Skullflower – “The Spirals of Great Harm” Album Review

The Spirals of Great Harm – Skullflower

The Spirals of Great Harm is the latest offering from Skullflower, a band that has had their foot well-planted in the underground noise/industrial scenes since the 1980s with a rich discography since 1988.

Track 1, “Khepsh,” starts the album off with a solid black noise ambient backdrop and a repeated ulta-high pitch noise.  Right away, you notice that this could be one of those recordings that is not only deep conceptually but that the sounds may actually change the chemistry of your brain…. Recordings like this really can most effectively be appreciated while listening through ear phones.

With some noise records it’s relatively easy to catch some of the dynamics in the mix (i.e. highs  & lows, analog & digital..whatever).  This album is much more in depth.  The thing that should be appreciated about the mix is that it is done in such a manner that keeps the listener wandering what sounds or samples are buried beneath the surface.

From Cold Spring, “The new sprawling double disc from black noise classicists Skullflower
referencing Inferno 17, Dante and Virgil’s spiraling descent into the abyss on demon Geryon.”  The guy serving as the foundation for Skullflower is Matthew Bower along with Lee Stokoe and Samantha Davies.  Moreover, members of Whitehouse, Coil and Ramleh have been known to contribute.

If a descent is what Skullflower was making an effort to illustrate here, I think that they have done just that pretty effectively.  There was obviously much more effort put into this work both conceptually and musically.  It’s not easy to paint a picture with sound especially when trying to put a soundtrack to an iconic story like inferno.

Track 5, “Tangled light of Isis” sounds like it takes the listener to the bottom of the pit; a pit where a demented harsh industrial atmosphere or a phantom factory is at work.  Just when you thought you couldn’t go lower, track 4, “Furfur” takes you even further into the subterranean.  We could go on and on…

However, the point is this: The Spirals of Great Harm is perhaps a purposely unsettling recording but pulls the listener into it with a barrage of sounds (maybe some intentional and some not) including some easy to hear and some maybe intentionally mixed in so as to not be so easy to hear.

Some noise or “black ambient” artists say that conceptually an album is inspired by a subject.  However, The Spirals of Great Harm actually not only serves as an effective soundtrack to the descent, but pulls the listener in and takes them along for the trip.

The Spirals of Great Harm is available now as a 6-panel double digipak CD from Cold Spring Records.



1-1 Khepsh
1-2 Furthur
1-3 Tangled Light Of Isis
1-4 Furfur
1-5 Thunder Dragon
1-6 Nectar And Venom
1-7 Fuck The New Estate
2-1 Rotting Jewelled Stormclouds
2-2 And Carthage Must Be Destroyed
2-3 Khephra
2-4 Ice Nine
2-5 The Firebright And Linda Show
2-6 Yuggoth Within                                      

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