One of the pleasures of the martial industrial genre—which frequently deals with historical themes—is when a release turns your attention to an episode of history that you were previously unaware of. While much of martial industrial over the last few years has focussed on the two world wars, often to the point of cliché, Kraschau’s Une Foi d’Acier is an album with some different ideas.
Kraschau is the martial industrial project of prolific Hungarian musician Adam Bérces. In addition to two previous Kraschau albums, Bérces has released dark ambient music as Mørk Skog, neo-classical as Antíco, as well as with his previous martial and neofolk project, Durch Heer und Kraft.
With Kraschau, Bérces has explored the history of monarchism and Catholicism—two causes which he advocates. Many of the track titles on Une Foi d’Acier, such as ‘Matando Christianos 1926-29’ and ‘¡Viva Cristo Rey!’, make clear reference to Mexico’s Cristero War: an uprising of Catholics against the anti-religious policies of the Mexican government. The last four tracks on the previous Kraschau album, Falanx, were concerned with the Spanish civil war and this is continued here with tracks such as ‘Oriamendi’, which is built around a looped sample of the ‘Marcha de Oriamendi’—the anthem of the Catholic and traditionalist Carlist movement that sided with Franco. Finally, at the end of the album, Bérces revisits previous Kraschau releases with alternate versions of tracks from Offenbarung, Falanx, and Unitas, the split release with Kriegsfall-U.
While Kraschau’s music is firmly in the martial industrial genre, with dominant snare drums and orchestral instrumentation forming the backbone of the sound, there’s also a lot of electronic manipulation as well as Bérces’s aggressive vocals making for a distinctive sound. The martial tracks range from frenetic rhythms to doom-laden cinematic grandeur to military pop tunes, while the ambient interludes involve dense sound collage and aggressive walls of noise. The orchestral samples are mixed in with Bérces’s own compositions in a way that isn’t always seamless (this album is not afraid of its rough edges) but is always skillful.
This album is characterised by a refreshingly vibrant mixture of sounds. While there’s plenty that could be said to be grim in this album, it eschews the relentless, monotone bleakness that is common to the genre, preferring instead to mix moods in often surprising ways. ‘Matando Cristianos 1936-39’ transitions from dark and heavy martial into an unusually light and triumphant tone at the end, for example. And the second half of ‘Extra Ecclesiam (In Tenebres Esteriores)’ is made up of manic church organ noodling. The variety of sources from which Kraschau samples and the twists and turns of mood make for an often disorienting listening experience. It’s put together with a denseness that can border on cacophony, but even in the most intense moments there’s clearly a plan at work.
Une Foi d’Acier is an hour of difficult yet rewarding listening. It delves into some underappreciated areas of history and brings a refreshing blend of musical skill and imagination to the martial genre.
01) ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
03) Matando Cristianos 1926-29
04) Monarhia si Legea Monarhiei
05) MP OY
06) A Kereszt alatt
07) Az arany fiai
08) Drang nach Osten
09) Extra Ecclesiam (In Tenebras Exteriores)
10) Matando Cristianos 1936-39
11) Los Últimos Días de la Democracia
12) Imperium Catholicam
13) Sobre el Orden Naturales de la Familia, el Municipio, la Asociación y la Corporación