Gazing Too Long Into The Abyss: Halfway to Madness

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In the last segment, we looked at three ambient/noise artists who wielded their unique sound as a haunting, primal tool of dread and fear. This time, we’ll take a look at three more artists who have successfully mastered a common, but never unwelcome, method for injecting a bit of unease and atmosphere into their compositions: the mid-album instrumental.

There’s a lot of room for interpretation with what defines this kind of track, i.e., whether it includes the full band, whether it’s just a slower song, etc., so for this article I’ll be sticking with tracks that are overwhelmingly aimed at creating a complementary groundwork for the intensity of the rest of the album to build upon — a quick breather between song assaults, but a reminder that just because the music’s stopped, you’re not out of the woods yet…

wasteland_700

The Amenta‘s 2008 album N0N is a masterwork of precisely-executed rhythms, unsettling melodic dissonance and scathing vocal attacks, intended as an affirming statement that, yes, this world is exactly as ugly as it seems. The first of the album’s two instrumental “break” points, Entropy is a brief but utterly punishing kick to the head of the listener (and a startling one if you’re not prepared for it).

The track begins with a faint radio static that pervades the entire album, and here functions as a post-song cooldown before it jumps to the forefront as an echoed sneering and those menacing low electronic bursts begin thumping and grinding away in increasing tempo. First as an off-tempo foot-tapper, then as a faster rumble, then as a pounding bass machine gun, and finally as a sequence of explosive, distorted detonations and fragmented vocal blips that perfectly recreate the sound of the end of the world trying to force its way through your speakers. The listener’s now-shattered skull and nerves are then carried straight into the album’s blistering flagship track. The Amenta are particularly adept at these types of ambient/noise tracks, and this is one where the intensity is turned up to eleven one hundred a thousand eleven thousand.

mountain_700

Both a continuation of Celtic Frost’s final album and a throwback to the most essential elements of classic thrash and/or black metal (i.e., darkness uber alles), Triptykon‘s Eparistera Daimones is an album carved from black stone, drenched in a thick coating of black paint and smeared with greasy black ashes: black all over and bleak as hell. Its shortest track, Shrine, could easily have been left off the final tracklist in anticipation of short attention span-addled listeners skipping right past it, but was included for a reason.

The reverberating metallic wind, hints of guitar feedback and overdriven vocal aches would fit right in at a typical haunted house, and is likely less a product of studio wankery and more akin to what you’d hear at Tom Gabriel Fischer’s house on the coldest of Swiss winter nights as he writes new Triptykon material, works on death mask sculptures and muses long and hard about how to creep people out via his blog; plus, like The Amenta’s track above, it immediately sets up the listener for the loudest & heaviest track on the album.

abandonedbarn_700

Hailing from the Ukraine, Semargl‘s 2007 album Manifest paints a grim audio picture of living in Eastern Europe with the ever-present spectre of battles long gone. Stretches of white noise with faint melodic assists, grumbling impacts and vintage recordings of marching infantry recall razed cities and blackened war detritus scattered among charred trees that seem permanently rooted in winter.

A Lesson ‘S’ doesn’t maintain the relative calm that Shrine does, nor does it hit the same intensity as Entropy, but it finds a suitable middle ground for the black/death/groove mix of the album. Right away it kicks into a sequence of pale electronic punches atop smooth bed tracks of chilly synth, faint white noise and old radio transmissions to create an ugly and expansive industrial intermission that fits right into the warfare fever dream of the rest of the tracks. Shortly after this album’s follow-up, Semargl embarked on a rapid descent into a glittery Eurotrash hell and emerged with their current “satanic pop metal” form; a living joke blending sugary club-thumping beats and shells of human beings in industrial rock outfits (I highly suggest NOT clicking that link if you want to keep your lunch down… you already clicked it, didn’t you?).

What are your favorite mid-album instrumental/atmosphere tracks? Share & discuss in the comments below.

 

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  • Edward Meehan

    Solid write up about a very specific concept!

  • Death

    Cool stuff here mate. I don’t know why I never listened to Triptykon.

