Thursday 15 April 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Infernal Om

Dark Ambient Review: Infernal Om

Review By Casey Douglass

Infernal Om

Normality is a godsend for people who like to create dark art. What better way to frame some strange happenings by comparing them to the “normal” life of someone else? Gravechakra’s dark ambient album Infernal Om, does just that, painting the picture of an ordinary person, experiencing extraordinarily dark things, and having to keep them to himself.

The album description sets this all up nicely. The year is 1963, the place is the USSR. A regular, normal man going about his life, becomes plagued by unsettling voices and creepy visions. He keeps this fact secret, afraid of being thought mad. Luckily, or unluckily for him, he’s not mad, but is in fact receiving messages from a strange order of beings from another world.

The tracks of Infernal Om come in a number of forms. There are dark, musical tracks that give vent to the indecipherable language of the otherworldly order. There are also narrative tracks that give the listener an insight into how the protagonist is feeling about the state of affairs in which he finds himself. I particularly enjoyed how the narrative tracks blended with the others. If the track before ended with gravelly footsteps, these sit at the beginning of the narrative one that follows.

The musical tracks often feature the guttural grunts and invocations of the otherworldly imposters. The album description explains that they are speaking something called Cordoriborium, a language that will only be deciphered in the coming years. In aesthetic, the often multiple voices put me in mind of the kinds of grunting you will hear in certain types of heavy metal. They are often accompanied by unsettling effects in the soundscape, and a variety of drumbeats and electronic tones.

One of my favourite tracks is Invocation of Bestiurgs. It opens with a bass beat, a scuffing sandpaper rhythm, and a prolonged echoing sigh or exhalation. An electronic tone begins, accompanied by the sound of air-raid sirens. Two voices begin to chant or talk from ear to ear, the sirens continuing behind them. Later, things quieten a little, the soundscape becoming a windy space with rasping invocations or shouts. After this period come the wet, glooping sounds of what just might be something being born into this world, or maybe feeding of some kind. I enjoyed the retro-horror feel of this track, and also the mixture of the different electronic tones and drumbeats in the darkness.

Another of the tracks that I enjoyed was Narration 1. It opens with the aforementioned footsteps on gravel. We hear the main character’s voice, and it has some really intriguing lines. My favourite line is “They will now scream me into another world!” And wouldn’t you know it, you can hear them start to do so as he utters the words. I really like the concept that the telltale of the other beings’ approach is the screaming beginning. The fact that it “screams him into another world” just seems so dark and creepy.

Alchemy of Liquid Souls is the last track that I wanted to specifically mention. It begins with an echoing beat in what feels like a cavernous space. It fuzzes at times, and a distant droning seeps in. Hissing whispers pierce the soundscape, soon followed by one of the guttural voices, with a dog-howl accompaniment. There is an electronic tone that sweeps upwards and then repeats. The soundscape feels like one of lifting up or manifestation. Near the midpoint, it smooths to plucked notes and a mellow feeling. The sound of breaking glass interrupts this peace, and the previous sounds resume, as if someone has broken a window and let the other place in again. This is a really fun, brooding track, and I really liked the broken window moment.

Infernal Om is an album that makes great use of field recordings, human voices and electronic beats and tones, to create sinister, interesting soundscapes. The narrative tracks deepen the effect of the soundscapes, and the soundscapes give the narrative tracks a more concrete impact. I haven’t heard anything quite like it and I’m glad that I stumbled across it.

Visit the Infernal Om page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Infernal Om

Album Artist: Gravechakra

Released: 19 Dec 2020