WALK THROUGH FIRE: Furthest From Heaven CD Aesthetic Death
Hypnotic off-key open guitars resonate with harmonics and slowly turn into a torturous mass of crashing percussion and screaming vocals, culminating in the writhing title track being a visceral and oppressive, yet impressive introduction to this trio.
If something isn’t broken, then don’t fix it. WTF carry on relentlessly with more torrid landslides of guitar and thundering rhythm work that grind along like a slow, yet effective kick to the guts, followed by ‘The Dying Sun’ utilising guitar drones and pads to calm down the proceedings somewhat.
Overall, there is an apocalyptic feel to the album, more than emphasised by closer, ‘The Dead Sun’; ending the album on a high (musically speaking), with a decimating vision of unrelenting brutality that is offset with tight multi-layered guitars. A clever use of pace dictates the end as the collapsing star expands and swallows its solar system, erupting and falling in on itself, leaving nothing but the brutal destructive mass of a black hole in its wake.
Walk Through Fire have a lot more to them than immediately meets the eye and that their use of overt, satanic imagery lets on. As with a lot of Aesthetic Death releases, you are in for the long hall the moment you hit play; ‘Furthest From Heaven’ though, does have a story to tell, even if it’s not the happiest of tales.
MURKRAT: Drudging the Mire CD Aesthetic Death
It’s an impressive start to this album with the piano led title track, riddled with atmosphere, leading into the slow, funeral doom-laden guitar work of ‘I, Rodent’.
This is the first time I have heard Murkrat and was quite surprised overall with the female vocals of Mandy VKS, displaying a good ear for range and variation; sometimes the singing is harmonious, sometimes a guttural scream.
As I have mentioned before, the foundations of this album are predominantly aimed at the Doom Metal market; the sheer, slug-like pace and pitch of the guitars categorically stamp that marker down. However, there is something to the construction of the tracks on offer that suggests more than the sum of their parts. Occasionally, there is more than a flair for the classical that flirts with the listener throughout this release, compositionally reminding me of Diamanda Galas in a lot of respects; although VKS does tame down a lot of the madness, concentrating more on harmonies and straight-forward singing, than operatic shrieks and wails.
‘Drudging the Mire’ is an impressive release from start to finish with a lot more on here than is first evident; ambient sub-plots and minute attention to detail, provide a necessary counter-balance to the drawn out wade through what could have been a fairly formulaic release otherwise. Add to the pot that apart from the percussion, this album was written and performed by VKS all on her own and you have something that stands out amongst a heavily saturated market, where individuality becomes all the more important.
WRECK OF THE HESPERUS: Light Rotting Out CD Aesthetic Death
I have a penchant for alternative packaging and do like releases when they’re not placed in the standard format of a normal compact disc jewel case, so smiled when upon opening this A5 packaging and postcard set.
The imagery reeks of Black Metal from the off, however the music throughout this release is anything but; an anticonvulsant to the genre if you will and indeed what would happen if you took that genre and slowed it down in pace and pitch.
I am torn with WOTH; all the necessary ingredients are there for something special. The screaming vocals are set right and the sludge like rhythm and guitars achieve to hit the target that they’re aimed at; unfortunately my patience waned at the mid-way point of this release.
Variation is the key element that ‘Light Rotting Out’ sorely lacks; if you are going to make a three-track album, you have to introduce different paths to the story you are trying to convey or your audience drifts off and stops paying attention.
Wreck of the Hesperus haven’t produced a bad release, don’t get me wrong. I do however think that future compositions could be shortened and other instrumentation introduced to the mix, therefore adding a necessary punch to the proceedings.
SECTION 37: The Kudos of Serial Killing CD Aesthetic Death
It’s fair to say that a lot of music that I listen sits firmly in Industrial circles, so I smiled when reading up that Section 37 generically speaking hail from these pastures.
It’s a bold statement when its mentioned that an act bare similar traits to Skinny Puppy; indeed SP are no longer the force they once were, now producing a shadow of their former selves and it’s good to hear that others out there are trying to carry the torch onwards. Unfortunately, Section 37 are not one of them.
Production is the first stumbling block on this album, with clarity being all but avoided in the muggy mix of electronics and beat-work; the initial vocals are too clean and should be spat out rather than spoken, leaving everything a little too tame for my liking.
‘The Rogue Drone’ is a momentary stand out track, reminiscent of Gravity Kills once the chorus kicks in, even if the lyrics veer on the side of awful. This makes listening to Section 37 all the more annoying, as they could have made the whole album like this; yes it would have been generic, but at least it would have been listenable.
‘Kudos…’ is a badly executed monstrosity, writhing in its own misguided self-importance; ‘The Profile’ is a prime example of this, with a feeble, embarrassing cod-dissection of a disturbed psyche, summing up this album in its entirety, as a travesty of D division electronics from start to finish.
DUST TO DEARTH/LYSERGENE: The Death of the Sun CD Aesthetic Death
Murkrat’s Mandy makes and appearance here with her other project Dust to Dearth, once again showing a flair for the superb operatic side of her vocal range, executed perfectly over the barrage of resonating drones and rich Dark Ambient that is the self-titled opener.
‘Winter’, is a more arcane affair; leaving the listener with an impression of a desolate freezing landscape that merges into the compositionally sound ‘It is Dark’, pandering to off key piano and pads. Whilst overtly limited, the simplistic nature of the track doesn’t overstate itself and feels intentional, rather than forced.
I am really impressed with this project, even if it doesn’t differ incredibly from the more orchestral sections of Murkrat. The sheer beauty of ‘Dearth’ and ‘The Last’ display an ear for the more ethereal side of the genre and wouldn’t be out of place sat next to many of the artists that reside under the Projekt label umbrella.
Thankfully, Lysergene carry on from where DTD left off, with a more electronic approach to their ambience that thematically wouldn’t be out of place on a shelf next to the works of Gustaf Hildebrand or earlier Sleep Research Facility.
The dualistic nature of ‘The Death of the Sun’ provides a rich tapestry of two halves that eventually fuse together; the beauty of a solar system and planets within the habitual zone and the inevitable conclusion of being swallowed up by the twilight years of a star.
DEAD BEAT PROJECT: Breaking the Shell CD Aesthetic Death
On paper I should probably like Dead Beat Project; electronic beats and ambience fused with elements of industrial, definitely sound like something to whet my appetite.
It’s true that all of the above are explored throughout this album, indeed so is soundtrack fused trance, crossing a broad range of styles, from eastern philosophy to futuristic aural landscapes.
As far as conviction and purpose goes, Dead Beat Project has its head screwed on. Where this fails is in its lack of production and attention to the individual elements that make up the body of each track; the pad work and electronics do veer off down the path of Tangerine Dream stylistically and I completely abhor them with every inch of my being.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel; ‘Moon Eclipse’ does have all the makings of an ambient classic structurally, if not failing in the lack of attention paid to reverb and the synth work, sounding way to electronic for its own good and would benefit from a more dare I say it, natural field recording ethos.
‘Breaking the Shell’ was ultimately disappointing because I expected so much more. All the ingredients are there, but something has gone wrong on the scales and the balance is evidently off.
LYSERGENE: Critical Mass CD Aesthetic Death
A complex writhing mass of machinery clatters alongside electronic whirs and oozing electronics as an opening gambit to this album, providing an unrelenting visceral montage, leading into the surprising mash off key electronica and Industrial ‘Twisted and Evil’.
Next up, ‘Monolith’ has all the energy of NIN initially and eventually fuses into a driven mass of precise programming and futuristic pads, reminding me somewhat of earlier Front Line Assembly if they were devoid of vocals. Concentration circulates heavily on synth work throughout Lysergene’s work and although the heavy trance like sound is not exactly to my liking, I cannot knock the craftsmanship and execution involved and the production is second to none.
“Shock Treatment’ is purely what I expected from this artist after hearing the impressive split with Dust to Dearth; a thundering distorted pit of ambience. Whilst not pulling apart what the project has accomplished on the earlier sections of this album, I cannot hide my preferences stylistically speaking and personally would have preferred more of this.
Overall however, whilst there may not be much on here that I would listen to day by day, there is a market out there for this kind of approach to writing and should appeal to fans of electronic music that loiters somewhere between sci-fi electronics and the tragically termed, Terror EBM; scoring on ability and production rather than my tastes alone.