ritual

Michael Idehall – Recapitulation (2021)

Even though I follow Idehall on different platforms, all these nifty algorithms did not bring “Recapitulation” to my attention. It was actually because I noticed a ‘profile’ picture on Spotify that I did not recognise that I noticed a new release.

I guess it happens more often that I do not hear of a new Idehall. The present title suggests a looking back at previous releases, but to my surprise there are several tracks that do not sound familiar. Indeed all tracks have been released before. On “Marax” for example, but also on releases that I missed such as “Blood Poison” and “Crowned Fool”.

“Recapitulation” opens with the slightly martial industrial sounding “Bull King” (from “Marax”). Most of the other tracks are in the more dirty, yet ritualistic, industrial side of Idehall. Sometimes somewhat noisy, sometimes leaning a bit towards techno. All tracks are nicely dark and mostly with Idehall’s repetitive vocals. The album is again pretty damn good.

So not only labels cannot keep up with Idehall (see my “War Magic” review), but I myself have to find a way to not have to find a new release by accident.

In any case, I do not know if “Recapitulation” is only available on Spotify, but also through other channels, but it is again highly recommended.

Link: Michael Idehall

Michael Idehall – War Magic (2021)

Hello! It has been a terrible year for everyone so let’s just move on. Here is my latest full-length album. I hope you enjoy it

These were the words with which I received a promo of “War Magic”. Idehall already had some more dirty, industrial tracks and the frustration that appear in these words suggest that “War Magic” would be such a release. Indeed it it!

“War Magic” is not as noisy as Idehall can get, but the approach is more industrial than on some of his other albums. Rhythmic hums give an industrial feel. Idehall’s repetitive lyrics and drumming the ritual feel that we know this project for. Ad some extra noises and you have an idea of the sound of “War Magic”. Some tracks are more ambient, but not as soundscapish as some of Idehall’s releases.

“War Magic” is excellent, it has great tracks such as “High Honeycomb Way” which is a wonderful darkly ritual industrial track. Most other tracks can also be described as ritual industrial, but more to the ambient side.

Now comes the weird part. “War Magic” has not yet been officially released! There are other “self released” releases listed in Discogs. That is not because Idehall likes to record music and send it around, but because he apparently works faster than labels can manage. I cannot imagine that there are no labels out there that would love to release material of the unique and productive Michael Idehall. Perhaps we could help with that spreading the word?

Link: Michael Idehall

Black Earth – Gnarled Ritual Of Self Annihilation (2019)

Discogs.com

In the early 1990’ies some black metal heads started to make ‘other music’, electronic music. Some sort of ‘sub-scene’ emerged with melodic acts such as Mortiis and Cernunnos’ Woods and darker projects like Profane Grace and Darkness Enshroud. Collectively the music was often called “ritual music”. Here and there the guitars were not entirely abandonned and a project such as Abruptum made what nowadays would be ‘drone metal’ or something.

Cyclic Law has found a contemporary project from Spain that makes me think of these “ritual music” days. The band-name does not ring a bell, but this is not the first release. There is a split with Sewer Goddess which may place the band in the right music corner for the listener of today.

The music is dark, minimalist, with muffled voices, droning guitars, samples and what not. Perhaps a description could be that Black Earth sounds somewhere between Equimanthorn and Khost.

Initially I was surprised about this album. It took me back a couple of decades and after some “ritual music” I started to play old black metal (yet briefly). “Gnarled Ritual” itself did not really keep my attention for the whole 45 minutes. Perhaps another run will point to details that I missed.

I think people who like the drone type of metal, especially the darker bands in that style, may want to try “Gnarled Ritual”. People who know the music I started this review with could be transported back like myself when listening to this album.

The album is in a way interesting, but not terribly good for my taste, but bringing back memories is a quality too. Out September 27th.

Links: Black Earth, 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

Michael Idehall ‎– Aion Reborn (mc 2018)

This is not Michael Idehall’s first tape on Raubbau. Here we have a 41 minute tape which regarding style holds the middle between the more soundscapish and the more ritualistic style of Idehall.

I have said something similar about several previous releases, so I just might accept that this is Idehall’s style.

That said, I really like the analogously humming opening soundscape. After this follow tracks which often have the more rhythm-driven style and usually with vocals, but not as dirty as on “No Man’s Land” and not as ‘pompous’ as on “Deep Code”. The tracks are fairly dark and minimalist. Very good to read by!

Links: Michael Idehall, Raubbau

Michael Idehall ‎– Prophecies Of The Storm (2018)

When I reviewed “Machine Spirit Transmission” earlier this month, I said that an album on Ant-Zen was forthcoming. Well, here it is! That other album has Idehall’s wonderful dark ritualistic style, but also the more soundscapish side of the project that is not entirely my thing. “Prophecies Of The Storm” opens somewhat uncommon, a bit IDM-ish. That is not too strange though, since Idehall used to make IDM-like music and elements of this style can be found in his music every now and then. The opening track goes over in a more recognisable approach, but not too typical and pretty damn good. The second track is even greater. It is again a developed Idehall track with the known elements of Michael’s voice, a defining rhythm and repetition, but the details on the background and the noisy tones in this track make it another great one.

