Hic Iacet, The Cosmic Trance into the Void, Iron Bonehead Productions, 12″ vinyl (2015)
The artwork for this album clearly indicates a meditation session gone mind-blowingly … hmm, dreadfully wrong, at least where human beings seeking enlightenment of a sort that they would be happy with might be concerned … but then, the recording is called “The Cosmic Trance into the Void” so it is intended to lull the listener into a frame of mind where consciousness slips away and the soul is transported, temporarily anyway, into the Black Infinite. Do not be surprised then if the album is more slow than fast and is sometimes repetitive and monotonous. Occasionally there is New Age Eastern-style exoticism in the form of acoustic percussion clash’n’burn with background drone and the use of chimes and deep sonorous chant.
The title track sets up our meditation activity with a crawling, grinding bass-heavy texture alternating with spasms of colossal riff chunks bashing into cymbals and stuttering snares while swamp-monster vocals snarl over the music. The band’s sound is the main highlight though plenty of goodies abound: it’s super-heavy, knuckle-dragging stoner death doom abrasion for the most part. Those Hic Iacet hombres can be fast if the situation demands. Though the music might be slow, pop-friendly melodies and riffs appear at a speed fast enough to be distinctive and easy to remember.
Our amigos serve up a mix of long and short tracks and generally the shorter pieces are medium-fast to fast and more focused than the long meandering tracks which sometimes lose their way. Obviously the short tracks are more death metal than stoner swamp doom and are easier to assimilate. The short tracks pull the album away from sounding too self-indulgent with the more trance-oriented pieces. Until Hic Iacet figure out how to maintain listener attention on the longer pieces, perhaps they should stick to offering a mix of more commercial song-oriented work and longer, more experimentally inclined music even at the cost of having a musically defined image and approach. It must be said the long tracks aren’t without their attractions: “Into the Bowels of the Absolute” features slab-loads of fearsome monster riffing, lots of blast-beat percussion (a bit skinny and skimpy for my liking, given that the band’s sound is so ferocious), some great guitar feedback improvisation and moments of sinister mysticism.
Track titles trace the journey made during this particular meditation session in which the soul traverses ever lower and deeper through levels of consciousness and existence. Is it possible to descend lower than Hell itself, to go deeper where even Satan and his demon battalions fear to go? Armed with their battery of stringed and percussive weapons, and maybe a few Hail Marys and swigs of sangre de toro, Hic Iacet fearlessly lead the way into blacker, more despairing territory. You can almost feel yourself transforming into an uber-demon … or maybe unter-demon … such are the horrors revealed by the rolling storms of deep guitar grind, stuttery drums and that mud-encrusted voice in tracks like “Maharkala” and the massive mammoth monster that is “The Catacombs of the Mandala” which all but churns and crushes any souls that follow it into pitch-black non-existence.
By the time you are finished, on the assumption that you have actually survived being crushed over and over again, you’ll be so far into the dark cosmos that Hic Iacet have led you into that Hell will look like the heavens above.
Appropriately enough the album was released on Iron Bonehead Productions since you really need the strength of an iron bonehead to last the distance … of just under 40 minutes!