SULPHUR NURSE – ROOPKUND album review. FFO: Harsh noise, insanity, and ghastly extreme beauty in a blender.


SULPHUR NURSE – ROOPKUND album review. FFO: Harsh noise, insanity, and ghastly extreme beauty in a blender.

Now as the writer of this grim zine, I have stated strongly that this zine is about music that challenges, now this is a vivid case in point. This music, much like the deep audio shit that really rattles my brain, has fuck all structure, catchy riffs or repetitive choruses-but what it has in spades is pure unadulterated abrasive nasty noise that is pulverising. AND THAT IS MAGNIFICENT.

So what is Sulphur Nurse; it is a splendid beast that draws together wicked purveyors of soul-destroying artisans of loud, dark and caustic extreme music. They self describe themselves thus:

Abrasive hellscapes constituting of harsh noise, industrial, drone, and black metal.

Well that sold me instantly before I even heard a note and their bio gives more info:
Sulphur Nurse is an international experimental noise/industrial trio consisting of Eeli Helin (Lung Knots , Fawn Limbs), Dan Dolby (Catafalque, Mastiff), and Matt Finney (Clawing, It Only Gets Worse).
While all of its members have their own separate projects covering a wide array of different musical leanings, the driving force behind amassing Sulphur Nurse was to create an entity of its own, where each musician introduces their own influences and preferences into the overall mix in order to produce a unique outlet showcasing the most abrasive and dismal aural aesthetics possible, without fearing to step outside their comfort zones when necessary. Roopkund is the first example of the results this experimentation wrought, and is made up of eight disturbingly infectious and cacophonic tracks, each of which have their own imprint in terms of instrumentation and both musical and written narratives. They differ from one another to a great degree, yet are consistent and share an underlying thread that ties the entirety together. Constituting of both heavily pulsating, rhythmic, and percussive songs as well as more abstract and textured, floating bodies of work, Roopkund can be seen as an assortment of real-life horror stories mostly revolving around unsolved and oftentimes unexplained murders and so-called serial killer incidents, bound together with a constant sense of intense dread and emphatic walls of sound.

and equally important (because our manifesto signifies that art=music and vice versa):

The cover art photography created by Helin is meant to convey the same kind of awe and uneasiness that the music produces, being a visual counterpart and a companion to the album. Besides the main artwork, he composed a plethora of expanding and deepening imagery to go with it, that'll be further elaborated on in the upcoming physical releases, across all formats.

So you have three absolute musical wizards whose individual bands are worth your time anyway, yet this project doesn't sound like any of these. SN is in essence; a beat-up blender of noise/drone/gothic doom/industrial/power electronics and just experimental music filled to the brim. One moment sounds very metal-inspired, but then the next is like a glorious and haunting atmospheric soundtrack to the film of your nightmares. Most of it is absolutely static-filled and distorted as hell even though I loved the overall production and mastering. Thematically it focuses on unsolved murders and sounds like it. The dread and definitive gloom stick firmly across every track, and that's where the black metal vibe definitely sits across this release, particularly on the amazing Fowls Hatching On A Marrow Mound. No two tracks are similar, not remotely. Opener A Headless Body In A Cave Near Idaho is literally a demon being released from an evil vessel with its doltish static/hiss and this hints at the correct choice of Matt Finney delivering almost spoken word in his expert-level chilling manner whilst pulsating electronics mess with your mind. An excellent window to the chaos contained in this album.  

Sanguine Clots In The Sewers Of Florence, The Vaults Of Myrrh and Thames Running With Limbs Swathed In Burlap are all absolute mind melters of tracks with their stark power electronics, deranged vocals and loud vs ambient battles-definitely stunning tracks that are cerebral, mentally ill and captivating. These brawny elements win me over every time; because they scare the heck out of me and also their creation bewilders me. The reactive part of your mind can quite easily be confused, agitated and overwhelmed by this type of music. And that is fantastic. Continuing the madness is the intense ugliness of Osseous Grounds Of Roopkund, an utter acid bath of a track that keeps drifting in between hypnotic drumbeats and the sounds of demons at your pillow-the ground covered in 3:55 mins is amazing. As we move towards the end of the album, you may ask yourself what other type of madness could jump at us next. Oh, my friend, it ain't over.

Quiet Hum At The Servant Cabin is the opposite of any apparent peace and serves as a grim audio documentary that gets the pulse racing with brutal cuts of hiss and static that are accurately timed; this is hair raising glory that is then punctuated by an intense electro beat combined with blood-curling screams. And the end of the track with that same beat fading out in a distorted manner is genius. Trapdoor Gait is the grand finale to it all; is it as extreme, loud or as gruelling as its predecessors-no, not at all; but like any cult film, this is a soundtrack; therefore each part needs a solid ending. And this is an almost industrial drone fest of whispered vocals and mechanical noises all slowly dripping into each other to form a warped mass of glory. Man, what a killer release; it will challenge many listeners, but if you can make the effort-this is a dark and resplendent piece of art that is well thought out and is much more engaging than the millions of cookie-cutter bands that wave the flag of extreme music; yet sound dull and stagnant. 

If you like music that utilises every single part of your cerebrum or just some intimidating and frankly terrorizing music that will give you nightmares, you have hit the mega prize here. ROOPKUND is a deranged, solid and penetrating record that is rare and appreciated by those willing to let it creep into their souls. 

This is unique, not in the "oh yes, that's interesting" throwaway comment, but because these musicians are making truly underground music that is free of the constraints of what the mainstream heavy music is; it pushes you and forces you to confront what it is being thrown at you. And that like the purpose of deep art is so much more important than being on trend with deeply pedestrian music of any genre. Again, this is a perfect and ugly beast of an album.

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