This lengthy band name, which at first seems to be longer than the two tracks on the album, is in fact a collaboration of two bands. Trepaneringsritualen are an exponent of themes involving occult realms, while Sutekh Hexen, a black metal / noise band, talk of architects building great temples and unseen spaces. The two tracks, One Hundred Year Storm part 1 and part 2, provide us with 53 minutes worth of entertainment.
I’m not sure that “entertainment” is the right word as we’re captured from the outset inside an ambient sandstorm. Now and again there’s the sound of an indistinct but terrible scream, presumably of someone who is at the bottom of the chasm and unable to escape from the storm. It’s grey and gloomy but surprisingly not monotonous as the wind blows and fuzzy cosmic sounds surround us like a bad dream. Troum, Blut aus Nord and Cult of Luna all seem to have combined to give us this instrumental ambiance, which borders on noise and certainly doesn’t come from a place where we might want to be.
It all begins with sounds of industrial destruction, chaos and shimmering shards of falling material. Chasmic roars and deep echoes resound amid whistling emptiness. There is a constant drone. A sad guitar tone stands behind the vast echoes. It’s slow and horrible. A human voice can be heard but it’s a long way back and overpowered. The occasional anguished scream can be heard in this dismal and grey scene. The echoes become thunderous. The sound is now fuzzier. A blizzard is upon us. There are more ghastly screams like humans trying to resist something but they are sucked away. The squealing noise may be cosmic or industrial. Somehow it progresses in time in spite of the lack of escape or apparent advancement. Then the mood becomes more melancholic and reflective as it slows down. The lightness of the guitar contrasts with the impenetrable and haunting echoes. A cosmic drone continues to run the bleak soundscape. Like British weather the blizzard creeps up from nowhere and suddenly we’re immersed in a sea of swirling vastness. Strident industrial chords are struck, then the blizzard comes back with extra venom. As the buzzing drone becomes more persistent, the human cries are more anguished than ever. The minimalist guitar line reinforces the sadness and gloom. The cries become more helpless and angst-ridden, yet amid all this chaos it’s almost like a chant. Cosmic Forces 1, Humankind 0 is what I concluded as this hefty first part roars chaotically to its conclusion. And yet bizarrely it ends with a round of applause from a small but appreciative audience. It’s a live recording but it doesn’t ring true in the context of the vast territory they’ve been exploring.
The second part has a different ambiance from the first. With a slow build-up, it sounds as if there is a war going on in the background, while thumping industrialism peers strongly through the gloomy curtain. There’s more than a hint of Blut aus Nord here. The indistinct mechanical distortions are constant. Screams are occasional but this is more industrial than the first part. Human intervention is more subliminal as a mental picture is depicted of war horrors sitting behind the hazy and windswept gloom. Becoming ever more industrial, the drum beats mechanically. Metallic squeals can be heard, but above all it’s grey, bleak and surreal. As war-like grumbling takes over – a hundred year war, perhaps – there is chasmic heavy breathing and a steady progression of ambient noise. Mechanical processes, war, heavy breathing: it’s all hypnotising rather than exciting. War erupts through distortions, fires and inescapable bleakness. If it’s akin to anything on earth, it’s Eastern Front conditions. It ends with no conclusion.
I’m not sure whether I was supposed to make any sense of all this but “One Hundred Year Storm” creates evocative images of an apocalyptic kind, while invoking occasional recognisable sounds which serve to remind us how helpless we all are in the face of this storm. I couldn’t say it’s the most original piece of work I’ve ever heard but it’s atmospheric and profound.
(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)