Review: Auditor – Form Destroyer

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Auditor is an act whom I’ve had every intention of talking about for a very, very long time but never had the perfect moment to do so. The Chicago-based one-man band fuses industrial, drone, dark ambient, and noise with a healthy dose of doom for good measure. Auditor’s discography has always been defined by the blind ambition of a man with a clear objective who will go to any lengths to achieve his vision, cutting no corners and making no compromises.

Previously the mind behind the more beat-oriented Iron Forest, Brandon Elkins has reinvented himself as Auditor, an altogether darker, more abrasive beast. Having previously worked under the alias A Crown of Amaranth, Elkins has also played in bands like Plenum|Void and Bisson Rheum and collaborated with ToH faves Venowl. Obviously his track record is impeccable, but on Form Destroyer Elkins truly outdoes himself.

Auditor moves with one speed in mind: bone-crushingly slow. This album isn’t graceful or elegant. This album is the soundtrack to a guy in an alley beating you over the head with a propane tank. Elkins has said that Auditor arose as a way to deal with his depression, but there’s nothing depressed about the sound of this album. There are no niceties about it: this music wants to destroy you.

The album proper is just under 40 minutes long, but the amount of sonic information packed into the five tracks is overwhelming. The digital edition of the album includes remixes of four of the tracks by Theologian, The Vomit Arsonist, Gnaw Their Tongues and Compactor, and the first 100 copies of the forthcoming CDs on Annihilvs Power Electronics will include a bonus disc of the whole album remixed by Theologian. Even without the remixes, though, the album is so dense it belies its short runtime. From the churning opener “Protocol 1” to the drum machine-driven “Flea on a Dead Dog” to the fuzzed-out doom of the standout track “Betrayer of Sleep”, the album doesn’t let up, drawing on the dubby beats of Iron Forest and the brutal crushing of Venowl to craft a potent blend of live and electronic instrumentation that never lets up. I suppose the closest sonic touchstone would be Author & Punisher, but where Tristan Shone focuses on an almost-pensive industrial angst, make no bones about it: Auditor is here to beat you to a pulp. Even when the rhythm drops out, eerie synth washes and distorted samples maintain a constant, creeping atmosphere. Rare is the band that can convey a feeling of truly raging violence or life-threatening atmosphere, yet Auditor can do both simultaneously. Though I find the adjective overused, “Lovecraftian” is the only accurate way to describe the abject, creeping horror in a world where things are so indescribably “off.”

So much is happening at any one moment, be it the nigh-symphonic walls of noise or the fuzzy, distorted synths or the stuttering chopped drumbeats that present themselves seemingly at random. The closer “I Can Never Be Far Enough from You” is a track so complete and genuinely epic in its scope it nearly implodes on itself before breaking down into the first taste of relief the listener is afforded after over half an hour of constant churning sound.

Form Destroyer is far from an easy listen. I’m tempted to recommend listeners even take a break halfway through, but the flow of the album is so perfect it feels disingenuous to disrupt it, in spite of how far down the hole it goes. The last two tracks are my favorites on the album, and their heinous majesty is made even more powerful with the buildup of the rest of the songs, though that’s not to diminish the power of those three tracks in their own right.

With Iron Forest, Elkins created some incredible music, but none of it carries with it the readily apparent emotional weight present on Form Destroyer. The muted start of the album carried by “And Vomit as You Devour Them” delivers us deep into the pit of despair that is “Flea on a Dead Dog” before the blighted anguish of “Betrayer of Sleep” and the first half of “I Can Never Be Far Enough from You” showcase the other side of the album in their brutal, drawn-out violence, before the album draws to a close with a simple, clean bassline and ringing walls of synths.

Even taking the remixes into account, at less than an hour Form Destroyer is far from excessive, but it is oppressive. The album is a bang-for-your-buck masterpiece: so much is packed into the fairly short runtime it’s hard to imagine what more could even be thrown in. Auditor’s “all-in” approach to composition and production is a lot to take in at once. I for one am eager to see how Elkins will manage to expand on his sound in the future, because as it stands, Form Destroyer seems to be the most complete and final representation of his discography.

.5/5 FLUSHES

Form Destroyer is out now. Download the album here and preorder physical copies from Annihilvs Power Electronics here.

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  • Randall Thor

    I claim first comment in the name of power metal!

    • Death

      I shall attack you in the name of weak metal.

  • Negrodamus

    Awesome band name, awesome album name, *awesome* review. I know about that power electronics brand cause you recommended them to me, Christian. I know things. I bookmarked that page.

    • Christian Molenaar

      I feel like I say this all the time (and probably do) but EVERYTHING put out on APEX is worth listening to if you have even the most remote interest in this stuff. Another great label is Cory Strand’s Altar of Waste. He puts together everything by hand and the level of detail is absolutely insane. Worth your support!
      http://altarofwasterecords.blogspot.com/

      • Stockhausen

        Crucial Blast Records will do ya some good as well.

