“I really don’t like to place expectations on artists when I hear that a new release is in the pipeline…..but sometimes they make it so difficult by being consistently brilliant in what they do.”- Winter-Light 2013
'After a nail biting few months of waiting it’s finally here, Bi-Rath the Beast of the Forge has been unleashed upon us. Oh, my god. What have those two drunken sons from out deepest, darkest Sweden done this time? Well, let’s find out……..
The label of choice for this, the fifth physical release of Bocksholm, is Wrotycz Records based in Poland. Not the most prolific of labels by any means but one where the focus is on quality over quantity – not a bad thing at all really. This is the second Bocksholm release on the label – The Haunting Curse Of Skogs-Sara being the first. There is also some history of collaboration here with Wrotycz. Peter Andersson (Lina Baby Doll) has released his Frozen Faces – Broken Sounds Of A Dying Culture through them in the past so something must be working well here I think.
The CD offers up 9 tracks in a 6-panel digipack with all music credited to (Peter+Andersson) to the power of 2. Track 2 is taken from the ‘Höga Nord’ compilation, Segerhuva, 2008 and track 6 from the ‘Perception Multiplied…’ compilation, released on Cold Meat Industry, 2001. The remaining seven tracks are all new material. The photos/artwork/layout are by Peter Andersson; you can take your pick as to which one, and are beautiful, sepia images presumably of the ever mysterious surroundings of the town of Boxholm…or not. So, if you are expecting erotic Swedish Abba style disco, complete with silver boob-tubes and blonde wigs then read on. You will not be disappointed.
The albums opener is The Phantomghost and as the title hints at, is an ethereal, swirling ecto-plasmatic piece, occasionally punctuated with static and the encroaching hammerings of … well who knows what, something haunting that is for sure. This for me is a perfect mix of the eeriness of a short Deutsch Nepal track, blended with the ambience of Raison D’Etre and I think what makes Bocksholm such a great project. If you’re a fan of both it’s a win-win situation. Having said that the two elements combined obviously offer something a little different, which is also exciting. Up next is Bögamord weighing in at 9:39, quite a lengthy track but not the longest on the album. Something wicked this way comes. Doom laden, industrial washes throw reverberations of sub-sonics on your ears and then the metallics’ begin. Rhythmic pounding, relenting and unwavering in their timing, as other sounds filter in from the surrounding foundry. I have to say the attention to detail with the sounds is – dare I say as you would expect – perfect. This really is a construction song in more ways than one – something is being built deep down in the forge of the beast and its pulling you towards it. Don’t be fooled – this album is not all about industrial pounding and punishing noise, as this track demonstrates. The ambiance can snap back in at any moment and pull you away from the heat of the forge and mop your soothing brow with a few light, washes and brushes of subtlety – and then before you know it is bleeding your ears again. Genius!
Koeven at 9:45 is the longest track on the album and states its intentions from the outset; unsettling sub bass applied to the ears with nerve jangling pads and atmospherics. Why I have a vision of Lina marching up and down the Bocksholm Forge Studio, banging on a hand crafted oil drum wearing only his underpants and socks I’ll never know. Maybe it’s been cleverly woven in to the music as some kind of subliminal advert for their live shows. Hold on, it could be a deeply repressed memory from an earlier gig that has finally decided to surface. Brrrrrrr! Anyways, be gone vision of Lina, I need to focus again. This track is something else – I mean really. I’ve listened to this now a number of times and it just gets better and better. Clever textures of industrial sound effects, wavering pads and interwoven percussion twist this in to the theme music from someone elses nightmare – in this case those two bastard sons of Skogs-Sara. Play this through a good sound system and it really is another experience. The bass on this track will knock for you for six so for gods’ sake remove any antique vases from shelves and open all your windows else you are going to lose that Ming Dynasty to vibrated breakage.
Track 4 is Mobil Oil. Ok, so you are on an oil rig, in the worst sea storm ever and hearing the groans as the stanchions and pylons are stretched to their breaking point by the forces of mother nature. Get the picture? Good then you will have some idea of what this track feels like. It really has movement and makes you feel sea sick. To top it all off the orchestra on this now sinking and collapsing disastrous construction are refusing to leave and playing the cello and percussion with renewed vigor as they all plummet to an inevitable icy death. It’s very moving. Jerndöd opens with what sounds like someone rummaging through a Snap-on tool box and discarding everything they pick up in a hurry to seek the right tool for the job. I have no idea what a Jerndöd is so answers on a postcard would be most welcome. Is that someone whistling in the background? This is the forge workers picnic I reckon, recorded and re-mixed for your enjoyment. A very disorientating track. I almost feel like I’m on a musical rack that’s slowly being tightened, pulling at all the strands of my consciousness and extracting my synapses never to be returned.
Now we come to the beast itself, track number 6; Bi-Rath, The Beast Of The Forge. If Peter Andersson’s were given permission to sing from the pulpit of their local church and bring all their noisy equipment with them then this is that sermon! It is a real bastard of a tune – the beast is unleashed and boy is he pissed. Just great, really. Slamming percussion, wave riding pads and this insane singing?? warble?? what is it? I have no idea and not really sure I want to either. Forging Hammers was the track that I had reviewed earlier and still stand-by what I wrote then. Imagine being trapped inside a huge, metallic silo, like the type used to store grain. Its hot, dark, mostly unpleasant and to top things off there are some very unwelcome visitors trying to punch their way in from the outside. Huge rhythmic strikes against the sides, pounding a beat as they try to force their way in. Then there is the tik-tik-tikking sound from all around as something metallic runs around the outside, across the top and back down again. The pummelling sounds renew their intensity as something else begins to try and saw it’s way through, reverberating synth washes binding the unholy sounding orchestra together. Pitched drones cut through the percussive sounds creating a further build in the tension and then there is a lull. A calm, as if everything has begun to subside and the unwanted entities have lost interest in prising open the can. Then it kicks back in with a renewed intensity pushing the music on to its conclusion. Still great, still unnerving and now it’s mine!
Bx, Ribbing & Burén is another bass heavy punisher with lots of great sub on. Booming percussion forcing its way from the background, as little snippets and stabs vie for position in the fore. Lot’s going in this track, mostly subtle. Strain the ears and you can pick out fleeting elements and sounds from some of the earlier tracks, re-used, twisted and re-formed. Now we are in the final stretch and the last track entitled Suplhur. The tune opens with a rhythmic sawing sound, not harsh but almost hypnotic and soothing. Light metal percussive drums play out over the top, as the track quickly builds in intensity. A loud horn suddenly punctuates the atmosphere – it’s the calling, the sound that beckons Bi-Rath back to where he came from. His time for now is up; he is being summoned and must answer. He crawls back to the bowels of the Earth (presumably Boxholm) and awaits, biding his time until he can once again unleash his own brand of fury and industrial suffering on others. The Earth opens up, and with one final blast of the horn, he disappears…..
Ok, what can I say other than this is just a great release. I love the Bocksholm stuff so yes I could be accused of being biased but what the hell. This is my blog, my review and my take on what I think is a very clever and progressive release from Peters’s's’s .. I mean Meneer Andersson’s's’s's’. Well, whatever they have done an excellent job! Definitely check this out.'
Bocksholm - Caged Inside the Beast of the Forge (2013)