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Aryos “Les Stigmates d’Hécate”


THRASHOCORE (Fr.), webzine, 16 Mai 2015 :
Tiens, tu es là toi ? Tu as cliqué sur la chro d’ARYOS alors que tu n’en as jamais entendu parler !? Mais qu’est-ce que tu fais ici ? Qu’est-ce qui a bien pu te faire croire que tu allais trouver quelque chose d’intéressant chez ce groupe ? C’est la pochette qui t’a interpellé ? Elle est laide, hein… Mais elle t’attire quand même. Et bien tu sais quoi ? On va dire la même chose pour la musique de ce nouvel album : « c’est laid, mais c’est attirant ! ». Un peu comme quand tu as du mal à t’empêcher de coller tes chaussettes sales à ton nez pour t’assurer de leur puanteur pourtant certaines de loin déjà. Ah si, ARYOS c’est un peu ça quand même. Et c’est fait exprès d’ailleurs. C’est déjà le coup qu’il nous avait joué à ses débuts et surtout en 2004 avec son album Maître des dominations cérébrales. Un chef d’œuvre pour celui qui aime la musique non formatée. C’était un culte à la crasse célébré dans une église dévergondée. Et c’était tout aussi jouissif qu’un DEVILISH ERA. Mais ARYOS aime aussi brouiller les pistes et ne veut surtout pas se répéter, aussi quatre ans plus tard proposait-il un split partagé avec REGNANT AND THRALL à l’approche très différente. Dédiés à Lilith von Sirius, les deux morceaux étaient plus légers, plus propres, plus poétiques… beaux. Mais cela n’était qu’une parenthèse car le ARYOS incontrôlable est de retour, mais pas sur la même route, mais avec la même folie. La première minute fait ainsi très peur puisqu’elle nous fait croire que le groupe a tourné indus. Une minute qui nous donne des sueurs froides de peur de se retrouver avec un nouveau naufrage à la PRAEDA ou AD INFERNA. Mais très vite la crasse revient, le black metal dégoulinant réapparaît, mais en fait il suffit juste de frotter légèrement pour se rendre compte que sous les tâches se cachent de bien belles choses ! Cette fois-ci on découvre de nombreuses mélodies catchy, souvent inspirées du thrash ou du heavy. On garde alors vite en mémoire les riffs de « Arde Quariani Ecclesiam », morceau d’ouverture merveilleusement coupé par des vocaux féminins avant que les guitares thrash reviennent et que l’indus close l’ensemble. On aura ensuite tout autant de sympathie pour les riffs qui débutent le faussement nonchalant « Gromotivi znaci », puis pour le coup d’accélérateur et le retour de la demoiselle chanteuse sur « Les Stigmates d’Hécate », pour les soli déchirants à la fin de « Chthonienne totem », pour le délire cosmique à la BLESSED IN SIN sur la deuxième partie des « Six profanes ». Ces quelques exemples suffisent pour faire comprendre que les sept morceaux de l’opus sont particulièrement variés. Les idées sont là, le plaisir aussi. C’est raw et difficile d’accès d’apparence mais également mélodique, naviguant entre black, thrash et heavy… Mais s’il y a bien un reproche qui sera sûrement formulé par une grosse majorité d’entre vous, il concerne les vocaux, qui ont pourtant l’avantage de hurler en français. Très nasillards, très marqués, ils risquent de vous faire fuir. Ils font pourtant bel et bien partie de la personnalité du groupe, et un autre timbre aurait alors changé toute le personnalité du groupe. Par contre, la durée de l’album me pose un petit problème… 34 minutes, c’est trop court ! Surtout quand on ne sait pas combien de temps il faudra encore attendre pour une suite…
8/10 – Sakrifiss


POSTCHRIST (Fr.), webzine, 21 Mai 2015 :
Onze années se sont écoulées depuis le premier office longue durée des occultistes limousins, une décennie et des poussières qui n’ont fait qu’aiguiser l’appétit de la Bête ophidienne. Ornés d’œuvres graphiques du décidément très prolifique et talentueux Maxime Taccardi, Seth chapitres qu’on imagine volontiers composés à la seule lueur de bougies rituelles constituent l’ouvrage interdit, tout en riffs hypnotiques ronronnants, sous le feu lingual des litanies de l’Empereur Napharion, le tout ponctué, au premier et dernier chapitre, de touches électroniques du meilleur effet. Sculpté dans des mid-tempos suffoquants, aidés par une production compacte et terreuse aux basses riches, aéré seulement par quelques accélérations extatiques, Les Stigmates d’Hécate, dépouillé des excentricités clavieristiques d’Aliltéas Gornnec et donc des longs intermèdes qui leur étaient dédiés, prend la forme d’un bloc métallique solide en comparaison des précédents travaux d’ARYOS, permettant ainsi de se focaliser sur les riffs et structures rythmiques déroutantes du groupe. Certains passages rappellent d’ailleurs avec bonheur les deux premiers brûlots de SAMAEL dans leur superbe lourdeur et leur odeur persistante de soufre ! Les coutumières invocations de naïades plus que probablement fort court vêtues font évidemment leur apparition, aux côtés de soli et de leads orientalisant, comme un charmeur de serpent ayant troqué sa flûte pour une guitare électrique. Des adjonctions stéroïdées de Death Metal vieille école pointent leur nez angulaire dans l’hymne éponyme et “Ra-Hoor-Khuit (Litanie)” pour alourdir encore l’ensemble, que l’introduction pensive de “Silicate Aluminium, Beryllium Chrome” vient éclaircir comme un dernier rayon de soleil s’éclipsant enfin derrière les pyramides de Gizeh. “Les Six Profanes”, accrocheur en diable, vient enfoncer le clou avec son énergie Rock vicieuse et communicative, qui fait penser (involontairement sans le moindre doute) à certaines récentes propositions d’un PESTE NOIRE. En conclusion, Les Stigmates d’Hécate est un fameux tour de force que beaucoup de nos lecteurs les plus élitistes gagneraient à laisser polluer leurs canaux auditifs, les genoux enfouis dans le sable brûlant sous le regard noble et impénétrable de Melek-Taus…
5/6 – W.Whateley


