Tag: post-industrial

VRNA – La Vecchia Madre – Review

Artist: VRNA
Album: La Vecchia Madre
Release date: November 2018
Label: Old Europa Cafe

01. Of Great Silence
02. Ritual of Self-Burial
03. Empty
04. Cenere
05. Campi di Polvere
06. La Vecchia Madre – Ritual of Awakening

La Vecchia Madre is not streaming online,
but you can hear some other music by VRNA below:

VRNA (Urn/Ossuary), occasionally labeled as Urna, is the industrial/ritual/dark ambient project of Gianluca Martucci. Martucci has been creating music under this guise out of Italy since 1998. Starting his career with releases on Slaughter Productions, VRNA has been a solid, but under-the-radar, project which has caught the attention of those with discerning ears for two decades. Tattoo artist by trade, Martucci uses VRNA as his bridge into more mystical realms. Referring to the music as “…reflect[ing] the vacuous psychedelia of an ancient mind casting spells in a modern world” we can see that the sounds created here are intended to work on a higher level than that of a passive-listening ambient release.

The album is incredibly dynamic, at moments slowing to a meditative lull and others reaching moments of utter chaos and frenzy. The overall quality of the production seems to deteriorate at moments, writhing in raw energies before returning to a perfectly balanced state. Percussive elements range from dispersed single beats to fully realized tribal dance rhythms to droning silences. As a ritual ambient piece, it takes the listener through a full experience, seemingly able to direct states of consciousness in strange ways, if one were to properly open themselves to it.

“Of Great Silence” starts with a mid-high range oscillating airy drone. Male chants enter the mix after a few moments. The chants slowly fade into a distorted oscillation, mimicking the dronework. “Ritual of Self-Burial” is simultaneously unnerving and serene. It seems to convey a sense of destructive action with perfectly calm intent. This feeling is certainly reinforced by the track title. This is quite an amazing track in comparison to other similar attempts at this style. It really showcases Martucci’s natural grasp of ritual, industrial and ambient music and how they can all converge in the hands of the right aural alchemists.

After the chaos of the previous track, we move into “Empty”, another highlight of the album, which keeps a subdued level of energy. We are able to envision ourselves in some dark catacomb, witnessing an ancient rite. Wind whirls through the chambers as the chants and incantations echo off the dank stone walls. One can almost smell the combination of torch fuel and frankincense wafting through the chamber, burning their nostrils. As the track moves toward it’s close a clean piano piece enters the mix as the surrounding sounds all descend back into distorted chaos. The moment is reminiscent of some of my favorites in the works of Dahlia’s Tear, but the theme, setting, and therefore also the effect are quite different.

“Cenere” descends the furthest into chaos. The track mainly consists of a repeated vocal chant which is highly distorted along with an array of drones which create a sort of sonic assault upon the senses. Deep reverberations seem to usher in a powerful and malign force.

“Campi di Polvere” starts calmly, a lonely guitar riff plays over an airy drone. It feels like a nice meditative calm amidst the intensity of the surrounding tracks. “La Vecchia Madre – Ritual of Awakening” returns to the oscillating high-pitched industrial drones. There are words spoken over the drones using heavy distortion and delay to create a demonic sort of sound which intensifies into screams and growls over a slowly pounding drum. As the track progresses toward its close, it descends further into a distorted chaos. In seeming conclusion to the entire ritual/album the sound fades out, being replaced by a more primal style of tribal music. A single chanting voice prepares the scene for the aforementioned tribal dance rhythms which are joined by a number of other chants, male and female included here.

This won’t be an album for passive listening. One should really dedicate themselves to the experience of this one in order to fully and properly appreciate it. Released on Old Europa Cafe, La Vecchia Madre comes in an almost cloth or leatheresque textured digipak. As it’s a good album to put your focus toward, I would definitely recommend the physical for taking on driving excursions and the like.

