This sounds LOUD. From its first pummelling second to the final wrenching moments, this release from Birmingham’s CARTHAGE is a slow-motion headpress, an avalanche of colossal rusted metal percussion, scouring guitar fuzz and disorientating synth drones that pin you down and won’t let go until your last ounce of life essence is squeezed out. You’re broken, buddy. This is what listening to CARTHAGE does to you.
9115 is the debut release on Newcastle-on-Tyne’s Still Heat recordings, and it is an impressive statement of intent. Since its came out in October, there have been further releases – from Joseph Curwen, A Wake A Week and Trium Circulorum – all three of them sounding mighty fine. Expect reviews on this blog soon, but, for now, the immense forcefield generated by CARTHAGE has me in its thrall. 9115 exists in that zone of mutual disintegration where the belching, overloaded anomie of black metal collides with the mass production stomp of industrial music and the noirish murk of the dark ambient crew. Think Ulver, latter-day Earth, Arabrot, that kind of thing. But CARTHAGE is more promiscuous and less polished than those operators, who are preening hair metal boybands in comparison to CARTHAGE’s grim, processed mulch.
9115 doesn’t contain songs, exactly, more zones of ongoing collapse, in which roughly hewed boulders of sound – guitar, bass drum, moody low-end synth, electronic spits and crackles – tumble continually into the void. A crude edit acts as an effective cold open, pitching us headlong into the swells of REND_THREE’s ocean of distortion, like a busted skiff interning on The Deadliest Catch. On this voyage, there are few concessions to easy listening, with tracks morphing into each other and jump cuts preventing us from keeping a steady balance. Slices of field recording that might, on a different record, have added pastoral vibes are anything but, the echoing footsteps and muffled voices ratcheting up an already-bubbling paranoia. Further on the goth-electro-giallo of 4th Possession doesn’t do anything to mitigate the oppressive miasma, and the rush of chainsaw fuzz spewed out halfway through is hysterically crazed rather than cathartic.
Over on Side B, Refrigeration channels Black Sabbath’s Iron Man, but the hoarfrost-ridden spaces between the drum kick thuds and crunchy chords remould the Brummie shock and awe into a doomy pathos that would receive the Mary Shelley thumbs up, probably. My poor monster. Sob for him. IK_SET dismantles that rusting stomp even more, its disjointed thunks and bonecracker snaps adding texture not rhythm to the slew of tectonic plate scrape and radio static. By this point apprehension has long gone, transformed into terror, and then acquiescence. Don’t resist. There’s no point.