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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Halgrath - "The Whole Path of War and Acceptance"

Artist: Halgrath
Album: The Whole Path of War and Acceptance
Year: 2014
Label: Cryo Chamber
Genre: Drone, Dark Ambient
Website: cryochamber.bandcamp.com

This is the second album on Cyro Chamber from Russian producer Halgrath. This album seems to have a greater focus on drones and slowly meandering droning soundscapes.

At first listen I was kind of disappointed in the shift into primarily drone music, however it's merits quickly become apparent with more attentive listening. I think a somewhat fitting reference would be Raison d'etre's brilliant The Stains of the Embodied Sacrifice. The opener "Acceptance of Inner Self" is a fantastic piece and perhaps my favorite of the album. The slowly churning low drone serves as the foundation, while the high pitched drone (the crackly high frequency stuff seems to be characteristic of Halgrath) has an extremely hypnotic quality. The sporadic drum hits (which become more prevalent towards the end) establish a ritual framework to guide the listener through the spiritual realm. Overall this is quite transcendent and hypnotizing in a similar manner to Coil's Time Machines. The second, and longest, track "Consecreation" is more minimal but still carries a strongly arcane vibe. However, I feel like it goes on for too long and loses my interest. I am a big fan of female vocals and  highly enjoy the ones used (I assume they are Halgrath's own vocals, I believe I read she was an opera singer[?]) in tracks "Afflatus" and "The Opposite of Mind and Mutuality". Speaking of, the latter is the style that I most enjoy from Halgrath: the mixture of darkly sacral atmospheres, percussion, and vocals (sadly no melodies though). Again, this piece feels quite ritualistic, but also conjures the feeling of being high up in the mountains. The next few tracks are of similar composition to what has been mentioned above. "Epic Journey and Oblivion" is another very smooth piece which connects the listener to the incorporeal. "Deep Immersion and Repose" utilizes more of the aforementioned crackly high end and sound effects which also harken back to her Out Of Time album. The album closer "Your Soul is Just a Particle of Stars" is another droning piece quite similar to "Epic Journey" which serves as a fitting closing piece. While this album is definitely "dark" ambient, it predominantly feels like an empowering spiritual affair and not at all "evil" or unsettling. I absolutely feel that this album communicates with me on a inner level. The best description that comes to mind is meditating in an isolated ancient temple high in the mountains.

My only complaints are that I miss the melodic content of previous work, and that overall the album is somewhat homogenous; many of the songs kind of blend together and would have benefited from a few additional defining characteristics.

Overall, The Whole Path of War and Acceptance is more droning and minimal than some of her other work while still retaining the strongly metaphysical and transcendental qualities. I couldn't get into a couple of the songs, but the majority of the material presented here is solid. The production is noticeably cleaner and better / more even than the last release which allows these sounds to resonate with their full depth. Another solid release for both Halgrath and Cryo Chamber, and an album not to be missed for fans of deep ambient.

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