SUM OF R: Orga 2xLP/CD/DL Cyclic Law / Czar of Revelations

SUM OF R: Orga        2xLP/CD/DL     Cyclic Law / Czar of Revelations

Switzerland’s Sum of R, have produced a slow string of releases since their inception in 2008; prevailing with a schedule that focuses on quality over quantity. To the outside viewer, it would be easy to take one look at this duo and assume they fall onto Dark Ambient territory; where in fact, this is just a utilised backdrop to fill out a pot of slow moving, bleak instrumentals.

Analogue sounds are carefully juxtaposed and given space to scratch at the surface of pads and orchestral influences, plying a web of desperation as bars rise and fall in an almost drip-fed fashion.   The end result draws on a sea of morose soundscapes; that are as expansive as they are oppressively engulfing.

The key to any album of this nature; is balance. Sum of R are effective in providing great moments of beauty that tread a finely drawn path, shining a light on much of blackness that prevails within ‘Orga’. The end result; is a gloriously hypnotic album that falls to the depths of vast oceans at the pace of Sunn O))), with heaps more musicality.


IN SLAUGHTER NATIVES: Cannula Coma Legio CD Cyclic Law


IN SLAUGHTER NATIVES: Cannula Coma Legio CD Cyclic Law

Jouni Havukainen is almost legendary in post-industrial circles, mainly due in part to his infamous project, In Slaughter Natives. As a prelude to a brand new album due later in the year, this release sets the tone as a portent of what is yet to come.

‘Cannula Coma Legio’ contains three brand new tracks, alongside re-workings and remixes of music used as live accompaniment by extreme body art performer Chérie Roi; dusting the cobwebs down on some older sounds, giving them a spit and polish with a touch of elbow grease and packaged together as one bombastic, martial mass.

‘Plague Walk my Earth’ opens up the proceedings with marching percussion as crushing as one would expect from the project. Ranging vocal harmonies soar above the destruction with mid range Dark Ambient pads, acting as the glue that binds the track together as Havukainen rasps threateningly throughout.

This impressive opener is followed up with the menacing ‘Definition of Being Alive’, with its pounding toms, grinding bass and lyrics spat out with visceral gutter driven growls. As always, this project flaunts an almost faultless epic performance that is cavernous in range, with hidden harmonies within its nooks and crannies, that eek out through the ravenous Industrial mix, for a brief glimpse of the world above.

Operatic vocals, waves upon waves of gliding pitch-black ambient, crushing rhythm sections and a flag bearing poise and sneer, epitomise this act from the offset. Indeed this has always been the case historically; and as a fan, I wouldn’t have expected any different this time around and wouldn’t want the game set any other way.

It’s great to see this act on the excellent Cyclic Law; a label that has stolen the march, taking the crown that was once held by the now defunct Cold Meat Industry. With a few of the labels former artists now finding their home at this dark Canadian doorstep, In Slaughter Natives prove once again why they’re one of the major forces to be reckoned with within this genre.


TEHÔM: Lacrimae Mundi CD Cyclic Law


TEHÔM: Lacrimae Mundi CD Cyclic Law

Croatia’s TeHÔM hark from earlier beginnings in the mid 90’s. As in all aspects of life, we have to deal with unfortunate events; and founding member Siniša Očurščak passed away from cancer in 1997. After their second release ‘Theriomorphic Spirits was released the band laid the project to rest.

Now we have the revival by original member Miljenko Rajakovic; once again staking their claim within Dark Ambient circles, with surreal and obscure black pads and suffocating drones that gasp on soot filled air. ‘Perilous Depth’ crawls out of its pit to a cacophony of shrieking synth work, ghostly voices and pounding tympani; clawing at the outer world, threatening to drag it into the depths from whence it came.

Listening to ‘Lacrimae Mundi’ is almost like taking a journey through the eyes of what devilish fiend crawled out of its hole and is now stalking a bleak medieval landscape, through the gloomy marshes that are represented by ‘Darkness Cosmogony of Myths’ and the suffering of the ‘Abyss’ at which this being eventually arrives. This latest release is an uncompromising portrait of bleak depth; that teases the listener with a vision through the fog where the warmth of the Sun is hidden forever through tainted clouds.

