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Sophia – The Age Of The Narcissist (2024)

In 2016 I reviewed “Unclean“, the first Sophia release in 13 years at the time. After another 8 year gap, Cyclic Law announced another new Sophia album. Discogs also has two releases in 2017 and 2022 that I had not heard about, though, but these are not full lengths.

The blurb for the new album promises innovative rhythms, new kinds of vocals and experimentation with the Sophia sound, “a deliberate evolution in sound”.

The album is very recognisably Sophia. Pomp walls of orchestrations in the background, poundings rhythms and Peter’s vocals. The sound is not as bombastic as Sophia can be.

“The Age Of The Narcissist” is perhaps not the best Sophia material in my opinion, but a descent album. Out on 25 July. It comes as a cd and in two vinyl versions. The length is (thus) about 40 minutes.

Links: Sophia, Cyclic Law

Ulvtharm – Wrēkō (2022)

Jouni Ulvtharm (Jouni Heikki Ollila (1972-)) is a long-time collaborator of Henrik Nordvargr Björkk. They not only share MZ.412, but also Pouppée Fabrikk and he collaborated on a Nordvargr album.

Ulvtharm has lived in Malaysia for a while, also during the time of the creation of “Svartmyrkr“. His surroundings brought some other influences than the snowy landscape of Sweden, or so the blurb says.

“Wrēkō” does have the more bombastic sound of “Svartmyrkr”, contrary to the more industrial/noisy earlier sound of MZ.412. Ulvtharm is (even) more ‘martial’. Stretched orchestral sounds, blasting drums, some vocals. Perhaps ‘dark ambient’ would even somehow describe the sound, but not as ambient as -let us say- Raisdon D’Être. It reminds a bit of In Slaughter Natives (but much slower), early Sophia, but also of more recent material of MZ.412 and Nordvargr. So perhaps “martial ambient”?

The album is moody. Not entirely my kind of music, but if you like the more bombastic ambient type of material, this new project may be worth checking out.

Links: Ulvtharm, Cyclic Law

In Slaughter Natives * Ventre (cd 2016)

I get quite a few newsletters and I keep an eye on websites that review music, but it was Deezer that ‘told me’ about a new ISN. When I wanted to look it up on Discogs, I could not find it. It took a bit of searching, but “Ventre” is actually a book of the French artist Nihil and ISN made an accompanying 35 minute cd. The project is released by Cyclic Law.

“Ventre” starts of pretty tranquilly, not with the pompous ISN style, but more ambient, with slow beats. Less energetic as we are used to of ISN. Lateron the style becomes more typical.

I have not seen the book or the cd, but images can be found on the website of Nihil and that of Cyclic Law. The album is not the best ISN, but it certainly is not bad either.

Trying to find information about this release, I noticed that the ISN part of the 1994 split cd “Mort Aux Vaches” with Deutsch Nepal has been rereleased in a few versions. That is really old-style ISN.

Links: In Slaughter Natives, Cyclic Law

Sophia * Unclean (cd 2016)

Who would have thought there would be another Sophia album after 13 years? Of course Sophia did a few shows in the last years, so “Unclean” did not totally come as a surprise. Before I found a place to order the cd, the album could already be found on Deezer (and undoubtely Spotify) so I already had a listen to this 37 minute album.

Like we are used to from Sophia there are pompous, orchestral industrial tracks and more dark ambient tracks. The slow tracks with the big blasts and whispered vocals remind of In Slaughter Natives, perhaps even more than ever. The towards the end there are two superb tracks in which Bjargö uses his voice in a more interesting way and created more uptempo music.

“Unclean” is not a masterpiece, nor is it really innovating. It is another descent Sophia album though.

Links: Sophia, Cyclic Law

Angelic Foe ‎* Mother Of Abominations (cd 2015)

Angelic Foe is half of the late Arcana. I did not know Angelic Foe, but Annmari Thim and Cristian Ellingsen did release an album before. On Prikosovenie, which is fitting, because Thim’s singing remind of the “heavenly voices” type of music of times past. The vocals remind of sToa.

