Welcome to Hell.
Skullflower Strange Keys to Untune God’s Firmament (2010, Neurot)
Genre: Noise, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
The most vile record vomited from the abyss of 2010 thus far. If you’re familiar with Matthew Bower’s recent Skullflower output, then you absolutely know what to expect here. Vicious guitar noise warfare that rends the flesh from your bones. This time, Bower has packed two discs just to double your terror. There are references here to the epic German poem Nibelungenlied, and Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” opera, but let’s be honest– it’s really just placing a more elegant stamp across Bower’s harsh wall of noise. And that wall is unrelenting.
I don’t know what the fuck Bower does to his guitars to get them to sound like a gigantic flaming ball of death being violently expelled from the anus of Beelzebub, but it sure does sound magnificent. I usually find myself yawning at harsh noise wall acts, but I believe Bower’s past work outside of this box has allowed him to implement a subtlety in his recent Skullflower material that is almost always absent from other acts of this type. It’s still really abrasive, but there are layers and fragments of sound that unveil themselves once you allow yourself to be dominated by this maelstrom.
Strange Keys is far from a pleasant experience though. But that’s not the point. The true beauty of an album like this one, and other similar ones, is the unique tranquility it creates through its all-enveloping cacophony. To become atuned to such atonal brutality. To adjust and find yourself removed from the chaos, and watch it unfold. To be pushed to an imagined limit, only to realize there isn’t one.