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The Blood of Others’ “I Used to Think Everything Was Beautiful” Summons Ritual Industrial Bleakness in the Pacific Northwest

When the phrase “ritual industrial” is uttered, it’s hard for the phrase not to invoke memories of the venerable Scandinavian label Cold Meat Industry. Cold Meat Industry, while more-or-less defunct circa 2017, was a linchpin in this realm, housing such noteworthy acts as Raison d’être’s murderous soundscapes to Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio’s detached fetish monologues. For those in the loop with this groundbreaking label’s back catalogue, the Blood of Others‘ debut album may feel like a flashback to those days with their modus operandi of whispered storytelling and slow-motion dungeon synth symphonics. However, don’t mistake this debut as just a rote copy of the Cold Meat Industry sound, as there are additionally traces of the pitch-black electronic industrial that typified the nineties as well, with comparisons to acts like yelworC or even the eponymous Skinny Puppy being salient here as well.

It’s probably worth mentioning that Michael Kurt, the man behind the project, is better known for his work under the pseudonym Product. While his other band dwells closer to a harsh EBM archetype, it’s still easy to see how an artist can segue from the brunt nature of that subgenre to this subtle one, sort of akin to distilling the cinematic angles out of a black metal opus.  The quiet yet bleak moments found in acts like the formative :wumpscut: are subtle but present in “The Word for World,” a voiceless piece that marries pensive acoustic guitar and tragic piano with stuttering, scraping machine chatter. This trio gels well into a stilted dance, a touch of dark electro nostalgia that seems to fondly remember the days when electronic industrial wasn’t synonymous with dance clubs and DJs.

Michael Kurt | Credit: Alex Stover Photography

Perhaps a better angle to look at these genre ghosts is found in “We Will Shine,” whose lyrics and dialog are provided by Boris May from those post-rhythmic noise mavens, Klangstabil. Its steady percolation of bass set against synthetic strings certainly feel influenced by the restrained cadence of the horror influence ends of EBM. “Trace to the Ashes” follows, complementing the aforementioned piece with lurching drums and fluttering synth notes, with a grumble buried deep within conjuring thoughts of the bleak earthquakes of acts like Lustmord. Kurt’s distorted vocals, tortured and guttural, certainly complement this stark landscape. Still, this lumbering beast does relent in the conclusion, where Kurt’s haunted pianos return and marry equally as well with his gravelly timbre before finally fading out.  The buzzing, scraping “Midwinter Ritual” may as well be the arrhythmic conclusion to a highlight trio within I Used to Think Everything Was Beautiful; certainly one of the Blood of Others’ more mechanical offerings, its orchestral sighs lend cinematic gravitas to its steady, static marred beats while hazy piano and harpsichord murmurs at its core provide a pleasant contrast to these heavy factory airs in this standout instrumental piece.

With the industrial spectrum speckled with standard EBM “evil dance” tropes, I Used to Think Everything Was Beautiful knocks its motif out of the park. Its sleek production imbues these tunes with a feeling that is both polished yet still entrenched in the arcane, and the nods towards atmospheric electro-industrial make the whole feel a bit more “accessible” than a lot of dark ambient fare without feeling shallow nor kitsch. More polished than witch house but with the depth of soundtracks found only in the darkest corners of atmospheric metal, the Blood of Others transcends just being an “industrial band” and is well worth checking out for anyone invested in dark electronics in general.

Track List:

01) When the Light Takes Us
02) To the Silent
03) The Thunder in My Heart Is Gone
04) The Velvet Cloak of Darkness
05) We Will Shine
06) Trace to the Ashes
07) Midwinter Ritual
08) The Word for World Is Forest
09) The Beacon
10) I See Bad Spirits

Written by: Vlad McNeally
Label: Audiotrauma (France) / trauma034 / CD
Industrial / Dark Ambient