No Visible Scars is one of the best underground,original, independent extreme music labels to creep up in the last few years, with the idea of paying homage to the cassette format, the old days of trading, and releasing acts that actually have substance as opposed to the continual recycling of sounds and imitation. With a growing catalog of obscure and amazing releases from the depths of extreme metal (Blessed Offal, Scorched Earth, Profanatica, Fornicator, Elders of the Apocalypse), to classic doom/metal (Vestal Claret, Night Bitch), and really cool grindhouse/neo horror/power electronic madness (Subklinik, Mazakon Tactics, Poison Tongue), my recent contact with this contagious source of audio diseases has informed me that there is the first NVS LP (and possibly even a CD in the works) so don’t expect NVS to dwindle into oblivion anytime soon.
In the Pipeline:
Cannibal Rites pro Cassette: http://www.myspace.com/cannibalrites
Vestal Claret/Ungod split (either cassette or cd, the vinyl is being handled by a European label and updates will come soon).
Several other raunchy and wicked acts are in negotiation currently so I’m not going to drop any further info at this time, but rest assure they’re worth waiting for.
Mania/Custodian Split – LP
The first NVS vinyl release is about to be unloaded as you read this.
Side A: Mania
Oh, the things an emotionally disturbed mind can create through random white noise. I’ve always been a sucker for the true industrial/experimental where the buzzing of chainsaws, clanking of metal rods and chains, and the manipulation of feedback and various frequencies of sound can be crafted into a hallucinogenic state of insanity that’s as real as any sane mind would not want it to be. Much stuff found in this genre can be eardrum piercing, irritating, and uneasy to listen to, but Mania takes the shrill and the tremor inducing bass fuzz bombs, some field recordings and jumbled vocals and actually creates an experience out of it. It places it might make your ears ring, but their side of this LP is a cyborg/urban/dismal psychedelia that almost sounds as if you’re listening to the recordings of some alien race in their daily routine.
It’s not really music, it’s a sci-fi audio sculpture that draws you in through curiosity, amazes you with atmosphere, amuses you and confuses the Hell out of anyone nearby catching a glimpse or two by ear of this deliberate madness. Artists like Mania take noise and power electronics to new heights of ingenuity, intensity and validity, so if you thought it was in fact ALL NOISE, I recommend Mania and Deathstench/Demonologists to rip your head off your shoulders and screw it back on correctly. The skills of mixing and layering sounds reminds me of the brilliance of Throbbing Gristle and Nurse With Wound, you still feel the manual working of tape reels,etc., but without that it would be polished “cut and paste” shit, all digital and clean, and lose texture and craft. If you want pretty, then you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place because this wouldn’t be a site/zine that’d appeal to you.
Side B: Custodian
Track one is somewhat of a high speed diesel train comings to a “screeching hault” while multiple explosions occur simultaneously in the background and you’re tied to the tracks. Not for the squeemish or sensitive, but beneath the high pitched stabs to your ears there is some incredible rhythms and textures in low-end frequency rumble. Ironically, I put this stuff on to think to, and it works really well as it’s hypnotic and has that same effect as low volume white noise for inducing sleep.
All four Custodian tracks keep using the same components, but tweaking them differently so you get this “variation on a theme” effect where things appear similar on the surface but almost instantly unfold into unique experiences that are somehow connected, but not directly. The only thing that could improve upon this style and skill is to add a live bass underneath, maybe some weird jazzy horns, or something to live underneath it hidden and trying to get out that really creates something almost organic in a purely inorganic world.
Blessed Offal – S/T EP (c-30 Cassette)
I’m an old school death metal and doom death metal fanatic, but even this SOB has me shitting myself, it’s blistering, pummeling, raping, mutilating, and as filthy and hideous as the original bands but somehow rips you a different way this time around. Some stuff never gets stale, and crushing, brutal and vulgar is the unholy trinity for me.
No time to bend over and grab your ankles here, the 12 minute brutal massacre of “Bottomless and Seasons” that serves as an appropriate opening for this album is a full blown “blitzkrieg” on all of your senses and will have you drawn and quartered, impaled, and decapitated before you realize your totally fucked. Brutal with classic control of rhythms, riffs, leads, solos, and an intense and brazenly evil atmosphere this thing reminds me of my first listening to Incantation’s “Onward to Golgotha”, it’s so evil and indescribably heavy, but the skill in song writing and the cohesion of the band makes this thing apocalyptically powerful!!!!!
Alongside BO I also highly recommend Witch Tomb and Prosanctus Inferi, pure gutteral blasphemy and black death madness!!!! The split 7” with WT and PI is a killer, but I can’t recommend PI’s full length on Hells Headbangers (Why not?! It kills! Ed. Note) and want to grab up WT “Crippled Messiah” LP.