LA HORDE NOIRE  (Fr.) webzine :
Il ne faut jamais juger un album sur la foi d’un visuel à priori peu engageant car grand est alors le risque de passer à côté de quelque chose de grand. Tel est ainsi le cas ces Stigmates d’Hécate dont l’écrin visuel ne doit absolument pas vous faire fuir. Ceux qui se souviennent, entre autres, de Maître des cérémonies cérébrales, offrande gravée il y a douze ans déjà, et auxquels cette modeste chronique s’adresse en premier lieu, savent de toute façon qu’Aryos, son géniteur, n’est pas tout à fait une entité comme les autres, laquelle mérite en cela qu’on s’arrête, plus que le temps d’une écoute distraite, dans sa caverneuse intimité. Car l’art noir que sculptent les Français à la lueur d’un pale éclairage ne s’offre pas dès la première caresse, ce qui explique peut-être pourquoi on lui prête cette maladroite étiquette d’avant-garde black metal, qui a au moins le mérite de souligner l’originalité sinon la singularité d’une musique qui grouille de kystes étranges. De patients préliminaires se révèlent nécessaires pour en goûter, en savourer le fruit, niché au plus profond d’une antre ténébreuse, suintant une trouble moiteur. Les stigmates d’Hécate écarte les cuisses, nimbées de curieuses effluves électroniques puis Arede Quariani Eccliasiamo sort brusquement les griffes, ouvrant alors les vannes d’une engeance noire (faussement) classique. Les changements de positions, des guitares vicieuses et les parcimonieuses mélopées d’une prêtresse au charme qu’on devine vénéneux, entraînent ensuite cette ouverture de Charybde en Scylla dans des contrées obscures. Riches de leurs nuances, les six chapitres qui suivent, baignent tous dans des relents d’interdit, ils exsudent une licence aussi tranchante qu’envoûtante. Une sensualité malsaine ourle des structures alambiquées, créant une oeuvre ambivalente, atmosphérique et évolutive tout ensemble. Labyrinthique, ce menu louvoie à travers un décor dépravé, que bordent des portes derrière lesquelles se cachent d’inavouées promesses. Silicate Aluminium Beryllium Chrome et ses courbes tordues, Ra-Hoor – Khuit (Litanie), saillie véloce emportée par un torrent menstruel, ou Chthonienne Totem, que cisaillent des riffs sournois aux allures de scalpel rouillé labourant dans la chair des stigmates, dressent un tableau versatile qu’achève en (sombre) beauté Les six profanes, apogée en forme d’orgasme lugubre teinté d’une electro mortuaire. Gemme d’une noire sensualité , écrin d’un black perverti, Les stigmates d’Hécate fait partie de ces oeuvres qui se dévoilent par petites touches, avec au bout, comme récompense, l’extase divine. Il est aussi de ces albums dont la confidentialité n’a d’égale que la réussite.
Childeric Thor – 7.5/10


L’ANTRE DES DAMNÉS (Fr.), fanzine #22 :
Ma toute première « aventure auditive » en compagnie d’Aryos, ce pur ovni musical en provenance de notre chère France, prit forme avec ce splendide EP qu’est Prophétie Acide, dont le morceau éponyme, surtout, m’avait littéralement scotché à l’époque (il y a maintenant près de quatre années)… Honte à moi de n’avoir daigné jeter une oreille à ce projet avant-gardiste auparavant, surtout lorsque l’on sait que la bande à Napharion inonde régulièrement la scène de ses productions, toutes plus éclectiques les unes que les autres, et ce, depuis maintenant plus de deux décennies… Quoique cette fois, on peut dire qu’il se sera fait attendre ce deuxième album longue durée – son prédécesseur ayant vu le jour courant 2004 (il y a une éternité, pour ainsi dire). Je disais « avant-gardiste », car en effet, pour situer les choses et présenter ce combo à ceux pour qui il n’évoquerait pas grand-chose, le terme convient parfaitement – Aryos évoluant dans une espèce d’imbroglio de métal extrême, avec malgré tout une identité forte et toujours perceptible. Ainsi, Arde Quariani Ecclesiam, le morceau d’ouverture de ces fameux Stigmates d’Hécate, plonge d’emblée l’auditeur non averti dans une ambiance électro (qui moi, m’a beaucoup plu) – sorte d’ailleurs de fil conducteur de ce prologue – pendant plus d’une minute, avant que ne retentissent les premières rythmiques folles (proprement schizophréniques, serait-je tenté de dire) d’un album qui leur fera la part belle. C’est également à ce moment-là que se fait entendre pour la première fois le chant hystérique et ultra criard de Napharion (probablement l’aspect que j’aurai eu le plus de mal à digérer dans l’art des Limousins), qui participe pour beaucoup, lui aussi, à la singularité d’Aryos. Ce titre arrivera finalement à son terme, ponctué par l’intervention de la douce et sensuelle voix de Mysterious Artemisia qui contribue au rétablissement de l’équilibre des pôles masculin/féminin, cher à la pratique magique… Je pourrais m’évertuer à passer en revue chacun des morceaux constituant Les Stigmates d’Hécate, car tous recèlent de qualités qui leur sont propres, mais ce type de démarche, stérile au final, n’apporte pas grand-chose (en plus de cela, la tâche se révèlerait ardue, tout étant singulier et original ici) ; d’autant que chaque pièce joue un rôle bien précis, celui d’une clé qui, présentée dans la serrure adéquate, permettra à son détenteur de sonder les mystères ésotériques contenus dans ce qui représente, pour moi, bien davantage qu’une simple œuvre musicale. Sachez cependant qu’Aryos prend un malin plaisir à brouiller les pistes, entre des influences tantôt purement black, tantôt orientées death (cf. les riffs au début de Ra-Hoor-Khuit (Litanie) par exemple) ou même des sonorités franchement plus modernes, et ne suit finalement que son instinct, ayant pris le parti de se moquer des modes et tendances. Comme Napharion se plait à qualifier son art, disons peut-être qu’Aryos est tout simplement devenu un groupe de rock occulte. Mais peu importe l’étiquette au final, le fait est que le groupe a réussi à concocter un album certes déstabilisant à la première écoute, mais qui prend, au fur et à mesure du temps, toute son ampleur. Et si, à titre personnel, je ne suis d’ordinaire pas spécialement client de ce type de musique, je dois dire que je me suis laissé embarqué sans résistance dans ce voyage initiatique…
Edler Rabe


