and it would be stillborn if I don’t just let it out the door and live.

I made this film purely from a desire and love for creating an art form which I’ve come to find more refreshing to my soul than many other forms I’m also enraptured with. My paintings have been given movement and music with this new medium of film, and I feel the emotions created between it and the audience are closer to the voice I wish to speak with than anything else I’ve created.

So I only ask this of you: treat her as you would an original oil painting. Spend the time in a dark room with this film on the largest screen you have, with the best and loudest sound you can, with all of your attention fixated upon her (and a glass of wine is always a plus), as anything else would simply do her an injustice. I hope it conjures emotions within you and inspires you to do whatever it is you desire to do, despite the rest of the world’s conventions and hindrances.

And if you like it, just share it.



Guest Sessions: Lake House Mix by Dronny Darko & protoU

The veteran dark ambient couple, Dronny Darko & protoU decided to work together on this three hour continuous mix of dark ambient, ambient and other chill-out music for a lazy day by the lake. Enjoy! Check out ThisIsDarkness.com for more mixes, news, reviews and interviews about dark ambient and surrounding genres! If you are an artist, and would like to have your mix featured, please contact us at info@thisisdarkness.com

01. 0:00:00 cv313 – “Beyond The Clouds [Variant Reduction]”

02. 0:04:08 Dirk Serries – “The Dead Air Reprise”

03. 0:14:20 Juta Takahashi – “Quiet Rain”

04. 0:19:32 Famine – “Hochma”

05. 0:22:56 Nils Frahm – “For”

06. 0:27:43 Purl – “Stillpoint”

07. 0:31:26 Sonitus Eco – “Frost”

08. 0:38:51 Warmth – “Vapour”

09. 0:44:16 Mystic Crock – “Underwatermoon”

10. 0:49:38 Neel – “Life on Laputa Regio”

11. 0:54:41 Michael Pastika – “Genesis”

12. 1:00:05 Helicalin – “768”

13. 1:05:53 Om – “Suspension”

14. 1:10:30 Nubiferous – “Usnea Ossicum_Rite Of Thunder Hammer”

15. 1:15:16 protoU & Hilyard – “Nature Abstractions”

16. 1:19:27 Sync24 – “Inadvertent”

17. 1:23:48 Sandspace – “One”

18. 1:29:33 Fingers in the Noise – “Drone Break”

19. 1:33:05 Geb – “Dream #9”

20. 1:39:21 Steve Roach & Dirk Serries – “Bow”

21. 1:46:25 Mathias Grassow – “The Shadows Crept Upward”

22. 1:56:44 Dronny Darko – “Bandura”

23. 2:00:51 Hammock – “Turn Away and Return”

24. 2:04:03 Cio D’Or – “Off”

25. 2:08:21 Seabat – “The Mountains Of Palawan”

26. 2:13:32 Wil Bolton – “Falling Away”

27. 2:16:55 Ishq – “Sundive”

28. 2:22:28 Venture – “Fragments”

29. 2:26:39 Dalglish – “Oidhche”

30. 2:31:20 Pobedia – “Flying in the Clouds”

31. 2:36:36 Kikagaku Moyo – “Melted Crystal”

32. 2:40:08 krill.minima – “Substantial Drift (feat. Tlon)”

33. 2:44:11 Marconi Union – “Weightless Part 2”

34. 2:49:13 Variant – “A Silent Storm”

35. 2:53:55 Jon Hassell – “Caravanesque”

Theologian – Forced Utopia – Review

Artist: Theologian
Album: Forced Utopia
Release date: 20 October 2017
Label: Danvers State Recordings

01. Side A 28:59
A1. In The End Times
A2. The Sisters
A3. We Envy Our Gods For Their Indifference
A4. Spent Fuel Rods
02. Side B 29:36
B1. Forced Utopia
B2. Subtract
B3. Indifference Redux
B4. Epilogue

Theologian is an artist I’ve been talking about quite frequently since the advent of This Is Darkness. His talents have been secured for numerous of the recent Cadabra Records spoken-art releases, particularly the H.P. Lovecraft ones. But the musical works of Lee Bartow go much deeper, spanning back into the late 90s as Navicon Torture Technologies, Bartow has been tearing up the death industrial, power electronics, and dark ambient scenes. All the while, his Annihilvs Power Electronix (APEX) label has been providing a foundation for a multitude of post-industrial artists.

Between 2009 and 2013, Theologian slowly replaced Navicon Torture Technologies as the primary of Bartow’s projects. Theologian has proved to be an incredibly diverse project, with sounds that can span several genres in a single track. This breadth of interest and expertise is what likely drew the attention of Cadabra Records when they were looking for dark eerie soundscapes to build the foundations for many of their spoken-art releases. The upcoming The Call of Cthulhu, which we’ll cover here, is likely to be one of the most impressive Cadabra Records releases to date, with Theologian (soundscapes) and Andrew Leman (readings) again taking the helm together.