As its story pans out, there is a futuristic aesthetic to this album formulating a conclusion that the backdrop of the story is not of this world; but that of some parallel alien planet hinging on desolation, scarred with Battleworn monolith structures. Amongst the ruins an ancient tribe of creatures have once again risen to take back what once was theirs and advanced technologies have crumbled into the soil in which they were built.

Altogether an impressive release, careful attention has been placed on varying ranges and sub level foundations of sound that give the album a fuller sound. Occasionally the vocal sampling does let the show down somewhat for me, but this is a minor quibble in what is altogether an impressive return to the scene and a fitting epitaph to the bands founding father.


TREHA SEKTORI: Severh Sehenh CD Cyclic Law


TREHA SEKTORI: Severh Sehenh   CD Cyclic Law

After the impressive previous release that is ‘Endessiah’, Treha Sektori found their way for a short while as one of my Dark Ambient artists of choice to listen to on frequent occasions. Released not as an entire third album, nor that of an EP, ‘Severh Sehenh’ is to be viewed, as a momentary stopgap on what I presume is to be a future full-length release. Rather than pander to the whims of artistic expression however, an EP is what this is (or mini-album, if you must).

Set as one long 37-minute track, with fixed moments in time as to break it up into individual sections (however, not cut up as individual track placement when played); altogether, this does make sense when taking in to account the fact that the material was composed for live performance, which I can only imagine would be more impressive with a suitable array of visuals to accompany it.

Musically speaking, Sektori once again hit the nail on the head genre wise, with a beautifully cascaded array of pads, that display a contrast of darkest blacks and blinding whites meeting in the middle with a overwhelming sea of abundant grey. This monochromatic backdrop sets the foundations for controlled percussion and multi-layered gravitas, sucking the listener into an expansive bubble of ambient hypnosis.

Piercing the shell in which the listener is sat, occasional stabs of sound let in thin slivers of light and the effect is that of being slowly released into the outside world; and that of the unshackling of chains. Overall, the result is impressive and given appropriate time and patience, ‘Severh Sehenh’ as an ultimately rewarding intersection in what promises to come.


REUTOFF / SAL SOLARIS: Eigengrau CD Cyclic Law


REUTOFF / SAL SOLARIS: Eigengrau CD Cyclic Law

Russian artists Reutoff and Sal Solaris have both made a decent musical career of things thus far, both producing relevant releases for their chosen genres. Here they come together for a split release covering the principles of reality (Sal Solaris), and pleasure (Reutoff); referring to the psychoanalytic concept of inner human life. You’ve got to give a tip of the hat to some people for the effort in not only dwelling on such concepts, let alone acting on them musically.

Sal Solaris are up first, with a spangling array of harmonies, offset with a low-end scattering fuzz of ambient textures. ‘Navigare Est Necesse’ eventually filters these harmonics out into the open where they’re picked apart with an array of rhythms and sample styled vocals with earthly pads; only to succumb to the ghostly apparitions of ‘Essay on Reality of Science Studies’, providing a submarine effect of pressure electronics that filter through to great effect.

Surprisingly, Sal Solaris weave their way in from a more electronic stance than one would expect, where most exponents of the genre rely on more traditional analogue sounds; either way, it works.

Reutoff approach their work in much the same fashion, albeit from more of a traditional angle. Relying mainly on the more harmonised side of pad work they bring an evidently more ethereal element to the proceedings; and one which compliments the release as whole in conjunction with their partner in crime for this album.

As a whole this album is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, with my favour lying ultimately on the soundtrack approach of Reutoff who captivates and drags the listener to another more beautiful space. This is by no means knocking Sal Solaris, as it just sits better with my personal tastes; and the quality is set to an equally high standard on both counts. Set in a lavish foil embossed digipak, ‘Eigengrau’, whilst not being a world-beater is quality nonetheless.


