Himukalt - Knife Through Spine [Cold Spring - 2021]
Finally hitting CD, Himukalt's 2018 LP, Knife Through Spine, has achieved cult status in the grim, dark, noisy industrial world. Blistering and sharp, fans of Atrax Morgue should take note of Cold Spring's re-release. This one-woman wrecking crew (Ester Kärkkäinen) mixes old school industrial aesthetic with modern harshness and construction. Mixing the worlds of cleanliness and grime, her tight grip on feedback, noise, and echo is a perfect blend of restraint and ballistic attack.
Originally released by the legendary Malignant Records, Knife Through Spine crunches and oscillates its way through eight tracks of vile, industrial glory. Utilizing the genre's rich history, Himukalt forged an album that is both modern and retro, classic and power electronic, and never feels out of place. The way the album is constructed, each piece works seamlessly with the ones surrounding it, no matter how disparate they would seem. With varied oscillations being a common leitmotif, there is a connective flow beyond that of just harshness and reverb. Wildly phased vocals add an even heavier alien effect to this creepy, otherworldly collection of foundry sounds. Despite being loudly in your face, there is a subtleness to Knife that allows the listener to dig in their mitts and enjoy what's on display. Along with that, there's a deftness to the changes of sound and texture that eschews the common ham-handedness of harsh industrial. Where some see "the more the merrier," Himukalt sees, "less is more." Using just what is needed to get the job done, Knife Through Spine manages to be effectively harsh while still retaining a creepy quiet. This is a hard balance to keep, but Himukalt does it effortlessly.
Getting the deluxe CD reissue it needs, Hiumkalt's Knife Through Spine is a rough slab of noisy, grim industrial. Utilizing the most of the mix depth, oscillations of varying tones and intensities create myriad terrifying atmospheres. A welcome addition to Cold Spring's catalog, Knife Through Spine is a must for any fan of the industrial genre, especially those looking to channel their inner basement torturer.Paul Casey