    Unrelated, but I’ve been rocking some Finnish noise this week.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iuq46_ElL60

    • Edward Meehan

      I feel like this looks familiar and you may have recommended it to me once.

      • Death

        I have a faint memory of recommending something, but I think it was Jaakko Vanhala. But my memory is really shitty. Grunt is a project by the singer of Deathspell Omega. That guy is… special.

        • Edward Meehan

          For real, a Finnish noise project by DsO’s vocalist? Why didn’t you tell me before?!

          • Death

            Mikko Aspa has a shit ton of noise/power electronics projects.

          • Edward Meehan

            I would say I am not easily shocked, by music or by people telling me weird shocking things in life. I have heard some shit lol.

          • Howard Dean

            Mikko Aspa is unabashedly perverted and bizarre. In fact, in their rare (only) later career interview, the man/men behind DsO (most likely Hasjarl, the guitarist) said he decided to work with Mikko because he was one of the “very few who can take the most atrocious things very naturally, and he is one among very few who truly shares a fascination and appreciation for things of an utterly sadistic nature that I will not unveil here.”

            Mikko also runs his own porn studio that focuses on “alternative” pornography (apparently lots of vile, transgressive fetish stuff and BDSM)

          • Edward Meehan

            HD can you confirm or do you know if he is a Nazi / white supremacist / anti-Semite?

          • Howard Dean

            I can’t say it with complete certainty, as I haven’t read everything out there or listened to all of his stuff, but I don’t think he is. Rather, he seems like a guy that just doesn’t care. He’s more into transgressive porn and stuff like that. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he is indifferent to NS/racist bands and ideology, and supports them insofar that they represent something that is vile and ugly. He definitely seems like a guy interested in aesthetics.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Guh, I’ll take a lifetime HOW ABOUT NO from anything the guy does.

          • Cock ov Steele

            I looked that up, and I don’t really wanna delve any further.

          • Edward Meehan

            Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.

          • Death

            I told you!

          • Yeah, I’m not gonna look for this. Wanna give me a td;dr? (too disgusting, didn’t research)

          • Death

            You’re better off not knowing. Ignorance is bliss,

          • I’m good with that.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            @Joe and @Death, thanks. Now I had to check it up. I like pretty much everything I’ve heard of this sick fuck called Aspa.
            I read an Nicole 12 interview and now I’m getting sick.

            (I’ll still have to check the music out, though)

          • Death

            I FUCKING WARNED YOU MATE!

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            THAT’S WHY I HAD TO CHECK IT OUT. BARF!

          • Death
          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ffk0Z4xMRI
            Unfitting, given the time. Nonetheless.

          • Edward Meehan

            I’m gonna make it a point to delve further into this when I get home later this evening. If regulars on here are cringing immediately, I just have to know why or what it is.

          • Death

            That shit becomes even more creepy when you read Aspa’s interviews.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Ignorance truly is more than just a simple bliss.

          • Scrimm

            It’s not worth the attention.

          • Edward Meehan

            Seemed unspectacular at first impression.

          • Scrimm

            It is. Few things make me angrier than that subject. I’ve seen how horribly that screws people up.

          • Same. I don’t think there’s anything that makes me angrier.

          • Scrimm

            I could tell you some stories. A big part of me wishes I never had to even hear about the stuff I did, but really I’m glad I did because it was more than worth it to be a positive force in some lives that really needed it.

          • Scrimm

            It’s crossing the fucking line seriously. As a person who spent many years working with youngsters I have zero tolerance for garbage like that.

          • Didn’t look it up but I can guess what you’re getting at. Fuck that guy in the face.

          • Scrimm

            For real. I worked with some that had some unbelievable things happen to them. There’s nothing funny or acceptable about that in any form. I’m really sorry I looked it up.