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Markab Project / Dragon Rouge / Pandemonium “Magies Contemporaines et Autres Sorcelleries”


MITHRA! TEMPLEZINE, 4 Juillet 2017 :
Magies Contemporaines et autres sorcelleries réunit trois entités Markab project, dont nous avons déjà parlé, Dragon Rouge et Pandemonium sur une cassette qui est le fruit de la collaboration de trois labels underground. Avec ces trois projets nous sommes plongés dans une atmosphère sombre, mystique et occulte – et cela malgré leur variation stylistique. Markab Project ouvre le rituel et nous invite à une extatique danse avec une piste dans la lignée de ses autres productions. On retrouve cette electro tribale, minimaliste et particulièrement reconnaissable – ce qui est un bon point dans le sens où ce projet propose une formulation sonore qui fait preuve d’une forte identité. Si vous avez accroché aux précédentes sorties il n’y a pas de raison de ne pas être enchanté par Rituel de la Flamme (c’est le nom de la piste dont il est question). Puis, vient avec l’énigmatique et discret Dragon Rouge – si je ne me trompe pas, c’est ici la première fois que l’un de ses titres est porté sur un support – un moment plus propice à la méditation avec une longue plage dark ambient de bonne facture et immersive. Le dark ambient de ce projet est caractérisé par une dimension plutôt abstraite. Contrairement à de nombreuses formations du genre il ne verse pas pleinement dans une tension cinématographique. Pour le situer, on a plus l’impression d’être face à une approche conceptuelle, dans le sens où il met plus en scène une idée qu’une recherche narrative. Un bon équilibre est trouvé entre tendance noisy et pulsations éthériques. Ce split se termine par deux piste de Pandemonium – certainement le projet le plus sombre et le plus malsain des trois – qui est le fruit d’un des membres du groupe de black metal français Litanie, F. Desolation, aussi investi dans Désolation et Wintermoon. Trois titres sont proposés. Deux originaux, Beyond The Black Hole et Puzinac – certainement un clin d’œil à un titre de Litanie, Puzinac, havre de blasphèmes – et un remix de ce dernier par Markab Project. Beyond The Black Hole fait entendre une guitare comme élément structurant, une rythmique minimaliste, des hurlements connotés black/death informes et dégoulinants ; ils viennent ensevelir cette courte piste – qui est plus une introduction qu’autre chose – sous les décombres du bon goût. Et, résonne alors Puzinac qui est une piste véritablement possédée, avec une forte influence industrial, repliée sur elle-même elle semble œuvrer à nous enfermer dans la logique chaotique d’une âme envoûtée par une effroyable entité maléfique ; Puzinac suinte l’angoisse : un cauchemar dont vous ne reviendrez pas ! Elle est prolongée par son remix qui lui donne une coloration plus rythmique, plutôt martiale, avec des arrangements typiques de Markab project. Une cassette underground pour un public underground – ce qui n’est pas une critique selon moi. On regrettera que le collage de Philippe Pissier (traducteur de Magick d’Aleister Crowley) ne fusse pas mis en valeur au travers d’un volet dépliant, ou de tous autres procédés ayant permis une visibilité renforcée.


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Trepaneringsritualen “Deathward, To The Womb”


SIDE-LINE, May 8th 2017 :
Behind this obscure Swedish project is hiding Thomas Martin Ekelund (aka Th. Tot). Trepaneringsritualen became a renowned formation in the darkest corners of ritual- and death-industrial music. “Deathward To The Womb” was originally released in 2012; Release The Bats Records released the album as a 12” vinyl while Black Horizons and Merzbild released it as a cassette. Cold Spring now released the opus on CD format with an extra bonus cut. It is also available as a limited vinyl edition. Content: If you don’t already know this masterpiece of Trepaneringsritualen you’ll discover these ghost-like voices lost in haunted, obscure atmospheres, accomplished with numerous noises and ritual passages. The concept is mystic and ritual-like, which has been perfectly adapted into sound. The heavy sonic sweeps are like the sound of an imaginary, monstrous whip opening the gate to an unknown world. Dark electronic loops are often moving into pure ritual passages, sometimes joined by shouting vocals. Next to the 6 original tracks of the album we now get an extra track, which is an endless and varied piece featuring the unavoidable ritual parts next to vibrating throat chants and industrial drones.
Positive points : “Deathward To The Womb” remains one of the absolute masterpieces in the history of this band. It’s the perfect offspring between dark-ambient, ritual and death-industrial music. There’s a poignant progression in the songwriting, which reaches several climaxes like on the title-track and “She Is Flame Of Life”. The bonus cut “I Remember When I Was God” is also worthy of examination. This is one more deeply ritual cut that will hold you in its grip for more than 10 minutes.
Negative points : Trepaneringsritualen is a band you’d better avoid if you’re not familiar with extreme sonic creation. You either going to like it or not, there’s no in between!
Conclusion: Trepaneringsritualen is a band that gained a serious recognition in a rather short lapse of time. No doubt about it, the very own sound approach and explicit ritual character of the work both remain the main characteristics of this enigmatic artist.
Best songs: “Deathward To The Womb”, “I Remember When I Was God”, “She Is Flame Of Life”.
Rate: 8/10.
Inferno Sound Diaries


