Seven Poisonous Plants

Grim hammering noise from Kollaps on Until The Day I Die (COLD SPRING RECORDS CSR309CD), apparently the third album from this Australian act…it’s mostly the work of one fellow Wade Black, although bass player Andrea Collaro also appears adding his lower-register thunks to underpin the general mayhem.

Kollaps does produce songs of a sort, albeit they’re more like chants and declamations delivered in a shouty manner through a distorted microphone with plenty of studio echo, and the lyrical themes are far from pleasant or uplifting, as Black seems intent on purging his inner soul and exorcising many demons that beset his internal core. Alongside the vocals we have a remorseless barrage of very “metal” sounds, distortion, feedback, and factory-styled blows from the mallet of despair. We’re informed in some detail about the choice of non-musical objects in the Kollaps arsenal, including metal grates, cylinders, and a hoist (all rusted up of course – his aesthetic seems to require frequent raids on junkyards and disused industrial sites), plus there’s a self-built metal coil, an apparatus by now quite “notorious” with the fans when he takes it on tour and assaults the stages of the Antipodes and certain parts of Europe.

By this point I expect listeners will have little trouble positioning Kollaps alongside well-known metal-hammering types of the 1980s, such as Neubaten and Test Dept, but it’s fair to say that Kollaps is taking the ideas in his own personal direction, the better to express his own dark themes; it might be suitable to think of him as a tortured romantic poet along the lines of Mallarme or Baudelaire, except he is far more pessimistic and goes a lot further into the hidden reaches of the human heart. As with many artists who adopt a depressive mantle, they can’t help believing the rest of the world is as depraved or debauched as they, and many of the songs here make plain Wade Black’s contempt for the human race, assuming that everyone is equally motivated by base self-interest. For evidence, I direct you to such tunes as ‘I Believe in the Closed Fist’ or ‘Hate is Forever’. The ‘Closed Fist’ one appears to be his own litany of violence, a personal creed which he recites in hateful tones, including an inversion or parody of Catholic liturgy – a trope which might seem a bit well-worn now after decades of blasphemous Black Metal albums, but there it is. Meanwhile ‘Hate is Forever’ is a pretty effective sonic portrait of an oppressive Hell, filled with pain and negativity, the vocalist’s snarl buried under a ton of metallic clank and groanage. I shan’t say every track is propelled by the same overpowering and bloodthirsty noise, as there are quieter moments such as the synth drones on ‘Closed Fist’, although even these manage to emanate menace like clouds of poison gas, and the acoustic guitar on the title track, a self-pitying dirge that is firmly in the Nick Cave mode and set in a grisly minor key.

My other reservation concerns the way all of these questionable ideas are turned into rather noble-sounding abstractions, labelled using terms such as “condemnation, redemption, romanticism, atonement, passion, compulsion, determination”. Admittedly these words come from the press release and reviewers, not from Wade Black himself, but this type of verbiage does lend a veneer of respectability to the enterprise that might not have been completely earned. Thomas Ekelund did the cover artworks. We heard Kollaps previously on their Mechanical Christ record from 2019, when they were still a trio. From 25th July 2022.

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