The latest full-length solo release by Theologian is Forced Utopia, a look into a mind that sees in only darkness, in a world which is on a collision course with utter disaster. It equally examines the inner thoughts of one left to fend for themselves in an increasingly cannibalistic society, and the outer landscapes, as they dry and eventually conflagrate, burning to ash. The question of whether or not this existence is worth fighting for at all seems to be at the center of the narrative.

Forced Utopia has been an album that I’ve been pondering for a few months. There was never a question of whether or not it was worth taking the time to review, that answer has been apparent from the first play-through. But, dissecting the release, understanding what musical influences have come into play has proven to be a bit harder. In the end, suffice to say, it is basically futile to categorize much of what is happening here. The one comparison that does come to mind is the recent Shock Frontier, in the way that both albums seem to move through incredibly diverse stages touching on dark ambient, death industrial and power electronics, but also other, far reaching genres that would be much less obvious on the first analysis.

The opener, “In The End Times” has stayed pretty consistent as my favorite track on this release. There is a gradual build up, spanning several moments, before the terror is fully unleashed through heavily distorted vocals, which are given some of the most interesting treatment I’ve heard in a long time, a combination of effects which render Bartow’s vocals almost unearthly in their presentation. As the first half of the cassette progresses, we move through a number of different dark soundscapes, vividly painting that picture of apocalyptic ruin and mental degradation.

Side B moves on through varied mind-warping soundscapes, dark and sort of futuristic in palette. Toward the middle of Side B the energy is again driven into overcharge. Starting with a steady beat, electronic pulses, ghostly vocals hovering in the distance, we move into territory I wasn’t quite expecting. Bartow, delivers a vocal performance here, which is again quite impressive to say the least. Where at the beginning of the album the sounds were devastatingly harsh, here, we are taken into something on a vocal level which is more akin to an alternative rock style. But the rest of the track never abandons its cause, continuing to deal the devastating apocalyptic darkness that has saturated Forced Utopia. So, when these vocals pierce through, proclaiming the words, “This could be the year, I take myself out of the equation.”, it is a little bit more than gripping, it manages to add some serious heartfelt emotion to the album.

Forced Utopia came to us on cassette through Danvers State Recordings. An underground tape label run by Andrew Grant, also known for his project The Vomit Arsonist. (Note: Shortly after the birth of This Is Darkness, I reviewed Pulsed In A Dull Glass Bell by R.C. Kozletsky also known for Apocryphos and Shock Frontier, you can check out the review for that other brilliant release here.) The cassette format works well for this release, which seems to see the future as being so bleak. It can also be purchased digitally through Bartow’s Annihilvs Power Electronix Bandcamp page.

Forced Utopia is one of the most enjoyable Theologian releases I’ve heard to-date. I’ve been coming back to this release frequently and happily over the last few months, pondering it for review. While a review will occasionally give me a sigh of relief as I’m able to move into something fresh, this will likely be one of those releases I keep returning to frequently even over the coming weeks. Theologian gives us a little of everything that makes their music great, on Forced Utopia, while simultaneously painting a vividly bleak and disturbing picture for the listener to experience.

Written by: Michael Barnett


Frozen In Time: Dark Ambient News – March 2018

The move is over and things are starting to settle again here at This Is Darkness. So, you can all expect to see lots of new things coming along in the near future. Some articles and projects that have been in the works for months will be coming to completion and unveiled very soon! In sticking with the vision for these Frozen In Time articles, I’ve spent the last week digging through every dark ambient related release that has surfaced since our last Frozen In Time post. I’m going to be a little more selective from here forward with the news shared as things like weekly singles and incredibly prolific artists can make it hard for newcomers or casual followers to find the newest releases of the highest quality. These kinds of things aren’t an exact science, so if you feel I missed something extremely important, feel free to reach out!

-Michael Barnett

New Releases & Preorders

Ager Sonus – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“Ager Sonus is back with his second Egyptian themed album on Cryo Chamber, the first being Book of the Black Earth.
You open your eyes. Darkness. Silence. Oppressing silence. Your breath feels shallow, the air too thin to breathe. The space you are in feels narrow, the ceiling so close you can almost touch it. Your heart starts pounding as the feeling of panic brings you to your senses. You seem to be.. Underground, buried!
How did you get here? Fragments of your memories hover in front of you in the darkness like thin layers of fog, guiding you. Sand.. A desert.. Symbols.. Hieroglyphs… A faint voice calling you..
Ager Sonus brings us an ambient album set against the backdrop of lost civilization. Explore occult secrets buried in ancient tombs.”