ONDAROCK (It.), February 11th 2017 :
Thomas Martin Ekelund con il suo progetto Trepaneringsritualen ha riportato il ritual industrial agli antichi fasti, fondendo suggestioni provenienti dai primi Current 93 e Coil al suono anni Novanta di Mz412 e Brighter Death Now. Vero erede del sound e, soprattutto, dello spirito iconoclasta che animava la leggendaria label svedese Cold Meat Industry, Ekelund (già attivo in passato come Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words, Nullvoid, Teeth e Th. Tot.) ha alzato il livello di una ricerca che oggi (ri)unisce con successo ambient post-black metal e grezze sonorità post-industriali di marca underground. La Cold Spring ristampa oggi in cd e in vinile a 180gm e in edizione limitata a 500 copie il primo vero disco a firma Trepaneringsritualen, “Deathward, To The Womb”, uscito in origine nel 2012 come 10” in 275 copie per Release The Bats Records. Per l’occasione troviamo anche una bonus track su cd (presente in download code per il vinile) di 12 minuti e 17 secondi, intitolata “I Remember When I Was God”, a firma “Teeraal Räum Pheynix”, uno dei tanti alias del Nostro. Il nome del progetto Trepaneringsritualen deriva dall’antica arte di trapanazione del cranio per scopi magici e religiosi e qui sicuramente siamo di fronte a un esordio da ascoltare con mente aperta. Anche qui, come del resto nella recente ristampa di Zos Kia/Coil realizzata dalla stessa Cold Spring, abbondano i riferimenti al culto di Thelema, sorta di pensiero magico/filosofico elaborato dall’occultista Aleister Crowley all’inizio del XX secolo. Il disco si apre citando un’evocazione a “Babalon” condotta da “Frater T.O.P.A.N” (nome dietro cui si nascondeva Jack Parsons), un confratello seguace di Thelema. Babalon è la “Grande Madre” che rappresenta l’impulso di fecondità. Attraverso la sua fiamma, essa è chiamata a bruciare e purificare tutta la creazione in vista dell’“Aeon Of Horus”, era di autorealizzazione e di ricerca spirituale sotto la vera volontà (“True Will”). La nascita di Babalon però non sarà preludio a un’era di amore e pace ma, all’opposto, farà precipitare il mondo in una sorta di violento cataclisma, un’apocalisse purificatrice manifestata attraverso l’immagine della “Black Flame”: “She is flame of life, power of darkness/ She destroys with a glance/ She may take thy soul. She feeds upon the death of men” per citare proprio il testo “The Babalon Working” scritto da Parsons. Tutto il disco di Ekelund è una sorta di session rituale che ha anche nella dimensione “live” la sua ragion d’essere. “Deathward, To The Womb” ruota attorno ai due opposti principi: la madre feconda e il principio distruttivo che sembra oggi prevalente. Musicalmente, tale dualismo si sbilancia verso il lato più noise e caotico, con un’attitudine “low-fi” che scaraventa l’ascoltatore in un black ambient nero come la pece (“Osiris, Slain & Risen”). Siamo immersi in un magma infernale in cui galleggiano scarti post-industrial alla S.P.K. (“She Is Flame of Life”) e in cui emerge, a tratti, l’inquietante voce, distorta e cavernosa, di Trepaneringsritualen, memore di tutta la tradizione metal black-death svedese e della sua ben riconosibile iconografia. “Deathward, To The Womb” è un lavoro “ritual” post-industrial aperto a contaminazioni post-black metal. Un ottimo esordio per un progetto che, pur fruibile a diversi livelli, non è mai sceso a compromessi e che dal 2012 non manca di dare positive conferme nelle prove successive, sia in studio, sia dal vivo.
7,5/10


MERCHANTS OF AIR, January 11th 2017 :
Fans of death industrial, power electronics and ritual noise will by now know the name Trepaneringsritualen. With sonic live rituals allover Europe this act has surely made a name for himself. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a more prolific and prominent act in this genre since the glorydays of Cold Meat Industry. Now, Cold Spring reissued Trepaneringsritualen’s long out of print debut album and added the long ritual work entitled “I Remember When I Was God” (included as download for the vinyl edition). What you can expect from this act, is pretty much similar to the stuff that acts like Brighter Death Now, Nicole 12 and Genocide Organ have been throwing in our faces. Harsh, rhythmic noise, with pissed off screams, loaded with misanthropy, agony and hopelessness. There is nothing pretty or beautiful about this whole thing but play it loud and before you know it, you’ll be in a spiteful trance, barking out your demons and cleansing yourself from those dark, haunting emotions. Obviously, this stuff is not suited for everyone. If you want music to be musical, you should step away from stuff like this before it obliterates your sanity. Yet, if you’re one of those freaks who like to dwell in the grittiest regions of the sonic underground, this thing will give you the nightmares you crave and thrive upon. ‘Deathward, To The Womb’ is simply a stunning piece of work, a haunting masterpiece of pure dark sentiment. This comes highly recommended for all the ritual noise folk out there. You know you want this…
​Serge



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Skullflower “The Spirals of Great Harm”


