The UK label Cold Spring have, I think, now completed their diabolical plan to make available the back catalogue of MZ.412, a set of industrial noise records from the 1990s regarded by many as unassailable benchmarks of powerful pounding gloom and blackened hate. One of these we noted in December 2010, but now I have before me Nordik Battle Signs (COLD SPRING RECORDS CSR144CD), which delivers 12 horrifying cuts of beastly blasts, assaulting the listener with power electronics, desolate pale ambient drones, relentless percussion hammerings, and incredibly dense noise of all stripe. These works are “decorated” with vocal stretches, sometimes sampled, sometimes sung by grim choirs, sometimes intoned as ritualistic poetry, and thus do extra dimensions of hideousness emerge – quite often with a pagan or Satanic bent and steeped in a bloodthirsty, warlike mode. Not a cheery record, but what I find myself drawn to is the non-formulaic structures of these studio compositions, which (if you can ignore the depressing content) is extremely inventive and dynamic. No less extreme is Burning The Temple Of God (COLD SPRING RECORDS CSR140CD), which works much of the same aural territory as above, but with added thrusts of painful guitar-shredding in the Black Metal mould, and a general air of hysteria; it instantly conveys a sense of chaos and alarm which is very apt for this concept album about the utter destruction of religions and faith systems on a global scale. Unblinkingly documenting the rise to power of Satan and other supernatural creatures, such as the ‘Vampire of the North’, this is a strong concept album which comes close to remaking Bruegel’s painting The Triumph of Death in sound. This cultish project, mostly the work of Henrik “Nordvargr” Björkk (sometimes called Kremator) working with different collaborators for each record, is often spoken of in hushed tones by its fans and enslaved victims alike. Cold Spring now offer all five reissues in a wooden box called “The Vault” of which only 300 copies are available, and earlier this month the reunited MZ.412 performed live at The Garage in North London. And if these CDs aren’t enough for you, iPhone users can even purchase an app from Nordvargr’s website, with which you can create your own variations of this sick stuff to inflict on others wherever you may go. Only venture near this toxic material if you have a real taste for all that’s grim and insufferable!
Similar health warnings apply to Live At Hinoeuma (HYPNAGOGIA GIA04) by The New Blockaders, kindly sent to us by Hypnagogia in January this year. On these 2003 recordings made at the Red Rose venue, the Rupenus brothers are credited as “personnel” while Phil Todd, the English creator who also works as Ashtray Navigations, is credited with “anti-performance”. This caustic item has been out in 2004 as a picture disc from RRRecords, and while not excessively rare it’s since become a £20 item in the catalogues of many dealers, making this reissue worthwhile. Two 17-minute tracks of remorseless destruction music, where no quarter is given to the listener in the pursuit of shattering glass and building enormous heaps of stony rubble over which the half-tracks of heavy tanks must attempt to pass. Non-musical smothering hell, executed as if according to a blueprint by anti-construction workers who undertake the work with a deathly unhurried calm. Watch with dismay as the palace of your dreams is slowly demolished by this uncaring wrecking crew.
We last heard from Polish musician Bionulor in 2009 with a very credible CDR whose cover bore an alchemical theme. On his second release Sacred Mushroom Chant (WROTYCZ WRT 011), Sebastian Banasczyk once again confines himself to the discipline of working with one sampled source at a time. All five cuts here are sourced from voice and spoken word records, including shamanic chants, the US moonwalk, and an interview with Marcel Duchamp; Bionulor’s selection of cultural fragments is saying something about the furthest reaches of the human mind and our endeavours, and among other themes there is certainly a strong hallucinatory undercurrent to this release. To listen is to succumb freely to an opium torpor. On a technical level, it is most impressive how he has managed to find bass notes, musical tones, rhythms and patterns from these voice samples, and carefully assembled his jigsaws to create very imaginative ambient and electronic musical shapes. The innovations in his techniques allow him to bypass the overused and over-familiar sounds that blight many other records of modern electronic drone. A good one.
And to return to the triumph of death, scope the cover of the new release from Demonologists. Their Miscarriage of the Soul (CRUCIAL BLAZE 07) is a limited CDR which arrives in a tall DVD package the better to allow us to contemplate images of skulls, Nazis and multiple catastrophes rendered in high-contrast monochrome collages, and the luxury release includes a button, a sticker, and a lavish illustrated booklet containing yet more skulls and murky, indistinct images very suggestive of decay, death, confinement, torture, and meat packing. Two guys from Indiana, Cory Rowell and Dusty Redington whose names make them sound more like friendly farm-hands than dealers in poisonous noise, created this filthy black pit of slime, and it’s a fabulously inventive and intense exploration in the “harsh noise wall” genre, which to my mind they improve enormously; burrow through the impenetrable barriers of weighty feedback and shrieking power electronics, and you find a rich sonic world behind the waterfall pulsating with as much dynamic muscle and mutability as Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. Competing frequencies and enormous colliding tones create ghosts of singing choirs, orchestras, and other musical phantasms that amaze. No lyrics, although some of the usual taboos are violated with titles like ‘Chalice of Snake Venom and Piss’; it’s an instrumental noise record on which these two maniacs efficiently plough their furrow of death with the same sort of resigned determination as we hear on The New Blockaders record above. Again, health warnings are in order for any who propose to spend time in the company of this crushing, sulphurous abomination.