A Blast Of Sonic Torment!
November 12, 2012
CRUCIAL BLAST Label Spotlight
To me, the integrity of a record label has always been important. You know a label is awesome when you see its name and it carries the same weight as a band. Crucial Blast is an underground music outlet that I can trust to push sound into another realm and fucking beyond anything I can describe. All you have to do is look at their roster of bands; THEOLOGIAN, TREES, IRON FOREST, RECLUSA – all of these groups bring something different to Crucial Blast. This label has a vast catalogue, so these four bands are the very tip of the mountain of ever-changing sounds put out by Crucial Blast. Check the streams for these groups below, and the description of what they are all about from the Crucial Blast point of view!
Here’s something for you gorenoise/blackdoom fanatics – the latest full lengther from our favorite ambient sewer-doom outfit, Reclusa. You may know them from the Anticonscience album that came out on the Crucial Blaze series in ’10, or from any of the uber-limited cassettes that have slithered out of the filthier corners of the gorenoise scene, and if you do, then you know that this is one of the heaviest and most grotesque bands that Crucial Blast has ever sullied its hands with. On previous releases, this Midwestern one-man band delivered a mixture of putrid low-fi industrial death metal crush, distorted and warped death industrial, and pitch-black hallucinatory ambience that was totally unique, leading me to describe the Anticonscience disc to “…a doomdeath album being played at half speed while someone splices in Throbbing Gristle and Wolf Eyes. Or what Dead World or early Pitchshifter might have sounded like if they had collaborated with one of the uglier denizens of the Cold Meat label”. Can’t really think of a higher recommendation than that.
Vacancy is the latest sonic abomination from this Midwestern skum-machine, a cassette-only release festering with eight tracks of ultra-heavy industrialized necro-doom, plumes of vomitous black noise, putrescent death industrial, and loads of hallucinatory graveyard ambience. The emphasis is more on the latter, with lots of long, droning sections of septic muck floating around the heavier grinding rhythms and absurdly guttural roars, with “Hallucinations In Pitch Black” burying a monstrous deathdoom riff beneath a mile of factory noise, morbid drones and vile toad like vocals, and some pulsating synth-horror appearing on “Dead In The Eyes” that suggests a meeting between the classic Italian death industrial sound of the 80s fused to a low-fi industrial metal mantra. Later in the album, the listener stumbles across strains of washed-out haunted house organ drifting through clanking death-factory sounds, and choirs sing miserable hymns through the bestial dubbed-out doom of “The Realm Beyond Suicide”. There’s some real punishers on here though, like the fucked industro-rock filth of “Seeds Of Psychosis”, and the warped rotting sludge and backwards-masked bloodlust spew of closer “Ultimatum”.
Iron Forest’s Body Horror is the second full-length release from this new project from Midwestern industrial/experimental artist Brandon Elkins. Some might know Elkins from his previous project A Crown Of Amaranth, who released an excellent album of dark, futuristic heaviness and black-hole ambience on our own Crucial Bliss series in 2005 as well as a short-lived collaboration called A Crown Of Light that had one album out on Italy’s Eibon Records. It had been a while since I had heard anything from Elkins, but within the past year he re-emerged with a brand new outfit called Iron Forest that instantly hooked me with its super-heavy industrial rhythms, mutated drone/dub experiments, and doom metal influenced riffcrush. The band released another disc earlier in 2012 on Paradigms called Pantechnicon that was issued in an extremely limited run; this follow-up Body Horror comes via our Crucial Blaze series and features the new album of music accompanied by a set of collage prints depicting various biological hallucinations that were all created by Elkins for this release.
