MURDEROUS VISION  Ghosts Of The Soul Long Lost: Volume Two  2 x CD   (Live Bait)   14.99

One of Murderous Vision's series of massive multi-disc compilations of rare material, Volume Two focuses on music recorded around the early 2000s with a combination of short-run CDR releases and never-before-released music; if you're getting heavy into this Ohio outfit's body of work, these compilations are crucial. One of the pre-eminent US purveyors of death industrial , Murderous Vision is actually a pretty varied project, with excursions into weirder tonal territory than your typical Cold Meat Industries release - this stuff can turn straight-up psychedelic on a dime, while still maintaining that grim, apocalyptic radiance. I'm a big fan of this stuff.

The entire first disc is an unreleased Murderous Vision album that was recorded from 2006 to 2008; produced around the same time as the Lifes Blood Death's Embrace album, this twelve-song collection, titled Cathartic Drifts In A Sea Of Sadness, lays on the same kind of grim and sprawling darkness that album focused on. Fusing together qualitieies of classic early dark ambient, vague neo-classical elements, late-80's "ritual ambient", morbid Cold Meat Industries-style death industrial, and various occult imagery, Drifts is dense stuff. The symphonic synths of opener "In Hell We Will Burn...Together" conjure a very similiar vibe to the more "orchestral"-sounding dungeon synth that was appearing in the 2000s, but then mixes in commanding spoken-word vocals, ceremonial percussion and thunderous, almost militant tribal drumming with a rich acoustic presence, and creepy stabs of staccato strings. When "Upon Both Flesh And Soil " picks up from there, Petrus ascends into an even more cinematic scope as subtle, sublime Berlin School-style synths drift alongside mysterious voice transmissions, melting electronic signals, and faint but noticeable clouds of crackle and buzz.

It's dark, dark stuff, with those offbeat sudden turns into melodramatic blackened industrial that sounds like some alien wargoat reciting from ancient texts amid colossal blasts of huge, distant percussive rumble, looped Satanic strings, and pulsating, tumor-like rhythms; man, I absolutely love this era of Murderous Vision, his weird riff on European death industrial felt like it was suffused with whatever the hell was infecting the water and soil in northern Ohio. Like I've mentioned elsewhere, the vast bulk of the Cathartic Drifts material feels akin to a meeting point of Brighter Death Now, Kerovnian's black ambient, and the druggy ritual industrial sounds of groups like Psychonaut 75, Zero Kama , Herbst9 and Sigillum S, so there's definitely much to offer here if you're inclined to that sort of music. Oh and it grows stranger by the moment, oddly hopeful synth-murk smeared in filmic orchestrated blur whirling around troubling film samples of acts of violence and depravation, opening into rich fields of multi-layered electronic ambience, brief moments that feel like they could have seeped into this from a rain-damaged cassette copy of Tangerine Dream's score to The Keep, more pummeling kettledrum-esque rumble and ghostly clacking underscored with huge swathes of grinding sub-surface vibration, long sprawls of perverted religious musical forms, amorphous sinister driftscapes and heavy, rhythmic zoned-out trance states , monstrous chanting choirs and swells of mesmeric Teutonic synthesizers (like on the killer "Structures And Pathways" that sounds like Tangerine Dream held hostage by members of Les Legions Noires) , endlessly grinding stone and stygian throb of inhuman machinery, those drums and other percussion surfacing constantly throughout the seventy-minute-plus albumin all manner of forms to propel you further and further into the album's strange and often psychotropic interior abyss, but finding onesself standing amid emotional desolation with a haunting coda of acoustic strum and twang, keys, and layered voices that has a straight-out Swans feel to it.

If I'm ever wandering therough a skull-lined catacomb system on LSD, I'd want to have this "lost" album pouring into my ears. It's one of the coolest "unreleased albums" that I've heard.

We move to the second disc, where you get a mixture of out-of-print Live Bait CDR releases such as the 2009 Frozen In Morphia disc and a privately-issued 3" disc, capped off with another unreleased track, this one from 2006. Still trawling the abyss, beautifully so, but with some more unexpected and experimental forays into rhythmic structure. The eight-song Morphia (directly influenced by Aleistar Crowley's Diary Of A Drug Fiend) materializes in a thick fog of geo-physic subduction tremors, active drumming that veers from tribal ritual vibe to martial intensity and focus, more male and female voices emerging over spooky piano and spectral string sections, spoken word incantations and morbid poetics drifting over swirling noctural ambience. It's more collaborative than other MV releases from that era, and goes into some interesting directions. Almost every single track here gives itself over to some new drumming pattern, often fully present and up front in the mix as slow hypnotic beats rumble beneath smears of dreary synth, folky strum and intricately fingerpicked melody, again hinting at that bleak psychedelia that Petrus really started to get into towards the latter half of the decade. Of course, that gloomy title track is followed by the smoldering death industrioal of "Through The Motes Of Dust " and the sickening morgue-drone of "Clawmarks In The Muck " that pull you back down into stinking, sulfuric machine fumes and daemonic muttering, so the atmopshere on Morphia is, well, fairly amorphous. And then there's "Secular Assault " that comes out of nowhere as a full band emerges with this killer industrial dirge-metal assault, massively distorted riffs and slithering bass and slow motion earthmover drumming, monstrous seething screams buried in distortion; with weird dubby elements to the echoing snare and walking basslines, this one threw me for a loop, part Winter-esque deathsludge, part dub-infected delusion, part early Swans-style repetitious assault. I can't think of anywhere else in the Murderous Vision discography where he suddenly went full-on freakazoid scum-sludge like this, but it rules. It's a solid, offbeat, totally overlooked album from Murderous Vision, that closes with a nearly twenty-minute live performance of what sounds like a witch's sabbat . The last two tracks are similairy intriguing artifacts, the meandering piano that drives the neo-classical ritualism on "Seas", insane black metal-esque shrieks lurking in the depths and bearing witness to blinding blasts of kosmiche electronics into the upper atmopshere, while the unreleased "Collective Murder" draws its curtains down around some terrific orchestral dark ambience.