TREHA SEKTORI: Endessiah CD Cyclic Law


TREHA SEKTORI: Endessiah  CD Cyclic Law

You have to hand it to the Cyclic Law label, they have come on in leaps and bounds where other homes of such output seem to be on the decline. It should come as no surprise though, as to date I have yet to find anything amongst their roster that hasn’t screamed ‘quality’; ‘Endessiah’ by the French “Treha Sektori’, cements this further.

The title of this album translates as “To let go of everything” and this release as a whole captures this statement to pinpoint perfection.  The ambience displayed on ‘Endessiah’ rises from the blackest of wells, soaring to the stratosphere, providing a mirror opposite of emotions that are gelled together with a heavy gravitational pull.

Attention to detail sets this monster of a release apart from most.  The beats that steadily prevail throughout the album hit like a hammer to the chest, whilst the ghostly apparitions of sound filter through as frost tinged pads scything through the inky black gloop of oozing Dark Ambient.  A range of instrumentation is utilised; and subtle guitar drones and harmonies really sit well in the mix.

There isn’t one particular stand out track on this album.  This entire release is a monolithic slab of splendour from start to finish and has to be consumed as a whole.  With a mighty production to boot, ‘Endessiah’ provides six tracks of some of the most thought-provoking, engaging headspaces you could ever stumble across.


ARCANA: As Bright as a Thousand Suns CD Cyclic Law

ARCANA: As Bright as a Thousand Suns  CD Cyclic Law

Opening with the chilling ‘Somnolence’, the opening glory of this piano led introduction is like an awakening from a long slumber, heralding the end of a four-year break album wise.

‘As the End Draws Near’ is next up with a multitude of acoustic guitars and male led vocals with soaring female background operatic harmonies; as usual these are perfectly produced and the end result is nothing short of glorious.

Track four ‘Medea’ is a solid favourite for me, the dual female vocal elements really shine here; multi-layered and understated they still manage to carry a majesty with the arcane and medieval percussion sitting low in the mix alongside the instrumentation.

Arcana have changed a lot over the years and once again this latest release is no exception. Peter Bjärgo and his cohorts seem to have lost that rough edge that reigned throughout previous early releases; don’t get me wrong there was always an essence of clarity and professionalism through all of their works, it’s just that later albums have had their cracks ironed out and run now like a well oiled machine.

In some respect there is a danger to this; the only negative I find is that as accomplished as this album is, you get the feeling this new opus has come to them almost as second nature.  I applaud the writing and production skills, but Bjärgo and company could most likely have written this in their sleep; it may be time to concentrate on other past projects and let the likes of the wonderful Sophia rise once again from the ashes instead.

‘As Bright as a Thousand Suns’ is one of those great albums, solid as a whole in its entirety.  There are a couple of stand out moments such as the aforementioned ‘Medea’ and the absolutely heart crushing ‘In Memoriam’, which without a doubt is as good as their previous greats; as good as these two numbers are and the album being professional to the core, this won’t be revered as an outright classic by their fan-base due to its generic nature.

A beautiful aural experience overall, with an exceptional production that ever so just misses the edge needed to make it something truly epic.


DESIDERII MARGINIS: Procession CD Cyclic Law

DESIDERII MARGINIS: Procession  CD Cyclic Law

I have to admit to being somewhat a bit of a fanboy when it comes to the dark ambient works of Desiderii Marginis; I rate him highly on the lists of artists amongst the genre.

Timing is the key element to creating a good album of this nature and Johan Levin is a master of this; ‘Come Ruin and Rapture’ rolling ever so slowly off the marks as a residual hum, with horn like drones rising through the mists of sound.

This method really comes to light on ‘Land of Strangers’, which is utter genius in its composition.  Imagine a bleak landscape of natural sound where you look out across a valley where the cloud sits low, in the distance you can hear pipes playing.

