lithotomeMe and my big mouth. On reviewing the recent 4 way USBM split New World Black Metal I accused the Krieg track of being a bit on the melodic side. If I had known that main-man Imperial was at the time in the throes of recording with another artist on the split Esoterica and making some of the foulest sounds to be committed to disc in a long time I should have kept it shut! This is very much what you get with brand new project Lithotome and if you want to know what that is one look at the namesake instrument that is used for cutting the bladder in operations for the stone and your eyes will be watering as much as your ears will no doubt bleed on listening to the music.

Let’s get one thing straight from the off, music for pleasure this is not. This is music to match the ugliness and the harsh realities of life and to make you seethe and rage at the injustices and hatred of it all. The 6 tracks which run at around the 40 minute mark if anything are an endurance test to get through, there is nothing nice about them at all and that includes track titles. ‘Indoctrination’ sets the tone with bristling brooding electronics, somewhat alien sounding and a portent for the raging beast that is coming to consume all in its path. That appears in ‘Comavoid’ with slicing guitar sound, what could well be serial killer samples and a distasteful sluggish beat. Imperial gutturally rasps behind it and the music lurches into a stumbling fast move like it has decided to pursue you to the ends of the earth itself. Its ugly its hateful and it seethes, you can get a feel of the likes of Portal behind the shambling mass and maybe the unholy reach of Dragged In To Sunlight as well as obviously Imperial’s other nasty claustrophobic act The Royal Arch Blaspheme. I am not sure whether you would call the underlying instrumentation a melody as such but it does take form amidst the chasm etched void. Another brief sample and what sounds like a siren sees as drunkenly pitched into skewed dynamics of ‘Indulge The Flesh Of The Earth.’ Vocals are bereft of humanity and the primitive thudding of the drums picks up the pace with discordant cutting guitar work slicing away without any shred of mercy. Listening to the audial hell must be comparable to going cold turkey from hard drugs, your skin crawls and it virtually has you breaking into a fever. It’s a thoroughly nasty place to be in. Of course to spew this sort of thing out necessitates a certain amount of skill despite the primitivism at work and Esoterica has done a great job keeping all elements of the uncouth instrumentation constantly flowing like a burgeoning mass.

Tracks bleed into each other and there is little in the way of let up or chance of sanity being restored until a sudden depressive but clean guitar harmony summons in ‘A Halo’s Swarm Of Locust’ This is a brooding track though, all about the slow evisceration of prey rather than a destructive fast mass and it is every bit as effective especially with the unholy demonic vocal sermon giving no ounce of remorse. If you have made it this far well done, as final sermon ‘Mother Of Worms’ at over 11 minutes is really designed to finish you off. Sticking around is for those who would explore the outer reaches by opening the lament configuration and as it picks up the pace from the last track into a ghastly gallop it is like opening the very gate of hell and letting all manner of demons in. Slowing at the mid-point to garbled nonsensical vocals and what sounds like a disharmonic xylophone very faintly in the background the whole vibe here has descended into inhuman depravity. Pause for a throaty screech and wallop, the instrumentation piles back in racing like a competition to see how many souls can be claimed to the end.

For many people the score here would be a flat zero out of ten but this is not music for the masses, this is not even music for many but horrible distempered noise and all I can say is thanks to all that is unholy for someone being prepared to explore such uncharted territories for those that dare to listen to it. It is kind of difficult not coming back to Portal as there are obvious similarities but honestly this makes them sound a bit like a nursery rhyme and is one of the harshest albums I have had the displeasure to sit through in some time.

Hmmmm shall I play it again?

(8/10 Pete Woods)