Transmission Errors: a bleak, savage and terrifying soundscape of experimental black metal, industrial, noise and drone

Crown of Ascension, Transmission Errors, Italy, Xenoglossy Productions, XP056 limited edition cassette (2022)

Formed in Oxfordshire in 2020, Crown of Ascension is the latest of various solo extreme metal projects run by Alexander White in pursuance of a wide range of interests that among other things include Egyptian mythology (Thoraxembalmer), theoretical physics, skepticism and agnosticism (The Uncertainty Principle) and issues of annihilation, extinction and the dissolution of the material universe and reality (Vessel of Iniquity). From one project to the next, the music differs though there can be overlap among projects with regard to the mix of genres. On Crown of Ascension’s debut album “Transmission Errors”, White opts for a hybrid style of experimental black metal, dark ambient, industrial, noise and drone, all mixed to produce a bleak and desolate, savage and terrifying sound universe. Cold otherworldly ambience, gravid with sinister entities that sigh and mutter in the distant background, combines with machine-gun percussion and see-saw scything guitar riffs into a phantom beast that fills your head and mind with frosty dread and punishing beats intended to drive you insane – and that’s just the opening track alone!

The dark ghost nightmares and jackhammer drum machine beats that haunt the recesses of your brain continue into “Quakes in the Schizosphere” with just as much, if not more, cold-blooded machine intensity. “Monsters of Fractal Geometry” adds a continuous rhythm loop of distorted noise guitar overlaid by blackened death metal blast beats and screaming vocals (some of which are also distorted into a truly frightening cyborg demon monster). “The Great Dying” is a new hard-hitting version of a song originally recorded by White’s Vessel of Iniquity project for a split release in 2021; murky in ambience and in its sampled spoken-voice recordings, the song has a manic edge in its relentless beats. “The Dripping Faucet” leaves us with a dark and devastated sonic universe where a machine-like madness reigns throughout and which becomes even more intense and demented as the song reaches its climax.

It’s a short release and the songs themselves aren’t particularly long (though they’re not short either) with the result that the dark universe they represent isn’t as overwhelming and confronting as it could have been, and listeners can feel some distance between themselves and the music – a comforting note there that perhaps shouldn’t exist. Though the production is cold and forbidding, at the same time it leaves the music a bit thin and underpowered. Perhaps a vinyl or CD release might give the music the thunder and power it deserves.