Xiphoid Dementia - Prison of Hope [Divergent Series - 2020]Long awaited LP follow-up to 2012's Secular Hymns, Divergent Series unleashes Xiphoid Dementia's latest, Prison of Hope. Continually impossible to pigeonhole, Egan Budd (Existence Establishment, Headstone Brigade) rolls out the big guns for his full length return. Departing from and adding to his sound from his recent split with Bastard Noise, Xiphoid Dementia melds together cinematic grandeur, industrial urgency, bleak ambient, and almost pop sensibilities.
Emerging from the low, oily murk, the bubbling synths that open up Prison of Hope propel the track forward, while at the same time emphasizing the clinging and claustrophobic nature of the sounds put forth. Giving the listener respite from the sonic quicksand, XD adds in some distant, but encouraging, airy and clean notes. Giving space to breath between the rolling murk and the looping tones and samples ambulating just a but above, these highs open into a full-on cinematic soundscape fit for any aerial tour of a fantasy land. "Essence Concussion" shifts the tone back to metallic fervor and increases the propulsive element quite a bit. One can almost feel the Terminator hot on one's heels in this one, and the reverbed distortion helps to close the walls in further. It's impressive how the first side of this release can feel both open and claustrophobic at the same time. Side B ups the grimness ante quite a bit, and has a dark, mirrored effect to the beginning of Side A. "Blessed Byproduct" is short, rough, and a nice introduction into "Necrorotovator." Bleak death industrial punctuated with bouts of calm while the reverb decays, the mid track of Side B has some crushing boiler room industrial moments and distorted machine moans not that unlinke early Einleitungszeit. The closer to the album is the biggest surprise on the album. Playing like a freaked out version of darkwave, "Black Sunrise" takes the album in a completely different direction. While it doesn't sound like the previous tracks, it's like they all culminated in this track and it's a fitting conclusion to the album. Layers of synths and metallic hits form an almost pop like track on which Egan adds some cleanly sung vocals. Tough and beautiful, the horns add a tremendously soulful element and help to round out this surprise stunner.
Xiphoid Dementia's latest is a departure from his split with Bastard noise, and as always, is done well and welcome. Not one to rush out product, each of Egan's releases is deliberate and well thought out. With a nice LP by Divergent Series and artwork by Ghostsafe, Prison of Hope is a welcome addition to any industrial fan's collection.Paul Casey