Monday, 3 February 2020

V:XII - Rom, Rune, and Ruin – The Odium Disciplina

Artist: V:XII
Catalogue no: ADCD 068

     1.      The New Black
     2.      Maðr  
     3.      Twining Rope
     4.      Djävulsögon – Deconstructing the Bloodwolf
     5.      Ururz
     6.      Yawning Void
     7.      B.A.H.F.
     8.      Vànagandr

The name may be new, but the artist behind this project isn’t – Daniel Jansson, better known as Deadwood, and also as a member of Blodulv, Culted, Aum Arrhythmia, and Kepler’s Odd. As Deadwood he released a couple of albums on Cold Spring Records, albums which were full of death noise and black industrial aesthetics, and now he returns to the noise fold with this new iteration, a project which has definitely risen phoenix-like from Deadwood. And let’s not beat around the proverbial bush here – this is as blackened, twisted, rusted, and magnificent as any of Deadwood’s output.

‘The New Black’ sweeps in on a low strafing run, washes of rumbling shadows accompanied by roiling thunderous oscillations and demonic winds. As an opening statement of intent, it sets the tone and substance of what’s to follow: missives from the Darklands, despatches from a defiled and defiling dimension, bringing ruin and devastation in cascades of debris and choking dust. This album appears to want to leave no one standing, no survivors, and no witnesses. ‘Maðr’ (Man), the following track, practically dispenses with any kind of preamble and lets rip with industrialised machine grind, all whirling blades and crushing grindstones, crunching on flesh and bone, only to spit out a pulverised bloody processed pulp at the end. This is the endpoint of mankind’s loss of soul, the point at which we have metamorphosed into ‘things’, and become nothing more than commodities.

‘Twining Rope’ is the next bullet-point in this manifesto of despair and destruction. It begins deceptively, rumblings and grindings going off in the distance before exploding into a slow pulsing beat that mirrors the inexorable march of ‘progress’ towards a dark event horizon, leading to a place of dreary uniformity inhabited by a lacklustre humanity and characterised by colourlessness. Black clouds lower above the heads of an oppressed population, trudging their way to the industrialised abattoirs in order to fulfil their so-called obligations to ‘society’.

Next up is ‘Djävulsögon – Deconstructing the Bloodwolf’ featuring lyrics by Magnus Långberg (Blodulv, Kepler’s Odd, Crest), whichhits between the eyes with a deeply reverberant drumbeat set against a backdrop of cold winds and jagged rips, emanating from a freezing location somewhere in the depths of Hades. Djävulsögon means Devil Eyes in Swedish, an appropriate title as what we’re hearing hints at something deeply subterranean and inimical to those who live above ground in the light of day. Massive raspy and grainy noise provides a suitable platform upon which Jansson growls out vituperation and bile. Whatever has emerged hates what daylight and the human race represents, standing as these things do for everything that this hellish creatures isn’t or perhaps would wish to be. Deeply seismic and crushing, perhaps this piece equates to death and destruction, a motivation to destroy that which one hates or doesn’t understand.

A sustained grainy bass note is our introduction to ‘Ururz’, which quickly develops into a powerful percussion-driven blast, a perfect vehicle for more growls and guttural lyrics. For some reason this particular piece reminds me of a John Martin painting, an eighteenth century artist whose gigantic canvasses depicted scenes of biblical apocalypse, full of fire and devastation. ‘Yawning Void’ could easily be about the aftermath of the previous apocalyptic upheaval, sparse instrumentation floating above a groaning rumble, while whispered vocals emerge from the depths of the earth, a baleful voice that warns of future trials and tribulations. Before it the very ground trembles. ‘B.A.H.F’ (which could mean Brimstone And Hell Fire for all I know) ups the ante, a blast of voice and crushing, crashing noise from the moment it starts. The key here is again vituperation and castigation, even in the quieter moments with their sweeping oscillations. Gradually weight reasserts itself, and comes crashing down upon all our heads.

Finally, the whole picture is completed with ‘Vànagandr’, a frigid blast of cold hurricane winds from the land of the Ice Giants accompanied by a drumbeat, signalling Ragnarok and the end of all things. A quiet voice, buried deep in the mix, whispers indistinct words, words which seem to be snatched away by the winds before they’ve even had a chance to reach our ears. Even if we could hear them, would we heed them? Perhaps it all means we will greet our end with the ignorance we as a species seem to possess, still believing that this will blow over and we’ll survive somehow, blissfully unaware that extinction is our only choice.

Without a doubt, this is a monster of an album, an unstoppable juggernaut intent on steamrollering its way over us with barely a hint of remorse or compassion. This, inevitably, is the way of all things, and humanity in its hubris always forgets this. We are not a permanent fixture, and when we go extinct the universe will not weep. Perhaps, in some future time, when the sun becomes a bloated parody of its younger self and is about to engulf Mother Earth, the last earthling will be listening to an old recording of this album, deeming it a fitting accompaniment to ultimate destruction. This is a welcome return for Daniel Jansson and an essential doom electronics album.

Available from February 14th 2020 from either of these sites:

Psymon Marshall 2020.

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