The eight songs on Body Horror are forged from gleaming metallic drones, glitchy electronica and vast clouds of interstellar synthesizer that wind around fractured doom-laden riffs, rife with the sort of apocalyptic atmosphere that Godflesh exuded from their more experimental albums. Justin Broadrick’s pioneering industrial metal is one obvious influence on Iron Forest’s sound, though here the crushing guitars and solemn ambience are cracked and broken into strange splatters of percussive noise and dissonant dronescapes that evoke an altogether more warped vision of industrialized doom-tronics. The music is varied, ranging from the bizarre but ultra fuckin’ heavy robotic dub-sludge of “Rust And Decay”, “Prognosis” and “Mountain Of Teeth” (where blackened doom metal meets a hellish variation of Scorn’s dystopian beatcrush), to the orchestral majesty and skittering percussion of “The Divide” and the abstract, bitcrunched rhythms of “Dead Batteries”. Elkins abuses a bunch of dubstep tropes (the blown out speaker rattling bass tones, the vicious synthesizers, the fragmented rhythms), but what comes out doesn’t sound like dubstep at all. There’s hardly anything here that a sane person would consider “danceable”. It’s more of a chaotic, noise-damaged, dub-infested version of Skin Chamber’s industrial metal, if that band had been obsessed with the experimental glitchery of Autechre. Combine that with Body Horror’s obsession with Cronenbergian themes (mutation, deformity, etc), and you get a pitch-black brand of mechanized dread that wallows in a similar cyborg plasma-pool as bands like Wreck And Reference, Cloaks, Necro Deathmort, The Blood Of Heroes, and Author & Punisher.
Released in a limited edition of four hundred hand-numbered copies, the Body Horror Cd comes in Crucial Blaze’s signature clear dvd-style case with an insert card and a black folio (with black printing) that holds a set of gorgeously grotesque full color collage prints.
On Theologian’s debut album for Crucial Blast The Further I Get From Your Star…, Leech established a new trajectory for his unique brand of pitch-black, rhythm-heavy industrial music that he’d previously explored with Navicon Torture Technologies. Under this new name, the power electronics and death industrial influences were merged into even darker, more majestic sounds, crafting something that was significantly more atmospheric than his work with NTT, while also reaching into new extremes of experience. On Theologian’s latest, The Chasms Of My Heart, this sound is perfected, incorporating more melody and percussion into the long, oppressive dead-world ambience and pummeling electronic doomscapes, and it’s one of the best albums that Leech has brought us.
Chasms opens with what may be Theologian’s most stirring and evocative piece of music to date, a monumental end-time dirge titled “Abandon All Hope” that starts off as a swirling ocean of blackened synthesizer roar before morphing into the sound of pounding metallic percussion and skull-rattling bass frequencies. At first, it’s the sort of pitch-black apocalyptic death-synth heaviness that Theologian has long claimed as its own, but when the layered vocals begin to pour in, soaked in distortion and climbing skyward in a gloriously miserable multi-part harmony above an eerie minor-key hook, this heaviness is transformed into something new. Like some kind of hellish fusion of industrialized shoegaze and thunderous power electronics, “Abandon All Hope” reveals a new side to Theologian’s black-hole sound that is explored further throughout these eight tracks.
There’s no shortage of Theologian’s trademark black ambience, though. The frantic clanking rhythms on “We Can’t All Be Victims” becomes a backdrop to a maelstrom of monochrome drone and howling demonic noise, obscuring the nightmarish cacophony of choral voices and screaming feedback and epic strings buried deep below; and “Starvation Is A Legitimate Weapon Of War” appears as an ocean of abyssal low-end churn and rumble that spreads out into infinity, leading into the crushing orchestral power of “My Body Is Made Of Ash…I Live As Ash”, where titanic distorted synth-pulses echo up from vast, lightless depths and achingly beautiful strings drift in on clouds of kosmiche shimmer, evoking images of monstrous crematoriums belching smoke and cinder into the skies, extinguishing the sun as raging vocals rise and war-drums begin pounding relentlessly in the blackness.
This album also has some of Theologian’s most celestial music, like on the deep-space power electronics transmissions of “Bed Of Maggots” and the final track, both of which begin to resemble the sound of Tangerine Dream blasting out of the heart of a dead black star.
‘Sickness In’ is the third album from Portland’s most wretched, Trees. Following their similarly abject slabs of feedback-doused horror and quasi-formless dirge ‘Lights Bane’ and ‘Freed Of This Flesh’ on Crucial Blast, the band again presents a two-song assault, each one roughly fifteen minutes in length, each a slowly rotting heap of droning slow-motion deathdoom riffs decomposing into clouds of black amplifier hum, high shrieking voices and tortured screams drifting against the glacial roar of smoking amp stacks and short-circuiting hardware. Where the previous album had Trees employing some interesting rhythmic chaos and longer stretches of ambient filth, this time around the band drops some of their most leaden, majestic riffs yet into their slow-mo filthstorm, massive saurian doom riffs slipping WAY out of the confines of ‘groove’ and deep into rumbling fields of charred ritualistic chanting and almost Abruptum-like states of psychotic noise.