Astral & Shit – New Album Released (Black Mara – CD/Digital)
“Like a monolithic stone this album reveals the secrets of the Universe for the questioner. Beneath the veil of its darkness hides the depth of the beginning of time.
This album is something alien but familiar the Earth. That once came out of the Earth and now once again reunited. It was so long ago that we the living can’t appreciate with common sense that has been revealed to us. Alarming and dangerous, but beautiful at the same time, it is Divo.”

Atrium Carceri & Herbst9 – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – LP/CD/Digital)
(Check out our review here!)
Ambient Veterans Atrium Carceri & Herbst9 team up on this mysterious album.
The harbor was humid and hot in this mysterious land, nothing like the frosty cold ports of home. Yellow smoke danced to the beat of the drum joined by hypnotic women. The crowd spiraled inward, dancing to far away bells and the murmur beneath the ground.
You awoke sweat clad in linen sheets, the naked woman passed a long pipe. The cherry sparked red like a dragons eye. Head leaned back against a soft pillow, body free falling from soothed skies. A thud as your body hit the ground on a pathway built by giants.
Chanting, ritual drumming and spoken word weave in and out of this album that pays tribute to the old ways.

Babalith – New Album Released (Sombre Soniks – Digital)
“Gramatique du Ciel is inspired by the intuitive and primal language of sound, as it is taught within sensitive nature, and is structured according to the seven spheres of paradise, in a way contrasting with Inferno, my second album for the label. Because of its peculiar linguistic shape, it is dedicated to the memory of the Portuguese sage António Telmo.”

Carlo Giustini – New Album Released (ACR – Cassette/Digital)
‘La stanza di fronte’ or ‘The Other Room’, is Carlo Guistini’s first work released under his own name. this highly conceptual release – the four tracks were recorded in four different rooms of a house built in 1966 – explores our relationship with homes, with the matter they are made of and with the scents that impregnate their walls.
Carlo Giustini recorded these 4 serene pieces by placing two microphones and two dictaphones in the corner of each room. the tones and the harmonies are translations of the vibrations of the house itself, Carlo’s movements, and the noise of moving objects. the opening track even includes unexplained sounds and footsteps captured in one of the rooms while the house was empty and the mics were on.
“No need for the outside, as the walls, heavy as boulders, become the breath of a world that won’t preach any sound. The humming of the mould and the cracks over the door jambs become companions to whom entrust your thoughts. And there’s no need for anything else.”

Darkrad – New Album Released (audiophob – CD/Digital)
“Jana Komaritsa presents the new album of her project Darkrad – Heart Murmur, released on German label audiophob. With this album she continues the theme of inner blackness and disturbances of mind, weaving the canvas of ominous world. Heart Murmur is a medical condition, when the sound of blood flowing can be heard in between regular heartbeat cycle. Darkrad creates swishing rumbling sounds of the tortured heart, sounds from the reality not seen, from the world not known, sounds from the dread, both inner and outer. Merging melancholic dark ambient passages, bitter melodies, disturbed vocals and raw noisy sounds, rhythms and basslines, she opens the door to the infinite dark and offers the listener to dive into the world beyond. Pure unrestrained emotion interweaves with once suppressed memories and fears, merging into one flow of hypnotic soundscape. Listen to her grim heart murmur, pulsating and vibrating in between the regular healthy heartbeat, frightful signals sent from the other side, penetrating the normal reality and spreading into our world. The album also includes bonus tracks: compilation contributions and former tape releases, partially in new versions, as well as remixes from Flint Glass and Mortaja.”

Day Before Us – New Album Released (GH Records – CD/Digital)
“Adorned path of Stillness » marks the return of the neoclassical and dark ambient music act Day Before Us on the Argentina based label Twilight Records, in collaboration with GH Records. This is their sixth full length release. This new effort is an enthralling soundtrack for dark, solemn, thoughtful times. It incorporates acoustic and lyrical sections next to electronic textures and diverse processed sounds.
The general atmosphere offers precious moments of introspective melancholia punctuated by mysteriously hypnotic instrumentals. This is a multifaceted album but also remarkably cohesive with many dynamics, emotional movements that will ravish fans of haunting and touching cinematic music in a rather classical mood.”

DeepDark – New Album Released (Digital Only)
After a very busy period of releases over the last year or two, DeepDark seems to have settled a bit and is now releasing his first album of 2018, Leaking From His Own Pores.

