Trepaneringsritualen – The Totality of Death (Programme A) (CD, Malignant Records)

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the totality of death a

Trepaneringsritualen is Thomas Ekelund, a death industrial/power electronics project that has been around since about 2010. The project itself has amassed quite a number of smaller, hard to find releases on tapes across the noise spectrum (and even a 10″ on Release the Bats, kind of surprising), so in a partnership between Malignant Records and Silken Tofu, Trepaneringsritualen released a two-CD compilation set comprising many (but not all) of his tracks. Thus, one label released Programme A, the other released Programme B.

The tracks aren’t ordered by date of release, so they’re split fairly evenly between the two discs. You’ll get some of Trepaneringsritualen’s old and new stuff on both CDs, so there’s no worry that one disc consists of less quality than the other. It’s interesting how the tracks are structured on Programme A, because some of them seem quite different from his other works.

Opener “Death Reveler” finds a looped, scorched guitar rhythm and some bell-like textures with harsh vocals overtop, while the second track, “Edifice of Nine Sauvastikas,” meanders with an echoing industrial yaw for ten minutes. These moments tend to juxtapose the changes in Trepaneringsritualen’s sound as it evolved, and that’s really what a compilation such as this should be about.

Programme A‘s tracks tend toward the simpler side of things in terms of sonic output; Ekelund is often happy to offer up one pattern of textures throughout an entire track, working with the blackened samples he includes without feeling the need to change the loop. While this often works to his advantage (see “All Hail the Black Flame”), some of the tracks like “The Birth of Babalon” can grow stale. Likewise, the moments where Trepaneringsritualen buries his vocals in the sound, as on “För Svears Väl,” feel like missed opportunities – the atmosphere is there, but the vocals do give the project and tracks an added weight.

The last two tracks on Programme A are considerably lesser in quality, which is fine, because these offerings are quite different from the rest of the output. Drums, guitar, and other instruments combine with his vocals for an amalgam that is hinted at on other tracks but never explored. Trepaneringsritualen even covers Death in June’s “C’est Un Reve.”

Like many compilations, the tracks on The Totality of Death (Programme A) can be hit or miss, but for the most part, Trepaneringsritualen’s output is consistently punishing and worth the lengthy hour listen, especially because the project has been quite varied over the years. The discs from Malignant Records and Silken Tofu come in a six-panel fold-out digipak, too, so the whole package is worth it.

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