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Death In June - The Wall Of Sacrifice Plus [New European Recordings/Steelwork Maschine - 2020]

Throughout it’s nearly forty years of existence controversial Neo-folk project Death In June has often dabbled in the sinister, darkly uneasy and subtly troubling. But, I think it’s fair to say of all of their twenty or so studio albums 1989’s The Wall Of Sacrifice stands as one of their most unsettling, blackly disorientating, and at points downright chilling, releases. Here we have a recent reissue of the album as a CD with bonus tracks, and a 3 track 7" all packaged in a 7" single-sized thick card gatefold sleeve.

The Wall Of Sacrifice first appeared in 1989 as a ltd vinyl pressing of 666 copies on DIJ’s own label New European Recordings - since then it’s had several reissues - on LP, cassette, and CD. This new version is presented in a 7" gatefold sleeve – it’s outside a regal red colour with glossy yellow screen printed old English text and the DIJ Whip Hand 6 logo. The gatefold opens up to show two pictures (one on either side) of a figure wearing a  creepy leaf-shaped mask, and holding a book about war & Nazi criminals. In the background is a table with what looks like an SS helmet, a knife, a stuffed crow, a vase of roses, and a small framed picture of gay French author Jean Genet. The CD is held by circle cuts on the second side. 

The release comes in three different versions - Black 72g 7" vinyl ltd to 200 copies, Yellow/Beer Colour 7" vinyl ltd to 500 copies, and Yellow/Beer/Red Splatter 7" vinyl ltd to 300 copies.
 
 
So, moving onto the music itself, and the thing that makes this album so darkly unsettling is the blend of longer more sinister, abstract tracks, with more common DIJ guitar & vocal tracks which are edgy within themselves, plus more chilling, uneasy samples and sound details. It’s not your typical DIJ album.
 
 
The album opens in fine, darkly disorientating form with the title track - the fifteen and a half minute piece begins with creepy vibe like hits. These start to run into each other as a doom bound tinkling high piano notation is added.  At around the minute mark, we get in addition marching drum work which fades in and out before passing. As we move on we get a male voice repeating a few times “First you take a Heart then you tear it apart” over the creepy vibe darts which are further added to by layers of Germanic-speaking, eerie sing song child elements and military music samples. The piano reappears at points, as does the darting and marching percussion. Added to this we get more unsettling layers of different elements all creating a dense, very unbalancing feeling of sonic unsettlement and very heavy dread.
 
As we move into track two we find a more formal DIJ song with “Giddy Giddy Carousel”. Here we find rapidly strummed acoustic guitar, thumping percussion and Douglas P.'s sinister sing-song vocals. Around these we have wavering female harmony vocals and a sort of woozy/ echoed production which adds a feeling of unease to the whole thing. The remainder of the album moves from the sinister pitch shifting, meets child-like sing-song vocals of “Heilige Leben”, through to the seared noise intro moving onto barren guitar strum and brooding Douglas P.'s vocal singing of “Fall Apart”. The layout of the tracks largely follows one sinister abstract to more moody track, to one strummed guitar track with the whole being topped off with another lengthy and unbalancing track in the form of the nearly nine and a half minutes of “Death Is A Drummer”. This once again is a very densely layered song that brings together swarming and woozy synth stabs, backwards and forwards military samples, brooding to searing post-industrial sound-scaping.  All in all this is one very uneasy, at points nightmarish, album with this new version hitting the forty seven-minute mark due to re-recorded 2005 versions of some of the albums more typical DIJ tracks - “Giddy Giddy Carousel”, “Fall Apart”, and “Hullo Angel - and these are suitably different enough versions from the album originals.
 
We lastly have on the 7" three more alternative 2002 versions of the following tracks “Fall Apart”, “Giddy Giddy Carousel”, and “In Sacrilege”. The version we were sent is the sort of light toffee, beer yellow colour, with the track listing on one side of the label, and on the other a picture of a smiling Germanic soldier.
 
In finishing, The Wall Of Sacrifice certainly stands as one of the more grimly harrowing and atmospherically uneasy sounding records of DIJ career. This new release CD & 7 inch is rather neat, with its innocuous but grand red and gold cover

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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