As I mentioned in my review of [Coldstrain] on these pages, Russian black ambient sorcerers Karna are now no more. Despite this it appears that they managed to slip a final full length album ‘Circle Of Nav’ past me on Russian label Assault Records last year, just before their demise. One that did not escape was this swansong collection Nekronautica on new and very promising label Spectral Halls Productions.

This is a compilation made up of previously unreleased mini albums and rare tracks. It is also one to settle down with, shut out the world beyond the window and be prepared to meditate as the soundscapes wash over you. The album lasts a full 75 minutes and at times will be a soundtrack for you to think and dream around and be mesmerised as it unfolds. This is very much the case of the first long funereal segment taken from the three track ‘Omega.’  ‘Lost In The Dark’ is a somnambulistic wander that is at times quite nightmarish as strange noises build around a disquieting drone and wailing noise. This alone is ten minutes long and the third part of this trilogy is even longer. Parts of this are very minimalist and will not be for everyone, those cosmonauts who surf the ether will however be in a very familiar terrain as things slowly build and the horror behind it begins to manifest itself. The piano interlude ‘Scars’ which divides these tracks comes as relief, it is very reminiscent of the theme from Nekromantik to my ears and ghostly with it.  Merging both distortion and gloomy piano work over into ‘Behind The Mask Of Sanity’ I am reminded a bit of Halloween and Phantasm it has that sort of feel to it and it is a thoroughly unpleasant one before silence abruptly hits.

The buzzing of flies takes us to ‘DeadScreamingForest’ the three episodes of which we are informed are in form as a bit of a homage to Sam Raimi’s seminal Evil Dead! Great, throw me into a bookcase and call me Ashley. Nothing in the way of humour though, just a cold shiver of dread that spreads from the low tolling drone and humming of flies around the ‘Carrion’ of the first part. The gloomy grim of ‘Wind In Trees’ gets ever closer to attack, we have all seen the film and know the woods are evil incarnate and the music is taught and full of tension. ‘Sunset’ brings no release or relief. The evil is quieter and slumbering but it has spread its contagion and darkness is but a heartbeat away again. Totally atmospheric and downright creepy this is an excellent tribute to one of horrors greatest movies; head, nail, hit!

Solitude comprises of two parts and was never released. It’s a tribute again but a very different one being to the artists dead mother. It makes it difficult to put into words what I am hearing but it is very ghostly and again spine-chilling stuff. The title alone ‘Woman In Empty Rooms’ casts a cold dark shroud.

Finally we have two stand alone tracks. A dripping tap sees ‘The Coldness Of Serpent Skin’ exuding a feel of abandonment made even more sinister by a young girl singing and chanting. One gets the thought in their head it is the spirit of a child who was tortured and cruelly slain here. A sudden scathing welter of sounds and orgasmic male groaning only enforce this, is it the clash of steel hitting bone on the violated and innocent soul? It sounds like it to my jaded mind.

‘Faceless’ is another previously unreleased track and finishes off the compilation, leaving it to ebb out and for the listener to contemplate just what they have heard over the last hour and a quarter. It is not done without a few ominous clanks and it will leave you with a feeling of disquiet and fear, not allowing you to forget its cast which lingers in the memory like a particularly virulent nightmare.

Karna were without doubt one of the greatest practitioners of this style of music and the fertile minds of the group have created some real cold overtures that are well worth seeking out. This compilation is no exception to the rule and is as scary as any piece of music you could imagine.  Now if only they had managed to combine their music with the work of director Andrey Iskanov we really would have found ourselves thrown into the darkest pits of hell.

[8/10 Pete Woods]