Eidulon – Preorders Available (Malignant – CD/Digital)
“Following an 11 year absence since his debut, Idolatriae, Eidulon returns a radically different entity. Whereas Idolatriae was haunting and minimal catacomb ambience, Combustioni is otherwise now a daunting, full on apocalyptic industrial, auditory excursion, complete with crushingly ominous brass chords, fearsome horn proclamations, organ, and doom filled atmospherics. Contributions of murderous, gnarled vocals courtesy of Nordvargr and Luca Soi, as well as caustic noise from Italian heavy electronic practitioners Naxal Protocol (ex-Cazzodio) add a powerful element, often cutting through a blaze of swelling tones and pneumatic percussive pummel, the only respite coming in the form of collaborative tracks with Kammarheit and Caul, which sees Eidulon returning to the foggy gloom and bleak isolationism that populated the debut. Collectively, it’s quite the provocative declaration, shattering genre barriers and setting the soundtrack for a world of incinerated cities, global plagues, and nuclear winters.”
Releases March 25, 2018

Flowers For Bodysnatchers – New EP Released (Digital Only)
Flowers for Bodysnatchers has taken us into a variety of interesting places and scenarios over the last few years. This time we go to one of the most repulsive times in human memory, the Nazi holocaust, at the scene of a gruesome slaughter at Babi Yar, northwest of Kiev, which took place over the course of two days in September 1941. Not for the faint-hearted.

Grim Heka – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Grim Heka is a Dark Ambient project from Darren Coyle. Composed on Eurorack modular synthesis, often improvised and recorded live. Tale of the Picts is his self-released debut album.

Hadewych – New Album Released (Malignant – CD/Digital)
“Though the project of Dutchman Peter Johan Nÿland, contributions from members of Trepaneringsritualen, Dead Neanderthals, Turia and veteran experimental vocalist Greetje Bijma, help Hadewych to function more as a collective as it amorphously shapeshifts and navigates through a broad swath of styles. And yet, Welving is so finely honed and skillfully crafted, that it works as a singular,whole, never losing a firm grasp on what remains at the core of its unique and dynamic sound. Still, it is nearly impossible to classify or define, utilizing a broad array of instrumentation, working in the monolithic, organic and the acoustic, and filtering it through a complex network of darkened, post-industrial, post-black, ritual hallucinations, and noir-ish Bohren And Der Club Of Gore deathjazz, with a steady stream of insistent bass, percussion, and spoken narrative to propel many of the tracks forward. Hadewych defines their music as black rituals channeling the ultra-grotesque, which is about an apt description as you’re going to find, and yet it’s that vagueness and ambiguity that manages to sum them up perfectly. One of the most unique and exceptional releases under the Malignant banner, and highly recommended for those unafraid to venture into realms unknown.”

Kalpamantra – New Malignant Records Compilation Unveiled
(Kalpamantra – Digital Only)
The Portrait of Mortality is the next massive compilation in this series on Kalpamantra net-label which includes artists exclusively from the Malignant Records roster. Expect to see solo and/or collaborative tracks from all your favorite Malignant artists!

Kloob – New Album Released (Winter-Light – CD/Digital)
“Here on ‘Remarkable Events’, Kloob has brought a darker, much more intense, rich feel to his music, quite different from some of his previous works. The tracks switch between dark and light and you can feel the influence of his recent Eastern travels, crackling in the air, in the field recordings, in the synth sweeps and patterns and in the sonic landscapes that the album creates and carries you along. Make no mistake, this is not an album filled with the chants of Hindu monks and the busy clatter of every day Indian life. It is an intensely spiritual album, which for its duration will take you along the same paths traversed by the artist himself.”

Land:Fire – Live Album Released – (Shortwave Transmissions – Digital Only)
These two recordings are from May 13-14th 2006 at the Sonic Lodge at Weezie/Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig.

Mrako-Su – New Album Released (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ – CD/Digital)
“Coldest hour before sunrise. Moonlit valley covered with snow. Sharp outlines of pines standing still. Everything seems static, no single move, no birds or beasts, no clouds in the bottomless sky. The air is an invisible, perfectly transparent crystal. Endless quietly ringing sound seems to pervade everything… Is it real? Echo of this question falls into a void of silence. No one answers. Nothing moves. But the feeling is here, the presence, the instinct. Something is lurking, something is hiding… Remaining at the edge of sight line all the time. Maybe it’s shadows, their predatory spikes. Perhaps it is the flickering of snow… Firstly unnoticeable vibration becomes evident, it has the rhythm, overtones. It calls someone… Maybe you?”

Nordvargr – Preorders Available (Cyclic Law – LP/Cassette/CD/Digital)
“With great honour we welcome one of Sweden’s most revered craftsman of industrial soundscapes. “Metempsychosis”, the transmigration of the soul, is the basic concept for the new album from Henrik Nordvargr Björkk. However, not in the classic reincarnative sense, but as a study of how souls rather than being judged by a higher power, themselves chooses what flesh to inhabit. To freely roam between the dimensions and to cling on to any form of life at will. These cycles of life and death, bound in part by flesh, inspired to create these tense and organic atmospheres – all synonymous with the journey of the soul. The result is a natural evolution of Nordvargr´s trademark darkness into more rhythmic and vocal compositions where the confrontational stance of Henrik´s other projects shines through; from the harsh bombast of MZ. 412 to the vocals of Anima Nostra, all surrounded by the darkest Scandinavian aura of horror. Featuring guest vocals by Trepaneringsritualen on the track “First East” and stunning artwork by Dehn Sora. Both LP & CS versions feature a different track listing than the CD & Digital versions.”

