Sutekh Hexen & Funerary Call

Album Title: 
Release Date: 
Friday, July 14, 2023
Review Type: 

This review deals with another collaboration by two of my mostly appreciated labels, Cyclic Law and Sentient Ruin Laboratories. And… This review also deals with a collaboration of two mostly appreciated North-American projects, Sutekh Hexen and Funerary Call, respectively coming from The U.S. (California) and Canada. I won’t go into these labels’ or acts’ biography this time, yet I’d like to go into this album’s content immediately.

First some ‘dry’ stuff, before analyzing the aural side. This is not a split-release, yet a collaborative work from both entities involved, being worked on over a period of several years. They might dwell within other sonic spectra in the first place, yet then again we do all know that their concepts and musical ‘core’ do share a lot. That’s exactly why the result sounds so organically evident. Anyway, the album has been released digitally, evidently, as well as physically. The latter goes for both some vinyl opportunities as well as a compact-disc version and a tape. The CD-edition is a six-panel digipack, the cassette gets released with a download-card, and the vinyl come in ‘regular’ black as well as in clear red (2-LP) (this one being much more limited evidently), including additional artistics (visual artwork courtesy of Nicole Guerrera, directed by Sutekh Hexen’s Kevin). The whole got mastered, by the way, by no one else but Mister James Plotkin (Clavicvla, thisquietarmy, Northumbria, Monocube a.m.o.).

:P:R:I:S:M: has become an eight-track adventure, clocking about fifty-three minutes. The result is an overwhelming gathering of ritualistic sonorities, drenched in bleakness and blackness. Meridian Ø°, the opening track (which clocks almost eleven minutes), immediately shows the unique, adventurous and ultimately divers approach that characterizes this album. The variation is enormous, yet the total experience maintains a strongly coherent attitude. It starts quite thunderous, almost in a sense of Power Electronics / HNW-like nastiness, quite soon injected by horrifying soundwaves and evil voices. The whole indeed evolves into proportions of gloom and horror, and after two minutes, things turn more ghastly. Step by step, rather ceremonial aspects take over the immense journey, with some samples and strings (for some not-that-crazy reason, Corona Barathri come to mind, if you allow me), as well as gruesome sound-textures and sinister samples, replacing the initial noise-laden arrogance. It’s like the soundtrack for a forbidden ritual, or for an introspective expedition through the gloomy and enigmatic corners of the listener’s mind. The bio says: ‘the resulting narrative guides the listener through a vastness of (dis)charging energies, rebirth through dissolution, and harrowing harmonic passages in tremendous spaces. Inner-workings suspend transformations in time.’. This first track – and the same goes for all others too, evidently – is exactly an audible expression of this spiritual search through the Inner Eye and through the immensity of time and space. Meridian Ø° is like the introduction to the permanently surrounding awe that defines this concept. As from almost half of this lengthy composition, things get twisted by the interplay of haunting soundscapes, psychotic noises and those spoken words, before everything turns harsher once more, with these wretched voices, down-tuned drones and mechanic (rain-like) samples at the background. The outro, then again, returns to the womb of all-that-is, with an almost ‘beautiful’ organ-like melody, smoothly injected by diverse samples and sounds. Infernal Folly initially gives an impression of inner tranquility, through calm acoustic string-work and floating synth-lines. Yet then again, when these grim whispers and a lot of other additions, modest yet of importance, join, the whole gets enwrapped in a nebula of discomfort and fright. Slow yet unstoppable, the whole enters dimension of abyssal darkness and impending doom. Perilous Shade finds inspiration in the area of Death Industrial and Doom Drone for being an expression of both enigmatic mystery and burdensome, murky dimness. The additional chimes and the nebulous keyboard-waves, yet also those varied vocals (an abject throat, semi-Gregorian chants and the transcendental-like throat-chants at the background), give this composition a flair of alienated sacrality. In an organic way, Towards The Inner Gate continues that lugubrious path into impenetrable darkness, despite a hidden spot of blinding light at an immense distance. This is Black Ambient in its most dark-ritualistic form, which captivates, enthralls, and suffocates at once, despite a certain monotony in sonic excitement. It’s slowly crawling forward, yet generous in detail and content too. A multiple-layered sound-sculpture with both growling and deep-tuned reverberating voices result in an obnoxious yet delicate, even desirous, magnitude of phenomenal oppression and refined abundance. In a natural way, this morphs into overpowering dimension as from the militant opening sequence of Fractal - Void, another outburst of shrieking electronics and doomed fortune. Things turn even more anxious and secretive by means of íscend Obsidia, which is the most lengthy chapter on :P:R:I:S:M: (twelve minutes plus). As from the eclectic preface, a ponderous atmosphere works both intoxicating and onerous. Here too, the wretched scream-like voices and dismal noise-collage creates a misty vision of somberness and desolation. Within this track, piano gets introduced; sober harmonies of keys that punctuate the despondent horror that lurks all around. The amalgam of uncomfortable voices (tortured yells, evil whispers, spoken poetry etc.) and inauspicious synth-‘melodies’, in combination with the reappearing piano and bizarre field recordings, permanently evolve, then fade away, return, and evolve once more. The shortest composition Pangëa Ultima² (Dread) (what an intelligent title) is nothing else but an asphyxiating embodiment of abomination and inner ague (and ‘dread’ for sure). Soft-industrialized, quite lucid waves float on and by, in the beginning joined by violating, thundering drones and semi-whispered yet deeply ominous narration, then expanding towards protrusive walls of reverberating mechanoid technics. Shores Of Purgatory, eventually, trespass any static or minimal content with full force; no full force like in a complex and severe defacement of aural content, yet rather seen as a enclosing toxic fog. Low-tuned bass-strings, hypnotic synths, afflicted whispers and crude electronics; this sinister operation closes the portal, enclosing the innocent listener into the final dimension of reflection and apprehension. And damn yeah, but the apotheosis totally returns towards the monumental size of harsh-noisy overwhelming, cf. the very first moments that did introduce this gargantuan yet prodigious album.

I might have expressed my ideas about - or behind - each single ‘title’ on this album. yet as stated in the beginning, :P:R:I:S:M: cannot be considered a collection of individual ‘songs’. This album must be seen, and experienced, as one huge hazardous yet ingeniously effective aural voyage of discovery through dimensions of both the inner heartbeat of the self, as well as the immeasurable immensity of unphysical spirit(ual)ism. It’s a hard-to-digest experience, even after tens of listens, yet :P:R:I:S:M: works satisfyingly addictive. Let’s conclude with: monumental! I do really hope that this collaboration in between Funerary Call and Sutekh Hexen will continue!