VRNA has been involved in a number of noteworthy releases over the last few months, a few of which include their split with Holotrop, Enkoimesis, and the brilliant compilation Sons of an Older Cosmos. Both of these were through Qualia. There are certainly a number of other previous releases from this artist that are well worth discovery. If you are a fan of ritual ambient that isn’t afraid to take things into intense aural territory, you should find a lot to love on La Vecchia Madre. Those that prefer their ritual ambient subdued and meditative will have a harder time with this one, but could still catch a few of you pleasantly by surprise, as it did with me.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Post-Industrial Death Mix

This is a mix focused on post/death industrial tracks. The mix was sort of inspired by the recent Darkness Descends event in Cleveland, we reviewed the compilation for that event here. There are many newer tracks included as well as a few older ones that I thought fit well into the blend. This one is not dark ambient! A special thanks goes to Andy Grant of The Vomit Arsonist for allowing us to use a currently unreleased live version of his track “Selective Hyperthymesia”! Enjoy at your own risk and share if you care. Thanks for the continued support! You can find links to all the music below the player.

01. 0:00:00 Shock Frontier – Tumult ft. Kristoffer Oustad
02. 0:08:25 Murderous Vision – Concussion
03. 0:12:30 IRM – The Essence of Young Death
04. 0:17:55 Trepaneringsritualen – All Flesh Has Corrupted
05. 0:22:25 Nordvargr – Livet Tar Slut
06. 0:27:40 LVMMVX – The Age of Reptiles
07. 0:32:20 Theologian – Toil
08. 0:40:10 Vortex – Odhinn’s Wrath
09. 0:43:40 Harko City – Swollen Empire
10. 0:47:20 United Front – What Makes Us Great
11. 0:53:30 Haus Arafna – Hymn To Despair
12. 0:58:00 Dødsmaskin – Den Nye Døden
13. 1:04:50 Stromstad – Blood Consciousness
14. 1:08:30 MZ.412 – Algiz (Konvergence of Life and Death 2018 ft. Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio
15. 1:15:20 The Vomit Arsonist – Selective Hyperthymesia (Unreleased Live Version)
16. 1:19:50 Cunting Daughters – Awaken The Beneath
17. 1:24:40 Himukalt – Want You To See Me
18. 1:27:30 Subliminal – Hunting For Humans
19. 1:30:35 Lingua Ignota – Woe to All (On the Day of My Wrath)
20. 1:45:00 Compactor – Ultimatum
21. 1:48:25 Vitriol Gauge – No Calm

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.

Trepaneringsritualen – Kainskult – Review

Artist: Trepaneringsritualen
Album: Kainskult
Release date: 1 October 2017
Label: Tesco Organization

01. Death & Ecstasy
02. Maðr Malformed
03. All Flesh Has Corrupted
04. ᚲ ∴ ᚲ ∴ ᚲ
05. Feral Me
06. Serpent Seed
07. An Immaculate Body of Water
08. ∴
09. V ∴ V ∴ V

Injecting catchiness into styles as unfriendly as death industrial or ritual industrial might seem about as logical as trying to teach anteaters how to read, but that’s exactly what Swedish experimental artist Thomas Martin Ekelund has done with his newest release under the alias Trepaneringsritualen (TxRxP for short. You’re welcome.). Though thematically and aesthetically up to the standard this death industrial heavyweight set for mechanical dementia, Kainskult remains as infectious as it is caustic.

In comparison to the grinding ritualism of 2014’s Perfection & Permanence, this LP’s approach sports pervading accessibility in the midst of its harsh overtones. “Death & Ecstasy” starts Kainskult off familiarly enough with growls cadencing clanking thuds and tribal grunts, but incomes quasi-melodic vocalizations evoking the most disconcerting affectations of Michael Gira and Attila Csihar’s most atmospheric tendencies. This juxtaposition of hair-raising terror and penetrating emotion derails expectations while enhancing the impact of Kainskult tenfold, which only becomes more apparent when “Death & Ecstasy” collapses into “Maðr Malformed.”

