Interesting all round here. Firstly this EP was presented in a small clamshell case (as was one by Tare delivered with it) containing a mini 3” CD and a cassette both with the recorded material on. This is a really nice way of doing things and to be honest the first examples I can think of to arrive in a double format of this kind.
Things get even more interesting when getting beneath the packaging and into the themes and music of Fatalism who are a cult underground act if ever there was one and one that appears to be the project of Eternal Death label boss Valder himself. The stark black and white image showing a naked woman on a rocky beach with strange crosses adorning it immediately made me smile in recognition as did the song titles ‘Isabelle,’ ‘Isolde’ and ‘Isle.’ I immediately knew what Fatalism’s muse was here; Jean Rollins fantastic 1971 gothic vampire delight Le Frisson des Vampires. This is one of the most gorgeous films of its kind, a lush, dreamy, poetic death trip of a fantasy, which needs a lot of skill and sensitivity to represent musically. It’s something that simply cannot be done in a run of the mill fashion and matching the tone of the film cannot be done in a standard death or black metal fashion that’s for sure. Luckily that is not the way Fatalism do things and they do match some of the descriptive words that I have used above and do things in a pretty unique way.
Fatalism describe themselves as ‘Ethereal Gloom’ and mention acts such as Negative Plane and Slowdive, which in itself is interesting enough. As Isabelle comes in with warped, wah laden guitar trembles you strain to hear what the vocals are saying in the background, low in the mix. They are clean and as with the music echoing somewhat. Luckily lyrics are provided and very much have the poeticism of the film at heart. Things build, tremble and quake but it’s difficult to categorise this at all. I keep wanting to use the term Death Rock as it is far heavier than standard gothic music and too experimental to call it black metal. I am reminded more of groups like Christian Death and perhaps vocally Wall Of Voodoo and maybe even Theatre Of Hate here, it’s all very intriguing and mesmerising, putting you in a trance as though you are waiting for the fangs of death to embrace. Valder and cohort Despondent Rift work from base minimalism to build things into dense soundscapes. ‘Isolde’ canters in the guitars sounding like a horse as those ethereal vocals waft around in the background. Nothing is rushed though and it’s all kind of soothing. Drums suddenly boom in and its only then you realise you had completely missed their presence as this gets into more storm laden peaks with the ever strident jagged guitar clamour eventually taking over and the song leading off down a more Bauhausian dark passage and firing out a blackened end assault, one that certainly has the Negative Plane comparison more than justified.
Fully ensnared by the grandeur and charms now as Isle has her part it’s a case of not knowing what is going to happen as the guitar strums build. Vocals are a bit louder in the mix here and by now I am used to the echoing delivery of them. This is a bit like being caught in a fever dream, again much in the same way as the Rollin film works. Melody is strong here and the use of keyboard adds to the twilight feeling of things as the song ebbs out and light turns to darkness. Last piece adds to the harmonic feel as the brilliantly entitled ‘Gloom Reaper’ wafts and floats in with vocal chants and blissful guitar tones.
These songs are all about mystery and imagination as far as I am concerned and the overall package has completely put a dark spell on me. It’s just under 25 minutes of music and I need more. Hopefully there will be some in the future. All hail this death cult at the link below and hear for yourself.
(8/10 Pete Woods)