Music Reviews



Nyodene D: Edenfall

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (7803)
Sep 15 2013
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Artist: Nyodene D (@)
Title: Edenfall
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Well, here we go again, more noise/power electronics. Nyodene D is one Aaron Vilk, the project stared in 2008 as ambient industrial but soon shifted into death industrial/power electronics. 'Edenfall' is about the 10th release for Nyodene D, counting CDr and cassette and the first one on the Malignant label. 'Edenfall' features appearances by Shift, Sky Burial, and Rope of American war metal band Prosanctus Inferi and death metal band Father Befouled. This is one fuck of a noisy album, so if you're not up for a shitstorm of noise, you probably want to pass. There are vocals (indecipherable of course) but Aaron has graciously provided a libretto to his industrial noise symphony in the included booklet, so you can follow along if you wish. Actually, it's too bad that all of the vocals are so distorted; some of the lyrics are really poetic and deserve to be heard amidst this Sturm und Drang. Maybe if they were hoarsely whispered'¦

The first two tracks, 'Edenfall' and 'Damnatio Memoriae' were like having tons of molten scrap metal raining down upon my head. Chances for survival are slim. Things get a bit more interesting with 'Anasazi' with this really weirdly distorted Native American chant loop in the background, the power electronics a little subdued, and you can understand the lyrics if you follow along with them in the booklet. Still, it's pretty noisy, but what else could you expect? Definitely a weird atmosphere. 'Scars of Anthropology' seems to have more direction than the previous tracks, heavy on the power electronics noise drone, light on the scrapyard. The undercurrent is a heavily processed speech/lecture running throughout (probably not a TED talk), something about scientific experimentation on humans as you can divine from the end where all is left is that sample. Over this we have the ranted vocals, and without quoting them I can tell you that it's a diatribe against science, technology and war used for profit and subjugation in the illusion of 'freedom', 'safety' and 'progress'. Well, that all makes sense! 'Nihilation' with its moaning bass and muffled scream electronics might just make you queasy. Forget following along with the lyrics on this one; just read 'em. Suffice to say, it's the end of everything and we all went to hell in a handbasket. Final track, 'Borne on a Vulture's Beak, I am Carried into the Heavens' was the track on the album I liked the most. Perhaps it's because my ears weren't bleeding throughout the entirety of it. The dark ambience and electronics here are much more subdued compared to the rest of 'Edenfall' and the lyrics are almost decipherable without the aid of the printed word, but still quite electronically processed. It's a fitting conclusion to the album, kind of like a nihilistic prayer of the afterlife.

Nyodene D has made 'Edenfall' quite an artistic endeavor for a noise/power electronics project, and I'm sure most noise enthusiasts should appreciate it. For me though, there were places where it was just too much, as in the first couple of tracks. Okay, maybe I'm a bit of a noise wimp, but just because I can't get into 10+ minutes of violent metallic mayhem at a clip doesn't mean it won't work for you. Still, there's enough depth and variety on 'Edenfall' to make it worth checking out. Definitely not noise for the sake of noise, but noise as the expression of all that is corrupt, decadent and despicable in human society. Sometime you just need a ton of molten scrap metal poured on your head to feel it.

Theologian : The Chasms of My Heart

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Sep 09 2013
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Artist: Theologian (@)
Title: The Chasms of My Heart
Format: CD
Label: Crucial Blast (@)
Rated: *****
Funny thing, in my bookstore I carry a small variety of the kind of CDs we review here at Chain D. L. K. but in a town as conservative as Corning, N. Y. I don't get much call for this kind of music. A customer asked me if I had any black metal, and I told him no, but I did have some dark ambient and noise. The he asked me if I had any Theologian. I told him I had it in my review pile but it wasn't for sale. He was a little disappointed but bought something else along the same line anyway after I played a bit for him and left a happy camper. Now I've recently reviewed some noise CDs and wasn't anxious to jump back into noise right away but his request sparked my curiosity.

