[Reviewed by stark]
Worms Of The Earth is the project of a professional colleague, Dan Barrett, who is also running the post-industrial webzine Wounds Of The Earth. I must admit that in contrast to his journalistic activity, “Sitra Achra” is my first contact with the artistic output of this American.
It’s easily noticeable that Dan cut his teeth on the genre, if not as a musician (though Worms Of The Earth already has some releases on its account), then certainly as a listener and fan. “Sitra Achra” is a term borrowed from Judaism and it means the force that stood in opposition to God. The CD has been released by industry8 and contains nine songs lasting a bit over fifty minutes.
The ritual, mantric aspect is something on which the majority of the compositions is set. It also adds a spicy oriental flavor to the whole and makes the album quite dynamic, because the center of gravity is moved from drone to a rhythmic layer. The first moment on “Sitra Achra” that really got me is the composition number three, “Gnarled Roots Suspend The Ruined Temple”, where beneath the percussions a whole range of moods is concealed, from gloomy mutterings and various religious fetishes (I’m hearing different influences derived from both Buddhism and Hinduism), Far East quasi-folk simple melodies to whispers and ethereal drones. Very good work, nicely arranged and sparkling with ideas.
“Thagirion – Mired In A River Of Drowned Bodies” is also a strong point of the album. Contrary to “Gnarled Roots…” the choir has a leading role here, singing a religious chant in Latin. I must admit that I have a weakness for those already rather hackneyed tricks. For me it always works- exactly like “The Verge Of Somnolence” by Raison D’être from “The Absolute Supper” compilation. Later the piece takes on space, the choir is surrounded by a growing reverb and generally everything becomes more dreamy.
Personally speaking, the penultimate part of the disc is the one closest to my sensitivities: “Excising the Last Vestiges of Ahamkara”, where the rhythm doesn’t play a leading role. This is the part of deep melancholy drones and choirs (again), so that piece is both sacred and meditative.
Of course “Sitra Achra” is nothing particularly surprising within the genre. I don’t think this was the intention of the musician, because in addition to the aforementioned Raison D’être I notice some more or less conscious references to Herbst9, Endvra, Sephiroth and even Amir Baghiri. And, for example, this touching key melody and subtle electronic soundscapes of “Path Of Zamradiel” reflect the echoes of Atrium Carceri works. But Dan mixes different ambient (not just dark ambient) elements in a more than efficient way, what makes me listen to the CD with great pleasure, and when it comes to tracks number three, five and eight, almost with excitement.