The Nulll Collective

Album Title: 
De Monstris
Release Date: 
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Review Type: 

Well, I did know the label Nulll Records, so when I heard about a band called The Nulll Collective, a voice in my head, one of the many ones, started shouting around: ‘pay attention! pay attention!’. Next step, seeing this project being signed to Aesthetic Death… Okay, this cannot be a coincidence anymore… This must be something Stijn Van Cauter being involved with! And indeed, this great Belgian musician is one of the guys behind The Nulll Collective. Stijn has been in Wijlen Wij before, which were on Aesthetic Death’s roster too, so that was a first link…

Anyway, this is what happened. Belgian artist Stijn (also formerly or currently in e.g. Until Death Overtakes Me, In Somnis, Fall Of The Grey-Winged One, Beyond Black Void and many others) and his American colleague E.M. Hearst (think: Wraith Of The Ropes / Neo Hizumi or Torture Wheel) were active under the moniker The Sad Sun (with too few songs recorded, yet oh so fine…) for a couple of years. In 2009 or 2010, they decided to form a new project, and they contacted a third person to join their newborn sonic child, being Englishman S.P. White of This Empty Vessel / Uncertainty Principle / D.S.C. / …-fame. Result: three solo-artists within the most happy currents of the musical current joining forces; this cannot but be great… They recorded several individual songs, but after signing to Aesthetic Death, they were able to release a full length too, which is the one this review will deal with. I know it’s quite an ‘old’ release, and the sole full length this collective did, but since 1) it is ‘more than’ just worth it (!), and 2) Stu from Aesthetic Death was so kind to send this material to our headquarters…

The Nulll Collective define this album as ‘a tale of the continuous decay of the human race’ (and believe me, it is!), and it includes some of the older tracks recorded since they started playing together under this moniker (stuff that was independently released before as single). What this trio brings is an epos that almost clocks fifty minutes. De Monstris opens with Exocation Of The Void-Self, and quasi immediately it does bring the grim and obscure drones courtesy of The Sad Sun to mind. It might be less ‘blackened’ yet at least as bleak, including a mostly uncomfortable funereal execution, being slow, pounding, cold and raw. After about two minutes, the whole turns into a meditative direction, with hypnotic synth lines, tribal gongs and bewitching voices. Then things get nasty once again, when the ultimately slow yet ultra-heavy sound-masses return. Despite the suffocative and oppressing sound (or is it: ‘because of’?), the whole sounds very nihilistic and dissonant, but with quite some variation nonetheless. Nice opener, this Exocation Of The Void-Self (great title too, you have to admit). With the next piece, Repulsugloid (Part 1), it’s pretty much different. This short intermezzo is fast and filthy, ugly and nasty, like a primitive Morbid Death assault à la the eighties. What a remarkable, yet at the same time very nice contrast! Divine Skin too has quite some interfaces with The Sad Sun’s previous creations. And what a great outro on this song: atmospheric, ambient, even emotional! Like the first part, Repulsugloid (Part 2) is different from the main stuff. This one is rather electronic-mechanical, like a melody-noiscape (what a contradictious neologism, I admit). With Feed The Whore, The Sad Sun returns to mind, though even more haunting and horrific… Here too slow yet massive Funeral Doom excerpts get interchanged with some short, almost divine synth passages, creating quite an interesting contrast, which is needed seen the length of this composition (seventeen minutes). And that quasi-spacy ambient-electronic keyboard accompaniment, damn, how cool! Those tribal and monotone drum patterns… Those necrotic and sulphurous grunts… Anyway, De Monstris ends with the bonus track Silent Night (released as single before), you know the X-mas classic per se. I think it’s the composition that fits the most to Until Death Overtakes Me’s discography (with an album like Prelude To Monolith coming to mind especially), including these (church) bells, deep-gurgling grunts and mesmerizing fairylike synth melodies…