I discovered that Theologian is Lee M. Bartow, or Leech from Navicon Torture Technologies, a project I'm familiar with having reviewed the 'Pure~Skin' album a few years back. I thought there was something familiar about this'¦anyway, being that the album was released November of 2012 (too many releases to review here, not enough time) I figured I might as well check around and read some other reviews, something I don't usually do. I found that 'Chasms of My Heart' had practically universal acclaim, and many of the reviews were much better and more in-depth than I could possibly muster. Still, I have to say something that may not already have been said, and present my own perspective of what Theologian is doing on this album.

First, 'The Chasms of My Heart' is a powerful album that transcends a lot of the stuff that many noise/power electronics artists are putting out these days. It's not power in the sense of volume, brutality, or sonic elements, but rather in the refinement of craft and sense of purpose. There is a focus here that many in the genre seem to lack. The opener, 'Abandon All Hope' employs blended tonal black noise drones, a ritualistic, distorted industrial beat, and chanted-sung distorted vocals. You won't be able to understand them. You don't have to; it's all in the feeling. There's a pain there that can't be healed. You will feel it.

You may not associate the title of 'Starvation is a Legitimate Weapon of War' with what you are hearing but it's one brilliant piece of homogenized noise ambience. No disruptions, no diversions, just a pure sonic roar dying down to a whisper in the span of four and a half minutes. 'My Body is Made of Ash'¦I Live as Ash' is subdued, yet so rich in content you can't help but be impressed; sort of the perfect blending of noise and power electronics, and yet, there is something innately musical about it. And when the industrial percussion loop kicks in with the white noise rise, it will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. Very 'machine tribal'. 'We Can't All Be Victims' begins with simmering ambient noise drone then a repetitive electronic rhythm, and a squall of noise that is likely guitar generated. Black shoegaze? Maybe, but not slow enough. Higher tones emerge as it intensifies. I swear I hear voice in there too somewhere. More ritualistic overtones on the beat-oriented 'I Don't Exist' with intermittent buzzy drone tone and a nice helping of black ambience. It crackles with energy and distortion. I approached 'Bed of Maggots' with some trepidation due to the title, but here is where Theologian's brilliance really comes to fore. Beginning with an atypical filter resonance modulated sequenced synth riding a crest of noise over low dark ambience, it builds into somewhat of a roar that morphs into a laser-like focus of noise and electronics that sear the soul. 'Title track 'Chasms of My Heart' has a percussion loop that's like some bizarre parade march with sustained vocal wailing somewhere in the background. It's hard to tell the voice from the electronics here. The atmosphere here is richer and thicker than I could possibly describe. Final track 'Every Road Leads to Abandonment' is an explosion of heavy, crushing beat, searing electronics and rich noise. Yet there is an eerie musicality embedded in it.

