Here’s a release that is sure to bring a tear of joy to the eye and a fresh well of drool to the lips. It’s an instant classic! Everything about this record is aimed to please. First, there’s the killer contributions of two of avant-metal’s finest, Horseback and Locrian. If you haven’t heard of them yet or have been hiding your head in the sand, you need to check them out before you miss out completely. They are two of the most cutting edge artists in the underground, and to have them together on one split is just awesome! Second, the art and graphic design is spectacular. Immediately, the unusual cover painting grabs your attention. It’s called The Wooden Word done by artist, Denis Forkas Kostromitin, along with the etching that’s printed in beautiful black ink on the full size insert called, Omega Auroch. And this brings me to the third coolest thing about this release: the art on the b-side of the record. It looks much like the etching, Omega Auroch, but is a lacquer engraving by Mark Willis. Absolutely stunning. I knew when this record dropped, that I’d put it on my best-of list for 2011. Now that I’ve experienced it firsthand there’s no question. It surely deserves the title. Killer in so many ways.
Okay, the tracks are grim slowburners that complement one another very well. Starting off with a nice track from Horseback called, The Gift we get more of a combo of Jenks Miller’s earlier work, mixed with some of the progression we heard on the very memorable The Invisible Mountain, and then there’s a complex maturity to the track which I am unable to define but undoubtedly hear as I go along. Unfortunately for me, an avid Horseback fan, Jenks’ track is significantly shorter than the Locrian contribution. However, it is so good. It starts off with a cloud of black haze that has a slight ring to stir the adrenaline and adds some effects in for good measure. Then climbing its way from the tomb of dark atmospheres is a raspy voice that chokes out some indecipherable garbles. Also introduced are some slow-tempoed drums that sound very Locrian-esque. It’s gone before you know it, and Locrian steps in with a very doomful couple of bass timbres that are so freaking soulful. Also prevalent in this track, Our Epitaph, are the chanted vocals that sound distant, like they’re rising up from your basement or something. I say they’re chanted because the words are really stretched out into long syllables that remind me of some of Bauhaus legend Peter Murphy’s lingering voice on In the Flat Field or Hollow Hills. Anyway, a couple looping effects build into what seems like a very long climax in the track. I thought for a moment that this one had locked grooves that would repeat the same moment until you stopped it. It eventually all boiled down and dissolved into some trailing noise that almost zips out of there. What stuck out the most to me were the two repeated bass tones that just weigh heavily in your skull like two anchors thrown over a war-torn ship of undead sailors. Incredibly powerful bass.
Impressive in every way, I give this record a standing ovation. I was even more wowed when I learned that the artists were intentionally trying new things on this record. I could tell, but I didn’t know if that was on purpose. Here’s what the label says:
“New Dominions is an epitaph to an era and a rebirth of another. Inspired by Alan Weisman’s book The World Without Us, it is the profound religious feel of the takeover events that stand out in Weisman’s detailed narration. While quite a bleak read, it successfully conveys an image of unstoppable sermon, a service of Life that would continue no matter if humanity or any other species cares to attend it. This collaborative release brings together two of the most exciting artists operating at the forefront of the underground. The groups’ willingness to explore new sounds, textures, and moods sets them apart from other artists operating in heavy music. New Dominions may be the most intense and brooding releases by either group. . . . New Dominions is an extremely heavy record, but has few of the typical characteristics of a heavy album.”
Both artists work with new dimensions of their projects to accomplish such an inspired release. To work outside of their box and to execute it so well is very deft. Both artists are becoming archmasters of their art. High lauds to them. Only 300 made.