A CLOSER LISTEN, April 2th 2017 :
One of the commonplaces of noise is that of excess, and one of the paths such a concept opens up and which is not often explored is that of the wealth implied in an overabundance of sonic material. The Spirals of Great Harm, like the luscious Apollonian-occultist façade of its cover, invites the listener to explore its depths, where the coiled serpent marks the beginning of the abyss. Whether that abyss leads upwards or downwards depends on what you seek within the temple, and the mythical Egyptian symbolisms and track names connect with references to Dante’s Inferno (according, at least, to the press release) in a veritable excess of links that create a never-ending chain of signs open not only to interpretation but to mapping as well. After all, some spirals, by virtue of their luxury, are also labyrinths. The aural textures drawn by Skullflower into play emerge from a mixture of the chaos of feedback and walls of sound with the rhythmic regularity of drones, the guitar and electronics simultaneously duelling and complementing each other as the base of a distant, perpetual rumble as much as they constitute a musical element that molds the informal into shapes. Fulfilling two functions at once (as above, so below), these sounds come together not as one, but as multitudes, like the small visual details of the album cover that overwhelmingly assault the eyes. Their very opulence is disorienting, a senselessness born from sensory overload, a harm that leads not to numbness but to the sheer enjoyment of the many stimulations of perception. It is the mythological ambivalence of the snake: death cannot stop the affluence of life, but in rebirth there is nonetheless a kind of loss, the excess skin now shed becoming a petrified icon of another living moment. To listen to these drones and noise as they rise and fall (at an appropriately high volume, of course) is to let the ears get lost in their sonic coils, to pull the rest of the senses into a state where nothing else makes sense because there is just so much of it alive, so many intricate paths within the speaker-busting feedback that there is no need to do anything else, no need to keep this skin with which you’ve entered this labyrinth. Like many other noise artists, Skullflower also operates with an ironic sense of humor, an abyss that appropriately mocks the light, a laughter as harmful as looking right into the sun. There’s plenty of mythological parting points in the track names, but there’s no doubt it’s quite difficult to imagine the “Tangled Light of Isis”, or what “The Firebright and Linda Show” might have to do with an ascent/descent into hellish circles. Then there’s something like “Yuggoth Within”, a reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos in which Yuggoth is a planet at the edge of the solar system populated by beings “from the ultimate voids”. It is, in a way, a black comedy: there are so many meanings that the exercise to pin down something other than nonsense is as humorous as the image of the skin once shed becoming animated, an empty simulacrum of life. And like all black humor, it ends with a subversive note: “Fuck the New Estate”, the last track, grows rich with estranged drones and an almost melodic (almost alive) line of sounds that inevitably lead to silence, to a dearth in sensory stimulation. At the other end of the spiral you find starvation, but it is needless, it is unjust, it is horror – assaulting the world in the name of multitudes of pleasure for the many is perhaps the only path left open in the wake of so much luxury undone by so few.
David Murrieta


NOISEY, March 15th 2017 :
Skullflower’s idea of music has always freaked me out and drawn me closer in near-equal measures. The first time I encountered it was in the mid-2000s, via a Crucial Blast promo CD, and I still remember how utterly perplexed I was to hear it. At that point, the closest thing I’d heard to full-on noise was Ildjarn, and even those primitive scrapings pale in intensity next to Skullflower’s full-on, warped noise assault. The band—which has mutated its membership over its nearly 30 years of existence but always been led by British musician Matthew Bower—pioneered the combination of heavy metal and harsh noise, using traditional “rock” instruments to hew their craft instead of the all-electronic output of their contemporaries in the industrial underground. Their early marriages of sludgy, doomy riffs with extreme distortion and feedback loops eventually gave way to a more purely noise-based sound (one whose hypnotic, aggressive tendencies find it rubbing elbows with raw black metal in more ways than one). Skullflower remains a towering giant of the global noise scene, and a new release from them is always cause for celebration. Their latest double album, The Spirals of Great Harm, came out on February 22, and we’re delighted to be streaming it below. We generally only stream new releases prior to their street dates, but for Skullflower, I couldn’t resist making an exception. (…)
Kim Kelly


AVANT MUSIC NEWS, February 28th 2017 :
UK’s Cold Spring Records puts out recordings of a wide variety of unsettling music: dark ambient, neo-folk, harsh noise, and experimental. Skullflower, which centers around Matthew Bower, fits the more extreme end of that spectrum. Bower has recorded under numerous monikers for over 30 years and this double-album reflects the confidence that comes with experience. The Spirals of Great Harm features traditional instrumentation, particularly guitars, rather than just electronics. But this might not be apparent initially. To that point, the album is a viscous, ever-shifting series of noise walls featuring long drones from distorted chording. Hidden in these walls are some subtleties that careful listening will pick out – a melody or two within the mass of sound. But Skullflower ultimately offers an overwhelming post-post-rock and post-industrial set, fitting for both foreground and background absorption. Comparisons to early 70’s Krautrock are not out of order here, though without the rhythmic emphasis. A welcome slab of dissonant, twisted darkness from an early purveyor of the same.


