dark ambient

v/a – Dies Natalis Invicti Solis (2020)

For decades I have played the “Mysteria Mithrae” compilation (1996) on ‘dies natalis invicti solis’. This is a folky compilation with bands such as Blood Axis, Ernte, Endvra and Scivias.

Almost 25 years later this compilation gets an ‘industrial counterpart’. The long-running project Murderous Vision has gathered some other long running projects for this thematic compilation. We find Brighter Death Now, Deutsch Nepal, Theologian & The Vomit Arsonist, Contrastate and Dream Into Dust. I have not checked, but I think this is mostly new material. There is the younger project Gnawed and also projects that are new to me. Kleistwahr, ORD, Envenomist and Falling Lights.

The sound is mostly dark ambient, sometimes with a (death) industrial edge, which is not unexpected when you see the artist list.

Neither will it surprise you that this compilation is much darker than the other one. (“To assist in your solitary winter rituals…”) A link is made because the new compilation uses the same Mithras poem of Rudyard Kipling as Blood Axis put to music before.

I do now know if this compilation will be the classic its ‘predecessor’ is, but new material of ancient industrial projects is always a nice thing.

2020 Murderous Vision

Dream Into Dust – Fragments Of Legacy (2020)

So Beautiful And So Dangerous” was the first album in nine years. Now we are again almost nine years further, but “Fragments Of Legacy” is not a new album, rather a compilation.

Here we have contributions to different compilation that we released between 1998 and 2001. Four new tracks have been added. Yes this project is that old. I am too. Derek always refers to the pre-2007 name of this website when he addresses me.

In 1998 / 2001 I still must have followed DID closely, but I only recognise two tracks from this album. Unfortunately I cannot yet see which track is from which compilation so I can fresh up my memory.

“Fragments Of Legacy” does not contain the rock tracks of “So Beautiful”. Most tracks are quiet, ambient, soundscapish with only here and there a guitar or Derek’s vocals (or those of someone else). Coming with the times, some tracks have a bit of a “martial” touch.

Not a new album, not your ‘typical’ DID music either, but mostly dark(ish) ambient music.

Links: Dream Into Dust, Chthonic Streams

Murderous Vision – Abscission (2020)

How me and this project go back, I described four years ago in my review of the “Hidden Histories” tape.

The activity of this project goes back well into the previous millennium. As a matter of fact, the initial release of “Abscission” marked 25 years! First released on tape, now three tracks are added and the same label has made the release available on cd.

As on most releases of the project, the sound is varied. the album opens with dark ambient, continues with slightly ritualistic dark ambient with some rhythm and chanting bringing a faint reminiscence of early Coph Nia. The next two tracks are more dark soundscapes and with “Autumn Black” we slowly work towards more of a ‘noisescape’. This erupts into a death industrial track called “Open The Night Sky” with the extreme vocals that you hear in Murderous Vision tracks every once in a while. A quieter track closes the 50 minute album.

The dark ambient tracks are pretty dark. Not the kind of music that I listen to a lot, but not bad at all. I prefer the rougher side of this project so I am treated with one track.

An album for people who like the dark rumbling border between ambient, industrial and noise.

Links: Murderous Vision, Chthonic Streams

Beckahesten – Vattenhålens Dräpare (2020)

This is odd. Cyclic Law sent a promo for this album (out 20 November). The project is new to me, so I usually check Discogs to see if there are earlier releases in such a case. Discogs does not have have Beckahesten listed. So I search the web a bit and I run into a Spotify release (which I cannot play) of this album, released in 2017 on a label I do not know: Skullevartslapptigar Records. So I check Discogs again, but they have nothing of the label either.

So I do not really have more information than the Cyclic Law blurb. Members of this Swedish outfit are two people whose names do not ring a bell and Per Åhlund who you may know of Sophia.

Both first two tracks are 5:35 and dark ambient in style. Long stretched sounds, quite minimalist and with singing of sorts. The singing starts to get a bit ‘folky’ towards the end of “Ropet”. This is even more so in the third track where we are introduced to the female member. The music gets a little more pomp too. The next track is the most interesting to me. A bit of an old Wardruna style. The first half of the 10 minute of the closing track is much less dark than what came before, but this is made up in the second half, which brings memories of the ambient side of Sophia.

The album is not the kind of music that I listen to a lot, but in spite of being quite minimalist ambient in basis, it is really not bad. There are some ritualistic and folky elements that go well with the style.

Links: Beckahesten, Cyclic Law

Undirheimar – Heljarrúnar (2020)

Cyclic Law is busy rereleasing old Cold Meat Industry material, but here they found a new project that would have fitted well on that Swedish label.

“Heljarrúnar” opens with an ambient track with drumming, think Sephiroth or Vortex. Then follow minimal dark ambient tracks that could have been released by Loki. Sometimes a bit of chanting, sometimes a drum, ritualistic and all lengthy, haunting tracks of descent dark ambient.

It is not a style of music that I listen to a lot these days. When I do, I do prefer a style darker than most CMI releases of old and I must say that however “Heljarrúnar” may sound fairly typical, the album is well executed and even manages to keep my attention in spite of the minimalist approach.

