Double Header – Trepaneringsritualen

Seeing as we love this guy so much in all his blood-crusted beardiness, figured we'd save some time covering two labels and two different releases at once, as this special article style of ours is want to do.  Thomas Ekelund, known as Trepaneringsritualen, we first reviewed in a split LP with DEATHSTENCH released by Malignant Recordings.  Since then, we've gotten used to the name in our typing and we even managed to pronounce it properly aloud after much practice.  This was, however, after we had been fully indoctrinated into his unique blend of dark Gothic industrial, with many hallmarks of old ritualistic ambient.  He has that dirty, occult-encrusted vibrancy to his sound, that sickeningly bleak lust for all things morbid.  You look at the guy and you expect some sort of blackened black metal of blackness, but really the image suddenly becomes less cliche and more frightening when you investigate.  In fact after checking both of these releases out, it's about time for a damn interview, so buddy, get ready, we're a' comin' fer ya.  For now, let us permit the listener to engage in two of your works in one go for this double header.

 

The Totality of Death

This ententacled ball of darkness was originally released on cassette by the artist, and then saw a hefty reissue via three different labels in 2013 in two different formats with, get this, different track selections.  Malignant Records (which is the version we're referring to here) and silken tofu released on CD, and Beläten (Ekelund's own label) on cassette.  First off, got to love all of these underground labels doing this, really, it's just pure spirit that makes that kind of thing possible.  Anyway, The Totality of Death carries that classic Trepaneringsritualen sound; an echoing, cavernous presence of dense, metallic/organic beats and melting throat vocals commanding scriptures of the esoteric.   One of his specialties is creating an extensive sense of space using said beats and adding minimal sounds.  Most of the looping drags like a bled-out, flayed corpse, and the vocals create this feeling of a phantasmal death retch coming from out of a murky grave saturated with bog fumes.  You can imagine the bubbling blood coming from his mouth when he chants, but his style creates another level of tension.  You can sense yourself trapped inside of a tomb as a circle of dark-hooded fanatics encloses upon you to toss your pieces on the pyre.  It's refreshing to see simplicity taken to such a level of perfection.  The album has but one flaw, and that's the final track.  Relying on looping, dark patterns, and chanting is awesome, but if the sounds on which a particular song is built sound like Trepaneringsritualen took an ale break while some Krautrock keyboardist took over the intermission, best to take it out of the mix.  Otherwise, solid work, let's move on.  Score : 4 / 5
 

Perfection and Permanence

This beautiful piece of evil was just cut by Cold Spring Records on the 4th of July, so let's celebrate the birth of America, sort of, with destruction, shall we?  Make that revelation, a revelation that Trepaneringsritualen can stick to the same format and still somehow make it sound distinctive.  It's like taking the flayed corpse we mentioned above and giving it a new stretching of skin before taking it all off again.  Big difference here is you're treated to an overall vision instead of a selection of previously released tracks.  Nothing wrong with that, but this provides a more consistent theme throughout Perfection and Permanence that simply cannot exist in the other.  Interestingly, Trepaneringsritualen proves here he can retain his similitude in basic sound structure while doing something different, somehow.  All expectations here were for more of the same; a good same perhaps, but still same.  In this case, there's more of a focus on meditative pieces and atmosphere.  You still get that driving, ritualistic presence of earlier works, but with a more delicate touch.  The only complaint one could have this time around are the vocals are much more forward, in fact they almost totally cover the rest of the music on occasion.  The discerning mind can still find the force behind his vocals, but at times they're somewhat obscured.  Thankfully, it's easy to overlook overall.  Score: 4 / 5

 

Written by Stanley Stepanic