StEA taps the same vein as A Journey's End (1998) did before it, a vein that connects with and feeds from the lifeblood of nature itself. The result is a flowing, pulsing musical intention capable of supporting the aggressive mourning that manifests in Nemtheanga's transition from clean vocals to screechy rasps; as he sings of bygone days, we share in the affecting pangs of loss.
The Black Metal influences are never far from the surface but they've been made to fit Primordial's template, not the other way around.
Akin to its predecessor’s album, Revolutions’ stand-alone musical offering opens well, with rapid-fire, churning percussive elements that crest from quieter idylls, hitting in scintillating fits and swells. Without the pacing provided by the film proper, however, the center’s more generic stretch unfortunately becomes somewhat shrill. The final quarter of the track listening is where things get exciting, with Smith and Neo’s own take on Sephiroth’s One Winged Angel, and a roiling, expansive suite-unto-itself, which incorporates that track’s forceful chants as well as Indian vocals and scripture, over bubbling electronic undertones. Ultimately, though, while I’d argue this is a more tidy listen than Reloaded’s fractured smorgasbord, I can really only recommend this particular release to completist fans.
Listening to La Masquerade Infernale conjures images of a theatrical, costumed ball taking place during a lunar eclipse, populated with people in grotesque animal masks who indulge in all kinds of icky vices at the drop of a hat. It's an almost vaudevillian exploration of what 'metal' can be. In plainer terms, the words 'avant-garde' and 'Norway' will tell you some of what you need to know.
The dissonance and daring semi-operatic vocal style will alienate many hardcore fans, but those that connect to the madness will likely still love it even after they see through the veil and become more familiar with its inner workings.
With spoken word performances it's natural to give your full attention to the first listen, but there's a different, no less valid appreciation attained from repeated listens; such it is with Snakes and Ladders. When the mind drifts or loses focus, or when words lose their distinctiveness and become hypnotic triggers, there's a semi-unconscious feeling that what's being spoken is deeply poignant, magickal and filled with enduring mystery. Eventually, stand out words, sure to be different for each listener, will inevitably draw you back in, but the musings that were birthed in the interim will hopefully have served their purpose. Moore never falters, letting up only when it suits. In those instances the music of Tim Perkins takes centre stage whilst never betraying its primary supporting role of providing an aural chalice within which the words reverberate.
Songs of Note: The Gates of Tears; Stars and Garters
Some of these songs are easily decipherable while others are opaque at best and completely bonkers at ‘worst.’ There exist official explanations for each but I have no need of them. My own interpretations are far more satisfying as I have no wish to lose the mystical fascination I’ve always had with this album. While Costello often contents himself with hiding sharp, biting declarations inside pop sensibilities shimmering enough to make your head spin, here he was completely unafraid to indulge his most outlandish and strangely compelling songwriting instincts. Honestly, where else can one find restrained diatribes against world leaders rubbing shoulders with the first-person musings of prominent after-life denizens?
The first disc hits hard out of the gate and finishes strong. It’s the nu-metal filled chasm between Rob Dougan’s masterful, pseudo-symphonic cool and Rage Against the Machine’s grounding contribution that destroys any chance of this being an uninterrupted listen. I’m fairly incapable of separating the score from the visuals and concepts of the film itself and, consequently, while it's commercially presented as brief tracks and a singular suite, I’m still surprisingly content. Don Davis and Juno Reactor’s duels result in both terse and spacious interludes that sometimes build and sometimes jump between demanding of you subtle, DJ-worthy grooving and wide-grinned heart palpitations. Only slightly less gripping than the film, because what flies, soars, turds be damned.
You'll find WM classed as an album, E.P. or even a maxi-single, depending on where you shop, but whatever the truth, clocking in at almost 45 minutes means it doesn't exactly skimp on content, even if it is mostly just 'dicked around' remixes of songs from Fook (1992). After the intensity of that album, the surprise of quieter tracks that are distant, hypnotic cousins of something that might be Ambient Dub was a big surprise; but surprise is what Pigface did best in those days. It's difficult to categorise. It even confuses some CD players; I'm not even kidding.
The soundtrack to Lynch's Dune is as patterned and layered as the film itself: mournful thoughtfulness gives way to epic hero themes that—ironically, considering the setting—have the essence of giant waves crashing on distant shores. The most memorable motif is almost identical to part of Ronald Stein's The Haunted Palace (1963) score, but it works in both settings, so I'm able to forgive the 'coincidence'. The opposing factions and Houses are well-represented through varied use of percussion and there's even a romantic theme or two, should you feel the need for a dreamy accompaniment to the overwhelming heroism.
Track titles are super-spoilery, so, rather than pick what I consider the two best tracks, I'll instead showcase the first two on the album:
To less discerning minds, Art Alexakis could be seen as a forebear of Max Bemis. While it is true that he’s more than adept at letting you know that everything’s not alright, he’s also infinitely more inclined to offering the type of optimism Max rarely affords himself. Tempered optimism. Everything’ll still be fucked up, but less so, and that’s the best we can ever expect. His lyrics are hyper specific to his own experiences but the moments when his voice catches and takes on that strange resonance reveal how universally affecting they truly are.