Finally have this killer compilation on I, Voidhanger in stock, the first in a planned trilogy of compilations featuring underground avant/metal outfits paying homage to weird lit pioneer H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos. It's a mind-warping collection of outer fringe dwellers of the Finnish metal scene, all channeling Lovecraft's cosmic horrors through a mixture of dark nightmarish prog and bizarre mutant doom metal, and it's one of the best compilations I've picked up recently. The theme of the album is consistent and focused (and who doesn't want to hear more weird crushing metal and dark prog dealing with the nightmarish mythology that Lovecraft cooked up?), and features some seriously bitchin' album art produced by legendary French comics artist Philippe Druillet, one of the founders of Métal Hurlant / Heavy Metal Magazine, taken from his classic early 70's books Yragaël and Les six voyages de Lone Sloane. The disc features exclusive material from all four bands, most of which I'd already been a fan of: there's more superb kosmische terror from Jääportit, crushing crawling prog-doom from Aarni and Umbra Nihil, and an awesome blast of funereal space doom from Caput LVIIIm.
First up is Jääportit's "Kuihtuman Henkivi", a sprawling twenty-five minute soundscape that blends the Finnish artists dark brand of kosmische dread with muffled birdsong, crafting a vast, otherworldly ambience that billows out across more than a third of the album; those signature Tangerine Dream-style synth arpeggios start to drift in after a few minutes, rising on the back of wailing choral voices and searing electronic noise, the sound transforming out of that dreamlike aviary ambience into an alien synthscape, rattled by distant deep rhythmic reverberations and endless electronic squiggles. There's a really heavy 70's space/kraut influence hanging over this stuff, but Jääportit warps it into something much stranger and alot more nightmarish, allowing ghoulish, monstrous vocalizations and surreal atonal electronic melodies to surface throughout this epic prog-nightmare, descending into dank dungeons of murky Lustmordian drift, puffs of opium smoke rising from flutes carved in human bone, shades of ancient, pre-Christian music fusing with mutant electronics, eventually weaving its way into a chilling finale where violins become swept up in the lush cosmic electronics, and the music becomes a hallucinatory death-march, all staccato strings and nebulous keyboard drift, like some strange Michael Hoenig score for The Shadow Over Innsmouth. This guys stuff remains criminally underrated and obscure, but it's another in a steady line of solid, sinister soundscapes and kosmische-tinged horror from the artist.
Umbra Nihil's "Suur-Nikkurin Virsi" is another one of the Finnish prog-doom band's epic sludgy deliriums, all blackened riffs and lugubrious, Sabbathy doom lurching beneath a blood-red moon, the vocals a deep, incantatory singing, with bits of eerie vocal harmony showing up in some of the brighter moments, the music slipping into a number of slippery, reptilian doomgrooves. There's some weird vocal processing that shows up, adding to the song's dreamlike feel, and like their other stuff this has a vintage feel to the recording, the production stripped down, the narcotized doom bursting into slightly off-kilter blues guitar leads, or dropping out completely and leaving behind just fucked-up LSD-splattered guitar noise wig-outs, or suddenly shifting into an oddball chugging mid-paced riff with crazy, almost Voivodian chordal weirdness and dissonance.
Aarni follow that with their own fucked-uo version of prog-damaged doom metal on "Lovecraft Knew", and this is even more bent; the whole track is a mess of monstrous guttural speech, bizarre electronic flute-like melodies chortling madly in the background, deformed downtuned riffage and atonal guitar skronk that almost sound like something off of a Last Exit record. It's like some mutated form of sludge-jazz, all the way up to the second half of the song where they suddenly pull it together into a killer blat of brain-damaged psych-sludge, the chugging stop-start riffage and stumbling, haphazard drumming lurching around while some seriously stoned synthesizer jamming goes on and a litany of inhuman voices and weird robotic goblin vocals slink through the mix.
And then there's the final track "Resurgent Atavism" from Caput LVIIIm, the one band on this compilation that I hadn't hard before. It's also the longest goddam song on here, a full half hour of rumbling glacial heaviness that spills forth from the opening of the track like the gravitational pull from some wayward black planet, a crushing funereal doom epic that flattened me as satisfyingly as anything from Thergothon or Evoken. Crushing mournful doom wrapped in a single majestic riff, surrounded by whirring Hawkwindian electronics and skillfully layered lead guitar. Space rock-tinged funeral doom, huge and awesome, but further in, the band gets more abstract, more experimental, dropping off into strange psychedelic dronescapes of buried organ, terrifying field recordings and gurgling electronics. These parts always build right back up into more of that vast glacial doom, though, and when the band drops back in that slow motion heaviness and those distant, distorted screams, it sound intensely powerful. Apparently this is the only thing that Caput LVIIIm ever recorded, but it's a whopper, as good a slab of kosmische doom as I've heard, and it's a perfect ending for this comp.
Comes in a full color cardboard slipcase and includes a thick twenty page booklet filled with additional artwork, lyrics and liner notes.