This track and the following “All Flesh Has Corrupted” sear their grooves onto eardrums like a branding iron. The former’s driving tribal percussion and subterraneanly heavy synth lines provide the perfect backdrop for demonic chants, standing in contrast to the plodding tom-tom hits and echoing back-beat of the latter. Though intimate delivery pails before bestial brutality, these songs transcend genre norms as they embody a maniacal occultist dance while pummeling listeners to smithereens.

The importance of vocals on Kainskult needs to be stressed. In many ways they’re the nucleus for the album’s memorability. On top of expanding his range, Ekelund also collaborates with several other throat-masters this time around, allowing his lyrics to take center stage on multiple occasions through multiple filters, accentuating ceremonial auras while embedding his words into the souls of listeners. The factory-esque military percussion and bass pulse on “Feral Me,” while punishing enough in its own right, brutalizes to a tremendous effect through fiery gutturals. TxRxP is no longer just about scaring, but decimating.

As its title might have already clarified, Kainskult centers around the biblical character Kain, known to Judeo-Christianity as the first murderer, and to Ekelund as the “Original Heresiarch.” His explorations of both the metaphysical divergency and visceral malice at play in Kain’s story, when coupled with paranoia-inducing drone-scapes and dirgey percussion, produce some of the most haunting music in the genre. The depth charge percussive blasts and glacial sound collages in ambient tracks like “ᚲ ∴ ᚲ ∴ ᚲ” delve into the depths of Kain’s outlook, while more structured cuts harness his archaic infamy to drive their auditory destruction.

“Serpent Seed” and “An Immaculate Body of Water” respectively encapsulate Kainskult’s undeniable groove and atmospheric rites within impregnable harshness. The former employs triplet-based vocal patterns almost bordering on rap over a bludgeoning beat, while the latter’s ominous synth lead piles layers of filthy distortion and disembodied voices comparing to West Europe’s Stalaggh/Gulaggh in aural excruciation. With the exception of the 29-second interlude “∴,” which serves only to transition from the aforementioned track into the concluding “V ∴ V ∴ V,” these tracks conjure believable vibes while energizing TxRxP‘s overall sound.

In the final song, Ekelund showcases his ability to balance accessible forays with the cavernous terror he has become known for. A hypnotic industrial beat slowly gains more complexity, while cleverly-placed descending synth lines provide the perfect foundation for Ekelund’s one-to-100 vocal jumps. The atmosphere remains intact thanks to unique auras produced by grating gutturals and brooding mutterings, keeping listeners guessing until the album closes with dynamic leaps.

TxRxP has broken new ground for the death industrial sound while paying proper respect to the style’s inaccessible nature, something Ekelund’s contemporaries often struggle to accomplish. Many projects embrace outside influences as they try to push beyond their template, but this album remains firmly rooted in brain-bashing claustrophobia. Trepaneringsritualen produces something hardcore fans of this music will adore, but also provides enough glimmers of approachability for those lost in the sonic fray — making Kainskult one of the most potent death industrial releases to drop in recent years.

Written by: Maxwell Heilman

Guest Sessions: Post-Industrial Mix by Miljenko Rajakovic of TeHÔM

The second mix in our “Guest Sessions” series for ThisIsDarkness.com is prepared by Miljenko Rajakovic, the dark ambient and electronic veteran known for his projects TeHÔM and Principia Audiomatica. This mix is extra special for me because a previous mix done by Miljenko Rajakovic for the Wounds of the Earth zine made a huge impact on me, it was a big inspiration and a catalyst for me starting to create mixes. On this new mix, Rajakovic takes us on a dark and twisted journey through the many varied soundscapes of dark ambient & post-industrial. There are some well known musicians include, and some others that are up & coming in the post industrial world. I hope you will enjoy this mix as much as I have, and please look into the latest releases by this highly talented musician! Below the player you can find the full set-list with links to each album!

