Tuesday, 16 July 2019
Dødsmaskin - Ødelagt.
Label: Malignant Records
Catalogue no: TumorLP125
1. Svart Tundra
3. Det Som Ødelegger
5. Kaldere Nå
Dødsmaskin, which translates to Death Machine, is a Norwegian duo, and this is their fourth full-length album, and here Ødelagt (Broken) is not so much about in your face industrial chaos as it is about stealthily creeping doom and death, first glimpsed from afar – and it’s about the quieter gulfs in between just as much as the noise itself.
This vinyl LP is divided into two very distinct halves, atmospherically-speaking. Side One leans more toward industrial/death ambient, starting with ‘Svart Tundra’ (Black Tundra): vast, cavernous echo chambers secreted somewhere away from the prying eyes and sensibilities of brightly-lit daylight normality, a place where the minutest of clicks, scrapes, and crackles take on an intensely black, malignant immensity and weight, soul-crushing and life extinguishing. Rats scurry, insects squirm amongst filth and decay, and the air is a miasma of disease and corruption. ‘Jernguden’ (Iron God) begins scratchily, before a dark rain pours down heavily, drenching us in decomposition and disintegration. Ending the first side we have ‘Det Som Ødelegger’ (That Which Destroys) which announces its intentions by warning us with a shrill whistle right from the start – which then evolves into a hovering death, inches away from our heads, its whirring blades looking for a taste of blood, flesh, bone, and sinew. What makes it even more terrifying is that we’re engulfed in a putrid darkness, a black-hole so dark that not even light can penetrate, and we can only detect its presence from the fetid stink these machines exude.
Side Two is a different creature altogether. The emphasis here is on a lighter atmosphere, but nevertheless the darkness hasn’t quite fled. It’s more structured, less reliant on abstraction and more on a sweeping sense of the cinematic and visual. Indeed, on the opening track ‘Isolasjon’ (Google translates it as Insulation, but perhaps Isolation would be better) we’re treated to shimmering ringing tones carrying an actual tune on its back before degrading into an endlessly-building seismic wave of granular noise that threatens to overwhelm. Just before it breaks, it abruptly disappears totally, leaving a ringing, deafening, wondering silence in its wake. As a finale, ‘Kaldere Nå’ (Cooler Now) brings us short, spooky, repetitive guitar phrases which sound as if they’re ghostly voices out of the distance – are they being sung by someone or are they merely recordings from the past, a past consigned to the past like ashes in a wind?
This wonderful album is awash with dankness, decay, filth, and degradation, even in its ‘lighter’ moments. What it says to me is that death doesn’t have to come for us in the dark – it can claim us on the brightest of days, at the happiest of times. In short, just remember to keep your eyes open.
Psymon Marshall 2019.