'The Hierophant' is the latest record from death-mongering dark ambient act Burial Hex, who makes what he describes as "horror electronics" -- you know, like power electronics, but spooky. If you're reading this at Halloween more power to you. This LP marks the end of Burial Hex's ten-year lifespan, and he closes it out with the usual gruesome ambience and hopeless noise soundscapes.
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- The Hierophant by Burial Hex
7/10 Jim Staff review, 17 November 2014
Clay Ruby is apparently so fixated with death that he purposefully set a preordained end for his much-lauded Burial Hex project as a way of acknowledging and coming to terms with the reality of impermanence. And so this album is the last ‘stand-alone LP’ from Burial Hex; knowing this helps to make sense of the mind-boggling intensity packed into the record- this is a musical side project that knows its days are numbered. As with all Burial Hex releases and as the title suggests, this album is deeply infused with Ruby’s interest in the occult and is quite ceremonial, theatrical even, in feel. I guess this is one of the big attractions of Burial Hex for those with an interest in things magickal.
Opener ‘Winter Dawn’ starts with stately horns and strings set against thunder and crickets before moving into hard-hitting neo Goth moves, kinda like Forest Swords remixing the XX. Then we get a cyclical organ motif straight out of some Giallo horror, skittering electronic percussion, Nick Cave meets Michael Gira style vocals and dark atmospheric smears culminating in rapturous strings. Things get progressively darker through the mid sections as gutteral vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on a Suffocation record grace some concussive industrial beats grafted to some grandiose piano balladry- a strange mix for sure. The album continues to shift and contort like this, never quite doing the expected until the full-on intensity abates for the ethereal ‘Never Dying’ with its whispered poetry atop ecstatic piano and enveloping night sounds. The album ends with an all-the-stops-pulled out 15 minute pop workout that reminds me of ‘I’m Your Man’ era Leonard Cohen but with added funk, Arvo Pärt style tintinnabuli strings, dub effects, psychedelic trance outs, chanting and ethnic percussion.
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