01. T.A.G.C. – Sunset Eyes Through Water
02. Principia Audiomatica – Closed Thermodynamic System
03. Northaunt – Blood Trail
04. Karjalan sissit – …Ja Verkkaritkin Haisee Koskenkorvalle
05. Svartsinn – September Dirge (Alternate Mix)
06. Atrium Carceri – The Traitor
07. Raison d’être – The Hidden Hallows
08. New Risen Throne – Loneliness
09. Dead World Echo – Cries and Whispers
10. Lustmord Vs Metal Beast – Broadcast Frequencies Converge
11. Test Dept. & Brith Gof – Truan Yw Gennyffi
12. TeHÔM – The Realm Of Dark Senses
13. Mother Tongue (Andrew McKenzie & ZE’V) – The Humble Man
14. Herbst9 Vs Penjaga Insaf – Agung
15. Sysselmann – Coastal Fairway Northbound
16. Heilung – Krigsgaldr
17. Coil – Going Up

Mortiis – The Unraveling Mind – Review

Artist: Mortiis
Album: The Unraveling Mind
Release date: 15 March 2017
Label: Omnipresence

01. Virosus – Silentium
02. Hollowed
03. Submit
04. Submit (Flux)
05. The Unraveling Mind
06. Redeemer
07. Submit (Subdued)
08. Surge
09. Zotheca
10. Thrall
11. Virosus – Amentia

Over the years Mortiis has become a very relevant figure in the industrial / post-industrial scene. Releasing some of his first albums through the Cold Meat Industry label, Mortiis was one of the pioneers of the label and the scene. While his music has made several huge shifts in content and style, his fan-base has more or less stayed consistent through the years. Always managing to pick up new listeners as others drop out.

Mortiis started his career in, what one might consider, the worst way possible. Joining the group Emperor in 1991 as their bassist, by the end of ’92 he had already been ejected from the band. What came next was quite unlikely in the grand scheme of things. Mortiis released a handful of albums over the next few years which would leave the record industry scratching their heads in confusion. Mortiis delved into a style which he called, dark dungeon music. The sounds were seemingly elementary in their depth. Using little more than some basic synth Mortiis managed a sound that was at once unique, basic, and dark.

While he may have left this style of sound behind following the release of The Stargate, almost two decades later, there would still be a massive following of his early (Era I) albums, and a whole genre of music blooming with Mortiis as a de facto trailblazer. What is now known as dungeon synth has been revived in a big way. Many labels are cropping up all over the world looking to get involved in this new wave of interest. With the cassette as their format of choice, dungeon synth fans are proud of their collections beyond the imagining of outsiders. Many of these outsiders still scratch their heads in confusion at what draws hordes of fans to this genre.

For the last twenty-ish years Mortiis has retained and gained popularity with a more generalized industrial rock sound. His goth meets Tolkien image and his creepy yet catchy vocals have done him well over the years, and it would seem that he has never looked back in regret upon this massive change in direction.

The Unraveling Mind hits us as sort of an anomaly even within the career of such an anomalous artist. The album is fully instrumental, but there are plenty of instruments and a fully developed industrial sound. And yet sometimes these sounds will slow to a crawl and mirror most closely to something that could be considered dark ambient. While this isn’t the norm for Mortiis, he seems to navigate this territory with just as much confidence and skill as he has in any of his other endeavors.

Part of the reason for such a different album comes from its original intended use. The Unraveling Mind was created as a soundtrack to the film Broken (2006). While the film used some of the music, many of the tracks never saw the light of day. Eleven years later, it is finally getting a proper release.

The Unraveling Mind is available in the digital format. But, the pride of this release can be seen in its vinyl pressings. There are no less than 5 variants produced, with a host of purchase options, including 5 test pressings and 13 copies which include original art by lauded dark artist Stanislav Krawczyk. The remaining 150 copies are divided evenly between red marble, clear yellow and dark blue. The first 50 red variants are hand-numbered in Mortiis own blood!

