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Lustmord: The Word As Power

Similar Artists: Locrian & Mamiffer, Ben Frost, Robert Rich, Steve Roach

Genre: Dark Ambient, Drone, Religious Music

Label: Blackest Ever Black

 

There’s a whole lot of talented (as well as highly prolific) artists who seem to be devoting their lives to making dark ambient/drone music, and despite the time and patience that goes into making this so called “drone”, a whole lot of this niche feels disposable, and honestly, far from original. As great as Sunn O))) are, we don’t need dozens of artists to prove that to us by making what is essentially a “cover” version of the blackened ambient void that was so clearly perfected by the seattle duo a decade ago. I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, for I’m in fact a huge fan of a lot of the music I seemed to have just dissed, but recently many of these releases have acted more like mood experiments to be played in your sleeping chamber rather than an album to return to time and time again.

However, if there’s one label whose interests seem to lie in broadening the horizons of this genre, it’s Blackest Ever Black, whose 2010 debut marked the release of the first Raime EP. By linking disparate strands of electronic music (industrial, techno, noise) with the accustomed droning ambience, groups such as Raime have proved that drone is a genre that is far from sterile.

Brian Williams, who has recorded as Lustmord since the 1980’s, is rightly credited as a progenitor of the dark ambient genre, so it seems appropriate that he makes his newest artistic leap on Blackest Ever Black. Still, with an overwhelming catalogue of music from the past three decades, it’s hard to really get excited about a new Lustmord release — especially when that release happens to be a two disk, 70 minute long statement based upon theological constructs.

With The Word As Power — Lustmord’s most ambitious and high profile release in years — we are treated to 7 ritualistic monstrosities that blur the line between holiness and wickedness, serenity and fearfulness. The pieces are largely led by a host of ethereal vocalists, such as Aina Olsen, Soriah, and Jarboe of Swans fame, whose voices are all largely untouched production wise — save for some slight reverb and the occasional echo. This is the first album in the artist’s 30 year career to focus so closely on vocals, so it really is astonishing that they are all executed with such dynamic precision. The second half of the album even features throat singing from a completely unrecognizable Maynard James Keenan. Due to the mostly ethereal voices, these tracks play out like ancient hymns being sung as a gift to the heavens — hence the title The Word As Power. This power is best represented during the 17 minute centerpiece “Chorazin”, in which the vocalist wavers around the same vocal line while reciting the word “holy” over and over again, such as it would be in a buddhist chant in order to obtain a higher state of being. Still, despite the presence of religion, people are going to find this music unnerving over anything else, like they are being taken through a state of divine retribution.

Even with the cast of vibrant vocalists, the album happens to be its most heart stopping when the instrumentation is at its full force. The tracks range from 5 minutes to 17, and it is during the longest pieces where the environment becomes the most frighteningly intense. Aside from quiet ambience, the instrumental landscape is made up of minimal organ chords, swirling black metal guitars tuned to abnormally low frequencies, threatening bass drops, slight percussion, and deformed ghostly howls which claw at us ominously from the distance.

It may sound like it isn’t all that different from your average dark ambient album, and although it isn’t quite groundbreaking, it does manages to stand out from the horde of followers due to the way it maintains a solid mood, while still changing up the dynamic with each track to keep things interesting. Furthermore, while it may not propel the genre into unchartered territory like other releases from the label have, it does exist as a singular statement within both the dark ambient and drone genres — which isn’t a thing that can be said very often. The Word As Power is a monolithic, expansive, and downright harrowing release from an artist working at the peak of his creativity.

 

Track Listing:

1.) Babel*

2.) Goetia

3.) Chorazin*

4.) Grigori*

5.) Andras Sodom

6.) Abaddon

7.) Y Gair

 

Album Highlight – *