Review Summary: “I’ve come for you, my hollow skull…”
Some time ago, in the dark and benighted age before the advent of the internet (The mid nineties). A decade when most black metal acts were still hitting their stride, establishing a fanbase and murdering bandmates, Richard Lederer a.k.a. Protector of the Tolkien inspired, corpse-paint purveying act Summoning, had more than a few side-projects already under his belt. A few of which were Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, a darkwave project formed by Protector and Silenius (also of Summoning) in 1993, and a somewhat lesser known electronic project formed by Lederer himself, aptly dubbed Ice Ages.
In Ice Ages' sophomore effort This Killing Emptiness, the two corpses embracing each other on the cover art act as the perfect heralds of what to expect both lyrically and symphonically. Seemingly written from the perspective of those who are already dead, the lost souls Lederer represents are stung and tormented by the profundity of their circumstance. Themes of depravity, mournful longing and obviously, death itself, are explored in poetic fashion and possess a certain emotional weight in spite of the bitterly cold vocal delivery.
In stark contrast to most industrial of it's time, Ice Ages' sound focused less on vibrant synthscapes or dance-able rhythms and more on raw, gritty and percussive samples. Easily the focal point of the album, they create a nearly tangible atmosphere and instill a sense of being trapped somewhere foreboding and forsaken by the world of the living… A frozen tomb, perhaps? An abandoned meat locker? One would certainly get that impression upon hearing the startlingly visceral crashes of metal on metal in the song “Far Gone Light”. Or the thunderous reverberations of falling stone found on “Lost In Daze”, which seem to reach out from the bottom of a subterranean crevasse, searching in vain for living ears to heed them.
“Emptiness” chooses to distance itself even further yet from industrial norms by incorporating ethereal, typically low-tempo synth melodies that would sound more at home in an epic black metal track than in any electronic album. One passage in particular, during the chorus of the track “Heartbeat,” sounds as though it would’ve come straight out of an early Summoning album.
While undeniably distinctive in it's presentation, Protector's work in Ice Ages is somewhat of an acquired taste, and not entirely without weak moments. As mentioned above, the focal point of many songs would be the almost-certainly-field-recorded-in-a-cave-near-falling-rocks quality, and the reverb-laced percussion which tends to be hit and miss. One effect in particular is reminiscent of taking a canoe oar to a horse's ass and slapping it senseless. Which, as you would guess, sounds ***ing hilarious and makes a few songs difficult to take seriously.
Occasional issues with production technique aside, This Killing Emptiness turns out to be an atmosphere dense, brooding, breath of fresh air in the electronic genre. Black metal fans will love the bleak tone of the lyrics and heavy-handed approach to the beats, and open-minded rivet-heads will no doubt find enjoyment in the unique presentation of the melodies. This is an industrial album with impeccable poetic form, as created by a symphonic black metal mafioso. One who will, hopefully, some day decide to revisit and breathe new life into what was once dead...
Lost In Daze