Music Reviews

Artist: Stromstad (@)
Title: New Devored Human
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I know this has been out for a while, but it has come into my hands only recently (through no fault of anyone), and although my taste for noise-electronics has waned over the years I feel compelled to review it because I believe that it's an important work. Stromstad is a collaborative project between Jasse Tuukki and Toni MyöhÄnen of and Kristoffer Oustad. Oustad is known for work under his own name, and also as part of the Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester with Peter Nyström (Megaptera). If you're familiar with then you know their type of power electronics/death industrial music and already have a pretty good idea of what this album might sound like. Oustad brings his own flavor of dark ambient to the mix making this an expansive and intriguing outing that doesn't disappoint. Beginning with the harsh opener - "Inherent Resurrection," we get nastily processed, shouted vocal over an abrasive storm of (sometimes rythymic) electronics. It may sound like just another angry rant, but when you read the printed lyrics (and you will probably need them), it will begin to make sense. "...By the fragmentation and degeneration of the 'old world,' we stand on the very brink of oblivion. The beginning of the end has set in. The beginning of a new religious era. There must be a new heaven and a new earth. A new heart and a new soul. All new, a pure resurrection...." That’s some food for thought there. This is a much more spiritual work than a cursory listening would leave one to believe, and that's amplified by Oustad's droning dark ambient strings on "Nattsvermer" and "Kosto," where stark minimalism is the order of the day. The 8 tracks on this album are short (the longest being 6:38, and the whole being a compact 36 minutes) for this genre which is often prone to lengthy excess, giving it a modicum of commercial appeal. Most of the more abrasive tracks have similarly inclined vocals ( Grutle Kjellson from Enslaved provides vocals on "Reluctant Traveler"), and I suppose in this kind of environment anything other than that would be inappropriate. But the words are poetic, the poetry of the diseased, displaced and disenfranchised. In other words, a major portion of humanity as they will likely appear in the not too far off post-apocalyptic future. Rhythms, where present, are of course industrial-mechanical but not tribal, so there is no sense of community, just the thrumming of process. Yet this is the best course for the delivery of the artists' vision. 'New Devoted Human' is effective, compelling, and thought-provoking, far more than I thought this kind of music was capable of.

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