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LDRTFS compilation deserves a wider audience - 97%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, August 20th, 2007

I was very surprised when I first heard this compilation album by the drone doom metal project Like Drone Razors Through Flesh Sphere (hereafter called LDRTFS): I had thought that after Earth, Sunn0)))and maybe some others, there wasn't a great deal more that anyone could wring out of such minimal stripped-down music and Earth themselves have migrated to a more Western / country-flavoured ambient doom metal, so it's a real bonus that not only has a non-American project taken on the big names at their own game with its own individual slant but just about makes chicken feed of Sunn0))) with guitar drones even longer than the ones Sunn0))) do and with long, lo-o-ong tracks that don't seem at all like long introductions (something Sunn0))) have been accused of doing) but more like slowly evolving organic sonic sculptures. The LDRTFS approach is to marry minimalist drone doom with a ritualised dark ambient influence that may say something about the influence of the Roman Catholic religion on Spanish culture and society over the centuries. The severe minimalism and repetition - there is a lot of repetition! - of drone doom combines with a murky, sort of smoky atmosphere and a deep dark cavernous space out of which mediaeval religious chanting arises like wisps; and this combination plus a good grasp of sound dynamics produces a highly oppressive mood and a groaning, churning, suffering tombstone guitar music that weighs heavily on the listener's heart and soul as well as the ears.

Definitely the two extremely long tracks "Drone sphere" and "Misanthropy" are the best: "Drone sphere" in particular is very punishing with blasts of juddering, earth-shaking drones and clashing percussion occurring at regular intervals with a good use of patches of silence, and the track also seems to have two sets of grinding concrete guitar working in parallel in some elaborate Torquemada-era torture contraption. "Misanthropy" has continuous blurry guitar drones against which ominous doomy (and, from a technical point of view, ridiculously simple) bass riffs repeating forever while very delicate twisting melodies play in the background. Both tracks can be excessively repetitive and yet the repetition doesn't seem circular or endless in a way, due to the interplay between actual and passages of dead silence. The aim of LDRTFS being what I think it is, the repetition serves a purpose beyond music: it emphasises the ritual religious aspect of the project and the emphasis on never-ending drudgery and countless attempts to appease God and work off your sins in order to gain God's grace.

After these marathon epics each lasting close to 22 minutes, the two "Funeral Mantra" tracks are a relief: they are relatively shorter and faster but not THAT fast: they are like lumbering funereal BM tracks with twittering tremolo guitar that has an acid sheen all over. Even as short pieces they still have an overbearing and ominous character.

The last track "Black wax athame" which I understand is the only piece that has never been released on demo, is composed of samples or tapes or whatever of heavily treated vocal chanting and singing in a parade of shape-shifting ghostly forms. This is an incredibly creepy piece indeed, made all the more sinister by the murky ambience that hovers over the entire recording.

It's possible that instead of that murky ambience, if the album had a clearer production the major tracks "Drone sphere" and "Misanthropy" would be lot more powerful than they are as the muddy sound tends to soften the music and dull the leaden bass riffing ("Misanthropy") and the booms ("Drone sphere") but that alternative would probably have been contrary to what the LDRTFS project is aiming for. Certainly the last track needs that muddiness to be effective. So perhaps I had better not say any more about this aspect of the recording other than to say there are pros and cons to having a particular kind of atmosphere or feel and the over-riding thing is what the artist believes best suits the music's purpose.

This compilation of music made between 1999 and 2003 deserves to be more widely heard so if your taste runs to atmospheric droning music and doom, you should not pass up any opportunity to give this album a hearing. Kudos to Goatowarex for making this epic slab of droning doom available in a sparse, mostly black-coloured package that includes a front cover picture of a skeleton Madonnna and corpse child astride a fleshless horse: they look sort of like the Fifth and Sixth Horsepeople of the Apocalypse. I heard this picture is a copy of a painting by the late Polish artist Zdislaw Beksinski.

And if you really want to get into the ritualistic spirit of the recording, you need to supply your own whips, nut-crackers and other torture instruments to get that real Like-Drone-Razors-Through-Flesh-Sphere experience!