Music Reviews



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Artist: PANTHER SKULL
Title: Slothwave
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: SNSE
Rated: *****
As mentioned below, Panther Skull is Devillock's Justin Meyers, and this is his first pro-printed cd. Meyers basically using the same tools as in Devillock (organ, tapes and electronics) and the sound as a whole is naturally very similar, but more in a droning and ambient way. Don't expect easy listening stuff, though: the first track sounds like a warmer take on death industrial-like heaviness, with sullen, billowing drones and creeping distortion. The rest of the cd is actually more minimal and less structured, but the tension remains high throughout. The analogue organ sound makes a big difference in keeping the sound physical and crisp, and often reminded me of early noise/ambient works by Man Is The Bastard/Bastard Noise. As a whole, it's a shame this lasts less than 25 minutes, but on the other hand the short length avoids repetition and stagnation. Very nice stuff.
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Artist: DEVILLOCK
Title: These Graves
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: PACrec/SNSE
Rated: *****
Devillock is the one-man project of Justin Chris Meyers', also know for his other alias Panther Skull (see the next review) and his label Tone Filth. The press sheet says "the sound is driven by what has been described as gunked-up tape; the sputter and hiss wooze that only analogue tape reels provide". Indeed, "The Blood From" (also featuring Matthew St. Germain of Freedom From label on bass drones) and the very short title-track feature this great churning tape sound, which makes for an engaging listen. However, right from the development of track 1 and in the rest of the cd, Devillock's sound unfortunately flattens on high end feedback, without much variation or layering. The recording quality is powerful and crisp (by the way, the work was mastered by Pete Swanson of D Yellow Swans), but given the excellent beginning I just wished the cd was more structured. As it is, it sounds like a very good live performance, but with some ups and downs throughout.
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Artist: TROUM
Title: Tjukurpa (part three: rhythms and pulsations)
Format: CD
Label: Transgredient records
Rated: *****
And talking of Troum, I've had this third and final chapter of their "Tjukurpa" trilogy in my review stack for way too long, waiting for the right occasion to write something about it. If part 1, "Harmonies", was devoted to melodic ambiences, and the second one, "Drones", featured their more shady and meditative guitar-generated soundscapes, this work is an amazing example of rhythmic non-beat oriented music. The disc begins with the frantic mechanical pulses of "Ignis Sacer", a true masterpiece which keeps faith to its title; but all the other tracks, though less explosive, are powerful blends of acoustic percussions and Troum's trademark guitar-based drones. Troum have always been inspired by the ritual and trascendental aspects of sound, and this is probably their most successful attempt at creating a sort of entheogenic ambient - and on a strictly musical level, this is also my favourite work of theirs.
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Artist: MAEROR TRI
Title: Peak Experience
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records/Blade
Rated: *****
This is a luxurious, and quite limited (150 copies only) re-release of this cult post-industrial band's 1989 tape, to be exact of its German edition on Bestattungsinstitut. As with all their recent and much demanded reprints, a lot of care has been given to the packaging: the cdr is housed between two black wooden plates, closed by a Chinese paper band with the MT logo stamped in black ink. One of the early tapes of the trio (that, as you all probably know, has later given birth to Troum), "Peak Experience" is also one of its harshest and most industrial sounding works - most of the original A side is indeed dominated by screeching feedback, pedals abuse and mangled vocals, right from the surprisingly fierce "My Electrocution". But besides full-on noise, the disc is a sort of sum of all the different influences of Maeror Tri's: from cosmic music ("Talita Kum!", the beginning of "Boundary to Insanity 5") to darker drones ("Translucent Vault", "The Threat", "Endless Space"), from rhythmic pieces ("Wovoka") to a final quasi-wave song ("The Last Perception"). The material has undoubtly aged, but it has aged well - though I honestly find Troum's music much more mature and captivating, this is a nice trip into old school industrial music.
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Artist: DEADWOOD
Title: 8 19
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring
Rated: *****
Almost out of the blue comes this shockingly good Swedish one-man project - so good that an authoritative label like Cold Spring is here re-releasing his DIY promo cdr. Deadwood perfectly alternates, or mixes, the sheer, relentless aggression of power electronics and the morbid catatony of death industrial. He obviously doesn't invent anything new within those established genres, but his use of the tools of the trade and, especially, his care for arrangements and details are remarkable. Beginning with the subhuman yells of "Antabus", which in the vocal department clearly betrays Deadwood's involvement in black metal as well, the disc soon swamps in the muddy ambiences of "Crushing on", more subdued but not less menacing. The vehemence of the title track, where he screams his lungs off against a heavy rhythmic hammering, gives way to "Bitch on the...", which could be the companion to "Crushing on" - monotonous synth sweeps, controlled distortion and disturbing whispered/pitch shifted rants. But the most surprising track is probably "Wither Sith", with strange looped cracklings, funeral bells and more synth waves hosting the usual brutal vocal work. As I mentioned above, Deadwood is especially great at layering and structuring, so that even a minimal set of sounds never becomes stale (take synth sounds, for example - I'm definitely NOT a fan of synths, but I really have no complaints here). This care doesn't make the result less aggressive, but rather potentiates that. Truly brilliant stuff, which will surely please even jaded industrial listeners.
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