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Allseits - Hel

Allseits is the solo-project of Nina Kernicke, who also records as Allsides and is the third member of the German drone group Troum in their live set-up. Hel, the debut album from Allseits, concerns Norse mythology and an allegorical tale of a journey to the underworld told through dark and droney material. It is from 'Yggdrasil', the cosmic tree that separates the heavens, the earth and the underworld, that Hel takes as its starting point with droning and melodic synth work. It opens up into the desolate drones of 'Gjöll'; it's aching and shifting textures reflecting the river that flows to the underworld.

On the next few tracks we meet Mogdugr, a giant guardian of the bridge, Gjallarbrú, that spans the river Gjöll ; Garm, a hound that guards Hel, and Fjalar, a rooster whose crow will signify the onslaught of Ragnarok. 'Modgudr' displays the cavernous rumbles synonymous with dark ambient music. Here, though, it's more turbulent with a heavy throb beating below the quaking patterns of sound. Things quieten down on 'Garm' with its lapping drone, which appears to be constructed from a heavily distorted bass, and series of high-pitched whooshes. It gains momentum, increasing in volume and intensity, becoming engulfed in mass disembodied voices and a rising monotone synth note. 'Fjalar', the penultimate track, adopts a rickety rhythmic tick with low shuddering movements and lighter synth touches. It's evocative and manages to capture a more cinematic feel compared to the earlier bleakness. 'Hel', the final resting place of the dead, plays out on a slight buzzing drone accompanied by lowend shudder and as it rises it really sounds like it should swell into something symphonic. Instead it opts for an elongated drone.

Although involved in drone music for Hel Nina Kernicke had produced an album that incorporates drones into a largely dark ambient release well suited to the Cyclic Law label. Steeped in Norse mythology, it is also a varied and a quietly expressive release conveying the journey of the soul to its final resting place. There are perhaps little surprises but Hel is well suited to the genre, and so if you like dark ambient you should enjoy this. Hel is released in an edition of 1000 copies in an oversized gatefold sleeve. For more information go to www.cycliclaw.com