Category Archives: ritual

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:

Michael Idehall * No Man’s Land (cd 2016)

A new Idehall. Would it be a ritualistic soundscape or more in the vein of “Sol” and “Deep Code”? Since it is released by Ant-Zen (in collaboration with Beläten), who also released the two named releases together on one disc, I had hopes for the latter. This is not entirely true though.

“No Man’s Land” in one way holds the middle between the soundscape style and the other style of Idehall, but it actually presents something new as well, a development of style, because the music is still recognisable as coming from Michael Idehall. The sound is still ritualistic and somewhat dark, but it got more of a dirty, industrial touch with squaks, noises and rhythm. Sometimes the music is downright noisy. This new sound is good too.

The album opens with a ‘noisescape’ type of track, but the second track “Yoni” has more of the “Sol”/”Deep Code” style with Idehall’s mantra-like singing and a repetative rhythm. What follows next sounds a bit like a very dark IDM track with an odd rhythm, a very interesting track. The title track is a bit like the previous, again relatively tranquil. Then follows a bit of a dark space ambient track with a ‘spacey rhythm’ and ‘spacey sounds’. The next track is actually called “Deep Code” and is again a somewhat softer track with echoing voices and a bit of a spacey ambient sound. Next up is the highlight of the album. “Nightmare” is a brilliant industrial and noisey track with a bit more tempo and distorted vocals. The next tracks are mostly industrial ambient type of tracks with the Idehall-style ritualistic darkness. There are two more rhythmical tracks. Compared to the first half, the second seems a bit less dark.

I think this album may appeal to people who like ritualistic dark ambient with an industrial and noisy edge, perhaps it is not unfair to drop the name of Coph Nia who also uses a ritualistic and magical dark ambient style, but the result is different from Idehall though and Coph Nia rarely gets as dirty as Idehall on this album. When you like Idehall’s previous releases, you should certainly listen to this new one. Be warned that it is a little different though. Personally I still prefer “Deep Code”, but I also enjoy this new album quite a bit. It has a couple of great tracks and a bunch of good ones.

Links: Michael Idehall, Ant-Zen, Beläten

v/a * मोक्ष (mc 2015)

I do not receive a whole lot of promo/to-review material. Actually I am glad about that. When I buy an album and do not like it, I will say so; when I do, the same. I hear a lot of music that I am indifferent to. It may work as background music, it does not annoy me, nor does it please me. When I get such an album, I frequently decide not to review it at all. The owner of the Russian UIS label insisted that I would listen to their “post industrial” compilation to hear its brilliance. I did listen to this compilation, three times. There are but few reviews on this website of albums that I heard three times before reviewing it. Still I find it difficult to write this review. However the music on this compilation is varried in musical style, all tracks seem to have something incommon. They do not really ‘work for me’. But, to (probably) present you some new names, here we go for a free Bandcamp compilation that was earlier presented as an audio cassette.

The title of this compilation translates as “Mokṣa”, a Sanskrit term that according to the label means “breaking from chains of reincarnation and all the miseries of material existence”. The music is inspired by the funeral music of the balinese village of Trunyan. There are nine tracks on the compilation. The opening act is the Russian project Obt Grubuscrum with a rather typical, but descent, ritualistic dark ambient track (think of Herbst9 for example), Project Hypoxia reminds more of the Hyperium sound with melodic, ‘ethnic’ sounding music. Per Aspera also starts with such a sound, but goes over in something somewhat technoish. Next up is Bhārata Mātā with a bit of an experimental tribalish track. After this we get a slightly darker, yet melodic track of Krrau. As with Bharata Mata, we now get another piece of experimental tribal industrial, perhaps reminding of the more tranquil material of Hybryds; the project is named ﻗﺎﻣﺖ ﺍﻟﺳﺎﻋﺔ. Угасание is more dark ambient soundscape type music. The same can be said about Vehjora, but this goes over in guitar-drone. The closing track is weird minimalistic and experimental music; Discogs has it listed as “ethno-ambient” which roughly covers the sound (but could be applied to other tracks as well); the project is presented under the monicker Ajuleg & Irm.

The compilation works as background music, but to me the music is not interesting enough to really listen to it. What is somewhat funny, I more or less get the same feeling with each track (indifference, there are not really ‘highs’ and ‘lows’). Would that mean that “Mokṣa” is very well compiled?

Link: UIS