The range and distance of the music far away in the background, is the fundamental element Levin utilises as his main ingredient here and the effect is utterly haunting; indeed, this is the core brilliance to the main production of this album as whole, as with his other outstanding pieces of work before this.

‘Silent Messenger’ rises through the fog into something nothing short of spine tingling, whilst ‘Adrift’ once again pulls on the medium of letting the main body of musicianship approach you from behind; this is utterly awe inspiring and best played loud on your own in quiet surroundings, quite possibly on your headphones sat on a desolate hillside on the edge of winter.

The last song and the title track, is a slow thumping heartbeat with breathing ambient and spacious and harmonious medieval cello work; this is a fitting end to yet another wonderful album and I cannot recommend this release enough.


BEYOND SENSORY EXPERIENCE: Modern Day Diabolists CD/DVD Cyclic Law

BEYOND SENSORY EXPERIENCE: Modern Day Diabolists  CD/DVD Cyclic Law

Solidly packaged in an eight-panel digipak we have Beyond Sensory Experience’s seventh album on their tenth anniversary; it’s a fitting package for an act that has managed to make a decade and long may they continue.

‘Through the Underworld’ opens up this latest instalment and is an electronic journey through, well… I guess, the underworld.  Thumping heartbeat like rhythms give the impression you are sat along for the ride and things are only going to get darker from here on in.

BSE have always made sure their music mirrors the name of their project; from hellish screams that bluntly stop and flow into distant piano, to rolling thunderous crashing ambient and natural atmospherics, they literally assault the senses from all angles once again.

‘Modern Day Diabolists’ as a whole follows no particular route to make its statement and the title track itself is a mash of surging blackness that sounds like it was conceived in the darkest pits of hades.  Sporadic throughout as an album, there are many interesting elements tampered with here and surprisingly sparse too in an older electronically industrial approach, as explored on tracks such as ‘Geometric Fashion’.

The accompanying DVD starts with a more than competent visualisation of the aforementioned ‘Geometric Fashion’, highlighting the electronic nature of the track, alongside wire like visuals and effects that are edited precisely in time with the warm machine head beats.

‘Rapt From Earthly Things’ has a more minimalistic approach, displaying two windows that flow alongside the reverberated piano and radio wave like vocals.  It’s an understated affair and the medium in which the visualisations have been captured, work well conceptually with a degree of true understanding of the nature of the track itself.

As an album on it’s own, ‘Modern Day Diabolists’ is one of those releases that normally would take a couple of listens to bed in; however I would recommend you head to the DVD element of this package first, as this is where the release really comes alive.  From there on in the album itself will immediately have more of an impact.

8/10 Music  9/10 DVD

SHRINE: Somnia CD Cyclic Law

SHRINE: Somnia CD Cyclic Law

Bulgaria’s Shrine open up the proceedings with the sound of waves splashing against rocks upon a shore with a hypnotic chime played over drifting pads; in the background you hear gulls occasionally screech and possibly the sound of children playing, unless my ears deceive me. It’s a pleasant enough start to ‘Somnia’, if maybe a little too long considering its slight lack of variation overall.

‘Immersion’ breaks away from the stagnation that started to creep in on track one; rising pad upon soaring synth slowly ascend through a dense ocean of rich warm ambient and gently break through the tide towards the end of the track. This in turn flows well into ‘Lost Beauty’, with subtle acoustic elements that bring to light a slow paddle to the shores of a distant cove.

There is a natural aquatic nature to this album that brings to light the works on Spectre’s sub-label Nautilus, who based all their releases around the medium of water. Indeed ‘Somnia’ could easily be slotted in amongst the whole output from that label, considering the style of ambient on offer and should be hunted out by those that have dug deep into their pockets for such work previously.

All in all, this release is a competent and solid, if not generic album from start to finish; surprisingly oppressive considering the light synth work, the very nature of feeling like you are forever sinking under the water does make you feel like you are perpetually drowning, whist ambient waves suffocate and smother and as the CD sub-title states: ‘low level lucid dreams’; indeed.