Northaunt – New Album Released (Glacial Movements – CD/Digital)
***Read our review here.***
“Northaunt is the ambient project of Norwegian Hærleif Langås, and has since the late nineties released 4 albums where the signature sound is a mix of field recording from nature, soundscapes and ambient, inspired by norse nature and landscapes and our role as a part of nature.
The composing of ISTID came as a reaction to our modern lifes, our world and how it sometimes seem confusing, stressful and noisy. Put of by all this and inspired by books about earths history, iceages and the forces that formed the landscapes we have today, Hærleif started making ISTID, Iceage in Norwegian, to imagine a world of silence before man. This is the 3rd album in the series and we can now imagine man is about to start his lonely quest for meaning in the desolation.”

Nubiferous – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Nubiferous is an artist I’ve been following for sometime. His music consistently moves under-the-radar, leaving his name a novelty to many dark/ritual ambient listeners. As with his earlier work, you can expect some raw ritual ambient with hints of tribal and folk music. His style is something of a cold, far-northern ritual ambient.

Phelios – Live Album Released (rabbau – Cassette/Digital)
“In 2015, Phelios enchanted russia with his outstanding performance. while listening, we more and more feel like cosmonauts diving deeper into the universe of this gifted musician, with every track being a microcosm of breathtaking beauty that we pass through on our journey. the foundation of these nine sparkling compositions are crystal-clear synth pads which are layered into sounds capes at various shades of dark ambient. combined with ritualistic drum patterns that pick up the pace in between droning bells, we awake from ‘hibernation’ until we reach ‘atlantis’ with its soft strings that brush away the last attachments we may have had to planet earth.
Martin Stürtzer, the mastermind behind the project, has truly left his fingerprint on the ambient music community. next to arranging concert series taking place in a church, he also pioneered in organizing his own performances within the wagon of a suspension railway, demonstrating his musical talent at the ‘schwebebahnkonzert’ in wuppertal in 2007. in line with his ongoing commitment to creativity, phelios again invites his audience on board to enjoy the excellence of his work – back in st. petersburg and moscow and now on raubbau. for those who already fell for phelios creations, two previously unreleased tracks, ‘timelord’ and ‘cloud sector gamma’ have now found their way on this very record. but whether you are already familiar with phelios or not – this album simply is a must-have for everyone who appreciates complex ambient music on the highest level.”

protoU – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“Sasha further explores the themes of her first collaboration album Earth Songs. While her album “Khmaoch” explored the roots of civilization, “The Edge of Architecture” probes into the future of the modern age.
Black gigantic buildings loom over our hubris as we reach for the unnatural with each new brick in the wall. The night reeks of dark fluid as flickering neon lights reflect on wet streets. Winds howl over a jungle of steel and shadows of automated builders creak in the distance.
Field recordings blend with deep drone and ethereal overlays on this immersive album. For lovers of Sasha’s unique style of cold and warm ambient blended together into an emotional ride.”

Randal Collier-Ford – New Track Released (Digital Only)
“‘Anti-Meme’ is an updated version of the song, “Disgust”, featured exclusively at live shows. ‘Anti-Meme’, originally created 3 years ago for live shows only, features a mix of “horror” elements and themes taken from the roots of albums such as, Dark Corners, De Vivis Somnium Mortis, Putredinis Illusiones Putredinis Illusiones. Adding this together with the first stages of live mixing industrial constructions for live shows (and future studio albums), ‘Anti-Meme’ was meant to settle the building atmospheres of live acts, fused with the visuals of an altar with candles and bones.”

Ruairi O’Baoighill – New Album Released (Cursed Monk – CD/Digital)
To See Without Eyes is the final album in his trilogy, which also includes the albums Walpurgis and The Faceless One.

Sana Obruent – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“Recorded at the TSC Hideaway Studio – Somewhere In California – March 1, 2018. Thank you Electro Harmonix, Fender & Tascam. No synthesizers or keyboards are used in this recording.”

