Album Title: 
Oberhausen Ritual
Release Date: 
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Review Type: 

Eternity is but an instant

T x R x P aka Trepaneringsritualen, the main outfit of Thomas Ekelund, do not need any extended introduction, so I won’t delve too deep into this great project’s past. I will go to the content immediately.

This review deals with a live registration of this project’s appearance on the well-known festival Maschinenfest. More specific, this live-album focuses on this project’s performance from the 2016-edition, aka the Oberhausen Ritual. The unholy congregation of mighty Raubbau and Pflichtkauf did release this material in 2017 on cassette-format, and now they return with a vinyl-edition, 12”-LP. It’s the ‘normal’ black vinyl thing, albeit hand-numbered, with glossy print, including an inlay (evidently) as well as a sticker. I think the physical copies are sold-out (there weren’t but 200 copies), but there still is that digital version too. And even-though the LP is not available anymore, I still feel like giving some additional support and promotion to that project at the one hand, and the stunning label behind it at the other hand. Besides, Raubbau is like the official label to release Maschinenfest stuff, so this might take your attention too…

Anyway, this is, as mentioned, a re-release of that live session from 2016 at probably one of the most notorious Industrial festivals in history on our beautiful globe. And strongly in the vein of (most of) their studio recordings, this live-set offers a unique and captivating view on this project’s characteristic Dödsindustri Music.

Actually, Oberhausen Ritual sounds like one conceptual adventure, instead of a collection of live-performed ‘songs’. Sorry, ‘songs’ might work confusing; I’d rather talk about Aural Art or so. Anyway, this registration opens in an ominous manner, with the short yet horrific piece Immaculate & Incorporeal. Gloomy and eerie drones create an ambience so cold, so abyssal, so eldritch, as if vile phantom-like entities compose an aesthetic soundtrack for some death ceremony. It sounds dense, even claustrophobic, and it surely does open the gate to a dimension where the air is toxic. This industrialized ambience soon gets ‘joined’ by grim, spiteful voices and more supplemental layers of synth-darkness (A Black Egg). The hypnotic and asphyxiating keyboard-lines, subtly multiple in presence, create a sphere of pitch-black Death Industrial / Black Ambient, while the percussion-like additions strengthen the ritualistic atmosphere. And things evolve and progress the whole of the time. Mechanical noises, portentous drums, metallic manipulation; things permanently transform, leaving the listener gasping for air. The equilibrium of dynamic energetics at the one hand, and mesmerizing anesthesia at the other, works amazingly well. Imagine that setback in power in the transition from Papist Pretender to Deathward, To The Womb (those beats and metallic sonic injections do impress at the first half of this piece; the second half, with its repetitive-intoxicating structure, simply disturbs and levitates the listener’s state-of-mind at the same time), for instance – not giving in qua power or intensity, nor when it comes to the darkened mist this whole experience floats through; yet smoothly transforming from martial and ecstatic prestige into a lugubrious expression of paralyzing hypnosis and terror.

Sound-wise, Oberhausen Ritual continues the vein of most Maschinenfest recordings (by Raubbau), which means that the result is of a very satisfying quality. Okay, there are some ‘yells’ from the audience once in a while, and there might be a certain unpolished noise at the background from time by time. Yet then again, the whole sonic adventure overwhelms and obfuscates. The balance of voices, drum-beats and digitalized manipulations gets so professionally registered, almost as if it were recorded in a secret (sacred?) studio.

This said…