The music itself is unsurprising when considering that it was meant as a soundtrack to a horror film. There are some tracks like “Redeemer” which are quite upbeat with industrial drum tracks and distorted guitars. Some tracks, such as the opener “Virosus – Silentium” take on a more dark ambient vibe, coming close to something that could almost resemble a more active track by Atrium Carceri. “Surge” is one of the most subtle tracks on the album, with much of its focus on atmosphere and little attention to “musical” content. The rest of the album will fall somewhere within these extremes.

The Unraveling Mind is highly enjoyable and entertaining from beginning to end. Leaving me a bit surprised that Mortiis hasn’t put more attention into this area of his sound, which seems to fit him quite naturally. This certainly is not the usual Mortiis fare. Whether you are a fan of his Era I work, his later albums or neither, The Unraveling Mind is certainly worth a listen. I thoroughly enjoyed this side-step of Mortiis and would be pleased to hear him create more music in this vein over the coming years.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Kryptogen Rundfunk – Liquid Circuits – Review

Artist: Kryptogen Rundfunk
Album title: Liquid Circuits
Release date: 7 October 2016
Label: Zhelezobeton

This is the first review on This Is Darkness by Przemyslaw Murzyn known for his respected and well-revered zine, Santa Sangre!

I stumbled upon this very cool sounding name quite often, on the occasion of various splits, collaborations, compilations or live show announcements on social media. So I have to admit, I was a bit surprised when I realized that Liquid Circuits is only the second album by this project run by Zhelezobeton label manager. Second album in 12 years – who would’ve thought?

So I guess we should expect something epic – a creme de la creme of all Artyom’s ideas that had been born in his mind during all those years. I’m guessing it might be the essence of his creativity, as the album is quite huge in all possible aspects: its duration, production, atmosphere and the abundance of used sounds and effects. At the same time, it is representative of the Russian industrial scene and their cherishing of analogue synths and the meaty, natural form of the sounds instead of purely digital output. Check the booklet and the technical specification of Liquid Circuits to see in detail what kind of equipment Artyom has used.

Kryptogen Rundfunk music is hard to classify because several musical fascinations are playing an equal role here. It is experimental, because even for a not very experienced listener it seems obvious that the artist is often improvising and checking the possibilities of the equipment and the sound forms it is able to create. It is industrial perhaps even “dark” industrial thanks to the machinesque and soulless feeling. The rhythmic pulsations, hums, diverse noises, radio waves make you feel like you’re inside a giant electric device or installation full of – not necessarily liquid – circuits, coils and resistors. Its purpose is still to be determined, but it doesn’t include a human factor in any aspect.

More in the background you’ll notice a few dark ambient inclinations as sometimes the sounds take a more drone-like shape, like for example in the third track, “Pyramidoid”. The drones and textures are also filling the holes in the composition structures, they’re like concrete which bonds the whole thing into one monolithic construction. And on top of that a pinch of noise, not very aggressive, just underlining the cold and mechanical character of the album, having no ideology, no message to the people, which in this case is so unnecessary. Unless you consider the immersion with the music literally and feel that your soul is merging with the integrated circuits making one half-organic, half-artificial entity. After all, who knows if it isn’t the future of humanity. Something of which we should all be afraid.

So is it a unique album? By all means no, we were drowning in these atmospheres a lot of times in the past. But at the same time, Liquid Circuits gives a whole lot of listening pleasure as it is a well prepared dish for all the connoisseurs of honest, quite old-school industry devoid of useless flashiness.

Written by: Przemyslaw Murzyn

Vacuum Aeterna – Project:Darkscapes – Review

Artist: Vacuum Aeterna
Album title: Project:Darkscapes
Release date: 12 May 2017
Label: Cyclic Law

01. Kurtz
02. Eulogy
03. Anatomy of a Spirit
04. Liminal Rits
05. Nibela Equinox
06. Control Metamorphose
07. Parasites Fall
08. Neglect
09. Enenra

Cyclic Law has released a lot of albums recently from well known artists in the post-industrial realm. They are the solid in a sea of fluidity. Fans are likely to know what to expect and without a doubt will find a positive confirmation in their latest release. Vacuum Aeterna is one of the new names to enter the dark ambient scene. Coming from a label like Cyclic Law, there is plenty of reason for fans to pay full attention to this debut.