I have been leaving certain sonic elements out of the descriptions giving you only the barest sketch, for what purpose would there be in revealing all? That's for you to experience. If nothing else, 'The Chasms of My Heart' has convinced me that there can be creativity and depth in the power electronics/noise genre, not simply'¦well noise. What Lee has created here in his Theologian project is quite extraordinary. Other artists in the genre take note; this is the standard by which your work ought to be measured.
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Artist: Pure + Various Artists (@)
Title: No End Of Vinyl
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
Fourteen years after Vienna-based Mego released "The End of Vinyl" by Austrian dynamic producer Peter Votava aka Pure on 3" cd, someone could think that its sibylline prediction could be better spot-on if it were called "the.agony.of.vinyl", so that Cronica folks decided to fishes it out from the ocean of sonic memories by involving a number of talented noise and sound blacksmith for a number of reinterpretations and giving new shapes to all that molten black plastic, which lives again in this awesome collection they wisely retitled "No End Of Vinyl". All those menacing predictions by music market presumed gurus about the extinction of vinyl hasn't come true yet, even if its renaissance could be the last convulsion. Anyway, Cronica's heads, Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela, who introduced this selection in the guise of @c by means of abrasive liquid clots and ganglions on "Zweiundneunzig", decided to print it on cd, the format whose lifetime is going to expire before the vinyl one. The following sound artists explore a very wide stylistical range in a masterly manner, whose sense of subtle decay and a certain feeling of constant digging for a supposed sepulture got tempered with remarkable specimen of electronic refinement: the aural dark-ambient shades by Cindytalk's "Miyamizu", the mesmeric and somehow cinematic remixes of "The End Of Vinyl", where both Christoph De Babalon and Goner scans agony by impressive electronic textures and airy pad synths, which could resemble Beefcake's or Gridlock's epic hooks, the spellbinding buzzing whistles by Mego label owner Peter Rehberg aka Pita on "This & That Edit", the absorbing subtonal thuping and thunderous shocks on "Biological Agents Of Vinyl Degradation" by Jorge-Sanchez-Chiong (JSX), the gradual gurgling combustion by Rashad Becker on "Take Me To Your Lead Out", the illusory frugality of "Opera Povera" by Lithuanian sound artist Arturas Bumsteinas, the terminally ill dark ambient of "'end'end'" by Opcion and the final strokes of solemn atonement and the industrial drops on "Never Ending Vinyl" by Current 909 and Pure... a collection of adhesive stuff, whose rotting features seem to understydu for a new body.

Xiphoid Dementia: Secular Hymns

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (7782)
Sep 02 2013
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Artist: Xiphoid Dementia (@)
Title: Secular Hymns
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Xiphoid Dementia is the noise/power electronic project of Egan Budd from Boston who has been at this since 1999, and 'Secular Hymns' is approximately his tenth or so release. Apparently Malignant Records found it interesting enough to release on their label. Never heard any of his stuff before, so once again, another 'blind' review. 'Secular Hymns' begins with the 14 minute 40 second 'Abortion Rites' which seems to have little to do with abortions. It is more akin to being strapped to the outside of a rocket and launched into space. It starts with a tiny laser pinpoint of noise that grows and swells from multi-timbral noise drone, goes through some power electronics changes where you encounter a bawling electronic monster (courtesy of lots of distorted vocal processing) hell-bent on the destruction of, well'¦everything in the audio spectrum. Played loud this is sure to shred your speakers, or under headphones, your eardrums.

'My Time Will Never Come' begins with a clicking-ticking and electronic drone, ratcheting, then some dumpster drums and maybe sawing through same dumpster. A chiming clock emerges briefly, ceases, then returns later. Very industrial. Midway the loops stop and there is some metalish banging around, then the rhythm of a single church bell begins. Playing off this slow rhythm a buzzy synth bass plays a dirgy melody. Other higher frequency synths melodically embellish this funerary march taking it out to the end. Kind of crude, but quite unexpected in the context of industrial noise/power electronics. 'What You Believe' begins kind of low key with industrial machinery in a factory environment with various types of industrial noise and drones, and eventually electronics. It takes a while to build up steam and get into the big noise and electronic squalls, but rest assured, they do come. A buzzy electronic sample and hold loop becomes the backdrop for crushing explosive sounds, and eventually higher frequency electronic sounds enter the mix. A sampled voice rant (only barley intelligible) enters the mix (something about a mental patient complaining to his doctor about whippings and medication) and this goes on for a while. The track culminates in a barrage of noise until the end.

'Breathe' may be the spookiest track on the album, with the sound of breathing and ominous low-key punctuations of bass electronics, eventually giving way to a rising tone-drone that keenly slices through the gloomy ambience. Further down the line a slow and steady percussive pounding and snippets of echoed electronics and noises inject infernal aural madness into the mix becoming more prevalent and less incidental until it all dies away in a single tone.