COMPULSION ONLINE, 2017 :
There’s no holding back Skullflower at the moment. Aside from numerous digital and short-run releases emanating from their Bandcamp page, the release of The Spirals Of Great Harm coincides with the release of The Black Iron That Has Fell From The Stars, To Dwell Within a vinyl release on Nashazphone. The Spirals Of Great Harm on Cold Spring follows Draconis another expansive 2 CD affair from Skullflower. The Spirals Of Great Harm references Dante’s Inferno but really it is just another piece in the mythological and cosmological jigsaw put together by Matthew Bower and Samantha Davies as Skullflower. It is a personal and idiosyncratic rendering of Egyptian Mythology and its Gods, wrapped up in the English occult tradition forged by Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Grant and Austin Osman Spare amongst others.You almost feel sucked into The Spirals Of Great Harm on the opener ‘Khepsh’, as it descends with what sounds like a hydraulic hum, burrowing deeper with bursts of airy droning guitars before they’re fired up and let loose with a bomber squadron buzz. ‘Furthur’ crafts a sound of black psychedelia from its interweaving twin guitar assault riddled with moog oscillations. Sometimes Skullflower get referred to as a noise band but they’re not really. It’s certainly been an aspect of the group in times past but it’s not the central one now. The discordant atmospherics that surround ‘Tangled Light Of Isis’ take the form of a loose improvisation where detuned guitars are cast against a distant roar. The shape shifting electronic frequencies that bobble up throughout this one recall Bower’s earlier solo project Total and even some of the earlier electronics from Broken Flag days. It’s not noise though. With a title summoning demons, ‘Furfur’ is archetypal Skullflower; a rush of squalling circular riffing over caustic drone laced with added analogue oscillations. So too is ‘Thunder Dragon’ but while ‘Furfur’ is the shortest track here the expansive ‘Thunder Dragon’ which rates as the longest track on the first disc, is an altogether different beast. Here wild majestic guitar strokes waver over buzzing discord and droning textures. Its flight remains anchored, the twin arcs of distortion rooted but unhindered casting layer upon layer of saturated glistening creating a meditational almost devotional air. Immense and rooted it conversely goes places like the best Skullflower music, if you only go with it. ‘Thunder Dragon’ is a key piece on The Spirals Of Great Harm and its worth succumbing to its languid beauty allowing its layers of unfettered guitar squall to wash over you. The final two tracks are notable for the inclusion of chiming organ. Shrouded in stretched drone and buzz guitar that grand organ chime on ‘Nectar And Venom’ is pitched somewhere between haunted carousel swirl and a ritual death march. I’m reminded of Ela Orleans’ Circles of Upper and Lower Hell another album that looked to Dante’s Inferno for inspiration. Where Ela used Dante to represent desolation and depression, the hell of Inferno for Skullflower acts more as a metaphor for a lost Englishness. Like much of the rest of the UK it’s a populace lost in consumerism and credit and a celebrity seeking brashness. You can hear it too in ‘Fuck The New Estate’ which I don’t think is a comment on new council housing either. Here the two pronged assault of guitars jostle with airy organ chords, shifting into a blurred haze before bowing out in a mass of flickering frequencies and tones. In comparison, the second disc pitches a different Skullflower sound. This time obfuscation and obscurity seems to be the key. Each song seems distant, set behind a gaudy veneer conjuring inchoate melodies from the air. ‘Rotting Jewelled Stormclouds’ is a distant battle hymn beamed in from centuries past. Listen close and you can pick out bustling voices and the disembodied strains of a fanfare. Carthage was a city that figured in Dante’s Inferno but made famous by the Roman statesman Cato who finished all speeches no matter the subject or intent with the immortal line of the title. But that’s beside the point, as ‘And Carthage Must Be Destroyed’ is another hazy, obscured recording where I’m sure I can hear piano and the tinkling of bells and chimes cast against the saturated guitar drone atmospherics. Whether these phantom sounds really exist remains to be seen but it’s something Skullflower have been doing for a while; both Draconis and Fucked On A Pile of Corpses also made manifest these hallucinatory instruments within the amorphous swells of Skullflower’s guitars. At times, like the Ouroboros serpent, The Spirals Of Great Harm even references itself. ‘The Firebright And Linda Show’ is a blackened hymn; a devotional dirge suspended in arcing billows of interweaving guitars over grand keening electronics which shares an affinity with the earlier meditational ‘Thunder Dragon’. ‘Khephra’ – which takes its title from an Egyptian God – offers a harsher take on the opener ‘Khepsh’ allowing the heavy buzz of guitars to take a more prominent role over the subtle drones. Interestingly ‘Khepsh’ is derived from Egyptian mythology too, which fits nicely with the other new Skullflower release The Black Iron That Has Fell From The Stars, To Dwell Within released on the Cairo based label Nashazphone which is the first in their ‘The Darkness of Aegypt’ trilogy. On ‘Ice Nine’ heavy keyboard stabs pound behind a veneer of searing high-pitched guitar frequencies. And behind that lies swirling electronic oscillations. The instruments caught up in a battle for supremacy. The Spirals Of Great Harm closes with the H.P. Lovecraft inspired titled track ‘Yuggoth Within’. A dank and dark textured offering of circular riffing laying markers as a means to escape the stifling homogeneity, fraud and deception that blights much of today. On The Spirals Of Great Harm Skullflower continue to expound on the magic, mystery, mythology found within and outside in the rolling hills, lakes and countryside of Cumbria where the members of Skullflower reside. On The Spirals Of Great Harm Skullflower’s blackened squall is adorned with an intricacy and subtlety that makes the descent into the abyss both alluring and powerful.


THE NOISE BENEATH THE SNOW, 19th February 2017 :
The Spirals of Great Harm is the latest offering from Skullflower, a band that has had their foot well-planted in the underground noise/industrial scenes since the 1980s with a rich discography since 1988. Track 1, “Khepsh,” starts the album off with a solid black noise ambient backdrop and a repeated ulta-high pitch noise. Right away, you notice that this could be one of those recordings that is not only deep conceptually but that the sounds may actually change the chemistry of your brain…. Recordings like this really can most effectively be appreciated while listening through ear phones. With some noise records it’s relatively easy to catch some of the dynamics in the mix (i.e. highs & lows, analog & digital..whatever). This album is much more in depth. The thing that should be appreciated about the mix is that it is done in such a manner that keeps the listener wandering what sounds or samples are buried beneath the surface. From Cold Spring, “The new sprawling double disc from black noise classicists Skullflower referencing Inferno 17, Dante and Virgil’s spiraling descent into the abyss on demon Geryon.” The guy serving as the foundation for Skullflower is Matthew Bower along with Lee Stokoe and Samantha Davies. Moreover, members of Whitehouse, Coil and Ramleh have been known to contribute. If a descent is what Skullflower was making an effort to illustrate here, I think that they have done just that pretty effectively. There was obviously much more effort put into this work both conceptually and musically. It’s not easy to paint a picture with sound especially when trying to put a soundtrack to an iconic story like inferno. Track 5, “Tangled light of Isis” sounds like it takes the listener to the bottom of the pit; a pit where a demented harsh industrial atmosphere or a phantom factory is at work. Just when you thought you couldn’t go lower, track 4, “Furfur” takes you even further into the subterranean. We could go on and on… However, the point is this: The Spirals of Great Harm is perhaps a purposely unsettling recording but pulls the listener into it with a barrage of sounds (maybe some intentional and some not) including some easy to hear and some maybe intentionally mixed in so as to not be so easy to hear. Some noise or “black ambient” artists say that conceptually an album is inspired by a subject. However, The Spirals of Great Harm actually not only serves as an effective soundtrack to the descent, but pulls the listener in and takes them along for the trip.