What listeners will find on Project:Darkscapes is a breath of fresh air. There are certainly the usual dark ambient tropes involved. But the album uses the formula in their own unique way, coming up with something that will be hard to compare to other seemingly similar releases.

The opening track “Kurtz” sets the scene. We are given equal doses of industrial and ambient here. What starts out feeling like it is taking place in a primal setting, deep in a wooded wilderness, soon comes to life, not through some animals or humanity, but through the machinations of a futuristic, highly industrialized world. Yet, as the album progresses, the line between the primal and the mechanical becomes increasingly blurred. It seems that each track shows a different way of confronting this dilemma, a dilemma that speaks volumes about the state of our planet. Standing at a crossroads in time, where we will either fall backward into the life of previous countless generations or storm forward inevitably destroying the remains of the planet in the process, we certainly have a decision to make. Vacuum Aeterna seems to use this premise to make us think hard about where we stand in time.

From a technical standpoint Project:Darkscapes definitely paves its own path. While there could be similarities drawn between this album and something like Paleowolf or Ulf Söderberg, there are some distinct differences making it stand out. The tribal elements are overwhelmingly present. But the feel never moves into a primal ancient era. We somehow continue to feel the futuristic elements presented. The beating of the drums feels simultaneously futuristic and primitive. The drones and field recordings setting the foundation move from an ambient forest to the depths of some highly mechanized facility. The combination of the two seems counter-intuitive, but it somehow comes together smoothly.

The instrumentation used on Project:Darkscapes is uniquely interesting and nuanced. For example, on “Anatomy of a Spirit” there are deep whirling drones providing the foundation. A thumping bass sounds like the beating of a heart. Field recordings and possibly even some vocals can be heard dispersed masterfully throughout the mix. All the while a distorted guitar fades in and out, going from disjointed noises to outright solos. By the close of the track we are left with nothing but a staticy noise that slowly fades out. “Liminal Rites” brings those tribal drums back to the spotlight, though they can barely be considered primal, at times moving much closer to something that would feel natural on an industrial metal album, if only for fleeting seconds. There is always a dichotomy to be faced. One can never settle on a certain style or direction in which the music moves.

While Project:Darkscapes can certainly become quite active at times, it never takes on a disruptively bold persona. If one intends to use it as background music to study, read, or whatever else, it will certainly work, with only a few distractions. Conversely, it has so many interesting takes on the dark ambient genre, so many unique uses of the instrumentation and such a vast catalog of field recording sounds that there is more than enough to keep the focused listener entertained for multiple playthroughs. Each time I hear the album there are several new elements that present themselves, new ideas that take shape.

Vacuum Aeterna has created an album in Project:Darkscapes which is uniquely relevant to our times. It asks the hard questions of humanity and refuses to allow the listener to ignore the warning signs. I could absolutely recommend this to fans of the more primal forms of dark ambient, while there is also much here to entertain fans that prefer a more industrial infused sound. It will be interesting to see where they take their sound next, if they will continue delving into these topics and this format, or if they will veer off into a totally different direction. The level of skill seems to be there to make either a worthy endeavor.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Dødsmaskin – Fullstendig Brent – Review

Artist: Dødsmaskin
Album title: Fullstendig Brent
Release date: March 24 2017
Label: Malignant Records

01. Båldom (Fire Verdict)
02. Heksetimen (The Witching Hour)
03. Christoffer Orning
04. De Ti – 1621 (The Ten – 1621)
05. Dømt På Sitt Liv Til Ild Og Bål (Sentenced to Death by Flame and Pyre)