      • W.

        By the way, I listened to this Auditor album. I dug it.

        • Christian Molenaar

          Glad to hear it. He has a few other releases on his Bandcamp which are all fantastic. I plan on reviewing his collaboration with Crowhurst, Suppressor, at some point. He also sent me some previews of his next album which you can hear here:
          https://soundcloud.com/infinite_auditor/sets/vernepator-cur-wip

        • Negrodamus

          I’m on the last track and this shit is pretty tight I agree.

  • W.

    You had me at Lovecraftian.

  • Hey Christian, what’s your opinion on B L A C K I E?

    • Christian Molenaar

      I find some of his stuff really cool but I’m not really into his more hip hop-ish stuff. I mentioned them a little while ago in the comments on another post but who he really reminds me of is Noism. They sort of sound like a teach death Autechre I guess? This is their only album and even though it’s like, 20 minutes long it is a BRUTAL listen, extremely hard to get through in one go.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQxXHaxf1k8
      I think you might like Iron Forest, it’s much more rhythmic than Auditor and nowhere near as dark, but still isn’t, you know, Eiffel 65 or something.

      • No Bluedabadeedabada no deal.

        I am enjoying the Auditor album, if that’s the right word for it. It emanates bad vibes but it’s still compelling. I’ll check out Iron Forest and Noism.

        • W.

          Here are some cute animals to match this music.

          http://i.imgur.com/v1pmPTk.jpg

          • Tyree

            I like turtles.

          • ..

          • Death

            Here’s a cute animal.

          • Negrodamus

            Michael Gira?

          • Death

            A beautiful creature. Look at his eyes. They’re so cute.

          • W.
          • The best. This is better than anything.

          • Stockhausen

            OH MY GOODNESS.

          • Stockhausen

            Typical day at Bozlinger’s.

          • Death

            We can’t forget the most beautiful animal of them all

          • Death

            One more

        • Negrodamus

          Ha! I often find myself listening to projects lately and “enjoying” them.

        • Christian Molenaar

          I think that description is basically what you said about my Venowl review, haha.

          • I’m still trying to process this stuff! It’s all new to me.

      • NefariousDude

        True story: my senior year in high school the student council thought it would be a good idea to play Eiffel 65 blue in between each period over the intercom to raise money for prom. No money was raised and I’m pretty sure I was on the receiving end if some cruel and unusual punishment. I was blue indeed.

        EDIT: this happened every school day for 2 weeks

  • Guacamole Jim

    Best description ever: “This album is the soundtrack to a guy in an alley beating you over the head with a propane tank.”

    • taste the meat, not the heat

      • W.

        I’ll tell you hwat!

    • Death

      Are there any other propane accessories involved?

    • Fromwisdomtohate29

      Hank Hill done lost his mind.

      Probably that damn Dale.

      • Guacamole Jim

        I don’t think Bill helped things…

  • I was lied to. This is not a light hearted folk record!

  • Bözlinger©

    This band makes joints burn slower

  • Tyree

    I’m digging the jackhammers in “And Vomit As You Devour Them”. Cool stuff Christian.

  • Kevin Nash and Friends

    This seems good. I’m going to listen to it when I can because at the moment I’m working on something involving my album that I’m releasing.

    • Howard Dean

      I’ve heard condenser mics capture the sound of a quad tearing really well.

      • Kevin Nash and Friends

        They do. I’ve been trying to replicate that sound with a keyboard, but I’m having no luck.

        • Stockhausen

          Just don’t go for that digital quad tearing. It’s gotta be analog.

  • Death

    I thought that this was going to be about Skullflower’s form destroyer.

    • Negrodamus

      Metaphysical Anus?

      • Death

        Yes. I changed my name.

        • RIP METAPHYSICAL ANUS
          RIP TIM
          RIP DEPUTY D

          GL

          • Death

            MURMAIDER MURMAIDER MURMAIDER MURMAIDER!!!!

            D

          • W.

            Circle of like, baby!

          • Death

            Wait, Tim and Deputy D are gone? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

          • Stockhausen

            They’re both around with different names. Mr. Bojangles and Deputy Flushn Bohl (don’t know if I spelled that last one exactly right).

          • Death

            Wait, Mr. Bojangles is Tim?

          • Stockhausen

            Yep. Did I just rock your world?

          • Death

            I thought that he was a real cat!

      • W.

        He has fissures.

        • Death

          I died because of severe fissures.

          • Stockhausen

            How deep were they? Do we want to know?

          • Death

            Wanna see pics?

          • Stockhausen

            No way man.

            …maybe.

          • Death

            I’m not sure about showing them. They are pretty nasty.

          • Stockhausen

            There’s a place in deep web for that, I’m sure.

          • Death

            That’s too mild for deep web.