Taylor Deupree – New Album Released (12k Music – CD/Digital)
“…Fallen was supposed to be, after all, a relaxed album, one that would come quickly, off-the-cuff, and with little regard to any rules or restrictions. It, however, ended up being one of the longest albums for me to create; well over a year and a half, as it had coincided with a particularly dark and difficult time in my personal life.
As the album progressed the thoughts of a freer, solo-piano sound quickly faded as layers of disintegration and noise came to the foreground. Half-broken tape machines and plenty of ghostly echoes helped hide the honesty of the piano as I hid myself, and my music, away under the cover of abstraction…”

Ugasanie – Preorders Available (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
“Ugasanie returns with his 5th album on Cryo Chamber. This time exploring the vast landscapes of Antarctica.
The snowstorm builds on the horizon as the ice crackles under your feet. The faint call of someone beyond the blinding blizzard.
A subdued and chilly album in the isolated style that is Ugasanie’s expertise.”
Releases 6 March 2018.

Winterblood – New Album Released (Grey Matter – CD/Digital)
On L’ingresso, Italian dark ambient artist Winterblood takes us into a bleak and frigid lo-fi atmosphere, full of eerie elements lurking in the darkness. The opening track “Waldeinsamkeit II” follows it’s predecessor in the use of blisteringly cold wind rushing past the field recording microphone. The analog snythesizer becomes increasingly prevalant giving the album an ever grittier edge as it progresses.

Yann Novak – New Album Released (Touch – CD/Digital)
“The Future is a Forward Escape Into the Past is the latest album by Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist and composer Yann Novak, and his second for Touch. It considers the relationships between memory, time, and context through four vibrantly constructed tracks that push Novak’s work in a new direction while simultaneously exploring his sonic past. ‘The Future is a Forward Escape Into the Past’ is composed as a quadriptych – a single gesture broken into four parts – that meditates on the inevitable progression of time, our relationship to the past, and our distortion of the past through the imperfections of memory.”

Other News

Infinity Land Press – New Book Released
“Infinity Land Press is pleased to announce the release of Thatcher’s Tomb by Stephen Barber, an apocalyptic novel.
The book is illustrated by Martin Bladh and comes with an interview, with the author, conducted by Steve Finbow.
n an alternative narrative of Thatcher’s 1979 rise to power – in which her regime unrestrainedly carries through the razing of resistant cities and the extermination of all opposition – forces of insurgency have to adopt aberrant strategies and inhabit subterranean, occluded spaces to combat that regime. One insurgent cell, in the North of England, conducts a dangerous adventurous journey through decimated and depopulated lands, via such sites as the Queen’s Hotel Leeds, the Denge Acoustic Mirrors and the Hinkley Point Nuclear Reactors, in order to summon up the means to sustain their insurrection of the subsequent decades, until all of England has been transformed into the form of a mausoleum of itself, created and abandoned by Thatcher and her successors, and ‘the problem of England’ in its cruelty and banality takes on an outlandish life of its own.”
Available to purchase here.

Infinity Land Press – Pre-orders Available
“Antonin Artaud’s 1937 apocalyptic journey to Ireland and his writings from that journey form an extraordinary moment of accumulating disintegration and tenacious creativity in his work. After publishing a manifesto prophecy about the catastrophic immediate-future entitled The New Revelations of Being, Artaud abruptly left Paris and travelled to Ireland, remaining there for six weeks and existing without money, travelling first to the isolated island of Inishmore off Ireland’s western coast, then to Galway, and finally to Dublin, where he was arrested as an undesirable alien, beaten by the police, and summarily deported back to France. On his return, he spent nine years in lunatic asylums, including the entire span of the Second World War. During that journey to Ireland – on which he accumulated signs of his forthcoming apocalypse, and planned his own role in it as ‘THE REVEALED ONE’ – Artaud wrote letters to friends in Paris and also created several magic spells, intended to curse his enemies and to protect his friends from Paris’s forthcoming incineration and the Antichrist’s appearance at the Deux Magots cafe. To André Breton, he wrote: ‘It’s the Unbelievable – yes, the Unbelievable – it’s the Unbelievable which is the truth.’ Many of his writings from Ireland were lost, and this book collects all of his surviving letters, drawn together from archives and private collections, together with photographs of the locations he travelled through. This edition, with an afterword and notes by the book’s translator/editor, Stephen Barber, marks the seventieth anniversary of Artaud’s death.”

Available for pre-order here!


Recent Reviews on This Is Darkness

Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast & God Body Disconnect
Miles To Midnight (Cryo Chamber)

“Miles to Midnight is a brilliant and novel release for Cryo Chamber. Following on the footsteps of their recent release Heralds by Wordclock, Cryo Chamber takes the dark jazz elements in an even more focused direction. While they are obviously a dark ambient label at heart, it’s great to see them taking chances and testing the waters of different genre influences, which should ultimately make for a more diverse catalog of releases and widen their fan-base even further. A highly recommended release especially, but certainly not only, for fans of dark jazz!”
Read the full review here.

