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Black Sun Roof - Feral

Matthew Bower and Samantha Davies resurrect their Sunroof! project with an extended name change to Black Sun Roof, carrying a knowing nod to both black metal and the black arts. Feral certainly moves into some dark places with song titles that encompass the mythical and the esoteric. Hell, a title like 'Shit Slaughter' even sounds likes it's been swiped from an early Broken Flag recording. The cover stills of Bower look like the aftermath of a blood ritual. What's surprising about Black Sun Roof, and this is the first release I've heard from any variation of their Sunroof! project is the shimmering, blackened layers of noise and caterwauling that lurk beneath the surface. Bower's projects have always operated at the blacker ends of the musical spectrum but Feral ranks as some of the most malevolent material Bower has ever crafted.

Feral opens with the looped keyboard grating squeals of 'Shit Slaughter', with Bower laying down groaning buzzing guitar noise, shot through with an underlay of unsettling noise. It, like most of Feral, rides a fine line between unease and transcendence. Opening with primitive rhythms 'Lions & Peonies' quickly picks up on a wiry, buzzing guitar lead, echoing early Skullfower, which feeds its way throughout the track. What sets this apart from Skullflower material, though, is the wall of almost harmonious psychedelic noise that roars underneath. When combined 'Lions & Peonies' achieves something truly glorious. The track could be endless. This one easily rates as one of my favourite pieces from Matthew Bower. With a sharp edit the entire thing is sucked up into the vortex of 'My Dark Angel' merging droning noise with clanging chimes. It does little than act as a prelude to 'Temple of Mithras' where mammoth buzzing chords achieve a sense of majesty, with ascending scales, sounding like a blurry symphony performed on aeroplane engines. With occult chants lurking underneath huge slabs of noise 'Temple of Mithras' burns with a primal fury. It's another great moment on Feral, and brings to a close the best side Bower has put to vinyl in a number of years.

On the flipside, 'Night Mare's Milk' unfurls reams of twisted distorted drone, against the constant ringing of ritual bells, in a blackened haze of meandering blissful guitar tones threatening to break off into some black metal territory but ultimately failing to do so as it lurches with drum machine beats into 'Son of The Blue Wolf'. Here a chorus of distant obscured chatter can be half-heard alongside stuttering synth sounds, while a droning guitar endlessly seeks out some sort of transcendent black bliss. Compared to what's come before the closing track 'Shadow Of The Golden Fire' is much more mellow. With its looped textures and layers of noise it almost apes the feel of early Boyd Rice / NON records. The lack of a locked groove here is a missed opportunity - as this really warrants one.

Between this, and the Skullflower release Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses and the eponymous Valley Of Fear album featuring JK Broadrick and Samantha Davies, it appears at this moment Matthew Bower can do no wrong. Feral is a fantastic, primal album of transcendent blackened noise. On its own it comes highly recommended but this first pressing packaged with a bonus CD, Zebra Blood, featuring a Matthew Bower curated selection of Sunroof! tracks from long out of print albums, singles, and compilation tracks, together with some Total tracks and one exclusive recording makes Feral doubly recommended. For more information go to www.vhfrecords.com