2016 : Black Plagve/Malignant
Format : LP
Reviewing anything within the “Dark Ambient” genre is something I usually steer clear of, just because the reviews are usually boring. There’s a finite number of synonyms for “ominous”. However, when two of my favorite projects came together like some pact formed in Naraka, I felt like I owed it to (all five of) our readers, as well as myself, to put the proverbial pen to paper.
The DEATHSTENCH duo have been scaring children and creating their own version of Blackened Ritual Ambient for around five years now. Either solo or collaborating with the likes of the Demonologists or Trepaneringsritualen, their take on the genus includes a heavy Black Metal influence, usually incorporating some guitar into the mix. Phurpa are a collective of Russian musicians preforming the Tibetan ritual music of Bon, using traditional instruments and tantric throat singing. Incorporating a special attention to the visual, they’re an act that is completely mesmerizing to watch.
As far as I can tell, the LP consists of two, side long, untitled tracks. There’s no text on the sleeve, save for the title on the front cover, the spine, and a small label insignia. So let’s go with “untitled”, shall we? Side A begins with a sub-bass salvo, like the opening of the gates of Mordor, a rumbling so intense it rattled the windows, but I like it loud, of course. This is soon accompanied by sporadic strums of heavily distorted guitar. The hypnotic intonation of Phurpa soon follows, and the room is filled with the otherworldly dissonance of undiluted ritual, growing in urgency and volume until nothing else exists.
Side B is similar in execution, but a bit more foreboding and menacing. The tones are even deeper, spiraling downward into darker, chthonic realms. Again, I believe volume is the key, whether by headphones, or choosing the neighbor terrifying option provided by a system with rich, resonant bass. As clichéd as it may sound, with just a little effort on the part of the listener, you are literally transported. I do recommend some incense and candles for those looking for a transcendent experience. Now this isn’t to say that it’s a work suited for Ritual only, it can be just as enjoyable to the casual listener that appreciates stygian, Ambient music.
However this collaboration came to be, my hat goes off to you. It’s one of the better collaborations I’ve heard regardless of genre, and the production work from Billy Anderson doesn’t hurt at all. As stated on the Malignant website, this release was created to assist the practitioner of a form of Tibetan Buddhism known as Chöd tap into the power of fear.