Links: Undirheimar, Cyclic Law

Dødsmaskin – Verdenssmerte (2020)

I have known Dødsmaskin for a while, but apparently I have never reviewed an album of theirs. I remember liking the first album that I heard in a style that I call “ambient noise” with here and there some dark ambient.

Later albums that I heard seemed to focus more on the dark ambient, with only here and there a noisy tone. Also more and more atmospheric elements seemed to find its way to the music. Thus came that I only liked some of the tracks.

After releases on Malignant and Cyclic Law, the project has been picked up by Tesco. “Verdenssmerte” opens with a soft piano and slowly but surely the track goes over into a noisy texture.

The second track sounds a lot more interesting to me. A somewhat industrial dark ambient soundscape gets some noisy tones after a while. This track is nicely dark and in the style of Dødsmaskin that I like best, especially when things get even more noisy.

After a more experimental ambient track comes another nice noisy industrial track, an alright industrial track and an ambient closing track.

Indeed, some tracks I like, most do little to me.

Links: Dødsmaskin, Tesco

Nordvargr – Tantum Melior (2019)

Discogs.com

A follow-up of the excellent album “Metempsychosis” (hence the dead cat again). Where Nordvargr cooperated with mostly TxRxP on the previous album, the list is a lot longer this time, even projects that I never heard of: MZ. 412, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Vassafor, Visions, Kristoffer Oustand, Spetsnaz, Michael Idehall, Thorofon and The Benjamin Codex.

Ah wait, it is another of these ‘remix albums’, tracks of “Metempsychosis” have been worked over by the named artists rather than created in cooperation with Nordvargr. I see that frequently recently, too frequently actually. I seldom like such a remix over the original track and the versions of “Tantum Melior” make no exception. Okay, it has been a while since I heard the vocals of Tomas Pettersson and Michael Idehall usually creates moody tracks, but bringing different artists brings different styles of music and less consistency throughout the album.

Perhaps a way to get (re)acquainted with the named artists, but personally I prefer “Metempsychosis” over the ‘remix album’.

Links: Nordvargr, Cyclic Law

O Saala Sakraal – Etmaal (cd 2018)

Only out on December 21th, but the good thing about running a website is that sometimes I get promo material. Here we have a collaboration between five Dutchmen including two from Hadewych (and hence, including Distel).  Indeed, O Saala Sakraal reminds of Hadewych here and there.

Hadewych has a ‘soundscapish’ sound, but with guitar and more energy here and there, a quite unique sound that is hard to describe. That soundscape side is more prominent in O Saala Sakraal, but also here and there the sound becomes more ‘lively’. The music is fairly dark, nicely weird (but not as weird as Hadewych), contains several vocalists who recite poems, scream or sing. Overall this album is more tranquil from what we know from Hadewych and (of course) somewhat different in sound, but I think that band gives the best idea of what to expect from the album that has a Dutch title which cannot be immediately translated to English (perhaps being the reason for being chosen?). The word “etmaal” refers to a day of 24 hours. There are two tracks of about 20 minutes by the way.

So, a nice album if you like something dark and original.

Link: Cyclic Law

va – Dyer’s Pledge (2018)

I thought Belzebez was Michael Idehall‘s publication outlet with an occasional music release. That does not prove to be entirely true. The latest book is a couple of years old and the label’s Bandcamp has a long list of releases. Now Michael comes with an online compilation.

The line-up has known and (to me) unknown artists. Trepaneringsritualen presents a soundscape. There is Æther who once did a split with TxRxP. Hadewych. Of course there is Idehall himself with a nice slightly industrial ritual track. There is even ᚾᛟᚢ ᛁᛁ // ᚦᛟᚦ. Somewhat surprisingly, a project that I located more in the so-called “witch house” scene: V▲LH▲LL. The biggest surprise is perhaps Carl Abrahamsson whose “Occulture” book I am reading right now. Then there are the new projects of which Slow.Slither (about whom I cannot find anything) presented the most interesting track of the compilation (it opens a bit noisey industrial).

As expected on such a ‘magical label’ the music is mostly ritualistic soundscape with a few hints of dark ambient and here and there a bit of industrial. As you probably know by now, not entirely my cup of tea. “Dyer’s Plegde” does contain a couple of good tracks and it is always good to find some new discoveries. Besides, it is easy to get through Bandcamp, so why just not try it? Also check out Belzebez’ other releases on Bandcamp of course.

Links: Belzebez, Belzebez @ Bandcamp

ᚾᛟᚢ ᛁᛁ // ᚦᛟᚦ ᚷᛁᚷ ‎– Alpha Ænigma (cd 2018)

The collaboration of Nordvargr and TxRxP on Nordvargr’s “Metempsychosis” is excellent. For “Alpha Ænigma” the two again stepped into the studio together.

The album consists of four long tracks, making a total time of a little under an hour. The style is pretty dark ambient soundscapes and you may guess it: a bit too soundscapishy for me. The album is alright, but not much more than that. The package is great though. An A5 sized digipack, a DVD case so to say.

Links: Nordvargr, Trepaneringsritualen