3/9/2007 - Review by: Etiam
Stalaggh - Nihilistik Terror - 2006 - Autopsy Kitchen Records
|Track Listing1. Project Nihil|
2. Project Terrror
Stalaggh have become fairly well known in noise and ambient black metal circles due to the circulating rumor that a homicidal, institutionalized sociopath was providing their vocals. The veracity of this claim is uncertain—it really does seem far from likely—but it has brought Stalaggh into the public eye, and therefore fulfilled its purpose.
And the truth of it hardly matters on ‘Nihilistik Terror’. The static character of these remixes is so harsh and industrially cold that the vocals that do exist sound as if they are miles beneath the surface, screaming up through cavernous steel chambers. Fans familiar with the original compositions, put aside any expectations; compared to the remixes those tracks are downright soporific. Both were rather sparse compositions to begin with in almost all respects but for the sickly vocals, and also featured trace remnants of traditional guitar and percussion, very rarely indulging in vehement noise.
Now, worked over by noise artist Xardas, ‘Project Terrror’ and ‘Project Nihil’ are howling furies. Aside from the similar vocal presence, all traces of compassion are scoured away, and the listener is instantaneously attacked by a barrage of misanthropic noise fury.
In fact, it is so misanthropic that it is almost impossible to endure. Most noise (and this is truly noise, the ‘ambient black metal’ tag applied to most Stalaggh does not apply here at all), despite its rejection of traditional techniques, still tends towards human instinct. It therefore often utilizes, perhaps unconsciously, rhythm, dynamics, and if not melody, at least discernable climaxes and focal points.
Not so, here. Built upon an omnipresent bass drone, Stalaggh erect a towering construct of twisted, shrieking steel—almost a constant wail of dissonant, shrill mechanics.
This single sound grounds the majority of the album, while some intermittent instances of background noise are scattered throughout—crashes here and there, echoes, and towards the beginning and end of both tracks cacophonous wails and moans, that, despite their agony, are a relief to hear.
At a few points, this pent-up agony converges, churning upwards in mock harmony towards a high-pitched roar, like a jet turbine on maximum output. These moments function ‘Nihilistik Terror’s peak, and their imprint upon the mind remains a looming shadow throughout the rest of the album.
And at that point, literal perception ceases. Stalaggh have made it clear that this work is not to be approached as an even remotely musical experience. ‘Nihilistik Terror’ is a doomed attempt to exorcise the soul and its emotions from the body— desperately slaving away to create a façade of dispassionate calm and exploding in a mad rage when its efforts collapse into raw humanity.
This realized, the oxymoron of ‘Nihilistik Terror’ becomes obvious. In their vast wasteland, Stalaggh unveil two polarized and absolute states of being. The first: a cold, passionless look into an empty and soulless existence that is neither life nor death: nihilism. The second: a maelstrom of all humanity’s humors—blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm—where wrath, fear, anguish, bitterness, jealousy, passion, and even ecstasy are all warped and shaped into a cold and brutal weapon: terror.
As powerful as each of these are, Stalaggh cannot embody at once. ‘Nihilistik Terror’ is a paradox, each term essentially the antithesis of the other, and so too is this album caught between two extremes: the conscious rejection of all man’s constructs, (the first choice unveiled, nihilism) and the suppressed, emotionally steeped anguish that motivates its very creation (the second, terror).
The actual experience of ‘Nihilistik Terror’ is similarly inexplicable. It is both amorphous and stubborn, puerile and profound. Combative and cathartic. And however much a critical, uninvolved analysis may validate this torture endured, the sadistic id within is provoked by this tempest and it yearns to be released.