Steel Hook Prostheses – The Empirics Guild (CD, Malignant Records)

the empirics guild

Steel Hook Prostheses is the duo J. Stillings and L. Kerr, and their sound sits primarily within the heavy power electronics/death industrial genres. The black metal vocals should give it away immediately on The Empiric Guild, but the combination of intensely atmospheric noise and the penchant for producing eerie textures of makes this a soundtrack for a very gloomy day; or, if it isn’t one, it sure will be after a listen to the screaming electronics.

The Empirics Guild is composed of twelve tracks to make up over an hour of sound. These often run the gamut from lengthy to quite-lengthy, most of them not falling under the four minute mark. Steel Hook Prostheses generally envelope the listener in sound, starting out with windy, escalating drones that are joined with harsh, often manipulated vocals. The thing about The Empirics Guild‘s tracks is that the vocals are rarely the same, often heavily modified; “Leprosaria Dross”‘ demonic incantations sound significantly different from the less-modulated screams on the other tracks, for example.

This means that no two tracks fall into the same sort of sound, which is often a problem with death industrial and power electronics. The vocals are an important technique for Steel Hook Prostheses, and they add an extra layer to the noises that populate this release. Spoken word samples on “Debrided Necrotic Tissue” add a creepy texture to the hushed drones; harsher screams give chilling results. The tracks are meant to unnerve, and they do so at all times.

Some tracks may seem familiar to others doing the same sort of styles, but Steel Hook Prostheses is consistently good. If you’re into this type of death industrial/PE, you’ll have no problem finding multiple tracks to enjoy on The Empirics Guild.

Street Sects – The Morning After the Night We Raped Death (7″, Not On Label)

the morning after the night we raped death

Street Sects is the duo Leo Ashline and Shaun Ringsmuth, performing loop-based noise/grindcore. It’s the sort of thing that works well when paired with the aggressive vocal delivery on this five minute 7″ record. The Morning After the Night We Raped Death is the first in a five-series set of LPs titled “Gentrification: A Serial Album,” and on this vinyl, you get the double-sided singles plus an insert with an essay.

The first track, “Bliss,” hammers away at the listener for just under two minutes. Street Sects define their motif on this track, punctuating moments with blurry, seared vocals. The loops are utilized to their full potential, at times stretched to give a 4/4 time signature while remaining significantly raucous, then switching to considerably faster speeds for a breakneck finish. It’s difficult to tell what is used for each loop; they kind of meld into one another, and some of them may be so damaged as to be indecipherable. But it’s fun to listen to “Bliss” and attempt to figure out what’s being used, whether it be a simple guitar line sped up and chopped or actual songs mangled up to form the basis of a new, noisier track.

Side B, “Fate On Her Knees,” is a little slower, a little less noisy. The first part of the track takes on an industrial march of sorts, the loops toned down to highlight the percussion over the mass of sound. There are a lot of vocal differences here, and I’m not sure if that’s due to manipulation – speeding up and slowing down pre-recorded vocals or something else entirely – but it makes a really interesting listen that, again, makes the audience wonder what’s going on behind what we can actually hear.

Street Sects is a wonderfully interesting project, and their five-part “Gentrification” series is well on its way. At this time, part two is done and up on their Bandcamp. In the meantime, you can check out both of those works here.


キシコドン – ヒドロコドン (C46, Winter Solace Productions)


This release is difficult to find information about because it uses the traditional Japanese kanji, but キシコドン means Oxycodone in English, and according to Winter Solace, ヒドロコドン is Memories (although looking it up, I found that it means Hydrocodone). キシコドン is Cody and V. Mengele, and they’re a drone/noise duo that use mostly human vocals as source material.

On this release, both sides are lengthy 20-minute tracks that manipulate Cody’s output of vocals. There’s a wide range, from screams to yelps to spoken word tribal-esque passages. V. Mengele puts these in a loop, often using them to structure the tracks’ drones – “I” has a sort of cricket chirrup to it, “II” has a whistling feedback wind with a fast-paced loop of Cody’s screams and yodels – and then manipulating other vocal deliveries to add texture to the sounds.

For the most part, these are hypnotic drones. Sometimes it’s quite apparent that what you’re listening to is just a loop of a man’s voice talking; other times, the idea of human voice slips away to reveal a jumble of noise swelling up. It’s an interesting idea, and though both of ヒドロコドン‘s tracks are quite similar, it’s easy to fall into the rhythms of the loops, the manipulation of speech into something raucous and unsettling.

