Sunday, October 25, 2009

Megaptera - The Curse of the Scarecrow (1998)

It’s been a decade since the Swedish dark ambient outfit Megaptera parted ways, but before doing so, they left us with their most seminal work, the dreary tapestry of sound that is The Curse of the Scarecrow. The album is remarkable, a successful journey from the depths of horror into fields of unsettling tranquility. Sparse industrial sounds create immersive background behind the simple, swelling landscapes of stolid, grim ambience.

This is a perfect journey, as well. Consistent listening which is best served through all eight tracks and 50 minutes of playtime. It would make a good backdrop for a myriad of activities: reading a horror novel, staring at a bleak work of art, meditating in a local field or landfill, or just thinking about how ominous this fucking world is, how hostile our universe. Well-planned voice samples are scattered about the recording, which provide visitations to your psyche, and remind you that even in this wasteland of impulse and darkness, you are not always alone.

It’s difficult to pick out highlights on an album so remarkably fortified with torment and insanity. There are some variations, of course. “Kingdom of Death” is one of the noisier works, infernal machinery hovering above distant, hypnotic orchestration. “Don’t Desecrate the Dead” is an eternal warning, with subtler, rolling machinery and some crashing elements. “The Curse of the Scarecrow” stands as the album’s most horrific, with a frightening jumble of male and female cries of anguish and confusion that penetrates the morass of throbbing, low synthesizers and percussive metallics.

The Curse of the Scarecrow is a superior effort to their earlier, noisier Beyond the Massive Darkness, and it’s one of the very best dark ambient/industrial records I own. A pinnacle of the form, especially if you are yearning for a darker sound akin to Raison d’Etre. Do not live without it.

Highlights: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

Verdict: Epic Win [10/10]

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