Shock FrontierTumult (Malignant)
“Shock Frontier have absolutely proven their worth on Tumult. The album is challenging at times, but always at maximum intensity and always drenched in negative emotion, even during its more reserved, dark ambient leaning tracks. This new vision was given the full treatment by Malignant Records, housed in a beautiful DVD digipak with irradiated, irreligious, apocalyptic art created by Noculture. The sounds are mastered by death industrial veteran John Stillings of Steel Hook Prostheses. Kozletsky and Carney have bared their souls, grinding out tracks which surely took them into the darkest recesses of their psyches and Malignant gave them a platform to spill this deviant heresy on the post-industrial world. It is now left to us, the listeners, to share this dark beast with the unsuspecting masses. May they bask in its deviance… or crumble beneath its iron grip.”
Read the full review here.

Bridge To ImlaThe Radiant Sea (Winter-Light)
Bridge To Imla delivered a strong debut. An album which could have only been created by artists with a lifetime’s experience in the field of ambient soundscapes. The album is equally as delightful when given full undivided attention as it is when played in the background, as an augmentation to some other activity. After this strong debut, we can hope to see more albums like this in the coming years from these two gentlemen. Until then, there should be many hours of enjoyment as one floats along on The Radiant Sea!
Read the full review here.

Atrium Carceri & Herbst9Ur Djupan Dal (Cryo Chamber)
“Ur Djupan Dal should be a welcome release for any listeners that have been following the “second wave of dark ambient”. Atrium Carceri and Herbst9 have both been performing at the top of their game for over a decade each. Ur Djupan Dal is a perfect example of how artists can come together to create not only sounds which delight, but storylines which have direct connections to each of their past works. I would recommend this album to any dark ambient listeners who enjoy the perfect blend of ritual, cinematic and traditional dark ambient music.”
Read the full review here.

raison d’êtreAlchymeia (Cyclic Law)
“It is not hard to imagine Alchymeia as the magnum opus of raison d’être. A return to form after years, Alchymeia is sure to delight and fully enrapture listeners. It is the perfect modern connection to the older works of raison d’être. If Peter Andersson will see this as his defining and final work, we will all likely hope for otherwise. But it is undoubtedly defining. It takes all the elements Andersson has been perfecting over two decades (closing in on three decades) of music creation and puts them to perfect use. The darkness is as dark as anywhere else in his discography, and the light is soul-gripping, heart-rendingly beautiful. Alchymeia is, in my humble opinion, the album we’ve all been waiting for from raison d’être. Truly a magnum opus in every sense.”
Read the full review here.

Martyria – Martyria (Malignant)
“Martyria aren’t interested in simply recording interesting textures, instead taking listeners to the source through their authentically mystical expression. From its opening bell toll until its last notes fade into the annals of time, this tremendous debut succeeds not only as an incredible amalgamation of ritual ambient and world music, but an exercise in eschatological internalization.”
Read the full review here.

NorthauntIstid III (Glacial Movements)
“Langås has been working these various aspects of his Northaunt sound since the late 90s. Istid III brings the old together with the new in a unique way giving us the best of both worlds. This release is also a step outside the ordinary, as it’s been released through Glacial Movements, a label out of Italy that specializes in various types of polar ambient soundscapes. This should hopefully bring a new group of listeners to the Northaunt sound, as all the die-hard listeners will certainly find their way to his work regardless.”
Read the full review here.

AjnaAn Era Of Torment (Reverse Alignment)
“With An Era of Torment, Ajna proves that he is still developing as an artist, each album that comes along shows improvements on techniques and a focus of vision. Much of the music is incredibly subtle, so fans of the more active varieties of dark ambient may not find what they are looking for here. But, if you enjoy artists like Svartsinn, Kave, or Dronny Darko, that create passive, but intricately crafted drone-work, you are likely to find much to love on An Era of Torment.”
Read the full review here.

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Ajna – An Era of Torment – Review

Artist: Ajna
Album: An Era of Torment
Release date: 22 December 2017
Label: Reverse Alignment

01. An Era of Torment I
02. Infect My Soul
03. An Era of Torment II
04. The Melancholy Hours
05. Manie Sans Delire
06. An Era of Torment III

Ajna is a dark ambient artist out of New York. He’s been creating dark ambient music since about 2008. But, his first proper release didn’t come until The Strange Demeanor of Solitude in 2013 on the Petroglyph Music netlabel. By 2016, he had his first physical release, Inevitable Mortality, through Reverse Alignment. Inevitable Mortality spread the subtle but ominous drones of the Ajna sound to a larger audience. Further solidifying his name in the dark ambient genre, Ajna released Black Monolith, a massive collaboration with Dronny Darko. (You can read the review of Black Monolith here.)