No doubt 'Secular Hymns' is a multi-faceted noise/power electronics album with a good amount of diversity and quite a lot put into it. It may not sit well with noise purists, but who cares? I found it interesting enough, though not all quite to my liking as power noise isn't really my thing. There are sections I would have like to have heard expanded (the beginning of 'What You Believe' for one) and other sections I could have done without (the sampled complaining mental patient) but you can't always get what you want. I should make mention of the bizarre artwork on this 6-panel digipak which I won't even try to describe; it's just really, really weird. If you're tired of the same-old same-old in the harsh noise genre, give Xiphoid Dementia a shot.

Steel Hook Prostheses : The Empirics Guild

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Aug 25 2013
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Artist: Steel Hook Prostheses (@)
Title: The Empirics Guild
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Steel Hook Prostheses is John Stillings and Larry Kerr out of Texas. If you're unfamiliar with the name, let's just say they are an industrial dark ambient and sometimes noise/power electronics outfit with an obsession with the bizarre, abominable, and macabre as related to medical and surgical procedures. The medical/surgical aspects in nearly anything (I can't even watch hospital-themed TV shows) really creeps me out, so it was with some trepidation that I finally got up the nerve to listen to and review this disc, and I have to say my fears were nearly justified'¦.nearly.

First, if you like the usual kind of creepy dark ambient Malignant is known for but don't care much for NOISE, move on. You won't find much solace here. Second, if human (or unhuman?) suffering, or even the thought of it turns your stomach, you'd best be leaving now. You've been warned. Steel Hook Prostheses's discography goes way back to 2001 with such visceral titles as 'Torturous Anxiety,' 'Hell Hospital' and 'Wounds Bathed in Piss Water' to name a few. I haven't heard any of them so I had no clue what I was in for. Creepy isn't the word for this stuff. It didn't really hit me until the third track, 'Sadomedica' full of female moans and groans in an oppressively bleak atmosphere while some subtle but hellish machinery is in operation. 'Debrided Necrotic Tissue' begins with what sounds like a lecture from an ex-Nazi doctor commenting on Third Reich medical experiments but it isn't long before hissing noise and unintelligible distorted processed vocals take over. 'Gula' has a distorted industrial percussion rhythm and more waves of noise, distorted vocals, ominous gloom drone, and occasional electronic squalls. 'Emaciated Angel' sounds as if conjured from the abyss. I suppose the distorted whispers were supposed to add a spooky touch, but they were lost on me. 'Disfiguring Aesthetics' has a dark throbbing drone supplemented by permutations of noise and later a distorted mechanical loop and evil processed vocal. In 'Decrepit Hands Emerge' nefarious processed voices rant over a background of noise opening up into a chasm of monstrous proportions. 'Scald' features an annoying buzz of noise with infernal drones in the background and more ghastly processed voice. 'Disease Incubator' sounds like some kind of infernal ritual where a horror of epic proportions is about to be released into the world. 'The Blood Cough' builds into a monumental tower of noise before it all comes crashing down. Furious noise begins 'Antiquus Morbis' but the track goes through a variety of sonic changes, a real potpourri of mostly noisy industrial elements often vivisecting the oppressive gloom. I know I skipped over the first two tracks, 'Rendering Human Tallow,' and 'Leprosaria Dross,' but let's leave a little something to the imagination, shall we?

Overall 'The Empirics Guild' is not quite as appalling as I thought it was going to be and contained some interesting excursions into the netherworld of dark ambient industrial noise. It has enough elements of horror without completely saturating you in it, but still you may come out xsomewhat scathed and haunted. I have to comment on the artwork on one panel of the six-panel digipak the CD comes in ' four skeletal figures (one wearing religious mitre headgear) stand around a vivisected human on a stone slab while one of the skeletal figures points with a pointer to the lowest rib on'¦a skeleton! (of all things), the other hand pointing to a place in the vivisected guy's body. There's a weird occult medical symbol, an open tome on a stand and skeletal faces peering in the background. Hmmm, quite gruesome but in a black comedy sort of way. It could be Kerr's attempt to lighten the mood, or just his morbid sense of humor. In any case, I wouldn't recommend listening to this in an altered, anxious or depressed state, or late at night alone. You might begin to question your sanity'¦or worse.


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