Episode 34 – Cross My Heart and Hope to Die (right click to download)
The world is divided between those who swallow their chocolate and those who let it melt in their mouth, slowly exploring with their tongues, the French-kiss way, all the flavors – and the pleasure-inducing and stimulating chemical compounds – contained within it. If you’re gonna enjoy this episode, you better be one the latter. Because this is the slower and darker episode we have ever released. It’s not milk chocolate, by the way. It’s 90% cocoa dark chocolate, with exotic spices on top, the kind of chocolate that throw your dopamine levels into orbit. Except this one is kind of gloomy.
It’s our shortest episode so far, while it has the longest tracks. It’s vile and it’s heart-in-your-hands sad. Lot of complex emotions going on here. So find your little private space, earplugs in, and taste it. Slowly, slowly.
Click for show notes and a complete tracklist.
“Coma Mirror” from drone masters Sunn O))) is one wicked long piece of music. It’s been released as the opposite side in a split with the mighty Earth called “Angel Coma”. In fact, it was opposite in every way. Just like some sort of yin and yang, Sunn O))) contribution is deep, weighty and sinister, almost demonic, while Earth’s “A Plague of Angels” is lighter and more radiant, almost virtuous. No doubt about whose cut would make it into this pitch black episode.
After enduring 13 minutes of the heaviest appetizer, we thought something faster, a digestive if you’d like, would be nice to have, so please wallow at will on Profanatica’s “Rotten Scriptures”. Raw Black Metal from New York, from ex-Incantation member Paul Ledney influenced by all the good stuff, from Venom to Bathory, Hellhammer and Sarcófago. Ok, so apparently they had some kind of feud with Varg Vikernes and it seems that one Profanatica video showed the bassist ejaculating unto a bible and Ledney licking up his semen, but hey. That’s what you have to do to prove yourself blasphemous. So do it.
Burning Witch is basically the next step after Thorr’s Hammer (featured on Episode 6 – The Devil Rides Out) breakup due to valkyrie-like Runhild Gammelsæter leaving the band to return to her native Norway. Stephen O’Malley carried on with Burning Witch while Greg Anderson founded Goatsnake. “The Bleeder” is precisely from the “Goatsnake/Burning Witch” split. This is slow, filthy, sludgy droning. Shrieking from vocalist Edgy 59 and the space for guitar harsh reverberation are stand outs. We particularly like it towards the end when it turns out to be more like bluesy/heavy psych kind of Black Sabbath doom. It’s maybe interesting to point out that this track, like most Burning Witch work, is produced by none other than Steve Albini, from Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac fame (Shellac being featured on Episode 32 – All I Wanted Was a Pepsi); also famous for his production work for everything from Nirvana to the Pixies, The Stooges, Helmet or Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Ensemble Economique (aka Brian Pyle) is anything but metal, and yet we can very well imagine people like The Body or Varg Vikernes enjoying this. A lot of Ensemble Economique’s work is actually more pop, but “If You Need Help”, from last year’s “Light That Comes, Light That Goes” album, sounds like film music and conveys a sense of desolation and bleakness that could almost qualify as ambient black metal.
We close this descent to the bottom of the pit with the most depressing song of them all. Klaus Nomi was anything but ordinary. He started out as an opera singer in his native Germany, a countertenor, but his love for pop music took him to New York in the 70s where he was discovered by David Bowie. His music style combined glam rock, new wave and opera in a completely camp and unique way, and his pee-weeish, kabuki style look and devotion to all things sci-fi made him a true alien even in a city where we was surrounded by weirdoes. Unfortunately his genius was cut short when he was diagnosed with AIDS – an illness practically unheard of in those days. His condition is important to understand “The Cold Song”, an adaptation from the Purcell’s opera “King Arthur or The British Worthy”. On Act 3, the character Cold Genius sings:
What power art thou, who from below / Hast made me rise unwillingly and slow / From beds of everlasting snow? / See’est thou not how stiff and wondrous old, / Far unfit to bear the bitter cold, / I can scarcely move or draw my breath? / Let me, let me freeze again to death.
Klaus sang this knowing that he himself was on his way to death. He gave it one of the most poignant live performances ever, already dying. It makes your heart contract and tears wanna flow every time. Fucking metal.
- Coma Mirror | Sunn O))) (USA) | Angel Coma, 2006 http://sunn.bandcamp.com/
- Rotten Scriptures | Profanatica (USA) | Hell’s Headbangers Compilation Vol. 8 [compilation], 2015 http://hellsheadbangers.bandcamp.com/album/free-compilation-vol-8
- Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer [Trailer], 1979
- The Bleeder | Burning Witch (USA) | Goatsnake / Burning Witch [split], 2000 http://www.southernlord.com/bands/view/burning-witch
- If You Need Help | Ensemble Economique (USA) | Light That Comes, Light That Goes, 2014 https://www.facebook.com/ensembleeconomique
- The Cold Song | Klaus Nomi (GER) | Klaus Nomi, 1981 http://www.thenomisong.com/