[Reviewed by stark]
This is a very peculiar project, which a couple years back was experimenting by merging dark ambient with neoclassical, often even martial industrial elements. Which was nice, but sometimes I felt that between the sounds there was a hesitation about which way to go, what to do next. Of course this didn’t distract my reception of albums such as “The Burning World” or “Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood” very much, I’d even say that it made Matej’s music more intriguing, you know, in a “what’s still hiding in his head” way. And three years ago he presented the “New Kings And New Queens” album; good Lord, you know very well how often I lost patience with it and how close I was in calling it a disaster. It was only half an hour long, but it felt like ages to reach the end. At first impression (and second, and third) the pieces didn’t differ much one from another, all were based on a low tuned, slowly creeping drone and other sounds of a different provenance, clangs and hums scattered over those thirty minutes. But one night something clicked in my head and instead of boredom I felt a certain anxiety, the crawling apocalyptic horror in a micro scale. Not a bad feeling for a dark ambient fan, and even though I don’t consider that one as a masterpiece, I learned to appreciate it as a demanding, but also rewarding work.
I didn’t want a sequel though, and now I can say I didn’t get it. There are some tangent areas, obviously, but this time Matej widely opens the gates, and the monster whose shadow you’ve seen in the gap between the doors and cracks between the floor, now embraces you completely with literally no way to escape. The deep bass drones are still omnipresent, reminiscent of a grey sky after the end of the world as we know it. Occasionally Matej returns to the past with other elements, like the organ part of “The Iron Well” which has something in common with that on “New Kings” from the previous album. There are also some very subtle references to a power electronics and industrial style (“Withdrawal”), but this all is subordinate to creating a vision of the world after. On the first albums there was war, there was triumph and defeat, but first of all there was a human presence. “New Kings And New Queens” was like a distant threat, a vague harbringer of what’s to come on this opus. And now all the towers have fallen; do not be fooled by some of the titles, no fire is burning here, there’s only smoke and ashes and there isn’t anyone to be defiant against anyone else. This is the most epic, but at the same time the most terrifying album of this Slovakian project. Far from being original, it relies on a powerful sound and a masterfully crafted atmosphere.
No CD version of this one, at least for this moment. The digital one has been released by Matej himself, but you can also purchase it in vinyl through Malignant Records. Good stuff for when you’re feeling too cheerful.