The latest release, An Era of Torment through Reverse Alignment, will not hold any surprises for listeners familiar with Ajna. The dominating element of the sounds are drones, as was the case on previous releases. However, there has certainly been growth in the artist since his last release. An Era of Torment has a strong isolationist feel. The music in ways reminds me of the more subtle tracks by Svartsinn. The sounds are consistently dark and eerie. The drones are crafted with the utmost care. But, the overall experience is slow-paced. This slow pace gives the album a particular edge when searching for quality background music for studying, sleep aid, etc.

The album opens with “An Era of Torment I” which brings us slowly into the mix through drones of various texture, some light and hollow, while others are incredibly thick, distorted and crushing. Moving into the following track, “Infect My Soul”, Ajna incorporates a more active approach. The track is again dominated by the movement of drone-work, but there are field recordings throughout the track, which add an extra layer of depth not only for the sake of the music, but also to help paint a better picture of the surrounding environment. The track brings forth images of the end times, apocalyptic visions and a devastated environment reek havoc on the soul, slowly moving toward its full and irreversible corruption. The rest of An Era of Torment sticks more or less to the formats of these first two tracks. There are three parts to the title tracks “Era of Torment (I-III)”. In general, these “Era of Torment” tracks are more heavily reliant upon drone than the other three tracks on the album, giving the full experience a nice ebb and flow.

With An Era of Torment, Ajna proves that he is still developing as an artist, each album that comes along shows improvements on techniques and a focus of vision. Much of the music is incredibly subtle, so fans of the more active varieties of dark ambient may not find what they are looking for here. But, if you enjoy artists like Svartsinn, Kave, or Dronny Darko, that create passive, but intricately crafted drone-work, you are likely to find much to love on An Era of Torment.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Northaunt – Istid III – Review

Artist: Northaunt
Album: Istid III
Release date:
Label: Glacial Movements

01. Part I
02. Part II
03. Part III
04. Part IV
05. Part V

I’m happy to be reviewing the second Northaunt release in recent months. The last one, Night Paths (which can be read about & heard here), was a compilation of previously unreleased Northaunt material from the last decade. He decided to polish and release those tracks while waiting on the release of this third part of the Istid series, a proper full album of new material.

Northaunt, as many of you may know at this point, has been one of my favorite dark ambient artists since I first discovered the genre. I have a profound love for northern landscapes and, for me, this music most closely defines that in a dark ambient format. Through the various albums we’ve heard a variety of different themes which all fall under the banner of this northern climate and landscape. Though recently, it has been in a more defined form than in the past. With Istid now moving into its third chapter, Hærleif Langås is giving us an extended look at this particular theme.

In the liner notes for Istid I-II, Northaunt tells us of previous ice ages and how quickly they may have came and went, swallowing continents in their wake. This theory has been played out in great detail recently by various scientists and researchers. Particularly to my knowledge, Graham Hancock & Randall Carlson speak of the evidence of previous Ice Age progressions and recessions that were devastating to life on all parts of Earth. The Istid series gives us snapshots of various points in time during these cyclical events.

Especially in the beginning, Northaunt had a style of polar ambient which seemed closer to human emotion. However, as Horizons and Istid I-II came along, humanity was less involved in the vision. But with Istid III, we are starting to hear the return of humanity through various samples of people speaking, mostly in a language I don’t speak, so I can’t comment on that part. But whether it is the woman in “Part II” or the old man in “Part IV” it adds a hazy look at human emotion in a way reminiscent of early Northaunt and also Langås’ newer album Silent Heart by The Human Voice.

Going into the final track there is a thick frigid wind billowing prominently in the background behind some of the best guitar work present in Langås’ repertoire. It sets us in these dark frozen landscapes, gazing across a glaciated horizon with flecks of ice burning our cheeks in a way that many of us rarely or never will experience. This has always been the beauty of Northaunt, the music transports us to these places and shows us their best and their worst aspects.

As I said earlier about Alchymeia by raison d’être (in a recent review here), this is a tour-de-force by Northaunt. Langås has been working these various aspects of his Northaunt sound since the late 90s. Istid III brings the old together with the new in a unique way giving us the best of both worlds. This release is also a step outside the ordinary, as it’s been released through Glacial Movements, a label out of Italy that specializes in various types of polar ambient soundscapes. This should hopefully bring a new group of listeners to the Northaunt sound, as all the die-hard listeners will certainly find their way to his work regardless. My only regret is that I would love to have the Istid III vinyl sitting on my shelf beside the Istid I-II set. But, maybe the release could still find its way to Cyclic Law in the future for a vinyl release, or maybe Glacial Movements will start to head in that direction too, as many labels have opted to in recent years.

Of course, this should be highly recommended to any lovers of dark ambient. Northaunt has had a pretty broad and consistent following since the debut years ago and Istid III is only going to reinforce listeners’ feelings about his music.

Written by: Michael Barnett

nota bene: You can also read a recent interview we conducted with Langås of Northaunt here.

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