Written by: VITRIOL
Artist: Hrossharsgrani & Dead Man’s Hill
Artist country: Hrossharsgrani: /Dead Man’s Hill:
Title: Dead : Meat
Cat. # : SKD 26
Genre: Martial Industrial/Electronic/ Dark Ambient/Death Industrial
From The Ashes
01. Hrossharsgrani – Come My Phoenix
02. Hrossharsgrani – Znischy Jih
03. Hrossharsgrani – Countess Bathory
04. Hrossharsgrani – Warriors Of The Wasteland
05. Hrossharsgrani – Down There
06. Dead Man’s Hill – The Birth Of Death
07. Dead Man’s Hill – Mother Destruction
08. Dead Man’s Hill – And Nature Created Yellowstone
09. Dead Man’s Hill – The Dangerous Emptiness
10. Dead Man’s Hill – All Saints Day Rituals: To Baron Samedi
“Dead : Meat” is a split release between the Austrian industrial electronic project Hrossharsgrani and Dead Man’s Hill from Belgium, a project very hard to categorize, as they utilize an abundance of diverse elements in their music, from basic darkwave orchestrations to black ambient, martial industrial rhythms, neoclassical compositions and the baffling vocals of Bart Piette, the man behind the name, which range from spooky black metal to raging recitations sometimes given in a ceremonial style, and others in an intense militaristic tone. Hrossharsgrani’s blend of muffled noise, ambient soundscapes, heavy sampling and repetitive rhythms is often embellished with totally unexpected elements, such as metal guitars, neofolk acoustic instruments, female vocals, even EBM-styled passages. So they are equally hard to categorize, and one thing the listener should expect when seeing these two names in a split release, is that it will not adhere to genre limitations.
Both projects have an extensive discography, with Dead Man’s Hill in particular having delivered some stellar recordings in the past (Dog Burial, 2007, The Demons of Death, 2006, Songs from the Forthcoming Apocalypse, 2008 and many others). Their latest release, “Spirits” (2010, Steinklang) is probably their most mature so far, in the way the three main constituents of their work balance one another. Ritual undertones, grim, frightening atmospheres and bombastic martial neoclassical compositions. The subjects DMH mainly deal with are easily deducted from the name and titles of their previous work: death, annihilation, magick, with an especial focus on necromantic and sacrificial rituals and chthonic deities. Dagon, Baron Samedi, totem animals such as crows and wolves, all have an honored position among their subject matter. Hrossharsgrani on the other hand is focused on epic heroism, war, Nordic culture and mythology, ancient Rome and Greece, and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga.
The two unite here to demonstrate what appears to be a loosely based concept, as there are tracks about war, the Countess Erzsébet Báthory, wolves, death and Baron Samedi. Hrossharsgrani’s part seems to have to do with the regeneration of the spirit under extreme circumstances, as well as the survival of the human race through the elevation of bravery, but also through perversion and ruthlessness. Dead Man’s Hill exhibit their familiar motif of a post-apocalyptic death cult. Their concept is evidently more structured, as it is centered on a ritualistic viewpoint, thus allowing for the linking of the song titles: wolves and dogs are totem animals of numerous deities related to the underworld, destruction, death and emptiness are consequences of one another, and the All-Saints-Day praised in the final track can be easily paralleled to the Second Coming.
Hrossharsgrani start the recording with two tracks displaying Bart Piette’s characteristic vocals. The consistency of the vocals notwithstanding, the music suffers from a lack of destination, expanding from an obscure noise/electronic mixture to metal, ambient, neofolk and folk elements appearing in a manner that makes it difficult for the listener to understand the purpose of their presence. “Countess Bathory” for instance drags on for 11 pointless minutes, with an indifferent, mellow ambient melody wandering about, attempting to co-exist with voice samples from war films, and a fainthearted rhythmic drumming in the background. What all these have to do with Countess Báthory is entirely beyond my comprehension. “Warriors Of The Wasteland” begins with a promising string arrangement and engaging vocals, in what appears to be a decent dark neoclassical track, but soon loses its focus to return to the abrupt changes of tempo, theme and genre, so that it feels as if we are listening three totally different tracks in one. A shame because the melodies in the three different parts of the track are interesting, but as it is they remain undeveloped, losing their appeal in the general aimlessness.
When Dead Man’s Hill take over there is a substantial improvement, the music rises in strength and passion, the dark profanity of their sound commanding for immediate attention. There is a clearly discernible musical direction and a complete vision from beginning to end. From the organic dark ambience of “The Birth Of Death” to the heavy martial industrial grinding of “Mother Destruction” and “The Dangerous Emptiness” all the parts blend together and provide the listener with a complete experience. The two most interesting tracks however are “And Nature Created Yellowstone”, where the dark ambient atmospheres and horror themes are masterfully used to a chilling effect, and “All Saints Day Rituals”, that brings about the vibrations of the grave in a blood-curdling, zombie-raising ritual.
“Dead : Meat” is an unequal collaboration, between two projects which are plainly not on the same page in terms of compositional excellency and musical consistency. While Hrossharsgrani still have a long way to go in order to discover their identity and present a completed idea, Dead Man’s Hill are full of passion, intensity and deathly, twisted beauty. You will enjoy the second part of this recording, but Hrossharsgrani will need to make a definite decision on their sound, concept and execution if they are to compete with projects such as Dead Man’s Hill.