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Trepaneringsritualen - Perfection & Permanence

Trepaneringsritualen is the solo-project of Thomas Martin Ekelund. The sound of Trepaneringsritualen is steeped in ritual ambience and death industrial, with the multi-pronged attack of Ekelund's hellish howls, shrieks and murmurs. Their live shows are a visceral ritual involving blood and noise. Drenched in animal blood, the bearded and leather clad Ekelund lets loose with scorched earth outpourings of growls and screams, over doomy electronics and ritual percussion. Trepaneringsritualen almost seem to act as a bridge between Scandinavian black metal and the earlier dark and ritual industrial music that characterised Roger Karminik's Cold Meat Industry label. Their latest album Perfection & Permanence has been garnering attention from some unlikely sources such as Pitchfork and Vice making Trepaneringsritualen the current darlings of the Swedish underground scene. Perfection & Permanence swipes an unlikely accessible edge to music that, as readers here know, is usually castigated to the outermost fringes but with an aesthetic based in occultism and lyrics delivered with such blasphemous venom, you do have to wonder.

From the harrowing drone of 'Venerated & Despised' where the dense processed tortured tones of Ekelund are merged with heavy shudders Perfection & Permanence unfurls to a coherent dark, mesmerising malevolence. Against looped droning and skittering percussion, Ekelund switches to a raspy roar on 'A Black Egg' as he rails and blasphemes. His darkened vocal technique continually mutates, getting more aggressive, shadowed by layers of blackened doom. Here it is clear why Trepaneringsritualen are picking up listeners of black metal.

Trepaneringsritualen aren't black metal though, they merely share techniques and an aesthetic. The ritual aspect of Trepaneringsritualen is most evident on the provocatively titled 'Castrate Christ' where a looped thumping rhythm pounds like shields being beaten on a battlefield. The bitter bile of Ekelund's shredded tones is spat out in intonations over a dense gloomy atmosphere; it's like martial ritual music filtered through a death industrial mindset. The distorted chant of 'Konung Krönt I Blod' is hollered - death industrial style - over rolling ritual death beats, occasionally augmented by bursts of frequency shriek and percussive clatter.

And then there's the 'Alone/A/Cross/Abyss' which seems to seek order from chaos. A dual attack of distorted and howled vocals, harnessed to thrusting electronic beats. Delivered with a primal fury, it attains a sense of queasiness with a disorientating mix of out of sync sounds and terror filled growls. Imagine black metal remixed by a techno producer and you're on the right track here. The entire approach isn't too far removed to the remixes Clan Destine Records put together for fellow Swedish ambient gloomists D.Å.R.F.D.H.S.

Perfection & Permanence is most notable for Ekelund's extraordinary vocal range but the grim malevolence of the atmosphere Trepaneringsritualen evoke is just as strange. Even when they drop the voices as they do on the two instrumentals found on Perfection & Permanence the doom atmosphere isn't broken or even lightened; the dark, brooding 'Liken Ingen Jord Vill Svälja' is made all the more discordant by hissing drones and thunderous tones, while 'A Ceaseless Howling' quakes to a storm ridden howling ambience. 'Thirty-Nine Lashes' switches to a minimal crepuscular sound where a distant heavily processed disembodied voice continually asks: "father, why have you forsaken me?" punctuated by metallic whips (all 39 of them-count 'em).

It's on tracks like 'Alone/A/Cross/Abyss' and 'Thirty-Nine Lashes' you can understand why Trepaneringsritualen are reaping far more adventurous listeners from outside the confines of the genre. The repeated aggressive roar of 'The Seventh Man' even attains something of a singalong chant with Ekelund's mantra like delivery of "Perfection and Permanence", over distant pummelling and stuttered bass noise demolition .The final track, 'He Who Is My Mirror', is key to Perfection & Permanence. Ekelund's distorted raspy roar runs through passages of ritual drums and rampant whirring electronics. With its stop-start structure it almost sounds modelled on some hardcore track. Violent and edgy it summons the energies of the entire album with an accessible edge, that is absent from most other noise and death industrial releases.

With looped drones, steeped in distortion and jolts of frequency shriek, Perfection & Permanence's blackened atmosphere exudes a strong ritual industrial feel, in the rhythms and particularly in the primal and atavistic tones of Ekelund. It's dense and threatening all bound up into a coherent and darkly appealing whole. On Perfection & Permanence, Trepaneringsritualen have done the unthinkable, they've made what they call "Götisk Dödsindustri" (gothic death industrial) threatening, alluring and eminently listenable. For more information go to Cold Spring