Naming themselves after the “Soviet RDS-220 hydrogen bomb which is the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated” and with artwork in poppy shape with a scene of trench warfare it’s a case of lest we forget here from this group collective from the Belgian underground. Premise aside this is a rather interesting in itself as the original 8 tracks were released in 2018 on 2 cassette tapes. Each side of the tapes had 2 tracks and different vocalists. Here we get the Consouling mix on CD along with a bonus track with a fifth singer.
The musicians behind it all are KJM (Amenra ) & MPH (Liar) and both in Hive Destruction. Digging had to be done to find just where they and the guest vocalists come from and fit into the grand scheme of things.
On first listen this was slightly bewildering and trying to work out where it all fits in musically was the main objective. Blackened crusty sludge would be a good description I guess and it was a case of establishing a riff, blazing away repetitively at it for anything between 5-8 minutes and have someone screaming over the top. That’s the short version but more is discovered on repeated plays. However, on the first couple of tracks with Jenci Vervaeke of VVounds at the helm vocally this is not such a bad description of what is going on. Starting with a chilling newscast sample about bombings ‘L’Appel Du Vide’ eventually throws into the void and hell is unleashed. Very much constant with bands within the Belgian scene this is a full-on bloody tumult of flailing guitars densely furrowing away and this is pretty much the modus operandi for the entire album, giving the listener one hell of a shelling and leaving shocked in the process. Grind, crust and blackness are very much the name of the game giving the idea that “war is hell” in a musical blitzkrieg. More definition is provided by second vocalist Hans Verbeke prominently known for his work in metalcore outfit Liar. The intensity of the music had reminded a bit of Anaal Nathrakh at times and with Hans actually reaching a soul clamouring, hitting the rafters croon on ‘Triumphant on the Ruins of the World’ this idea is intensified by track title, billowing sound and vocals. The bit of grimly fiendish WWI sounding music hall keyboards at the end of this is particularly ghostly and atmospheric, allowing a snatch of breath before we are thrown into tumult once more.
It’s not completely a Belgian effort as the next couple of tracks see Portuguese grind vocalist Paulo Rui of Besta joining the melee. A lone guitar chord, spoken word solemnity and tribal slow drum hits take into Numbers Delight and the harsh vocals are roughly hewn out as things build and explode in a nasty and caustic fashion. There’s nothing pleasant about this at all and perhaps with one vocalist throughout at nearly an hour long this would be a bit tough to take in one hit. The apocalyptic strimming on ‘Lost God’ is a particularly hellish musical vision. The different styles though really do it plenty of favours and although none are particularly taking preference over another variety here is very much the spice of death. Dehn Sora part of the Church Of Ra collective and active participant in Throane, Ovtrenoir amidst others is on hand next. After some looser guitar tones ‘Onction’ sees violence crashes in and this gallops of headlong into the battlefield. Vocals take a while and are more in the background here, gurgling away and needing you to strain to really hear them. Some weird electronic components and faint chanting makes this particularly eerie though and some dark drama comes into play with it all. Bonus track Damocles seems to have a bassier production tone and so I guess could be recorded separately. Bram Coussement of Hessian seems to be the final shouter and that he does well with much more pronouncement than what we heard on the last couple of tracks, giving it a booming core feel in the process with a punk bounce and some chaos from the guitars too. Rougher and rawer in effect.
Is this a one off, a to be continued with other guests, likely to be expanded to play live? No answers on that front but this has definitely grown on me over repeated listens. “The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure.” Lyndon B. Johnson
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)