Posts Tagged ‘Ragemaker’

Metropolis Records – 4 February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

For years, I’ve had the rage. There is, after all plenty in this world, this life, and no doubt beyond, to rage about and against. iVardensphere focus that rage through sound rather than verbally, through an album that articulates darkness and tension through the language of sound.

‘A Whimsical Requiem for the Fey’ is appropriately titled; being a breezy, neoclassical assimilation of light-as-air plucked strings and soft, accessible melody. As such, it does nothing to prepare the listener for the instant plunge into the darkest of depths brough with the growling churn of ‘The Maw’, which features Jesse Thom. But it’s on the title track that the album really hits its stride. Tribal drums dominate a gloomy soundscape, weighted with dense bass tones, but also the portent of soaring vocals. And while the jagged strings add to the tension, the drums simply build and build and batter your very being. This isn’t rage, it’s the unleashing of vengeance via the hammering of the soul.

The individual compositions are each dramatic and powerful in their own right, and the attention not only to the details of the arrangement, but the sequencing of the album stands out, and the ambition is clear without the explanation that this is ‘a sweeping, cinematic album, equally suited as the next evolutionary step of iVardensphere, and as the film score to a post-apocalyptic motion picture.’ It’s dark, stark, and atmospheric, and thunderous rhythms evoke ancient mysticism, and scenes on barren hilltops and sweeping moorlands; tribal rituals, burials, spiritual ceremonies of great import. And there are moments when those rhythms step up, pounding harder and more intensely, so as to be all-encompassing.

As the accompanying notes outline, ‘Traditional percussion from all corners of the world, Taiko, Surdo, djembe, timpani, and more are deftly intermixed with all manner of sourced percussion sounds. Hammers and anvils, slamming doors, even the sound of a dumpster being kicked are sampled and folded into the sonic melange.’ We’re in Neubauten / Test Dept territory here, but there’s a subtlety to so many of the compositions that go beyond these comparisons too: the graceful sweeps of ‘Indomitus’ stray from anything industrial towards progressive / post rock territories, and Seeming’s vocals are almost rock.

The electronic elements are remarkably restrained in the main, with only occasional incursions, such as the bending blasts of bass on ‘Varunastra’ (which features Brittany Bindrim’s vocals); elsewhere, ‘Draconian’ brings the drones, and a low, serrated throbbing. Then, it also brings glitchy danceable beats, which evolve into another crashing assault that batters away relentlessly.

Then there’s the straight-ahead thump ‘n’ grind of ‘Orcus’ and the mournful trudge of ‘The Age of Angels is Over’; these tracks conjure very different atmospheres, but in the way the album unfolds, they develop a sense of significance. If ‘Sisters of the Vipers Womb’, with Brien Hindman’s vocals, seems a little too cliché in its sinister stylings, it sits in the broader context of an expansive and immersive work that has a trajectory through ever-changing moods, and to powerful effect.

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Unique in the modern industrial-electro scene, iVardensphere began as the ambition of Canadian musician Scott Fox to fuse heavy electronics with his love of percussion from all over the world. Since releasing his debut album in 2009, his group has at times been a solo endeavour and at others a fully fledged collaborative effort, but it has always been about his desire to combine sound design with crushing rhythms while utilising his ever-evolving production skills.

Over the course of four further records, Fox and his cohorts have built a diverse and fluid catalogue on which monolithic sounding analogue synths and industrial groove-based instrumental experiments have shared space with exotic tribal drum rhythms and deep, textured ambience.

Fox now presents ‘Ragemaker’, the first single and title track of a brand new album that will be released in early February 2022. A stunning extended video for the track also incorporates his next single, ‘The Shattering Queen’ (out in mid-January), which brings the total duration of the clip to almost ten minutes.

Complex and layered, the ‘Ragemaker’ album weaves electronics with haunting vocals, orchestral crescendos and often complex rhythms, creating hymns to totemic gods of war and rebirth and to ancient goddesses of harvest and hunt, including the tragic mythos of the aforementioned Shattering Queen.
Traditional percussion from all corners of the globe, including Taiko, Surdo, djembe, timpani and more are deftly interwoven with all manner of sourced sounds. Hammers, anvils, slamming doors and even the sound of a waste bin being kicked are sampled and folded into the overall sonic mélange. The result is an immersive and cinematic masterpiece that is the latest evolutionary step for iVardensphere, although it is equally suited to be the score to a post-apocalyptic movie.

‘Ragemaker’ may invite comparison to soundtracks such as ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ by Junkie XL, ‘Midsommar’ by Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak), or even the dramatic escalations of Hans Zimmer, but it can also be seen as a more driven and rhythmic slant on the wave of Nordic artists currently exploring ancient ancestral music, including Einar Selvik of Wardruna, ambient-folk musician Danheim and experimental folk outfit Heilung.

Watch the epic video here:

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