Two years ago, Maurice de Jong (Gnaw Their Tongues) and Eric Eijspaart (Mowlawner) released the first part of Spear of Gold and Seraphim Bone. Their follow-up seemed a given, in that the album title and one of the tracks were numbered. But fans had to wait as the duo released a number of other works in the interim. With 14 releases in five years, Aderlating is well on its way to becoming the Machinefabriek of dark ambience; fortunately new ideas are still flowing.
Part One can best be described as claustrophobic. Very little sonic space is available, as every second is filled with fog and hum. Disjointed voices cry for attention. Bass rumbles like a gaping maw. Electronic textures battle with military drums for ascendance. Yet while the wailing synthesizers and the sullen screams might warrant the “noise” label, a thin wafts of melody is present as well, enough to prevent the tone from becoming oppressive. “A Burial on the Slopes of Mount Sinai” even contains an element of sadness, as might be gleaned by its title; and the 18-minute centerpiece, “Engel der Wrake”, is just as majestic as one would hope given its length, exercising restraint at its center and bombast at its edges.
Fast-forward – or in this case, slow-forward – two years to Part Two. The new album is leaner, louder and more dynamic. The shift is apparent as early as the second track, “Worship of Dead Gods”, which features a clear string section atop the maelstrom. The contrast between smooth and rough, light and dark lends the piece an emotional depth that was absent on Part One. Not that the track is benign in any sense; instead, it comes across as the glimpse of heaven afforded those in hell, that makes their suffering all the more exquisite. An early glissando on “The Seer Is Burning” amplifies this effect, and the amplified brass noises cement the deal.
At 5:31, the album highlight is also one of its shortest tracks, although it would never be mistaken for a single. “When the Darkness Overwhelms Angels Return to their Graves” features ghostly choirs and a drone that grows swiftly, leaving everything in its wake. The compact nature of the song echoes the album and is one its strengths. The same holds true for the growling closer, which completes a long descent into madness.
Did Aderlating grow in the last two years, or were the latest developments part of the plan all along? The answer is irrelevant; Part Two is as foreboding as its title and as painful as a persistent bruise. The Dutch aderlating means bleeding, and Spear of Gold and Seraphim Bone is as dense as a clot. (Richard Allen)