CDR: Absolute Zero Media [2005]

As All Die:
Power Through Will
Where Falcons Soar
Kali Yuga

New Year Zero Zero
The Stars Have Faltered
Three Steps To Exaltation

"North American Underground Alliance" is a 6 track split release from Absolute Zero Media. Now…I generally have a problem with split CD releases. Usually I’m left feeling that there’s an imbalance between the artists and that giving them ‘x’ amount of track space each generally leaves a feeling of style over substance. Just as the music of one artist kicks in then the other suddenly takes over and frustration takes hold. "Give ‘em a fucking full recording each" I scream at the stereo. The stereo never replies. The lights keep blinking but no-ones home. Approaching this release very cautiously…here…we…fucking…go again…I sat back and prepared for the worst.

First up are three tracks from the conundrum that is As All Die. Formed by Clint Listing, who played in the…oh fuck…metal group Long Winters Stare (sad to report I have one of their efforts and will leave it at that) he started As All Die with compatriot Aries as a way of expressing his exploration into Germanic / European pagan beliefs from WW1 and the past. Working within the Neo / Martial folk genre with occasional steps into noise Industrial their work to date has been ‘mixed’ to say the least. When on form As All Die kick proverbial ass. Really kick fucking ass. Check out "Time of War and Conflict" as a prime example of them totally in control and in the ‘game’. But when they let the ball slip from their hands…ouch…time to hide in embarrassment. They probably won’t agree with that statement…everyone’s a fucking critic…but as I’ve paid good money to purchase their past releases (apart of course from this one) I’m entitled to my opinion. Right or wrong.

Their first track is ‘Power Through Will’ and is the classic sound of As All Die I’ve come to love. Over an Industrial electronic frying static vibe and tolling bells Aries spouts forth his solemn rhetoric on famine, death, and the shit state of humanity. Desolation never sounded so near. Track two ‘Where Falcons Soar’ changes tack and although Aries brings forth more tales of impending apocalyptic doom and gloom the accompanying music is a subtle blend of gentle guitar plucking over minimal electronics. Sounding not unlike a meeting between Bodychoke and Durutti Column the emphasis is given over to the words being sung. ‘Watch the sky’ intones Aries and you somehow feel he knows something we don’t. The last track ‘Kali Yuga’ is a fitting end with melancholy synthesizer leading Aries on a whispered tortured vocal delivery on Indian mysticism. Three excellent examples of As All Die music which, in my humble view, sees them back hitting the highs where they belong to be.

FDH (or Frank den Haan) had one hell of a task in following As All Die as his three tracks were the cheese to their chalk. Having never heard any of Frank’s previous musical excursions his three tracks were not only a surprise but an eye opener. Working in a quasi experimental / Industrial /classical / ambience with loops and manipulations his music is, to say the least, very thought provoking. The first track ‘New Year Zero Zero’ sets the tone admirably. Starting with a piano lead piece over textured electronics and samples it gradually evolves / dissolves into heavy static and munched up fuckery. But to its credit this actually works in the piece’s favour. Track two ‘The Stars have Faltered’ starts with the predominate piano leading into an accompanying organ / accordion, I couldn’t tell which, tune over bubbly electronics before a guitar is introduced. So simple yet mesmerising in its execution. Track three ‘Three Steps to Exaltation’ is a fitting finale. A static rumble throughout gives way to strings and piano and other instrumentation before arriving at a suitable climax where drums add another dimension to the tune. Edam for the soul.

Two very different artists / groups working either side of the musical fence which in theory shouldn’t have worked…but…as we all know theories are meant to be eventually broken. As an introduction to both for the uninitiated then "North American Underground Alliance" works on every level. Of course I would have liked separate full recordings from each, goes without saying, but this will suffice for now. At least I didn’t rant at my stereo this time…and for that I’m sure my stereo is very grateful.


[Absolute Zero Media]

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Other Reviews:

As All Die: [East West Noise Pact]
As All Die: [Victory]

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