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Chthonic Force - Delirium Tremens: The Best Of Chthonic Force

Chthonic Force was a short-lived project featuring Vadge Moore (The Dwarves, Neither/Neither World) and Wendy Van Dusen (Neither/Neither World). The time Chthonic Force formed may have coincided when both members were involved in the publication of Primal Chaos, a thoughtful, well designed magazine which focussed on themes of Satanism, the occult and crime. From the issues I own, Wendy Van Dusen was editor and publisher, while Vadge Moore as Tim Madison contributed. Delirium Tremens: The Best Of Chthonic Force compiles tracks from their albums; the eponymous World Serpent distributed debut and Agathodaemon, a vinyl only album released on Albin Julius' Hau Ruck label, together with a single, shared with their other project Neither/Neither World. It's a group that many may have missed but it was a definite departure in sound for Vadge Moore as former drummer to US punks The Dwarves.

The sound of Chthonic Force is brooding and malevolent based around industrial, noise and ambient. The burgeoning "apocalyptic folk" genre around Death In June, Current 93 and Sol Invictus may have been a starting point for their other group Neither/Neither World but from this compilation it seems it is the spoken word of Boyd Rice and the noise layers pioneered by NON on his much maligned releases promoting a Social Darwinist philosophy which seep into the sound of Chthonic Force. Gods and beasts might figure but Chthonic Force don't rehash themes of might is right. Instead themes cover corpse desecration, sun gods, magic, delving into the shadows with lyrics on alcoholism and deeper still into nihilism. It was on their eponymous debut along with their offering to their sole earlier single which featured an impressive list of guests including the aforementioned Boyd Rice along with Monte Cazazza, Thomas Thorn, and Peter Sotos. Guest vocals appeared absent from Agathodaemon where the group edged further into noise, industrial and ambient realms. Delirium Tremens mixes up the running order concocting a new vision of Chthonic Force which makes this worth revisiting and reappraising.

Over the brooding textured electronics of 'Stele Of The Vultures' Vadge Moore's spoken intonations about the desecration of his enemies corpses, picked at and scavenged by vultures in what may be a sky burial. When nursery chants enters it recalls Rose McDowall's work with Death In June and especially Boyd Rice's NON. Van Dusen's crone like whisper of "let's drink to death" accompanies Vadge Moore on the dubiously titled 'White Logic'. But don't worry the white logic here refers to Jack London and his writing on alcoholism and it is this John Barleycorn that Moore evokes as it marches to rolling floor toms over a stuttered looped fanfare and subdued electronics. 'King Of The World' is harsher and more noise based, with electrified buzzing and fizzing over low undulating drone as Vadge Moore delivers a hymn of destruction and chaos.

'Chthonia' combines the twinned approach with martial beats setting a slow hollow drum pound to rippling, rumbling subdued noise textures sourced from the underworld. In blackened ambience 'Helios' looks upward in praise of the sun in an instrumental piece where the stillness is broken by the plaintive pluck of strings. Noise is more prevalent on 'Disable' unleashing frequencies over drones and corrosive electronics, while on 'Nihil' those harsher sounds of controlled careering noise form the backdrop for the spoken words of darkness riffing on a theme of non-being.

Chthonic Force tap into a dark nihilistic mysticism heralding the undergrowth, the base and primordial. Hell, 'King of the World' could even be read as a pact with the Devil. Influences come from literature, occult writings and mythology, as we hear on 'Agathodaemon', the title track to their second album which continues the theme of intoxication with a title referencing the Greek god of vineyards. This one is darker still; a melange of voices, layered, treated as Vadge Moore ritualises over a cauldron of experimental noise textures. If the title track from the second album is hellish and uneasy, the relaxed recitation of 'Solitary', based on Franz Kafka's prose on meditation is much easier, basking in ambient drones and whirring electronics. It's a sense of isolation necessary to sustain imagination, thoughts and desire.

And while much of Chthonic Force shares an affinity with the work of Boyd Rice and friends. His contribution of 'Assume The Position' here is slight. A spoken tract on society as sado-masochism in action delivered in his customary sugary spoken tones. It is a track which also features on his The Way I Feel compilation, extrapolating on a practical application of man's true nature. It is left to Thomas Thorn of electro Satanists The Electric Hellfire Club to unleash a harsh misanthropic take on humans, civilisation and primitive Christian religion over subdued electronic droning.

Power and control rears its, uh, head on 'Mouth Pigs' too, a single recorded with Peter Sotos. Nursery chime rings throughout the atmospheric layers as Peter Sotos indulges in customary pornographic text cast against Dusen's whispered recitation. It's as brutal and explicit as you'd expect from this former member of Whitehouse. Industrial pioneer, Monte Cazazza well renowned known for transgressions offers a tribute of sorts to the victims of the Columbine high school massacre on 'Thirteen'. Morbid and troubling, the emotionless delivery offers no comment as it relates dry biographical sketches. More troubling is the setting of rumbling drones, punctuated by electronic shrieks, and Vadge Moore's sinister teases of "Peek-a-boo", a taunt used by the perpetrators as they slaughtered those schoolkids.

The final piece, 'Catastrophism', pits dark symphonic music against a morass of location recordings, some sound like Moroccan music, some sound like cries from the depths of hell, all densely layered as Moore recites an excerpt from Eliphas Levi's The History of Magic.

Delirium Tremens: The Best Of Chthonic Force isn't an easy listen. Noise, industrial and ambient combine as a backdrop to subjects which are dark, savage and primal giving prominence to man's darker nature. Unarguably, Chthonic Force were of a time when countless groups were setting texts to music and "apocalypse culture" was in the air but Chthonic Force offered a different slant and it's something that Vadge Moore refined and expanded upon in his book, Chthonic: Prose & Theory tracing the themes that inform his unique nihilistic mystic philosophy. Originally issued in 2007 as a limited edition signed by Vadge Moore, this reissue offers the opportunity to those who missed it first time around and acts as reminder to a time when groups crossed musical genres, transgressed boundaries and pushed buttons along the way. On the whole, it's a collection which is unsettling and, at times, makes for an uncomfortable listen. For more information go to Discriminate Audio