Sutekh Hexen/Blsphm – Split 7″

Rating: 3/5
Distributors/labels: Sentient Ruin Laboratories and Bestiarie
Distributor/label URLs: sentientruin.com and https://www.facebook.com/bestiarie/
Released: 2017
Buy Album [URL]: https://sentientruin.bandcamp.com/album/split-7
Band Websites: https://www.facebook.com/sutekhhexenofficial/ and https://www.facebook.com/blsphm/

Band line-up (Sutekh Hexen):

Kevin Gan Yuen – Guitars, electronics, Field Samples
Andy Way – Vocals, tape loops, electronics
Joshua Churchill – Baritone guitar, electronics, field-recordings
Ryan Jencks – Electronics, feedback, mixer, loops

Band line-up (Blsphm):

Demian Johnston – Everything

Tracklisting:

Side A, Sutekh Hexen: Azure Graal
Side B, Blsphm: Abyss 3

 

 

Review:

Sutekh Hexen and Blsphm are two ‘American Black/noise terrorist’ bands who have just rereleased 2014’s notorious tape split in vinyl. It was first distributed by Dead Accents, as 50 hand-numbered cassettes, to coincide with Debacle Fest. The records are now formatted as dual-coloured 7”s. They have been stylishly upgraded with handmade packaging featuring a black heavy cardstock flap. Every copy has also been letterpressed with silver ink by Demian Johnston of Blsphm, himself. The more standard, easier to find version will be sold as a purple vinyl, whilst another rarer publication will be unleashed as a black vinyl elaborated with a letterpressed OBI strip.

So, here’s a review of Sutekh Hexen’s only piece of music on side A, and indeed the whole album. Even for black metal, this stuff is particularly raw, and the harsh, piercing feedback noises frequently heard could take some getting used to. The instrumentation lies more on the hypnotic and minimal side of BM, rather than than the explosive. Not only are blast beats absent, there are no drums here, whatsoever. Think ambient Burzum, for example their instrumental ‘Decrepitude’, but far more intense. The music is so stripped down in fact, that merely changes in textures create an almost euphoric sense of both relief and fascination. However, whilst the twisted and almost gregorian chant-like guitar melodies are pleasingly dramatic, they are also somewhat cliched. The simple yet penetrating morbid bass lines only add to the familiarity.

On side B, we have Blsphm’s entry, which is in the same other-worldy, trance-inducing style as SH’s work. However, it is even more droning; it is less about creating tension, but more about atmosphere. (And that’s saying a lot). Interestingly, the main keyboard melody in the piece somehow manages to be nightmarish whilst maintaining its almost childlike, consonant nature. Once it is finally over with, one might think the listener could relax. Quite the opposite, in fact; the melody slowly rises and rises in pitch to give the effect of escalating, painful screaming. To compound this, a ticking metronome-like, light drum pattern is low in the mix as this goes on. As it is quite fast, it serves the surprisingly effective purpose of adding panic to the soundscapes. To put it simply, this music borders on torturous. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

In conclusion, for what this music is, it is good on the whole. However, even though the first half is perhaps supposed to be old school, that doesn’t mean creativity has to suffer and that true new melodies can’t be created. Although the second half of the record is intended to be more basic, a greater range of dynamics and textures could be used on occasion. With each song only lasting around 5 minutes, this is a very short album. Thus the listener could be disappointed, especially as these kinds of sounds are perfect for zoning out to. A ten minute psychological odyssey isn’t too much to be excited about. This is however, quite curious music.

Review by Simon Wiedemann

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