I’m always a bit suspicious of albums, which claim to be ground-breaking. In this case it’s a “ground-breaking album that defies conventions and bends perceptions. A twisted interpretation of black metal laced with ambient textures and unpredictable experimentation turns the professed genre on its head”. Whilst I understand that albums have to be presented as something, claims of being the most original album ever made can be counter-productive and often result in disappointment, I find.
I can’t argue with the description “experimental”. The first of the three long outputs, “As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh part I”, has a deltic-like drone and what sounds like a guy having a great time creating electronically-derived cosmic sounds. Waves drift in and out just like falling in and out of consciousness, but there’s no constancy as random sounds enter this woozy void like spanners entering works. An English voice, reminiscent perhaps of Michael Moorcock on Hawkwind’s “Space Ritual”, speaks in all this cosmic cacophony. Part II follows and is altogether more violent. Abnormal sound structures are the disorder of the day. I couldn’t really see where this linked into part I – they do have the same title after all – but on its own it’s a mind-twisting romp. A “twisted interpretation of black metal”, indeed. Screaming and whistling and sheer dissonance continue without abatement, culminating in the sound of aeroplanes in some extra terrestrial horror film. I like the progression of it, and the sheer kaleidoscope of sounds and atmospheres. There is somewhere a ghastly story being told in there. It’s metal dissonance but turns to a more classical mode before breaking down and closing. Check out Stockhausen’s “Helicopter String Quartet” or something by the experimentalist John Cage, and you’re on the right lines. I’d say that Stockhausen is more skilful at creating the ambiance from experimentation and making it meaningful. Whilst I couldn’t detect anything original, MRTVI nevertheless follow a type of pattern where impressions and images are created out of the apparent chaos.
The twenty minute title track takes the chaotic violence several steps further. Ambiance is no longer an issue. Screams are superimposed on this musical catastrophe. We’re in the apocalyptic world of Aborym and Anaal Nathrakh here. It’s not pleasing on the ear but then that was never the intention. Walls are tumbling down decadently. The drums represent the collapse of buildings. It sounds like people are dying in an apocalyptic storm. Distorted and harsh instrumentals stress the surreal. The instrumental chaos continues and the tortured screams of suffering show no sign of abating. The level of tension is always fever pitch. This is a twenty minute exercise in extremity with no surprise element.
This didn’t shock me as the publicity suggested it might. In fact it seemed almost a case of trying too hard to be shocking. The title track is in my view was overplayed to the point of monotony. But as a whole I did find the anarchic chaos of the aptly titled “Negative Atonal Dissonance” interesting.
(7/10 Andrew Doherty)