The third entry in the Crucial Blaze line is the new full length disc from Schrei Aus Stein, the experimental black metal/ambient alter ego of Ross Hagen from the drone/ambient outfit Encomiast. I've been a fan and follower of Ross's work with Encomiast going back to the beginning of the last decade, and we've released two of his releases as Encomiast through the Crucial Bliss series over the past five years, so when he emerged last year with this new project that combined his trademark droneological sounds with a noisy, moody brand of mid-paced black metal, I couldn't wait to hear it. The first release from Schrei Aus Stein was a limited edition disc on Starlight Temple Society called Talus that came out in 2009, an eerie blend of frostbitten mid-paced black metal, gothic post-punk throb, and sweeping arctic ambience, an excellent debut that showed that Hagen was going for more than just another downbeat depressive black metal project. Now, Schrei Aus Stein returns with it's second release Tsisnaasjini, a three song full length with songs that average at around thirteen minutes, long majestic soundscapes that still reveal a bit of that Encomiast ambience, but which delve into harsher, more unfriendly terrain than before, mixing together strange industrial dirge, blown-out depressive black metal, and ambient drone into icy realms of hypnotic atmosphere.
Icy synthetic winds open the first track "Light On Wings", which takes off into a slipstream of arctic drift and low, oceanic static that reaches out for a couple of minutes before a series of low percussive rumbles begins to appear within the swirling blizzard of hiss and static, the vague beats slowly materializing into view as a creeping drumbeat that slowly plods forward through the wintry noisescape, the drums gradually joined by waves of guitar feedback and low bass buzz, and the song begins to take form from a nebulous wash of sound into a sort of eerie slowcore dirge that's all awash in amp grit and speaker rumble. Those guitars slowly form into minimal, droning minor key sorrow, a simple haunting riff that loops over and over while hissing demonic vocals drift in, enshrouded in reverb, an unintelligible smear of black malevolence over the plodding hypnotic dirge.
On the second song "Like Arctic Moons", the sound shifts from that lumbering blackened slowcore into something a bit more like regular downer black metal, with slow, morose minor key riffs swarming over slow moving drums, stretched out shrieks and distorted howls echoing across the wintry backdrop of feedback and dissonant guitar drone, but as the song goes on, the music gradually picks up steam, getting oddly angular, the drums slipping into off-time rhythms, and then suddenly it locks into a mesmeric, almost motorik beat that begins driving beneath the eerie tremolo riffs, turning into a sort of krautrocky DSBM for a moment until the drums shift once again, this time into frantic blast beats while the guitars staying the same. It lurches back and forth between this hypnotic black pulse and stumbling doom and hectic thrashing, until it finally falls off into a long stretch of howling, buzzing mechanical drone, like the sound of machinery slowly winding down, becoming slower and slower, the drones pulling apart to reveal bits of shimmery metallic ambience, chimes and metal clank off in the distance, a creepy, mysterious dronescape that resembles the distant receding roar of a jetliner disappearing into a black hole, slowly dissolving into some minimal spacious ambience at the end, field recordings of trains and yipping wolves creating an eerie nocturnal drift.
The last song "Vague as Blown Smoke" ends the disc with an epic blast of blown-out, abstract black metal, a classic sounding wash of blackened buzz, evil tremolo guitar swarming over swirling minor key guitars, droning bass and doom-laden drums, and malicious hissing vokills. Early on, the sound is distorted and creepy and off-kilter, erupting into a blazing wall of psychedelic black blast with layers of howling guitar and mechanized blast beats, and it gets more atmospheric and abstract as it progresses, morphing into a swirling ambient storm of abstract horror that slips in and out of doom-laden crush and passages of strange, bass-driven, industrial-tinged dirge, the instruments surrounded by wraithlike feedback and melting amp whir and whirling loops of delirious electronic melodies that slow down bit by bit until the music dissolves into pure cosmic drone at the end, with several minutes of surging waves of distorted low-end shifting beneath gleaming synthesizer hum and high-end shimmer that finally fades out into nothingness....
Anyone into the amorphous, melancholy black metal of bands like Velvet Cacoon and Xasthur should investigate Schrei Aus Stein, but this is much more droning and streaked with noise than those bands, often moving into pure ambient buzz within the storms of blackened violence. Like Talus, this is great stuff, and if you enjoyed that debut, you won't go wrong with Schrei Aus Stein's latest. The disc comes in a plastic library case with full color sleeve art, limited to a hand-numbered run of 250 copies, and includes a double-sided color insert card, a vinyl Schrei Aus Stein sticker, and a set of two Schrei Aus Stein 1" buttons.