Autokrator1This rather nasty French act have only been around since 2014 and in that time have released 2 albums in quick succession. Both of them turned up for perusal here and I can’t say the experience has been particularly pleasant. Don’t take that the wrong way this exercise in authoritarian noise was never meant to be particularly easy listening and a clue is given in the fact that the act contains Loic F of abrasive industrial death act N.K.V.D. in their ranks and I can’t say I have completely recovered from his 2014 release Hakmarrja from that particular project.

The self-titled debut album [6.5] is quickly established as an exercise of black, bilious, bottomless pit sounding brutality as it burrows in. Back when it was released the group were a 5 piece and their brand of “suffocating death metal” certainly lives up to that particular tag. The drumming by Oleg I also of Lycanthropy and ex Dagor Dagorath among many others is particularly thick and tarry, its battery pretty much drowns everything else out as it bruises and pulverises away. Vocals are divided on the tracks between David Bailey and Brandon L. They are at first full of bile and growl away behind the drums with guitar and bass chugging and lurking in the mire too. It’s not an easy production to get into as it is so thick and cloying, anything subtle is pretty much lost by the devastating rumble powering along like an unstoppable war machine. War it is too as the group are looking back historically here to the might of the Roman Empire and fixate on its bloody history and Empirical rage over tracks such as ‘Exsuperator’ and ‘The Filthy Pig Of Rome.’ Caesar, Caligula it’s all there in a filthy depravity of obtuse noise. There is an underlying militancy as it strides along and you can just about make its swagger out under the surface along with the industrialised snarl of the vocals. It has a rather unique feel about it although advocates of abrasive sound like Portal will find themselves happily swallowed whole here. Brief ambient interludes break things up a little and the slow martial rhythm and eerie spoken word track ‘Autokrator’ at the half way mark allows you to grab a breath. On the whole though this is a full bloodied and excessive lesson in force. Thankfully at just over the half hour mark it’s just about manageable but as for playing both albums back to back, only the hardiest and harshest of listener will persevere.

Autokrator2By new album The ‘Obedience To Authority’[7] obviously all had not been doing what they were told as the line-up is stripped down to just Loic F and David Bailey. Track titles are numerically entitled and lyrically it’s an exercise in punishment and fear with methods such as Waterboarding, Blow Torching, Strangulation and Electrocution being advocated. Naturally with this in mind the music is as harsh as its predecessor, no quarter or mercy is given here. Perhaps it’s fitting that humanity has been taken out of the now programmed drums but after sound effects of one of the aforementioned forms of torture they hellishly clatter in along with Bailey’s hellish vocal diatribe. Production is still thick and obtuse along with it all and there’s little hint of discernable melody amidst the thundering melange of noise. Perhaps as lyrics contest they are using this assault as a political weapon against terror or hoping that the authorities discover and use it as a shady means of interrogation. It would certainly do the job as well as anything else imaginable although perhaps the interludes of ambience should be cut out, although they do help project an air of grim foreboding nihilism. The industrial vibe is more fully realised with them and the robotic sounding rhythms as the anti-music is churned out. It’s enough to leave you feeling disorientated and giddy the project at one point states “we only ask for fear” and there’s no denying the fact this is its very template. All you can do as a listener is dig in for the 36 minute duration and hope you manage to come through it all at the other end. If you are after a musical endurance test seek and throw yourself into the abyss of Autokrator; just don’t go sending us your psychiatry bill; this is very grim art!

(Pete Woods)