Review Summary: Some fans will probably dig it.
Upon first sight of the marvelous art of Tellurian Slaked Furnace, for a second I got overly excited about an actual new record by Wrest’s infamous side project. Soon after reading the information behind it, it was explained that it’s a compilation of rare / unreleased Lurker of Chalice material, placed by Wrest himself to compile an album-like release and while that might not be the news a fan might want, I couldn’t help but be intrigued about it.
Lurker of Chalice had a short life but managed a lot during their active years, with the most famous moment by far being the project’s self-titled full length. It is often considered Wrest’s most compelling work even among his finest Leviathan records, a piece of remarkable atmospheric black metal that has been sealed as one of the best albums of that style to ever come from the United States. Even the slightest activity under this moniker is enough to shake the waters of the underground, even a compilation like this.
Tellurian Slaked Furnace clocks up to almost seventy minutes, a pretty hefty duration comprised of untitled tracks only and presents a more experimental side of what we knew from Lurker of Chalice. While the presence of ambiance was there, this album moves further into drone / noise territories, constructing layer after layer of dark ambient sounds with hardly any vocals or familiar Leviathan / LoC patterns. On track “III” you can hear Wrest’s recognizable voice for some time, and that’s about it.
Plenty of distorted samples are used, most of the tracks employ a minimal approach that makes the listen hypnotic and uncomfortable at the same time. It doesn’t stay repetitive for too much as well, as there are several turns it takes throughout the process which would keep the attention of someone who is not into that deep dark ambient compositions. Tracks “V” and “VI” offer some more traditional song structures with more distinct drumming, both could have been introduction of Leviathan’s b-sides, while “VII” keeps the same pace and unusual compositional form.
It is hard to confine this album within a certain genre label, but Wrest’s unconventional and capricious style is apparent. Harsher electronics are used (for example in the longest track “XI”), alongside more ethereal synths that would even relate to space ambient (tracks “IX” or “X”), the uncanny guitar work comes and goes and all the different parts of it offer an overall worthy listen from the beloved American project, with all its instability. I don’t believe Tellurian Slaked Furnace has a steady flow, and several parts are simply not good enough to make the cut for a full album (as history showed), yet fans of Wrest should dig into its bits and bytes.
As all of the material in the compilation are temporally placed prior to Lurker of Chalice’s full length, it’s hard to compare them with the debut itself and it is by no means a continuation or an equally hard-hitting release. The sound of the project here is also quite different and even more minimal than the ambient side of Lurker of Chalice, and in general I would say it stands at a level below the rest of the man’s discography.
I personally enjoyed it while it lasted, and I don’t consider it as a superfluous compilation as it sometimes happens with releases like these. I will still only arrive to the one existing record of Lurker of Chalice when I want to listen to them, but I didn’t mind the release of a collage of unreleased, experimental material from the same band with an awesome cover art. Go into Tellurian Slaked Furnace with no expectations from it and only for the sake of completion.