HEATHEN HARVEST, April 24th 2017 :
Matthew Bower’s Skullflower have been around a fair few decades having formed in 1987, and in that time they’ve never lost the ability to menace the sensibilities of those who prefer the noisier end of the industrial spectrum. And if ever there was ever a need to prove that noise isn’t just noise for its own sake, then Skullflower is that outfit. Here we have a two-disc set of drone/orchestral/dark industrial/occult noise tapestries by these consummate wranglers of harsh gratings, insistent buzzing, stifling fuzziness, and high-pitched overtones. Having described it thus, it’s less confrontational and much less bombastic than much of Skullflower’s previous output, but this doesn’t mean it’s lighter in any way; if anything, it has the opposite effect. These tracks can be thought of as sketches—glimpses of other realities and states of mind, or dispatches from the front lines of some otherworldly warzone. Indeed, one can sense that something numinous, almost divine, exists behind the apparent limits of reality, but simultaneously it isn’t necessarily an untainted divinity. Degradation and decay weave their filthy tendrils through each of these monster compositions. Highlights include ‘Yuggoth from Within’, describing to perfection that feeling mentioned above. A bright refrain clashing with a grainy blanket of distortion, fighting to be heard above the miasma. In a sense, it’s telling us we’re drowning and that we’re slowly being subsumed by a nightmare beyond our understanding. Eventually the refrain disappears altogether and we’re left with nothing but the endless void. ‘Fuck the New Estate’, the final track on the first disc, ‘Hell’, isn’t a pit of fire; it’s a world in deep-freeze, where only bitingly cold winds blow and the ghosts of those once living wander aimlessly looking for a warmth that’s long since died. There’s no hope here, that particular intangible quality having abandoned us when we weren’t looking. ‘And Carthage Must be Destroyed’ is all massed fury, an endpoint of history perhaps. Saw-like waves of bitter sharpness cut an unstoppable swath, buzzing loudly and uncompromisingly, decimating all before it. ‘Ice Nine’ borders on the tuneful, the whipping and chopping of rotor blades hovering over a sonorous backdrop of bass piano chords and axle grinders. It’s teeth-grindingly menacing, all jagged edges and ripped flesh. If nothing else, the pieces presented to us on The Spirals of Great Harm leaves one’s brain blasted of thought and almost brings one to the brink of an elevated consciousness. It’s just like the afterimage left on the retina subsequent to being exposed to a bright light, but in this case, it pulls one out of the everyday and into an alternate reality/state that paradoxically leaves one feeling cleansed. What we witness on a daily basis isn’t the ultimate truth, and this is what The Spirals of Great Harm appears to be saying. Despite Skullflower’s modus operandi, they’re in effect offering us a series of short essays on what it’s like to strip away the gloss and pretense. In fact, I found it incredibly meditative and, bizarrely, uplifting. This, to me, is the true power of pure noise.



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Colossloth “Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth”


BRUTAL RESONANCE, January 19th 2016 :
If we are to speak of Britain’s drone and dark ambient scenes, Colossloth should not be a name that goes unmentioned. This solo project has been around for ten years, The Leicester project has been around since 2006 crafting uncanny experimental drone artpieces since his inauguration to the scene. Since then, he has garnered both praise and, I assume while I say this, more than a few curious eyebrows who either find what he is doing is special or completely bonkers. I consider myself one of the few who both realize the ripe traits he showcases while maintaining a morbid fascination with his odd sounds. The end of 2015 saw the release of a new beast from Colossloth titled “Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth”, a nine track album which boasts a comprehensive library of various articles of noise. Colossloth is able to maintain his own identity in the experimental locale thanks to his stunning backdrops and focus on analog-like sounds from another era. ‘The Flavour Of The Weak’ would have you think that it might just be another drone track in the vastness of all other things drone and boring. However, once you get to the noise distortion and what sounds like the utter destruction of tape, you will be corrected almost immediately. ‘Your Flag Stands For Nothing’ shoots between hard blasts of noise and backwards synth loops. The end result is an ugly beauty. ‘Cave In We Are Complete’ follows a song structure that was built upon in the last two tracks; a simple drone sound starts us off, but slowly Colossloth drives us down a lane of haunting atmospheres and notes played backward. Some might call this a nightmare but I do not blame them. This is a soundtrack to someone’s worst fears; they just don’t know it yet. The title track of the album shows an advanced understanding for static noise, and the mid-section of the track showcases the first semblance of rhythm in the album. What sounds like an industrial song trying to come out is cut short and brought back into Colossloth’s filthy, unending grasp. ‘The World Keeps Turning (On Me)’ is the first track on the album that is slightly more peaceful than the rest. A screeching noise disrupts any full sense of mind you might think you will get, but it is nonetheless a calmer break in the album. A sick industrial mess is located within ‘Of Talons And Teeth’; ADHD is at play as the song goes from one sound to the next, never sticking to a pattern. I came across the only song I wasn’t all too partial to on the album, and that would be ‘Paint Her Face To Simulate The Bloom’. I did appreciate a section that had piano running through it as other, various psychotic sounds overlapped it, but that’s about it. This song actually did not sit well with my ears, and as experimental as experimental can be, this just was a headache. Some may like that, though, as masochistic as some can be. I, however, prefer my punishments physically on the body, not aurally. Relatively the same thoughts erupted with ‘The Nameless Saint’. I absolutely indulged in the first half of the song as blasts of noise controlled the otherwise peaceful piano vibes that rolled through the track. However, the second half without piano guiding it did not speak to me well. The final song on the album, ‘Black Deeds From Dead Seeds’, was a play with minimal works to tape distortion and very light synths. Not for the light hearted, this final ode to experimentation was rather enjoyable. Colossloth is tackling a very niche audience with his latest album, but that is quite alright. He will find his music’s place one way or the other. There are a lot of times when I hear that some people just don’t quite “get” music like this. But, there is nothing to get. You either like the sound you’re hearing or you don’t. For me, noise like this – experimental sounds that never cease to twist and bend every corner you stroll down – has a meditative quality to it when played at a low to mid-level, and that’s exactly how I prefer it. “Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth” is a grueling test of self through industrial menaces and noise experimentation.
7/10 – Steven Gullotta