There are other comparisons for Angelic Foe. In the more tranquil moments the music reminds me of music released on the Hyperium label. There is also a lot of drumming which brings memories to In The Nursery. Arcana itself does not make a strange comparison either, but Angelic Foe is (even) more pompous. Speaking of Arcana, Peter Bjärgo mastered the album and Cecilia Bjärgo made the cover photo.

“Mother Of Abominations” is a nice album to jump back in time a little with bombastic, orchestral tunes with soprano vocals.

Links: Angelic Foe, Equilibrium Music

Karjalan Sissit * …Want You Dead (cd 2015)

When I write this, Discogs only has a tape version listed, released by a label called “Total Black”. There is also a cd version released by Cyclic Law though.

Six years after “Fucking Whore Society” Markus Pesonen did not find any inspiration to develop his sound. Putting on the latest attemp initially brought me the idea that I put on the wrong cd. There is the usual orchestrated bombast with manically screamed vocals as on previous albums. The only thing that catches my ears is that guitars are added, or mixed more towards the front.

Now however “…Want You Dead” is just another Karjalan Sissit album, the style is still amusing so the new album makes me think back of the days when Karjalan Sissit was the most aggressive exponent of the ‘martial industrial’ sound that has mostly passed away. For old times sake!

Links: Karjalan Sissit, Cyclic Law

Parzival * Casta (cd 2014)

I have and Deezer informing me about new releases yet I had to accidentally find out about the latest Parzival. But then again, the album is only two weeks old and released on a label that I never heard of.
“Casta” has the more bombastic orchestral style, rather than the ebm-ish side of this Danish band. I prefer the sound of for example “Urheimat”, but “Casta” is a nice album with the typical Parzival vocals and pompous orchestrations. The band announced a tour, so I hope they will play somewhere near some time, because this is a band that I would like to see live some time.
Links: Parzival, Mighty Music

In Slaughter Natives * Cannula Coma Legio (cd 2014)

The new ISN is, well… a new ISN. Once every decade Jouni Havukainen sends out new material unto the masses, but where “Resurrection” (2004) was somewhat surprising and (partly because of that) a very interesting album. “Cannula Coma Legio” is ISN like we know him from days past. Drumming, pompous choir-samples, a bombastic sound. Nice to hear after all this time, but this material might just as well have been recorded in the 1990’ies. There is even a newly recorded (but very similar) version of “Angel Meat” of the 1992 album “Enter Now The World” to be found.
For old times sake I guess, or perhaps for people who are not as old as myself.
Links: In Slaughter Natives, Cyclic Law

Parzival * Die Kulturnacht (cd 2012)

I was curious if Deezer would have Parzival releases that I do not and then I saw this new album! It was not even listed on Discogs and just today I got a Tesco newsletter with the cd in it. Inspite of the year 2012 still fresh I guess. “Die Kulturnacht” does not have the oldstyle EBM sound of Parzival, but an orchestral sound, sometimes pompous with drumming, sometimes more neo-classical, but usually with the typical vocals. Parzival manages the sound quite well, but I noticed that I enjoy the previous albums better. A suggestion for people into martial industrial and pompous neoclassical music.
Links: Parzival (note, when I write this (12-2-13) Google has blacklisted the website because of malware!), Euphonious Records

Triarii * Exile (mcd 2011)

This 7-track mcd was presented during the Rauhnacht Festival in Leipzig at 31 December 2011. As all of Triarii’s releases, it is made available by Eternal Soul. The music has no surprises. Triarii sticks to its pompous martial industrial sound loaded with orchestral samples, speeches and “I am…” lyrics with the well-known effect. Regarding musical quality I must say that after a few rounds in my player, it is comparable to that of the previous releases, but then again, listening to them more, I tend to always find the last album Triarii’s best, so perhaps “Exile” will be the best Triarii album again within a couple of weeks.
Links: Triarii, Eternal Soul