When it comes to the books of the Bible and extreme music, the Book of Revelations has been used as an influence more often than any other. One reason, of course, is the fact that it contains many blunt and almost brutal passages, attractive to the adolescent minds that have served as foundations for most fringe music genres. Another is that it is in fact a splendid work of literature and, if you’re so inclined, spirituality. Thirdly, themes of apocalypse, collapse, judgement and rejuvenation seem hardwired into the human brain in general. TenHornedBeast has spent well over a decade exploring apocalypse in its various forms. Its front man and only member Christopher Walton is perhaps still mostly known for his work with the occult dark ambient project ENDVRA in the 1990’s, and with TenHornedBeast he has produced albums such as Woe to You, O Earth and Sea and The Sacred Truth.
His latest effort, Death Has No Companion, also touches on themes of annihilation, but in a way less direct than some of the project’s previous efforts. The album’s three tracks offer suggestive shadow rather than fire and brimstone, at least as far as the titles are concerned. Opener “The Wanderer” is a 17 minute piece constructed from cold, mournful drones – feedback and string-like wails building a towering structure of desolation and misery. Choice cymbals and semi-tonal pads fade in and out to further the cause of sad, miserable walkabouts in an unimaginable landscape.
The Genghis Khan, or possibly Conan the Barbarian, influenced composition “The Lamentation of Their Women” is built around a center of recurring, dark piano notes, struck repeatedly to raise something old and horrific from beneath the tundra. As the track, just shy of 19 minutes, progresses the sound becomes ever more brutal. Feedback begins to accumulate, terrible and unidentifiable noises echo back and forth in chambers of high quality reverb and loathing. It never really comes close to crossing over into pure harsh noise or more percussive industrial, but for all its ambient droning, there is still plenty of violence in “The Lamentation of Their Women”.
The final, and longest, composition ties it all together in a beautiful 24 minute bow of ritualistic, ambient, industrial perfection. “In Each of Us a Secret Sorrow” shifts ever so subtly between minimalist, less-than-melodic drones with careful cymbal work, and more intense, layered constructions of ambient sounds and hints of string and other instruments of unknown character. The result is bleak, but also touching in a way, and may indeed reflect some of our secret sorrows.
With this album, TenHornedBeast is bound to attract a few new fans, if “fan” is the proper term for consumers of this type of music. The cover artwork of the six-panel digipak CD is really great, by the way: the frozen road leading off into the mists of nothingness, overlain with the band’s logo and the album title in a slick font, somehow catches the sound and feel of Death Has No Companion perfectly. It is available from label Cold Spring’s webshop or Bandcamp.