Editions Mego (2012)
For those new to KTL’s world, treat yourself to V‘s subtle, deliciously ethereal drones and creepy electronics. For everyone else, what’s astonishing about V is how far Stephen O’Malley and Peter Rehberg have lept from the niche they’d constructed for themselves as collaborators.
Last time I wrote about KTL they were a dark and abrasive beast but V has traded in the Industrial ambiance of earlier releases. No more thwarted guitars or crunchy electrical disarray. The stark atmosphere has been given a burst of warmth. These days KTL deal in full bodied and organic sounding drones, embellished with faint samples and gentle guitar work. It’s easy for music this restrained to sound forced and laborious but O’Malley and Rehberg have enough control over this simple palette to ensure things remain invigorating. The tracks become more complex as the album progresses, climaxing with the second last number Phil 2 featuring the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. What a fucking cracker this track is; a shape shifting collage of sustained notes vibrating out of a brass section, the trombone making your bowls quiver.
Unfortunately V is spoilt by the closing number Last Spring: A Prequel, a 20-minute French spoken-word dirge that comes off self indulgent and completely at odds with the rest of the record. Without it, I’d almost call V a masterpiece. Even so, it’s amazing how KTL have transformed themselves from darkness into some sort of light. If their previous albums were the sound of disused torture chambers, than V is the morbidly romantic visual of watching flowers wither and die in slow motion.
Necro Deathmort: Music of Bleak Origin
Distraction Records (2011)
The internet might tell you that Necro Deathmort are some sort of Hip-Hop Black Metal hybrid, but don’t believe the hype, as Public Enemy would say. Music of Bleak Origin might open with a head-nodding riddim but the listener is quickly thrown into doomier and more industrial territory. This is a Post Rock soundtrack with some neat little tricks thrown in to keep things interesting.
Temple of Juno flirts with grime infused beats before it unleashes droning guitars and whirring electronics, and then closes out like an Acid techno meltdown. In Binary mixes dark Jazz in the vein of Bohren and der Club of Gore with stunning doomscapes indebted to Nadja.
Necro Deathmort are at their best when the electronics take a back seat, the beat slows to a crawl and the guitars are allowed to drone away in thick slabs of blackened muck, as they do on The Heat Death of Everything which ends in a gorgeous cacophony of guitars detuning themselves into oblivion. But the album is let down on the middle run of tracks where gothic Industrial takes over, creating a nightclub scene for people in eyeliner and platform boots.
It’s obvious this duo likes the balance between Industrial cheese and shoegazy doom. Necro Deathmort’s previous record is called This Beat is Necrotronic, if that tells you anything about where their head is at. Thankfully, the majority of Music of Bleak Origin falls into the doom category, albeit an electro-fied take on doom, and as long as they stay focused on that element I’m willing to keep listening.
TenHornedBeast – My Horns are a Flame to Draw Down the Truth
Cold Spring Records (2009)
When the awesome Aquarius Records put a whole bunch of Doom, Drone and Metal up for sale, I splurged on a batch of goodies. The standout of this stash was My Horns are a Flame to Draw Down the Truth.
You know how the word ‘glacial’ gets thrown around when talking about droney, doomy records? As in monolithic, cold and crawling along at millimetres per minute? TenHornedBeast goes way beyond that; everything on this album unfurls at a pace that’s almost painful, sweetly painful. This record isnt worried about revealing its charms quickly. You’ll need patience, and quiet time.
Talk of flames, horns and beasts is deceiving because the vibe here is haunting but not blackened. It’s not crushing like Black Boned Angel, it almost has more in common with Stars of the Lid but with so many layers of gentle drones that the whole thing becomes way bigger than the sum of its parts. A dense haze you can’t see through, thick enough that you can feel it pressing in on you, gently.
There are moments when distorted rumbles threaten to take over, of course, but these might be related to this record’s companion piece The Sacred Truth from which a couple of tracks were ‘remixed’ for My Horns are a Flame to Draw Down the Truth. It’s said that The Sacred Truth is a heavier record than this, does anyone know if that’s true? I plan to find out for myself. You should too.
Black Boned Angel: Verdun
Riot Season (2009)
If you’re a music nerd, like myself, there are times when a record can be too intense. In a good way. Something capable of profound effects on the psyche. I’ve had a copy of Black Boned Angel’s Verdun floating around for a while now but I’ve only managed to listen to it a handful of times because despite its beauty and awe-inspiring power, I find it totally draining. And that’s exactly why I’m going to recommend this – how many musicians are truly capable of affecting you like that?
As one extended track with three distinct movements, Verdun kicks off with plodding, cavernous drums and uber slowed down guitars. The pace is blackened and funeral like. The composition mutates into a storm of chiming guitars playing arpeggios at a snail’s pace before returning to doom laden power chords, underscored by a ghostly choir singing hymns from beyond the grave. Everything is murky and oppressive, tragic like an event you don’t really want to remember. Not exactly depressing, but definitely mournful.
In fact, mournful is a very apt description given the themes of war that run through the album (the battle of Verdun being a World War One event), though I doubt that today’s soldiers in Iraq will be replacing their Slayer records with this any time soon. Black Boned Angel, featuring Campbell Kneale of Birchville Cat Motel fame, aren’t highlighting the aggression inherent to war. This is about futility, loss and pointless destruction. Verdun closes with the sounds of a battle field; bullets whizzing by, bombs exploding, choppers thundering around over head and men screaming in the distance. Proof that the most horrific sound on earth is man itself.