Tighten your nooses, boys and girls.
Readers here at the Toilet ov Hell are no strangers to New York noisemakers Theologian. It’s founding member, Lee Bartow, has been producing industrial music since 1997, first under the moniker Navicon Torture Technologies, released through his label Annihilvs Power Electronics. Their most recent offering, Dregs, was released on December 30th, at the dick tip of 2015. It continues their tradition of creating noise without peer, and using sex organs for album covers (possibly NSFW, below).
Theologian’s current lineup includes Bartow, Daniel Suffering (Whorid, Slavernij), and Dave Brenner (Militia Men, Heidnik). Dregs features vocal contributions from Gretchen Heinel and Faith Ciavarella, and additional percussion from BJ Allen (Full Scale Riot). The album, originally intended as an extended play, grew to over an hour’s worth of original music. It’s release at the very twilight of last year put it under the radar for many. While Prurient’s Frozen Niagara Falls received widespread critical acclaim, Dregs is the superior album. It is unknown to me if December 30th had any significance to the members of Theologian.
The haunting opening gives way to a spoken sample stating long live the king, which gives way to an aggressive rhythm that dominates the remainder of the first and title track. Each of its eight songs has a distinct identity while maintaining the thematic construct of the album. Dregs trades those rhythms for menace on the heavy death industrial “Embracing Slavehood For Apathy”, and trades that menace for impenetrable walls of synth on “There Can Be No Coexistence”. What initially appears as static turns out to be shouted incantations during the same track. “Just Another Dose” is reminiscent of The Body’s martial, emergency siren noise. A comical educational interlude about wet dreams appears and ends abruptly. Each track here pushes the album to its colossal twenty minute closer “Dunes of Ash”, which is stunning in its scope and calls to mind its title.
Press releases for Dregs seemed content to bill it as the usual sonic horror, standard fare for the noise genre. There is another side to it, however, that captures its creators operating in utter mastery of their craft. There is an urgency to this album, and a complexity revealed through repeated listens. There are few groups creating industrial music with this much depth, or making sounds this seamless. Put on a pair of headphones or turn your stereo way up, and spend seventy minutes with Dregs a couple times.
Thanks to Disqus user Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple for the tip on this album. Cover via