After a long period of apparent dormancy, the last couple of years have seen the reemergence of Jouni Havukainen’s In Slaughter Natives—a project which shaped the martial industrial genre in its early years and helped to define the Cold Meat Industry sound. After Resurrection in 2004, there was a ten-year gap before the next album, Cannula Coma Legio. 2016 saw two more releases, both soundtracks of a sort: Psicofonias – Las Voces Desconocidas and Ventre.
Ventre is the soundtrack to a book of philosophical texts and portraits of saints and martyrs by visual artist Nihil. Although Havukainen has a habit of recycling and reworking his old tracks (sometimes to good effect—“Structure” on his first album became the extraordinary “Skin Sore Eyes” on his second, for example), Ventre consists entirely of new material.
While In Slaughter Natives has always had one foot in ambient music, recent releases have moved very firmly in that direction, and Ventre is no exception. The ambient tracks on Ventre combine dense layers of noise with slow percussion. Havukainen is a master of unease, creating atmospheres that make the skin crawl. As with old Cold Meat Industry label-mates Raison d’être and Sophia, he has perfected the art of dark ambient sound design with drones, rumbles, and clanking metal convincingly evoking an atmosphere of abandoned factories and empty cathedrals.
Havukainen nevertheless manages to explore some different territory across the tracks, with “Isolation” being dominated by a buzzing electronic bass that calls to mind old death industrial such as Archon Satani, while Ligeti-like choirs in the background give it an unusual avant-garde flavour. “Ananda” goes in an exotic direction that is reminiscent of Rukkanor with droning instruments and middle-eastern vocals. And with “One Last Farewell” Havukainen makes a something of a return to In Slaughter Natives’s martial roots with harsh percussion and aggressive brass sounds. A couple of the more ambient tracks include some spoken material in French and German.
The highlight of the album is the final track, “As They Walk Hidden Within,” which has a cinematic piano sound and a lurching rhythm that is accentuated by chimes and drums, like a modernist soundtrack to a bleak film. This is In Slaughter Natives breaking out of what could become a clichéd routine and doing something unexpected and highly rewarding.
It’s satisfying at last to have an album of entirely new material. And though the ambient tracks may not be groundbreaking and are sometimes let down by a lack of progression and development, they feel more compelling than those on Cannula Coma Legio. But In Slaughter Natives is an uneven project. At its best it marries an experimental and intellectual approach with undeniable skill at sound design to create something outstanding. The eastern-tinged ambience of “Ananda” rivals anything by Rukkanor, and “As They Walk Hidden Within” is a superbly unsettling piece of avant-garde, cinematic music. It’s those high points that make this album particularly valuable.
02) 113th Scar
04) Fragment 004
05) One Last Farewell
06) Tumoral Dreams
07) As They Walk Hidden Within