Sunday, 13 October 2019
Urschmerz - Misery Plan
Album: Misery Plan
Label: Malignant Records
Catalogue no: TumorCS128
Malignant Records is one of those labels who possess an instinctive grasp of what makes ‘good’ music, and I can tell you now that their latest release, on cassette only, is an absolute blinder. These seven tracks by Urschmerz (which translates to, appropriately enough in this case, Primal Pain) take me right back to the foundations of the industrial genre – massed noise, blistering attack that goes beyond even black/death metal, scorching nuclear blast that not only threatens to strip your skin off but comes close to actually doing so. This is what Hell would be like – industrialised slaughter and war, institutionalised torture and hate, illimitable pain and agony.
‘Hate’, the first track, doesn’t bother with any introductions, instead going for the sonic jugular right from the get-go. Pounding granular blasts, jet engines on full throttle, and a seething bassline lands right in your lap, then grabs your ears, and refuses to let go. The pace is relentlessly malevolent, never letting up until you’re overwhelmed. This is warfare, chaotic and completely unstoppable. Track, two, ‘People’, piles on more anger and agony, adding to and weighing us down with the sheer black misanthropy of it all. A cold blast of pale wind blows in from the depths of some deep pit, only to be followed by some kind of mechanical beast crawling up out of it. Its only intention is ruination, decimation, and annihilation. It feeds on our fear, our crushed bones and torn flesh, and sups on the blood that flows in gushing rivulets.
‘Deny’ is a grainy bass onslaught, pitched against what sounds like a lone flute that gradually evolves into full orchestral music and choirs, that insistent and overpowering graininess a solid wave destined to overwhelm and smother any last vestiges of ‘culture’. This is an army, not of soldiers, but of hellish nature throwing all its vast weight of seismic and granitic solidity at us. There is truly nothing we can do in the face of this aggression.
‘Birth’ comes next, a gargantuan pummelling of rumbling drone upon which rides bell-like minor tones, again with more than a whiff of chaotic roiling about it, a portrait perhaps of the cancerous thing we call life that we all so desperately cling to as if it means something. The thesis as I read it is that life has no meaning, that it is in fact just one endless sea of suffering and degradation: if it does have a meaning, then surely it’s that it’s all a sick joke played on us, and yet no one’s laughing.
‘Reject’ pummels in on a wave of old-style industrial/tribalistic drumming, a massive call to turn our backs on the lives we’ve created for ourselves in order to convince ourselves that everything we do has purpose. Slashing guitar attack weaves in and out of the pounding rhythm, adding even more fuel to a fire that’s been burning from time immemorial. Moreover, this isn’t the type of conflagration that we can subdue anytime soon. ‘Life’ follows swiftly, an atomic detonation of sound and concussion accompanied by a battalion-sized guitar assault, pulverising and grinding all into dust and atoms. This is what life is like – a behemoth intent on crushing and trampling, reducing every constituent into meaningless particulate, abrading our hopes and dreams, cursing us with pain and sorrow, and laughing at us all the while. Once everything has crumbled and turned to dust, what is left?
‘Death’ seems to be Urschmerz’s answer. If life is the question, then perhaps death is the answer, but does it solve anything? Judging by the acidic distorted chords of Urschmerz’s guitar the answer is probably that it’ll be more of the same, except on a different plane altogether. The pressure of life is seemingly increased in death, a lightless, airless ‘existence’ that subsumes the human spirit and subjects it to even more pain and agony than it endured in life. At last, of course, the punchline to the joke has been revealed – suffering is closely followed by further suffering until the substance of the soul itself dissolves into the everlasting night of No-Thing.
A bleak album then, appropriately so for a set of seven pieces delineating the reality of the bleak existence that is our lot on Earth. One cannot deny the qualities inherent in this release: the sheer power and weight of the argument, the lack of anything remotely resembling light (and by extension, hope), the utter uselessness of all that we as a species do in order to make ourselves feel and appear important. It’s a sweeping summation of homo sapiens as a species, and in seven fell swoops systematically destroys all pretentions. Having said that, this is an album that is magnificent in its transparent nihilism as well as being absolutely glorious in its complete dismissal of the feats and triumphs that mankind is wont to tout, instead laying bare the hollowness at the premise’s core. Better yet is the philosophy contained in its hidden message:
Hate People, Deny Birth, Reject Life. Death.
Available as a cassette from Malignant Records here:
It can also be obtained (along with a download version) from the Malignant Bandcamp page:
Psymon Marshall 2019.