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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

VA - - In Tenebris Scriptus - A dark aural tribute to H [Eighth Tower Records - 2018]

The name of Howard Phillips Lovecraft is firmly inscribed in the mass culture. The works of the great writer, the inventor of the Necronomicon and the Cthulhu Mythos, inspire filmmakers, artists, and musicians. It is difficult to say how many musical groups appealed to the work of Lovecraft and how many tributes have been made.

The Italian label Eighth Tower Records, specializing in dark experimental music, including Ambient and Drone, decided to contribute to the writer's legacy by releasing a compilation "In Tenebris Scriptus - A dark aural tribute to H. Lovecraft". The album is released on CD in a edition of50 copies, and in a digital version and is all available for ordering.

The cover of the compilation is simple yet effective - a stone texture of a muted blue color. Above is the inscription Eighth Tower Records Presents, and below is the name of the album. The inscriptions are made in slightly distorted font of dirty yellow color with a, possibly also, stone texture. On the back, there is a photograph of the petrified remains of some deep-sea creature lying on the sea bottom. On the left on the black vertical strip is a quote from Lovecraft's work, a list of participants and their compositions, as well as legal information.

Twelve projects took part in the creation of the album. Accordingly, the album features twelve tracks, with a total duration of 1 hour and 8 minutes. Since this is a compilation, I’ll talk about each track a little more.

The album opens with the track "Dwelling In Mayhem" from the project Monocube. The alarming and slow spatial sound of an acoustic guitar, carrying slightly Arabian notes, is supported by a background of buzzing electric sounds and discharges, gradually disappearing and giving way to an electric surrounding drone. While listening to the track, comparisons with Bad Sector came to mind. And as an opener is extremely well placed, nicely ushing the listener into an alarming cosmic atmosphere.

The second track is Corona Barathri, and is entitled "Litania Antiquis". A female voice reads an ancient Sumerian spell, the voice transforms into a demonic growl that continues to read. In parallel with this comes the low sound of the cello, ghostly chorals and the sound of bells. There are many ambient sounds, such as the noise of falling drops, creaks, echoes ... Sometimes we can hear female singing. The vocalist's voice reminded me of the singing style of Francesca Nicoli. The track left a very good impression, recalling a mixture of Raison d'Etre and Ataraxia.

The next track mixes together a more industrial and electrical sound, with atmospheric background & the growling of invisible monsters under the distant clatter of tribal drums. This is a from Nihil Impvlse titled "Astrophobos". The track is not bad, it supports the previous compositions atmosphere, but made in a more abrupt manner.

The fourth track is titled "Corona Nyarlathotepis" and presents us the project The Serpent. In the beginning, we hear the footsteps of a man who approaches the water, enters it and plunges into the depths. Then the synthesizers appear- all quite atmospheric. They conduct an improvisational melodic line, slightly similar to the Middle Eastern motifs. The track is sustained in the spirit of the sound of classical synthesizers, nevertheless, towards the end of turning into a ringing Drone. At the end of the track, we hear a gurgling, inhuman voice, uttering a few words in an unearthly language.

Sonologyst follows with the track titled "Cryptic Realms". This is the shortest track on the album. It lasts just over two minutes. We hear a dissonant synthesizer cacophony on high notes, processed by a strong delay. By the end of the track, cacophony calms down and fades with single notes. The track is ambiguous. It is very much out of the general mood of the compilation. It also seems hastily created, and sadly didn’t do much for me

The sixth track is from Noctilucant, and is entitled "The Haunter of the dark"- this begins with the noise of falling water. Then slowly but surely atmospheric sounds and effects of rather low tones, reminiscent of the wind enter. Next, we can hear something like bells with a slightly distorted sound. The track ends with a quote from Lovecraft's work, which is pronounced by an emotional male voice. The impression of the track remained quite good but disappointed a little dirty, not very balanced sound.

The seventh place belongs to the project Martyria and their track "A light on the hilltops". It starts with a single drum beat, then comes a drone that resembles a distorted tanpura sound. Next, a low-tuned flute joins. A male whisper reads Lovecraft's verses. The rhythm of tribal drums becomes more intense and diverse. Then everything fades away. In my opinion, this is one of the best tracks on this album. The gloomy hypnotic atmosphere and style, close to the Indian raga, left a very good impression.

The next track is called "Dagon (MMXX)" and recorded by Xerxes The Dark. The roar of monsters intersected with a metallic knock, buzz, electric creaking and atmospheric background. Unfortunately, the track is made somewhat shrill. The pitch-shifting effect is very audible. A weak balance of frequencies is noticeable. Sometimes the midrange very strongly prevails, which creates discomfort when listening.

Moloch Conspiracy presents the ninth track "The Shadow over Innsmouth". We hear the surf and the throbbing humming brass section with low notes. Then comes higher notes, along with a few stringed instruments and rare bells come in. At the same time, the sound of the waves does not stop, we can hear footsteps and some other sounds. This track is more like a part of the soundtrack, rather than an independent work. I did not hear the finished composition. It creates the feeling that this is part of something more, an excerpt that does not have a beginning and an end. Nevertheless, the Lovecraft's atmosphere is transferred perfectly.

The tenth track is the longest track on the album. It comes in at the 7.30 minutes, is entitled "Out of the Aeons" and recorded by project New Risen Throne. The track begins with a distant drone of pipes, whispers and infernal sounds resembling wind gusts. In the middle of the track, aggressive tribal drums enter. Closer to completion, the sound becomes calmer, turning into an atmospheric Dark Ambient. This is a very strong track, gloomy, anxious and aggressive.

Next comes Adonai Atrophia with the track "The Black Seas of Infinity". Boiling ringing high notes against a background of deep low growling buzz. They disappear to the end of the track, leaving only a low, slowly pulsating drones. This is a great example of minimalistic Dark Ambient. A simple sound line, slightly changing for 6 minutes, bring one into a gloomy trance.

The final twelfth track is Hezaliel with their track, which title is the apotheosis of Lovecraft's myths - "Chtulhu". The dark, gloomy and atmospheric sound seems to rise from the depths of the ancient ocean, foreshadowing the death of all civilizations in the history of the planet. The track is quite diverse, with a lot of atmospheric effects, perfectly conveying the atmosphere of ancient horror. However, the track is not exactly smooth in terms of sound balance, sometimes the middle frequencies play a major role. Again this was one of my lesser favorite tracks here.

So, this Dark Ambient / Drone tribute turned out pretty solid and strong. The atmosphere of the tracks (with the exception of a couple of pieces) fits well with each other, without creating the disjointedness that is often present on the compilations. I should especially note the tracks from Monocube, Corona Barathri, New Risen Throne and Martyria. Unfortunately, tracks from Xerxes The Dark and Sonologyst sputtered from the general atmosphere. If Xerxes The Dark made a track in a style that, in general, suited to this collection, then the Sonologyst track, in my opinion, is superfluous here.

This is not the first or the last album dedicated to the work of the great Lovecraft. And I’m sure that in the future we will hear many compilations based on his work. Nevertheless, this compilation on Eighth Tower Records can take its honorable place among decent initiations of Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Sergey Pakhomov
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