Mazakon Tactics – Adorable Atrocities (C30, NoVisible Scars)

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Reviewed via digital copy.

Sascha Mandler of Namazu Dantai brings us a half hour cassette of bleak power electronics focused on whispery electronics, clanking metal, looping industrial rhythms, and guttural growls. On Adorable Atrocities, Mazakon Tactics hits the dark ambience hard with some fantastic, plodding moody aural arrangements. It’s the power electronics bent that he takes with his screams, however, that really throw off the listen.

Opener “It Must End Here” carries on with a single, droning tone accompanied by varied poetical vocal outbursts. Where the calm of the background would almost ensure a hypnotic trance with its unwavering but solid pitch, Mazakon Tactics adds various screams and growls to the tone; while these screams might be good on a brutal death metal album, Mandler never really hits a solid range of vocal screams. Instead, they’re kind of all over the place, some growls and some higher pitched screams that become almost laughable in places. It’s only when Mandler finds a pattern with a closed-mouth snarl of “It must end here” that the track finds a happy medium, and at that point, it’s over.

“Promise” brings things back to form a bit, an atmospheric opening with a nice whirl of abyssal drones, squeals, and then a looped pattern of scraping metal that sounds a bit like a gun hammer cocking and scraping throughout. Again, Mandler sees fit to growl over this pattern with unintelligible words and noises, and I would much rather the track be allowed to play out without that excessive riffing, because without the vocals that track is truly unsettling. Afterwards, the growls cut out for some waves of static played on top of the drone, and this part of the track really shows the depth Mazakon Tactics can hit without the need for vocals, although when they’re added on top it does create a tense display of anger.

“Sliced Core, Spiked Lips” has a nice build to it in the beginning, and I will say that the harsh guttural vocals add a layer that juxtaposes that serenity of the droning tones behind it, where some instruments almost sound like subtle piano plinks. And the disturbing nature of the track’s latter half, with screams that echo like those of a prisoner in a dank cave, work well with the Mandler’s powerful growls, as though he is the Captor and we are the Captives. And Mandler certainly captures the industrial side of power electronics as well – the sharp clanks of metal and scraping that permeate through the thick noises are some of the best spectacles on this release.

“Aries Axiom” has a spectacular build, the best track on Adorable Atrocities. Full of chaotic static with seriously pissed vocals rocketing through it, then scrapes and and an ambient whir that somehow grows to a climax, this track has got to be the harshest here because of its unrefined brutality. It is here, without the growls that seem to lack believability, that Mazakon Tactics cements the sound of absolute frustration the power electronics genre can achieve.

Adorable Atrocities has a disturbing undertone to it, and that’s more apparent on the B-side of the cassette than the A-side (besides the almost throw-away “Almost There”). “Prostration for a Fathomless”‘s rich crumbles and looping create a catharsis hard to ignore, and if you can get over the guttural vocals that can be overwhelmingly cloying, Mazakon Tactics creates a soundtrack to a world that, while not dead, soon will be, and filled with the deepest darkness one can imagine.

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