NKVDParticularly grim and potent industrial dark art here from this French entity with a penchant for all things totalitarian and Russian. They adopt their name for a start after Stalin’s secret police and their music is equally oppressive and as frightening as a knock on the door from these shadowy figures who escorted people away never to be seen again. Following up 2011 album Vlast which I have not heard, the group is now just the one member L.F. who provides everything you hear musically and is responsible for adding some particularly sinister sounding samples to his craft throughout.

Exordium starts with what sounds like a Latin mass before expanding into soundscapes of ambient drones and harsh noise. It’s similar in feel to the likes of MZ412 and S.P.K as this self-described laboratory of death start hammering away with caustic tones and discordant clattering effects. It’s strident and nasty, putting you right on edge as various dictatorial voices seep through and things clank, and grind away. Guitars enter with the title track sharply before a deep, bass-heavy doomed, clamour burrows its way in with ghastly black vocal fug in the background. It’s very mechanical and without any shred of humanity about it and with this and the croaking vocals and themes behind it one is reminded of Attila Csihar and the cold Soviet narrative of his last contribution on Mayhem’s opus Esoteric Warfare. This is not warfare though but a work with extreme paranoia coursing and slithering through it moving between segments of atmospheric darkness and grim smog stained industrialism with spots of martial militancy to boot.

At times there is a constant babble of voices worming its way through your ears and there’s no escaping them. We have heard stories of music used to torture prisoners and places such as Guantanamo Bay and this would do the job very effectively as even when they finally stop on tracks such as ‘Wolfschanze’ the reverberating necrotic croaks summoned up from what sounds like the very pits of hell are enough to have the listener literally soiling their orange jump suits.

Although the brief resume here mentions the likes of Mysticum and Aborym this is not an artist that I would lump in with them, for a start although defiantly black in essence it provides its form of audial terror by stealth rather than a battering mind-set. This is not music to feel you have hope from even by pure destruction at means of the end of the world this spreads like a contagion, bleakly and without any help leaving you with the thought you have been locked away and forgotten with absolutely nothing to expect except the eventuality of death which cannot come quickly enough.

Occasional respites from choral outros and French resistance music (well that’s what it sounds like) this is ravenous, depressive and hate-filled nihilism. From the funeral marching bombast of ‘Travail Famille Patrie’ to the instrumental martial state of ‘Battalion Vostock’ this is a journey into a void from which there is no salvation. As we are harangued by howling yells of what sounds like doomed people being flung into a fiery pit and the music resolutely claws away on U.C.K. it is like the musical equivalent of Dante’s descent into hell. This may only be 41 minutes in length but many will still find it an endurance, playing it twice in a row in order to get this review written certainly was not a clever idea and it has me questioning my already more than frail sanity so I guess N.K.V.D. have done pretty much as they intended.

It would appear that they have decided to share their nightmares with the masses so if you want to you can stream the entire album yourself but with caution, this one bites!

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)