Sadistic Fall – The Ruined Castle (CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)

sadistic fall ruined castle

Sadistic Fall is yet another project from Ink Runs Recordings’ Julien Skrobek. This one is another harsh noise wall release in the vein of some of Skrobek’s earlier output as Ghost and Ruine. Sadistic Fall has had a couple of different albums now; this one features a 20-odd minute track that rarely changes from its staccato pulse.

The Ruined Castle is made up of a couple different textures. There’s a roiling bass background that moves forward steadily, somewhat faster than middling speed. On top of that is a crunchy crackle of static, somewhere between the spitting of a fire and the crushing of leaves.

The pairing is quite effective as a wall, with a lot to focus on in both foreground and background. The minimal layering is similar to other HNW output, but there’s a tendency for The Ruined Castle‘s generally stoic sound to change the static patterning, at least in some small part. There are some surges of crackle, some portions that seem a bit less spaced out – that’s where the draw lies.

As stated before, this project release feels more akin to Skrobek’s earlier projects than his latest output with other monikers. This is rather unchanging and predictable, yet subtle movements keep the sound lurching forward throughout the runtime. For fans of his work, this is a rewarding listen from yet another Skrobek project.


Velfaerd – Alt Er Vel (CD-R, Ink Runs Recordings)


Velfaerd is a static noise project from Denmark; the project’s name means “welfare” in Danish. Alt Er Vel is the first release from this sonic noisician, and it is one long thirty minute track of rhythmic wall that does not change from structure.

The texture of Alt Er Vel, however, consistently varies, from a wash of static to a wave and back again. It’s clear that Velfaerd does not change the way the track moves; it is clearly rhythmic, with a push and pull to it defined by a surging in the loop’s latter portion.

The change occurs in the static that muffles the piece. Different emphasis on crunch makes up the only variation. While Velfaerd is offering up a wall in some way, the loop makes it difficult to really tuck into this track – the hypnotism of the layering is broken by the constant sing-songy loop.

As a project, Velfaerd is young and probably just finding the theme of its noise output. Alt Er Vel is a good start, although the elongated portions of the sole track tend to focus too much on the loop by trading one fuzzy texture for another. Still, it’s an artist to look out for – also available is a split with Robert Ridley-Shackleton called Wind Damage.

En Nihil – Throes (C50, Enemata Productions)

throesEn Nihil does not let up on this final installment of his loose trilogy started with Pyres. Throes consistently hammers the listener with sound over the course of 50 minutes, with seven tracks of destructive chaos providing a great ending to this series.

While En Nihil has done the power electronics angle well, on Throes the project mostly wreaks havoc with ever-changing noise patterns. There are baselines to the tracks, but side A in particular is a perpetual wave of sonic pummeling directed at the listener on every track. The breaks in between aren’t distinguished; instead of thinking of the first side of Throes as a set of pieces, it’s best to listen to it as though it were a long-running cacophony of churning sound. Otherwise, the listener will spend so much time expecting clear breaks between the noise that the crashing assault will be lost within too much thought.

The second side is broken up into three tracks, longer and slower than the side A. These have clear definition, and certainly the focal point isn’t necessarily to overwhelm with harshness. Instead, each take on cleaner drones, allowing En Nihil to punctuate background sound with layers of feedback or pangs. It’s a nice reprieve from the smattering of the first side, and it ends the cassette on a fine note that gives the listener a chance to reflect on the entirety of the tape.

Throes ends this trilogy well, but don’t think you need to hear both Pyres and Crimes before listening to this tape. It sits on its own, and it’s proof that En Nihil is capable of a wide range of material.

Pissdeads – Proud and Full of Joy (3″ Biz CD-R, Serious Business)

proud and full of joy

If ever there was a title unsuitable for a Pissdeads album, Proud and Full of Joy really nails it. Pissdeads have little pride or joy in their sound on this release from Serious Business; instead, they play through the noise, the bad garage recordings, the pain.

This is where the biz CD-R format really shines. Though the discs only hold five minutes of content, Pissdeads pack it in there, getting in eight tracks before the close of the album. It’s grind/power violence at its rawest and fastest, with Popster destroying the drums and vocal cords while Tumus gives just the hint of bass.

That is, at least in the first three recordings. “Death Destroyer,” “Hurt the Stupid,” and “Scumfinder General” are very rough recordings, the kind where it’s difficult to make out much besides the drums and cymbals. The bass comes through nicely at moments, and in “Scumfinder General” they find time to slow things down for a sludgy interlude.

It’s the last five tracks that explode, though. These are loudly mastered, a direct opposite to the first cuts. Again, the bass is hidden behind cymbals and screams, but that’s the point – there’s actually little to make out from the bass anyway besides a constant barrage of frayed sounds. Pissdeads dominate on those final tracks, making this well worth the commitment.