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Everything is connected - 77%

gasmask_colostomy, July 26th, 2018

There are more questions than answers about the English one-man project Ewigkeit. Why, for instance, was the band called Ewigkeit, when that is the German word for eternity and the music of James “Mr Fog” Fogarty is often involved with ephemerality above foreverness? Why also did a supposedly black metal band (always a slightly tenuous label for such a project) evolve to such a point as on Conspiritus, which was far away enough from Fogarty’s initial template for him to officially end the band? A rather more pleasant brain-teaser can be found here: why don’t more people know about Ewigkeit? Because, frankly, this is very good music, if rather strange and challenging. Perhaps all of those queries can be answered by the simple introduction that Fogarty is an ex-member of Meads of Asphodel and In the Woods, while he hails from Brighton, a city with the distinction of being the drug capital of England.

Those strange influences end up in a big pool, stripped of all the extreme metal tendencies of Fogarty’s previous work, treated with electronic effects, samples, and programmed drums, then extra drugs are added and everything is given a big stir. The result is Radio Ixtlan. You might not like the sound of that, but most of the experiments tried here stick very well and don’t preclude some of the more straightforward riffing on ‘Strange Volk’ or ‘Live at Palenque 2012’ (this album was recorded in 2004 by the way) from being enjoyable. Naturally, drum machines are a big point of contention, but this album sort of needs one since there is a heavy keyboard presence and plenty of industrial rhythms that come to the fore in the tempo changes of ‘Journey to Ixtlan’, which acts as the pseudo-title track and centrepiece. The previous reviewer gives a very satisfying description of the programming, which is that the drum machine sounds sort of like a train running out of control, while the grubby dance and club effects used under the surface of ‘Platonic Verses’ really come from your average nightlife but sort of re-enter the metal consciousness via Rammstein and their ilk.

It would also be true to describe Radio Ixtlan as a messy album, since there are loads of bits from other genres and some odd little soundbites dwelling among the nine tracks, though that doesn’t quite do justice to how Fogarty manages to make sense of the release’s variety. The flow of the songs might seem jarring (when else would you get titles like ‘esc.’, ‘Journey to Ixtlan’, and ‘Platonic Verses’ within the same 40 minute album?) but it plays out like a seamless concept, pieces linking together with electronic intermissions and gliding melodies that are massively expansive on closer ‘The New Way’ and seem to suggest that all things are intricately interconnected. Thus, we begin with questions of time, the universe, and extraterrestrial life, journey to Mexico (presumably that’s what all the 2012 stuff is about) and then back out into fresh vistas of philosophy and newfound understanding. Remarkably, there are very few vocals on most of these tracks, so I’m leaving it to the samples and musical energy to guide me to that conclusion.

If you’re still wondering whether you should give Radio Ixtlan a chance, I’d suggest listening to the whole thing once before you write it off. Each of the songs is slightly (or drastically) different from the last, yet there’s that ease of progress mentioned before, with the soothing opening of ‘About Time’ fitting well with the harder industrial power metal of ‘esc.’, then into the long smooth melodies of ‘PowerPlant’, which settles down after an initially overpowering sample. I admit that I did write “industrial power metal” in that last sentence, so I can fully understand your reticence to commit all your money at once, while I admit that I don’t exactly go away from this release humming the melodies or tapping the desk to the rhythms of any of the songs. As such, it could be said that Radio Ixtlan is just too out there to really be music that can connect people and give metalheads something to get excited about, though it’s also reassuring to find something that can set you adrift from life for a while and take you somewhere else. I suggest you just let go.

Foggy transmissions from places I don't know - 89%

Crick, July 2nd, 2009

Ewigkeit. "Eternity" in German. Suggests a typical boring black metal band, especially with Mr. Fog hailing from England of all places. We all know the story with English black metal. Blah blah blah Cradle of Filth, ignore all other bands, end. That's where some criminal mistakes have been made and I really am thankful I didn't judge this band as such. This is certainly not black metal, but it's also certainly not boring - hell, it's not even like anything else I've ever heard! It's magical and special, foggy and mysterious, catchy and powerful. Such descriptions often only come through what we in our tiny little pseudo-Amish culture view as "experimentation". Such a word is often viewed with scowls and looks of disgust from the average person. It's all something we've heard before, and I've said it many times myself. But, for once, I think this may actually be a very experimental release that'll easily appeal to the average metal fan - provided they want something that deviates from the usual formulas.

Now, they way it deviates is very pretty. It's not very harsh or abrasive, but rather hypnotic and mystifying. Opener "About Time" is a perfect representation of just what I mean. It opens with a very beautiful section of ambience and gentle noises - the odd beep, a few samples. It then segues seamlessly into a clean guitar section that then morphs into a nicely heavier section all the while being backed by Mr. Fog's mesmerizing clean vocals. Following that song, we enter more metal territory with "Esc." - the riffing here is fucking ballsy. The chorus even reminds me of Devin Townsend's material, but at the same time possesses a personality completely of it's own. The symphonics are top notch as well (as they are on the rest of the album), making this seem reminiscent of some epic movie from the 90s with it's deliciously warm and personal sounding production job. It aids the expansive nature of everything going on at once, rather than compacting it into a shitty compressed cube of sound.

Of course, while there are quite a few fast sections here, the album also succeeds very well at it's slower more melancholic sections. The melodies are just so big and airy! Even the mid-paced galloping is VERY well suited to this type of music, as it co-operates with the drumming and overall mood without any hindrances. The tone of the drum machine is unlike a regular one - no, it's more of a very thick bass thump accented with various pepperings of cymbals that reminds me of pistons pumping up and down. It feels like some time machine gone haywire has decided to fling me throughout history when it all comes together.

In fact, the many different atmospheres explored through "Radio Ixtlan" aid this sort of feeling in a very interesting way. It seems as though where we were originally being led at the start of the album (a realm of strange futuristic power plants and peculiar alien beings) suddenly shifts with very little warning. Suddenly I'm transported to a misty tribal settlement in the mountains as "Journey To Ixtlan" kicks in with it's doomy riffing before shifting to a strange spacey sort of soundscape. It shifts and changes so many times that it's almost like having your life flash before your eyes. So many emotions are stirred up that it's almost impossible to not want to hear more, to connect and be completely taken by the music. Hell, even the folky riffing of "Strange Volk" works great. Satyricon would be ashamed. Never before have I heard such a strange combination - electronics and thick, fuzzy yet heavy riffs playing folk melodies? It sounds awful, but instead it gallops forward with a lot of power and emotion. Not once does it descend into goofiness.

Really, this music is all really powerful yet welcoming. I love how the riffs can be more delicate and sad, then just completely morph into big ballsy ones. It's sure to lift you out of any sort of emotional slump just because it's so damn enthralling! It captivates and possesses a sense of pride that just urges the listener to respect it and come along for the journey. I love this sort of thing because it feels like the music itself is an entity rather than just sound; a living, breathing thing that knows things and wants to share them with you. I find it very difficult not to enjoy something this big and lively -- in that sense at least, Mr. Fog has done very well. I just wish some of the songs were longer... A few feel like they're too short and don't quite fully come into their own. The short lengths of some compared to tracks like the epic 9 minute "Journey To Ixtlan" really make this apparent, especially when I'm left hungering for more after this album finishes. However, I have a solution... Play it again!

Highlights: Esc., Journey To Ixtlan, Strange Volk, The New Way