Theologian has birthed its most monstrous and allegorical spawn yet with this latest twenty-track full-length release, Pain of the Saints. Since laying the infamous industrial/power electronics project Navicon Torture Technologies to rest in 2009, Lee Bartow has been achieving new levels of transformation within his musical exertions and his overall results remain far from directionless. Pain of the Saints personifies this statement and exerts a variation of audio frequencies which hold a polar range of both light and darkness. The results are both treacherous and beautifully somber.
Theologian (and similarly, Navicon Torture Technologies) has always succeeded in producing repetitive yet alluring pulses and patterns, capable of hypnotism and drowning in one’s own abyss of complete self-deprecation. It is the very core of Bartow’s creations which personifies his experiences, emotions, and overall artistic entity. All of Pain of the Saints‘ content is produced into high and low frequencies which are powerful enough to pierce through the night itself—high, static transmissions of churning machinery steel combine with cavernous dust storms to penetrate the walls of noise and speak in tongues of its own—a language which exemplifies the horrific depravity of ones’ innermost fears. Yet, somehow, there lingers an undertone of serenity in the path of its destruction.
One aspect which has been incorporated into Theologian’s sound which differs from its former shell: there is less unrestrained chaos which was once vocalized. Now it has been transitioned into the barrier of sound which is more along the lines of a slow death, executed in a more timely and sinister manner. “Serpentine Angels” illustrates such a depiction in its soothing, tranquil delivery which resembles that of church hymns in its beginning. Slowly, its direction shifts as its prophetic litany becomes overshadowed by an implacable darkness. What once was lively and promising has been led into a realm of affliction. Faint screaming clamors along with various indecipherable mumblings which are themselves led astray, venturing further down into the album’s augural vortex. “Piss and Jism,” the track for which Gretchen Heinel created a most erotic and liminal video, presents a more straightforward, lewd approach; it holds a large resemblance to the approach of the old Navicon Torture Technologies era in its harsh bearing with Bartow’s delayed, reverberated vocals, clenched in a fist full of vitriolic noise. As aforementioned, this hostile bearing has taken new form—even in the form of a light which burns through darkness.
For the most part, a large majority of the tracks included on Pain of the Saints are arranged as an ensemble which neither counteract nor overshadow one another. A well-suited range of industrial, noise, and dark ambient attributes are equally as gripping in their own contrasts which borderline on the brink of tranquility and madness. The downward spiral of minimalistic sound waves will lure you into its polluted crevices, such as “You Are the End of the World.” Shamanistic-like currents become entwined with distorted screams in a blight of orchestrated white noise. The gorgeous, somber violin solo which is heard on “Blessed Prey” is by far one of the most progressively memorable pieces which Bartow has composed in his musical career—it is gracefully haunting, dreary, and utterly beautiful. This track ultimately stands out to me the most out of everything on Pain of the Saints; it is the ultimate highlight which renders the true musical range and capability of Lee Bartow’s creations, and what extensive heights they can truly soar to.
Given the length of this album, it is understandable that Pain of the Saints is absolutely not for everyone. Although, it is preferred that one be able to receive the full effect of its abysmally haunting immensity in one sitting.
Silence is the enemy.
03) Serpentine Angels
04) Piss and Jism
06) Without Trust, Your Love Is Meaningless
07) Of Foulness and Faithfulness
08) Iron Pierces Flesh and Bone Alike
09) You Are the End of the World
10) Sainthood Is Suffering
01) The Lies of the Past Become the Prayers of the Future
04) Their Gelded and Rapacious Hearts
06) Blessed Prey
07) With Eternal Derision
08) Redemption Is an Impossibility
09) It Was You Who Taught Me Indifference
10) Self-Flagellation as Faith