“Prophecies Of The Storm” contains but small surprises. It is a logical development of Idehall’s style that I like most. The repetitive lyrics are there, the simple yet effective rhythms, together giving a ritualistic feel to the relatively soft industrial. Even though I find Idehall’s music quite unique, my girlfriend asked if I was playing Coph Nia. The link is not too weird. Both projects come from Sweden and have an occultist / ritualistic approach to industrial music. Coph Nia mostly leans towards the dark ambient side (but with industrial elements) and Idehall to a more rhythmical approach with ambient elements (and soundscapes in ‘the other style’), but both projects have clearly different sounds.

The newest album is not as dark in sound as the opening tracks of “Machine Spirit Transmissions”, but perhaps it is fairer to say that “Prophecies Of The Storm” sounds dark in another way. It is another great album and this time there are no tracks in the style that I like less. So, if you like albums suc as “Deep Code”, “Sol” and (to a slightly lesser extend) “Solar Symmetries”, you will not go bad with Idehall’s latest.

Links: Michael Idehall, Ant-Zen

Michael Idehall ‎- Machine Spirit Transmission (mc 2017)

So how could I miss the latest Idehall until he informed me about it himself? “Machine Spirit Transmission” is a tape on Raubbau, but it is also available on Spotify and I believe I noticed it there, but forgot to listen to it (or something)… And when I look at Discogs, there are more releases that I missed!

Now Idehall is a bit ‘difficult’ to me. He has great ritualistic industrial tracks in a unique style that I love, but also more soundscapish tracks / albums that do not really ‘work for me’. When I put on this release, I expected it to be of the soundscapish type and that I only skipped through and forgot about it. This is not true though. Not entirely at least.

The album opens with a dark and noisy “Opening” with Idehall’s voice. It is obviously Idehall, but slightly different. Then we go to the great “Ma Kra Oum Ka Bra Nha” which also appears to be Idehall in a somewhat more industrial mood. “Power Mantra” is a very good, somewhat more typical track with a slow rhythm and vocals. Then one more great track and then the style starts to change. “The Singing Of Machines” is a dark and slightly noisy soundscape, not bad at all. After this come more ambient tracks which are somewhat dark, not all that bad, but not too interesting to me either. Particularly the 17 minute closing track is not really my cup of tea.

So about half of this album is great and the other half is descent or alright.

There is an album forthcoming on Ant-Zen by the way.

Links: Michael Idehall, Raubbau

Michael Idehall * Solar Symmetries (2016)

This album showed up in my Deezer “hear this”. It appeared to be a remix album and now I see that there is no physical version of this release. That is not too bad, because even though “Solar Symmetries” is nice, it is not a ‘must-buy’.

Remixes by known and new (to me) projects, a couple of doubles in chosen tracks and usually the remixes come nowhere near the original versions, a few exceptions notwithstanding, the tracks of Hadewych and Alvar.

Links: Michael Idehall, Ant-Zen

Wardruna * Runaljod – Ragnarok (cd 2016)

This is the third part of the “Runaljod” trilogy and consequentially the last one. The first two parts were released in 2009 and 2013.

On release of the debut, Wardruna caused quite a stir. Their dark, ritualistic Norse music was quite unheard of and the band gave some legendary shows at equally legendary locations. The fact that their music was used in the popular “Viking” series certainly added to the popularity. “Runaljod – Gap Var Ginnunga” is indeed an impressive album.
After quite a wait, “Runaljod – Yggdrasil” was released. The album is again certainly descent, but there the sound became a bit lighter with choirs and a bit of a ‘newagey’ tone. Looking back at my reviews of the previous two releases, it looks like I prefer the second album over the first, but in hindsight I think that the debut is better, the second is good, but less so as the first and now the third is again less good. At least, that is my impression of the moment.

Like I said, the second album was far less dark and many songs came with choir-like singing, perhaps having a faint reminiscence of Arcana. This path is continued on the third album. Most tracks are soft drumming with a couple of people chanting, one song even has a children’s choir. The music certainly is not bad and most of the time not boring, but I do think it is again a step away from the level of the debut album.

But of course this is just a matter of taste. Perhaps the trilogy has a rising course for you.

Links: Wardruna, ByNorse Music

Michael Idehall * Retort Redux (12″ 2015)

I heard about this lp, but because I wanted to wait until I had more things to order, I was a bit late to get myself one of the 150 copies. Only when I got the lp I noticed that there is also an lp + cd version (limited to 50 copies)…

The label :retortae: presents the lp as a “greatest hits” “as well as two tracks not available on any physical matter before and one track which is totally new.” Indeed, most tracks can be found on “Sol” and “Deep Code”. Side A closes with a magnificent track called “Saturnalia” that has been previously released on an mp3 compilation called “Ljudkalendern”. That makes the opening track of side B (“Revelation”), the new track. A very good track as well. … There is another track on side B that I did not know, the rather industrial-sounding “You Are Beyond” which would have fitted well on “No Man’s Land”.
Should you be able to lay your hands on the version with the cd, there are five more tracks. Two of them were previously available on the soundscape “Svartkonster”, one on “Sol” (but then remixed) and two tracks are new. Damn! Or would the tracks on the cd all have the soundscape-style?

The sleeve of the lp does not have a whole lot of information. There is a snake on the back that I have had on my arm for a few decades, but for the rest there are just hard-to-read titles and an artistic and minimalistic cover, but the world wide web is able to provide some more information.

“Retort Redux” indeed is some sort of ‘greatest hits’ and the tracks that were new to me are certainly great too. It is an investment for just three tracks though, so I guess this lp is mostly meant for Idehall collectors.

Links: Michael Idehall, :retortae: