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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Ulvtharm Wrēkō (2022)

It's dark gothic, heavy, slow and deafening

1 God of Sleep 7:20

2 We will all Abandon you 5:51

3 Death of the Locusts 7:20

4 All the Lambs 6:58

5 Evigt Mörker 13:51

(Vinyl/CD/DDL 41:25) (V.F.)

(Industrial Dark Ambient)

It's dark gothic, heavy, slow and deafening! God of Sleep starts with a synth wave whose dark sinuosity are undulating with a wave of juicy reverberations. A strange incantation on a distorted voice with a mechanical texture adds a supernatural suspense to this black opening that heavy and resonant percussions knock out from the 80th second. A clamor persists between the hard beats of the percussions which erect a medieval march where even the rattling sounds are quavering with terror. The music and its ambiences are fed with glitch-based tones. With these white-noises effects that sizzle on the tempestuous pounding of arms inflated with steroids and all around these synth waves borrowed from a Babylonian film music genre. The voice comes back, blacker and more infamous, spitting its syllabic venom in a language also eroded by these radioactive vibrations which cement the ambiences of this first solo album of Ulvtharm. Phew! You like it when music and darkness are one? When dark martial music comes from a beautiful disturbed mind? WREKO is what you need!

As far as I know, Jouni Ulvtharm Ollila is a Scandinavian musician who is a pioneer, along with his musician mates from bands like Pouppée Fabrikk and Mz.412, in the field of EBM (Electronic Body Music) and black and heavy industrial music. A kind of electronic Trent Reznor who made his way through the abyss of the underworld! A highly regarded character and musician in the Swedish electro scene, Ollila has more than 100 solo and collaborative musical achievements, in addition to numerous mastering, mixing and remixing projects. WREKO is his first solo album and it landed on the French label Cyclic Law, the best place to listen to music composed in the ink of Lucifer. Written in the turmoil of COVID-19, the music in WREKO is a raw sonic force. A 42 minutes of titanic music where we enter the mind of a man tortured by the haunting of the events and finally released when the pandemic died out.... An album of great vengeful power with an artist who decided to isolate himself in his apprehensions, in his fears. And this album is neither more nor less an invitation to follow him. The Swedish musician spreads his fragility (sic) in the dark and yet atmospheric We will all Abandon you. Rubbings of two blades of sounds, and murmurs escape from its opening. A gloomy breeze spitting its smoky tar and a chthonian lamentation merge in strange orchestral incantations. The mixture of fear, sadness and anger is most palpable here. Heavy percussions hammer out a slower cadence that becomes engulfed with foci of reverberation and tortuous sound waves in a denial for redemption. Even though we hear It's so beautiful! The violins shear the ambiences always at the summum of a perfidious radiation with slow chromatic staccato effects that get lost in the resonances of these rhythmic blows of sledgehammer and the dissonant effects of the ambiences sewn by the fear. If industrial black metal is a genre you like, the amazing Death of the Locusts will charm you. The pace is slightly faster with good percussions, still heavy and pounding, which resound around a big cloud of those radioactive sizzles that surround the rhythms like the ambiences of WREKO. It gives a very yellowish-brown industrial tint where the surreal and demonic voice of Jouni Ollila, I presume, has these attributes to attract you to paranoia. Into the mouth of his madness!

All the Lambs pours out demonic orchestrations in a spiritual trance rhythm as fanatic as much disturbing. The percussions are more expressed. They dance like wizards' steps on fire under these salvos of violins and cellos, structuring a more spasmodic trance dance. Blows on an anvil resound amidst the percussion. The orchestrations are penetrating, and they transport us elsewhere with arrangements that command an obsession of submission to the listener. A chthonian choir sings a Black Mass on this structure that slows down considerably its rhythm around the 4th minute. A diabolical liturgy of about 60 seconds before the percussions return with heaviness to guide the sheep that we are towards the den of darkness. From the top of its 14 minutes, Evigt Mörker brings us in another dimension. Its opening is built around deaf and long mooings where a swarm of cabalistic sound effects, like whispers and yowlings, are activated, and where the range of these long reverberating lowings goes beyond the borders of supernatural. We are alone. Isolated in this opening where the pitch-black sky is finely chiseled by scarlet gleams coming from the fears of the condemned souls. But there is a form of tenderness in this opening, even if a Satan worshipper mumbles a text that only the ears of initiates can decode. We are in the most electronic portion of WREKO with this pile of synth waves that intertwine between raucous and gloomy orchestrations from wind instruments. With a little imagination, the sound of the chains also helping, one can easily see oneself slipping towards the road of the abysses in this long structure built in the dull fright of a soul lost in its illusions.

I just begin to touch the multiple domains of the gothic electronic music, thanks to the collaboration of the label Cyclic Law. If I made some nice discoveries, this WREKO by Ulvtharm required a good dose of courage and of open-minded since we are more in the style of medieval martial music and ambient Black Metal (could it be?) than in the Synth Dungeon or Dark Ambient genre. But there is a whole emotional power, let's call it fear or the fright of incomprehension, which emerges from these heavy and slow rhythms struck by violent processional percussions. Moreover, the arrangements are of high level in this album where the level of fright increases from title to title. Interesting, impressive and very intense!

Sylvain Lupari (December 12th, 2022) ***¾**

Available at Cyclic Law Bandcamp

(NB: The texts in blue are links you can click on)

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