Death Factory – Chilling Impressions (c-30 Cassette)
One of my absolute favorites, it perfectly blends epic industrial with grindhouse/horror films. Each side is a 15 minute drop out into psychosis, stalkers, serrated blades, blood splatter, cold dead eyes filled with hate staring at you over a back drop of analog sound effects, violent film clips, and stainless steel ambience that’s as much an ideal psychotic soundtrack as it is a psychedelic trip through a sadistic mind. Lately, I’ve been kicking back and revisiting my collection of the dark and wicked, starting with the glorious Navicon Torture Technologies, Sewer Goddess, fucked up black psyche, and the bleak and haunting drones of Yen Pox.
Side A: “Manifestation of Fear (Dedicated to Phantasm)” is a journey post industrial screech feedback and hum, there’s echoing metal clanking objects and basically that last intro paragraph is based on my sitting here tripping out on the weird and somehow soothing atmosphere of pure horror/sci-fi/psychosis that is Death Factory.
There’s no actual beats initially, then about halfway through, this bass tone stomp comes in and it fully develops gradually into this complex and disturbingly ugly is beautiful soundtrack to insanity. Throughout the track there’s this continual droning and frequency modulation that is hypnotic and cycles through to create a pulse of something disturbing lurking beneath the gray haze and among the decay. Make no mistake, this epic track is alive and thriving on the murderous tension that it desperately needs to release.
There’s also a ray gun effect here and there, and so much building and modulating frequencies over the course of the song that it literally consumes your mind as you experience it. It’s so simple and to many, dissonant, but to those of us who know what it is we can actually pick out melodies in the whirs and blurps and somehow the experience becomes this relaxing and mind expanding trip. This artist knows what he’s doing with sound!!!!!
Side B : “Feasting on Fear (dedicated to Anthropophagus”)
If your brain hasn’t been completed dissolved from side A, then you’re treated with this amazing analog horror film synth line and a few loops to add to the feel of 70’s Italian slashers, it’s like Tangerine Dream (Phaedra/Rubicon) stripped down. There’s lot of the feedback fuzz and screeches on the surface with this eerie echoing electronic loop that fades in and out and warps as it does so, but the thing that really stands out is the dimensionality in the composition, it’s seriously 3-D. The clanking and banging of objects in the background ring through as the mist of frequencies clear and cloud back over like you are almost zoning in to an image of someone or something beneath the layers. Toward the 11 minute mark the sonic fog thickens and the clanking becomes intensified, the whirs turn into echoing bomb blasts from a war in the distance, this pulsing hum brings you closer to that clanking and you feel as if you’ve arrived somewhere, a hidden bunker with rusted meat hooks and mildew and remains of victims you just heard being dismembered post-mortem…(clank).
Flesh Coffin – Seeing Things (c-30 Cassette)
Flesh Coffin is none other than Andreas Brandal from Bergen, Norway and has also been a veteran of extreme music for over two decades and here he gives us a 4 part harsh noise interpretation of a Norwegian winter.
Part 1: This one starts off with a muddy pool of oozing sounds that almost appear to be like jarbled speech…it’s completely insane. The source sounds are more than likely field recordings, audio clips, and other thing that were natural at one time and are now literally melted and molded into this controlled chaos. There’s plenty of surprising amidst the repetitive atmosphere that keeps it abstract and unmusical, but completely brilliant and compelling. This guy really knows what he’s doing and crafts the noise into something beyond description and dissection, it even ends with a nice Tagerine Dream synth wash (?), it just flipped on me and it never felt uncomfortable.
Part 2: Here we have serious low-end rumbling audio violence, it’s like the audio equivalent of being caught in the black smoke after an massive explosion or fire. You can’t breathe, you can’t see, you have no idea of what the hell has just happened and the sound hover and swirl around you like they’re trying to suffocate you. Somewhere along the way, underneath the mix comes echoing and drawn out militaristic vocal bit and pieces that appear and disappear just as quickly. The way the tracks each unfold into these constantly morphing entities is simply jaw dropping.
Part 3: Part 3 starts out again in full assault with dense violent sonic fuzz, screeching, and these really warped vocal clips that sound like people crying out for help in a swarm of chaos. This track is pure power electronic slaughter and less experimental then the others, but a great way to give the listener some massive ear and brain trauma.
Part 4: The way the sounds are modulated and manipulated, they’re almost fluid like the violent winds of an arctic winter blizzard that suddenly clears into this stark and peaceful ambient synth that reminds me of more ambient Biosphere drones. You might want to get clearance form a mental health professional before and after experiencing Flesh Coffin as it’ll undoubtedly have some lasting effect on your psyche.
NVS links and retailers:
http://novisiblescars.bandcamp.com/ (order here)