Post-industrial soundscapes are not the most accessible productions, and In the Minds of Madness is not easy listening. The cover simultaneously evokes Joan of Arc, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Apocalypse, and the sounds inside make a fitting match.
Over the past two years, scene stalwart Clint Listing has been collaborating with artists in the dark ambient and post-industrial realms, polishing – or perhaps more accurately, sandpapering this release for general consumption. As expected, eight different collaborators means mixed results, but when the album’s on, it’s really on.
Case in point: opening track “The Dawn of Sorrow”, a collaboration with Stephan Petrus of Murderous Visions. This dark, unrepentant drone is a solid wall of sound backed by martial drums, the bastard love child of Raison D’Etre and The Protagonist. If this were the only track on the album, it would still be worth a spin. Listening is like being trapped in a sandstorm with a plague of locusts and a rain of blood. “Under the Frozen Moon of Tomorrow”, a pairing with John Stillings of Steel Hook Prosthesis, spits waves of noise and desolate electronics into a vat of acid churn. And “Riders of the Final Dawn”, recorded with industrial band Terrorfakt’s DJ Hell Raver, attacks the sound field with harsh distortions and static that sounds like it was fed through static – the refried beans of sonic production. Sudden, unpredictable blasts keep the listener off guard and pleasantly nervous.
Not to slight the other artists involved – each has a distinct appeal. But a series of team-ups amounts to a compilation of sorts, and in such arenas, there are bound to be winners and losers, especially in a field that encourages brutality. The tracks that relent, show mercy, or repeat patterns are shown no mercy themselves. Once the listener has the taste for blood, it must be satisfied. Any sign of weakness, any hesitation, any gentility, and the emperor’s thumb goes down. But for Listing and his efforts, the thumb goes up; fans of extreme music will find much to enjoy here. (Richard Allen)