The fourth and thus far final entry in the new Kino series of 80's era Skullflower reissues, Black Sun Rising is a collection of non-album odds and ends, including a couple of unreleased tracks, the Rift / Avalanche, Slaves and I Live In The Bottomless Pit / Bo Diddley's Shitpump 7"s, and their track off of the cult classic Portable Altamont compilation, which came out in 1991 and featured Skullflower alongside the likes of Drunks With Guns, Nurse With Wound, Coil, and Current 93. All of this stuff has been re-mastered and sounds heavier than ever, an absolutely classic, crucial collection of crushing drone rock and psychedelic noise from one of the most influential bands to come out of the late 80s UK underground.
The disc kicks off with two of those unreleased tracks, the opener "Night Tripper" is primo late 80s Skullflower, a dragged out drug-drenched psychedelic sludge jam in the same vein as their stuff off of Xaman and IIIrd Gatekeeper, huge rolling waves of blown-out concrete-mixer bass riffs and stumbling, partially improvised drumming, the rhythm section careening beneath the onslaught of squealing, squalling wah-wah abuse, bizarre moaning vocals and brutal feedback. This stuff is super heavy and seriously stoned, blending Sabbathian heaviness with a fucked-up sort of noise-punk mentality that definitely bears a resemblance to the brain-damaged stomp of bands like Flipper and Brainbombs. The second, "Kasso's Blues" sounds even more fucked, a stumbling elliptical dirge wrapped around maniacal howling vocals and a deliriously lobotomized guitar riff caught in a locked groove, looping incessantly through the acid-drenched fog of effects and feedback.
The back-to-back crush of "Rift" and "Avalanche" is off of the band's classic 1990 7" that came out on Majora; the first song bores a hole through black space with its relentless droning riff and smears of vast guitar rumble and intoxicating amp-hum, a lush trance-inducing slab of slow-motion dronerock heaviness, vocals echoing endlessly through the murk. It's Skullflower at their trippiest and heaviest, as is the latter song "Avalanche", which has that weirdly gothic feel that a many Skullflower songs from this era had, laid out over pounding almost tribal rhythms and those brain-flaying blasts of feedback and psych guitar abuse.
The two songs off of the 1990 Forced Exposure 7", "Slaves" and "Hoof" (the latter originally titled "Satan My Black Ass, Steve Albini = Jim Steinman") are even more raw and low-fi, delivering some filthy howling psych-stomp, a tar-soaked mess of damaged Stooges-ish lurch and pulverizing amplifier vomit. "Black Lizard" is another unreleased track, heavy and looping and noisy as hell, followed by the two songs from the 1989 Shock 7"; these are pretty rocking, at least by Skullflower standards, with "I Live In A Bottomless Pit" churning beneath gales of Hawkwindian guitar and effects, and the ridiculously titled "Bo Diddley's Shitpump" breaks into what might be one of Skullflower's most swingin' songs, a seething blast of feverish apocalyptic garage rave-up formed out of hypnotic, blown-out bluesy stomp.
"Against Everything" (taken from that Portable Altamont compilation where it originally went under the title "A Guide To Canine Foreskin Retraction") is a thunderous noise piece, booming tribal drums circling endlessly beneath squalls of violent wah-pedal noise and fragments of eerie guitar melody and a constant, crackling layer of distortion. The disc closes with three other unreleased tracks which were actually recorded during the sessions for Xaman, including the circular, effects-drenched garage stomp of "March Of The Lemmings" with its screaming spaced-out electronics and furious free-from guitar noise, joined by what almost sounds like a saxophone filled with glue; "Thank You And Goodnight"'s brutal, atonal dirge drowning in feedback; and "The Punk Rock Song", a surprisingly catchy track that does indeed sound like some sort of three-chord punk, albeit deformed by the noise and distortion overload of Skullflower's sound.
As with all of the other entries in this amazing series of early reissues, Black Sun Rising comes in a glossy gatefold jacket that includes a printed inner sleeve and a booklet that features new liner notes written by the band, reproductions of the original 7" covers, along with other rare materials (reviews, etc) dug up out of the bands archives. Essential.