Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stratvm Terror/Human Larvae

Stratvm Terror - This Is My Own Hell
Reverse Alignment/Existence Establishment 1000 copies. CD digipak
Human Larvae - Home Is Where The Hurt Is.
Existence Establishment 500 copies. CD digipak
After tormenting myself for a whole week on these two discs I began to question my own sanity. Why do I write these reviews? Here I am trying to decide whether I like Stratvm Terror and their ‘atmosphere of pure desolation’ or not while two feet away from me lies a dozen other more palatable and entertaining platters. John Peel used to say that it was the records he wasn’t quite sure of that he liked best and this has always been something I can relate to but after sitting through This Is My Own Hell this last week I decided to get down off the fence and tell it as it is. It occurred to me that what we have here may be just about the most formulaic piece of crud to pass through these hands since the last Merzbow by numbers CD.
Press release mentions a certain Peter Andersson and my hackles are raised. Same Andersson who manages to find time to front several ‘dark ambient bleak industrial sit and listen in a dark room for full effect call them what you will outfits’ the most recognisable of which is Raison d’etre. I’ve listened to Raison d’etre and some of the stuff that leaks out of the Cold Meat Industry label and I find it too formulaic for my tastes. Trying to recreate the sound of everlasting hell seems to be their thing and once you’ve heard it, you’ve heard it and you don’t want to hear it again. Ever. It’s boring, repetitive, cold, un-involving, shiny on the outside dull in the middle ambient pap for people who think that music getting louder is scary. I like to think that Andersson has some kind of ‘bleak industrial sound’ software running where you can drag and drop the elements that constitute such a record; say clanking steel, anguished vocals, church bells and layer them on top of droning machinery and ritualistic drums. Make sure that each track begins at a barely audible level before getting louder and more TERRIFYING before disappearing into oblivion and you get the general idea. You need the artwork to go with it too don’t forget, hence a pastiche on Hieronymus Bosch which is yet another box ticked off. Call me a miserable cynic but I’ve had more rewarding listening experiences in supermarkets.
You could aim the same arrow at Human Larvae except that what we have here is made with so much more feeling and contains so much more passion that it makes Stratvm Terror sound like Burl Ives. Yes its a power electronics/Industrial ambience album and yes it contains plenty of PE clichés but its all done with such professionalism and with such care that you just cant help being impressed.
This is Human Larvae’s first full length release and there seems to have been a great feasting on classic PE albums. Track titles such as “I Do This Because I Love You’, ‘A Loss Too Great To Bear’ and ‘To Hide In Her Uterus And Hopefully Suffocate In Absolute Tranquility’ reveal a deep thinker at large thus elevating this from being just another misogynistic, misanthropic outing. Home Is Where The Hurt Is also contains some genuinely unsettling moments. The sound of a womans terrified screams on the aforementioned ‘I Do This ..’ is enough to bring comparison to darker Runzelstirn and Gurgelstock moments. My only complaint is that a lot of these tracks tend to outstay their welcome. There’s nine tracks here spanning an hour which, given the material and subject matter is heavy going. Still, crank up your stereo, get out your snuff mags and indulge in some solid PE. It sure beats replicating hell in your living room.

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