, meaning “death machine” in English, is a Norwegian post-industrial / drone act by Peter Vindel and Kjetil Ottersen. They self-released a digital album in 2015 entitled, Ingenting (“nothing” in English). On that debut they showed a lot of promise and a general sense of talent in the noisier side of drone music. But their physical debut on Malignant Records, Fullstendig Brent (Completely Burnt; Holocaust) takes them into some amazingly complex territory. This is one of those rare gems in which utterly chaotic noises are able to mingle perfectly with the serenity of dark ambient. This album could fit into many categories, post-industrial, drone, dark ambient, death industrial, power electronics. Indeed, there is a bit of all these genres presented here.

dodsmaskin_biopicThis album will be particularly pleasing to anyone with a love for the darkest days of history. The inner panel of the digipak consists of one sentence, “Djevelhorer Skal Brennes – Martin Luther (1537)” This can be translated to English as “devil whores be burned.” It is a fitting preparation for the onslaught of soundscapes presented within. Fullstendig Brent takes us on a deeply cinematic journey back in time to the 17th century in the northern parts of Norway, specifically to the fortress of Vardøhus in Vardø, the center of Norwegian Finnmark. This fortress would play the stage to a particularly dark and brutal period of history. We are taken here at a time when witch trials were being carried out around the western world. Each track on Fullstendig Brent gives us a glimpse into various times during these proceedings.

“Båldom” stands as an introduction to these nightmares. It is translated to English as “Verdict of Fire”, an allusion to the preferred method of dispensing of witches once their guilt was proven. “Båldom” is a perfect example of what to expect from Fullstendig Brent. The track starts with the sounds of a raging fire. A beautiful, if melancholic, loop of drone-work takes the forefront. It truly sounds majestic in its sense of foreboding. After this goes on for a short period of time we are cast into the fires, where our sins may be purged, before the eyes of the faithful. It is a descent into a truly cacophonous noise. Yet, with the brilliant talents akin to Jarl or Steel Hook Prostheses, these sounds never lose their focus. It is a perfect execution of brilliant noises.

dodsmaskin_historie der martelarenThe cinematic edge is taken to an even more obvious place on “Christoffer Orning”, named after a notorious district governor responsible for the majority of deaths of innocent women and children. The track starts out with prayers being begged in unison by the demented congregation. After they give their blessings, the witches are allowed to burn for their sins. As the beating industrial noises completely overtake our senses, it’s easy to imagine these so-called witches perishing in the most horrible way imaginable. Their body slowly roasting on the pyre, they shriek in utter despair soon followed by the sobbing of this unlucky female victim, attempting to alleviate some of the pain as she begins to smell her flesh being cooked, long before losing consciousness or dying.

Each track on the album goes through these ups and downs of subtle preparation followed by industrially induced terror. The true beauty of the music is that at no point do the sounds become overwhelming. They perfectly play their role, dragging the listener so close to the action that they will undoubtedly have their minds filled with the images of these brutal acts of Christian fanaticism. Part of the praise for this feat should be given to the mastering talents of Rafael Anton Irisarri working his magic from the Black Knoll Studio in New York. Equal thanks can be given to the brilliant artwork of Sense:Versus on the digipak. The front cover adorned in a minimalistic fashion with the Dødsmaskin logo, set behind a single leap of flames. The digipak is textured, with a rustic border, giving it the impression of an old worn leather book, possibly even bound in human flesh.

Dødsmaskin clearly paid the utmost attention to detail on Fullstendig Brent, which is undeniably present throughout the entirety of the album. There is never a moment wasted, each second holds our attention with its simultaneous beauty and ugliness. I would especially recommend this album to fans of cinematic dark ambient who also enjoy some noisier genres like death industrial or power electronics. Yet, there is really no reason to warn off others. This album is a miraculously well prepared example of how music can go above and beyond genre labels. While it may be significantly harsher than many listeners are used to, it should be a welcome novelty, a way to truly appreciate what is behind the thoughts of many musicians of the post-industrial scene. Many of them could surely learn a thing or two from Dødsmaskin.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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