A generous split created to both agitate and soothe through gnawing textures, visceral climaxes, and cruel, stimulating noise convulsions. Social Cancer collects impressive material from two haunting artists who grow more interesting with each release.
Not long ago I wrote a small piece on the recent releases from Tapes of a Neon God, and one included a four-way split between Churchdweller, Hadals, Void En Vogue, and Winter Ritual. It’s phenomenal and you should go get it while there’s still a few copies left.
Earlier in 2014 however Hadals (Anderson and Austin) also collaborated with influential artist Demian Johnston (who performs as Blsphm) in a split release from Alabama’s Social Cancer Records. The two groups have been featured on another split pressed from TOANG in 2011 but here they’re the only two sharing time.
Escalating from that previous experiment this split has these two vessels collect and transform obscure strains of foul noise into very different, captivating and cathartic discharges that leave listeners stunned, pacified, bled.
All parties involved have been busy this year. Blsphm has had a few splits out, plus that whole Great Falls thing takes up a good deal of time I’d assume; while Anderson has been occupied with the label, Pornography’s recent singles which you should totally listen to, and of course Hadals with Austin.
So if you want a good illustration of their recent maturation this forty minute tape is the perfect release. One track from Hadals, three tracks from Blsphm.
Hadal’s dominates the first side with an eighteen minute track titled “You Kill People. You Eat Their Eyeballs.” And they do quite well as a duo in the longer stretches where their ambient senses begin to draw even stranger paths in the loathing canvass of noise.
It starts with a brief beepy count off, followed by blaring siphoning chaos and whirring static. Pulses of frequencies sound like distorted vocals, grows slowly larger, more thick and aggressive, pulling in new sounds.
When this dissipates the song hits an intriguing industrial-ambient stretch. Metallic throbs pour out into a growing darkness, and what feeds back is a chime, a slow chorus of impending dread. It fades and terror is traded for a soothing, uncanny drone as the key strikes become more composed, and electrical seizures crackle in the distance.
The different shades displayed so far are impressive considering how abrasive Hadals can be. This abrasives returns disruptively at the nine minute mark. Horrific noise shreds any veil of calm and up-ends the atmosphere into panic, and suddenly drops out into drone. When the chaos returns the distortion presses further.
Yawning tanker-sized howls surface, feedback spilling endlessly. tapering to a choppy buzz, the nauseating reverb scarred vocals savage the track suddenly as bass and fuzz twists through. The end cuts to a martial industrial beat looped to entrance and with that Hadals close a very potent chapter of their experimentation.
An excellent, staggering track from these two.
Blsphm’s three track contribution is more consistently droney then Hadal’s terror noise, the first of which appears for the remaining two minutes on side A. You can sense those years of dissonant aggression in his other groups working beneath, altering the drone significantly. The majority of the spectacle comes on side B with “Terra” and “The Warmth of Her Hands Floods My Memories”.
It’s the short “Subtle Smiles” that begins things though. Two minutes of eerie drone. Glass-like chimes cycling over a light fuzz, as a shudder wracks the loop on each rotation, making for a very tense but intoxicating introduction.
“Terra” is the key track. Demian’s unhinged voice in the context of Great Falls and Playing Enemy is a huge draw for me, however I think I may like it more hearing his aching roars buried, shaking, igniting under heaps of ethereal synth, unearthly bass and a slowly expanding electronic combustion nothing withstands. It’s a powerful thirteen minute offering.
Huge swallowing feedback from an abandoned guitar underscored by a steady bass tone torments the horizon, and grows to deafening proportions, becoming more shrill, tapering back. Eventually cycling into more industrial, metallic, heavier rhythm while a wail dissipates behind this wiry wall.
Nealy half way through a lull comes and softer, synth driven waves creep up. The feedback follows a different ebb. The growing drone from this point I find most impressive, stark and ambient at first. Then suddenly Demian’s voice erupts behind a blinding, almost beautiful noise curtain.
The point where the vocals are unleashed slowly morphs into what might be confused for The Angellic Process-lite territory which was a great surprise. Not often do I make that comparison. This climax is unbelievable.
At first its dissonance is noteworthy but it quickly becomes more frighteningly ethereal. The use of guitar is subtle and potent but those screams take it all. This tremendous glowing weight falls as an ascent emerges from this calamitous haze he’s created, partially driven now by a distant riff. Demian’s howls permeate at this point and it just sounds enormous.
It devolves into harsher textures, and the deceleration is very quick; squealing, scraping, echoing yells, an oppressive static and ringing. It’s a return to the start of the track that’s organic and ugly to round out that sudden bout of angelic delirium that preceded it.
A guitar feedback drone is crafted from the start and dilates in layers, eventually splitting into lower ad higher textures. Washed out by crumpling noise and delayed, things get reigned in for a moment as the guitar’s wails trail outward. Then Demian slowly injects his voice, less crowded on this track but no less scathing, as the drone dampens and swells behind.
The last few minutes sees this drone deteriorate further with occasional strikes on the strings, at one point bringing back a harrowing wave of distortion. The screams are pungent, sharp, stopping in the final minute as the track bleeds dry.
Out on Social Cancer Records and limited to 50 copies, mastered by Anderson and art/layout by Garrett Smith, this tape has great design. Framed in white outlines and broken up neatly into rectangular sections, and geometrical art, it feels quite correct and clinical. The flip side is a flat black with a dull white border and the art credits in the center.
The cassette itself is a clear shell, pro-dubbed, with clear labeling on both sides. The label squares with the j-card design in a clean font, and precise labeling; each track’s play time listed.
This is also up for free download on Social Cancer’s bandcamp page so just go get it, engage and get blown away. Then consider picking up the tape because the weight is just that much more massive in analog form. If you want you can also go to Tapes of a Neon God or Dead Accents to check out more noise from both artists.
If you’re into noise or drone in any capacity I recommend getting a copy of this. The textures vary quite deeply, and each oblation is fascinating. The two entities featured fit well together on a split, with some of their best material so far. Generous and harrowing, violent and ethereal.