New Releases from Malignant Records

Malignant Records has been offering up some of the best releases in the dark ambient, industrial, and power electronics (and related) genres for years now, so whenever there are new Malignant releases, you have good reason to stop whatever you're doing in order to check out what's new. These two albums actually came out at the end of 2011

First is the latest from Portugal's Sektor 304, Subliminal Actions; like a lot of Malignant bands, Sektor 304 latches onto all of the aforementioned genres, along with a sparing yet impossible-to-ignore dose of what we might call grind. That may sound like nothing particularly special, but Sektor 304 have made a pretty good record using those sounds to find the desperate void that the album inhabits.

The overwhelming vibe on the record is that of chaos, but it would be unfair, not to mention inaccurate, to stop there. While dark ambient chaos lays the foundation for the sound of the album, there is a rhythm - or more precisely, there are rhythms - that provide a twisted sort of structure for the songs and the album as a whole. At times, those beats will pound you into nothingness, while at other moments, the bass-heavy tremors will lull you further into the desolate emptiness at the heart of Subliminal Actions.

Overall, the record is thick and dense; there's not a whole lot of space to be found on this record, and while I may praise other bands and albums in these genres for their ability to make expert use of silence and empty spaces, the claustrophobia works very well here. It almost feels like if you were to take a second to try to breathe, you'd be sucked in by the machine and drowned in waste anyway.

The only problem I have with the record is that it seems a bit uneven at times, and some of the tracks ("Terminal Stage") seem unnecessarily long and directionless. A small but significant portion of the middle of the record seems to meander through the muck, though I have to admit that this meandering makes the payoff on "Concrete Islands" and the subsequent tracks all the more worthwhile, with the record finally ending ending in the triumphant yet abject misery of "The Prismatic Sun" (the album's best track by far).

And then there is the debut album, And The Void Shall Pierce Their Eyes, by one-man ambient-industrial metal project Hypsiphrone. The man behind this project, Algol S. is apparently from Greece; that's all the info I knew going into this, and I found that while listening to this record, it was better that I knew absolutely nothing else about Algol S. or anything else related to the album, because that left me entirely unprepared for the visceral yet cerebral onslaught that it has to offer. I've had some trouble writing about it, because I'm honestly left quite speechless.

There's nothing uneven about this record; it is relentless in it's cold, oppressive approach to creating true spiritual darkness. It seems to embrace the dichotomy of simple complexity; while not a minimalist recording by any stretch, the atmospheric shroud created by the wide variety of sounds employed by Algol S. is nevertheless straightforward in its end result: the "expression of the female archetype in its darkest, most frightening aspect." Perhaps that doesn't seem simple, but once you hear it, I think you'll have no choice but to understand. The music wraps itself around you and forces you to come to grips with its reality, whether you want to or not. Listen to samples on the band's website, linked to above.

This is a violent and emotionally cathartic album that demands to be heard. It is quite honestly one of the heaviest things I've heard in a good while, both in the abstract and more literal sense. Very highly recommended.

***

Both of these albums are available now from Malignant Records.

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