BOTH BARS ON, March 30th 2016 :
So you go to a pub in another city and drink. Complete strangers (a couple) join you at the table. You somehow get chatting (band T-shirts = the ultimate ice-breaker). The conversation turns (inevitably in my world) to music. “What sort of stuff you into?” the gentleman asks. “Oh, sort of electronic, noisy, rocky stuff”, I respond. “Such as?” [Thinks of best way in]. ”Umm, Teeth of the Sea?” “Oh, I’ve supported them.” “GNOD?” “Yep. Supported them as well”. Enter Colossloth. A bloke I met in the pub in Birmingham. Who gave me a CD of his latest offerings. Was this chance meeting meant to be? Such musings are beyond our remit. Outstretch Your Hand for the Impress of Truth has blown me away. Opener ‘The Flavour of the Weak’ has it all: menaced drones, shards of sharpened static, treated guitar, face-disfiguring crunching oscillators. ‘Your Flag Stands for Nothing’ is a sonic pummelling that sees a jack hammer bass obliterating idiotic nationalism, both overt and banal, whilst knives sharpen and cut away at apparent ‘stirring’ patriotic orchestrals. What engorges the soul here is the plethora of questions that arise as you experience the assembled noises: where did that sound came from? What was its original form? What variety of torture has been performed upon it? What Hammond Organ was cruelly, yet brilliantly, maimed to make the inserts on the album’s title track? Is this the recollection of a significantly bad day in Blackpool? The disturbing undertow to ‘The World Keeps Turning (On Me)’ could well be a voice detuned and stretched to intimidating proportions. The riff on ‘Of Talons and Teeth’ is incredible in its visceral abrasions. The circular feedback on ‘Paint Her Face to Simulate the Bloom’ is pure pleasure and the most sublime pain. ‘The Nameless Saint’ stands out with its devastatingly heart-wrenched piano and high frequency whines. It’s the closest thing to soundtracking death’s inevitability that I have heard for a long while. Both terror and redemption are here. This is superb uneasy listening in the vein of Haxan Cloak, a more considered Merzbow perhaps, with echoes of Fennesz.
Angrybonbon


SIDE-LINE, March 16th 2016 :
Cold Spring Records has signed this Leicester based solo-project set up by Wooly Woolaston. A few earlier productions were already released, but I can imagine joining the prestigious Cold Spring roster will a serious step forward for Colossloth. The sound of Colossloth is not that easy to define. The work clearly sounds inspired by heavy industrial blasts mixed with experimentalism and abstract-music passages. The sound is a kind of sterile space filled with numerous and diversified noises. It sounds like the mix between sampled noise sources and eventually field recordings. The collection of noises to create new inputs appears to be one of the main preoccupations, which resulted in a rather diverse work. Nothing is weird enough to experiment with sounds. From guitar to classic piano passages and from a few lost spoken words to iron noises this album is an impressive platform of sonic jewelry, which always joins an ultimate dark atmosphere throughout the entire album with its dense and obscure texture.
Positive points : Colossloth avoids any kind of established stereotypes while using familiar elements from industrial-, ambient- and experimental music.
Negative points : I’m missing a real apotheosis on this album.
Conclusion: This album feels like you are listening to a sonic catalogue of different, but related music genres, which will appeal for lovers of industrial and experimental music.
Best songs: “The Flavour Of the Weak”, “The Nameless Saint”.
Rate: 6,5/10
Inferno Sound Diaries


INTRAVENOUS MAGAZINE, February 17th 2016 :
Leicester’s Colossloth has for ten years been creating some of the most interesting experimental and ambient music in the country. Mixing drone, ambient, noise and proto-industrial nuances this solo project has consistently produced unique sonic craftsmanship. The harsh and unusual noises, and abstract rhythmic modes are often juxtaposed against unfathomably cinematic textures and the result is an evolving an meditative experience that despite the often dissonant qualities is quite hypnotic. The solo project’s newest offering on Cold Spring Records ‘Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth’ is no exception. Tracks such as ‘The Flavour Of The Weak’, ‘Cave In We Are Complete’, ‘Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth’ , ‘The World Keeps Turning (On Me)’ and ‘Of Talons And Teeth’ utilise subtle yet cavernous drones before punctuating them with hard and discordant noises. While the likes of ‘Your Flag Stands For Nothing’, ‘Paint Her Face to Simulate The Bloom’, and ‘The Nameless Saint’ experiment with abstract rhythmic constructions and even simple but haunting piano melodies amidst the din to build a varied display of affecting noise. With the artist rooted in experimental and noise music you’d be forgiven for dismissing the production side of things and thinking everything is drenched in distortion and sounded like it was recorded in a tin bathtub. But it isn’t. The ambient side of the album informs the production which is in-turn cavernous and almost cinematic in its execution which gives the tracks clarity and grandeur. For fans of experimental music Colossloth are a shining light and ‘Outstretch Your Hand For The Impress Of Truth’ is a great example of how to make high-quality experimental music that can play with genres and still doesn’t rehash what has come before. It is a strong album and although it’s audience won’t be huge, it will nevertheless find favour with fans of experimental music.
Sean Palfrey



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