It would seem that Sven Mann, the sole creator behind French martial industrial project Auswalht, has a bit of a dualistic heart that is defined by his dedication to industrial music. He walks two separate paths that are forever converged, weaving into one another as mirrored manifestations born of the same root. One path leads him dancing under the stars in a rhythmic connection to the universe, whilst the other finds him marching under the sun with violent purpose. These paths are his artistic interests, the former of which was once embraced by the long-lived yet scarcely active EBM project Skoyz. The project’s most well-known release was perhaps 2002’s Decay on the Trisol sublabel Matrix Cube, but it met its end in 2010, inevitably giving way to Mann’s new rhythmic endeavor, Embryoid. Curiously, both projects feature an electronic intensity that only hints at Mann’s other works in the militant Auswalht and Liyr, both of which call Poland’s Rage in Eden their home. Lastly, perhaps the least known of Mann’s projects, there is Aesterii, a brand new dark ambient project that has been exclusively released digitally via Cyanur Prod.
Paroxysm is the all-important sophomore release for Auswalht — the album for any celebrated new artist that shows whether or not their debut work was fact or fluke. A “Paroxysm” is a sudden, violent outburst of emotion or action, so the expectations going into the album were that the opener, “Necropolis”, would set the stage by unleashing some sort of fervent aural fury. Of course, the atmosphere surrounding a Necropolis is nothing of the sort, so the mood surrounding the album was conflicting from the start as the track focuses on more of a dark ambient style with sweeping heavy brass and percussive crescendos about. Subtle Gregorian Chant layers that have been processed and distorted join these aforementioned qualities later in the album to bring about more of an apocalyptic affair, but it is the Thirlwellian (see: Foetus) orchestral bridging and accents that bring out the true character in Auswalht’s martial compositions. Sweeping strings give the experience the flare of hand-to-hand combat, whilst the overwhelming brass presence brings about an absurd amount of tension in moments that are not unlike those created by their countrymen in March of Heroes. It’s an album that has equal amounts of emotional lift and intermittent calm. Paroxysm isn’t total war; it has its battles placed and planned firmly within a larger context, each representing one journey to the next.
In terms of theme, Paroxysm of course focuses on the cliches of the genre as those that have been mentioned above, as well as time and time again elsewhere: conflicts, blood, violence, and generic militarism. There are aspects that stand out glaringly though, from the song “Hyperborean” to the Greek aesthetic that is applied to the album both through “Pantheon” and the album cover which features the Florentine statue of Poseidon as it glares directly into the soul of the listener. Whether there is intent here to focus on something spiritually abstract as in the fury of the Gods, or something meta-historical such as the writing of Bâl Gangâdhar Tilak in The Arctic Home in the Vedas, I am uncertain, but there is more going on with Paroxysm than is immediately definable. I’ve been let down by a number of Rage in Eden releases lately that just haven’t lived up to the quality standard that the label has set since their days as War Office Propaganda, but Paroxysm has proven surprising and surpassed expectations, redeeming the good name of the label, at least for me.
This Summer, Auswalht released a new album, Pagan Theory, again on Rage in Eden. As much promise as Paroxysm has shown, fans of martial industrial should have their eyes and ears firmly affixed to this new release.
02) Mors Sororis
03) The Last Conflict
04) Lake of Blood
07) La Fureur et le Bruit
10) Army Tenebrae