          • Edward Meehan

            I just got home and Googled Nicole 12, I think what people found so
            offensive is that the images (album art I am assuming) are pictures of
            young girls, coupled with the name “Nicole 12”. The music so far is unspectacular, and while labeled power electronics, the song I am playing seems a bit softer than what I (in my neophyte stage) consider to be power electronics, more like ambient I think.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Hey I’m not seven days late on this but anyhoo. What really bothers me about Nicole 12 is that he all the time talks how it is about paedophilia. Also the interviews, I wouldn’t be surprised if…

          • Edward

            I haven’t honestly read many interviews about Grunt or DsO or really any of that stuff. I guess he (Mikko Aspa) runs a pretty shady porn magazine or something along those lines too…

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            He does. And well, films and all are pretty… It’s understandable that the DsO guy sayed “He was the only one really into all this sadistic stuff that I won’t get into any deeper” (something like that). Aspa is a disturbing person.

          • Death

            That’s pretty much where I drew the line. He has good projects, but I’m not a fan of that one.

          • Cock ov Steele

            Yeeeeah, I’d say that one seems a little on the completely wrong side. Like, all I got was the google results page, and decided fuck no.

    • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

      Listen to Triptykon
      Also, Grunt!

    • Edward Meehan

      I checked this out and I dug it.

  • W.

    N0N features one of the most harrowing metal tracks ever written, “Rape”. I’m definitely going to include it in something I write up.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I want to live in that song… not a rape, just that song

  • You bet your ass I clicked on that Semargl link. Way to bury the lede, this is hilarious!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sax-BlhYHus

    • CyberneticOrganism

      In Ukraine, is popular song for dance. You dance? I knew you like.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
  • Here’s one of my favorites:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOkAIKHErYs

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Fucking godly. Zwetsloot is missed. All the pieces on that album are amazing.

        • Howard Dean

          Agreed. The Somberlain is one of the best albums ever, as is Storm of the Light’s Bane. Nodtveidt was an unholy riff god.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Unfuckwithable.

      • Scrimm

        Feathers Fell still creeps me out.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Oooh, I should have kept listening to Absu, this is cool.

  • Not trying to rustle jimmies with this. I love this track from Sunbather. Guitarist dude is trying to buy some drugs on the corner, there’s a street preacher, pianos and strings. I just dig it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM68P2I4fpU

  • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

    So I am the only one who prefers later Semargl… This one is also good.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k_ifA9Vp2o0

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Painful.

      • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

        Pain is pleasure.

        • There aint a lick of pleasure in that song, bro.

          GL

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            The licks are plenty. Except the guitar ones

          • Those are the only ones that matter! *flush*

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            I am a shameless member of the pouser cult.
            TRVE FINNISH POVSEVR METVL

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Not in this case. White background, shitty song, mockery of black metal, bouncy techno beats. Fuck no.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Good mindless pop fun is good.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Most pop is garbage. The end result is making money.

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Trve. But you can’t say that Semargl’s sequel “the search for mo’ money” wasn’t also a big-gish middle finger for all the former fans.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I’m tapping out.

          • Edward Meehan

            Woah.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Yup. It just gets to a point when dealing with another human is a waste of cunting time.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      The riffs & hook in this one aren’t nearly as bad as Discolove, it’s almost got a Satyricon-esque black & roll vibe if you cut out the awful synth and female vocals.

      • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

        For me it’s so bad it’s good

  • I was talking with someone in the comments a few weeks back about this record. The entire thing is weird and patchwork but there are some fantastic instrumental moments. This one leads into the bleakest track on the record.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEkeEf1Hftg

  • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=svdtotZa1UE
    Technically this songs is an intro, but it has three songs from another artist running before it. I’m not a huge fan of this band, but I love this instrumental. (Warning: the next song has for no reason been woven into this video as well)

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I wanted to incorporate intros too but ran out of time. I could make an entire running series on “the metal album intro” alone.

  • Cock ov Steele

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHXh3clDuY8 I would say my favorite Nile ambient Nile track is Ethno-musicological Cannibalisms, but I can’t seem to find that on youtube.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
  • W.
  • Howard Dean
  • Howard Dean

    Luc Lemay plays classical composer:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjGUBiKh4vs

  • Xan

    I think I’ve posted this several times as of this point buy I really like the ambient track that closes Ceremonial Casting’s most recent album Cthulhu. It truly encapsulates the sound of something Lovecraftian to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YQW84S39lY

  • George Clarke

    cool