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Murderous Vision, "My Necropolis"

cover imageThe latest release from Stephen Petrus's long running dark electronic/death industrial project may not deviate far out of the comfort zone of its discography, but that is really a moot point. Instead, it works as the culmination of styles he has dabbled in, but with the self-assured sheen of an experienced artist. I will admit it personally hits some specific nostalgia buttons for me as well, but even objectively it is an excellent piece of malicious, sinister electronics.

Murderous Vision self-release

As the Murderous Vision project enters its 20th year, I could not help but be reminded of the scene from which it came, which was a recurring theme throughout much of My Necropolis.The late 1990s were a fertile period for the harsh electronic scene in the US, when many artists such as Petrus began to expand upon the death industrial aesthetic associated with the Cold Meat Industries label and the harsher power electronics of the Tesco crew.It was a time in which these artists were not imitating those who had came before, but truly creating something simultaneous inspired and original.I remember many a late night (on dial-up internet) cruising through various message boards,, LiveJournal, and the old alt.noise Usenet group when artists such as Murderous Vision, Death Squad, XTerminal, and Quell were establishing themselves and their art before social media existed as we know it today.

Opener "The Wilted" drives this home:a pastiche of subterranean synth rumble and hints of neoclassical flourish creep along, minimal yet menacing in its sound.The lengthy follow-up "A Leg Broken at the Edge of the Sea" in turn shows the development and evolution of Petrus's approach through the years.It may begin from a similar foundation of pulsating dungeon synth, but it soon becomes much more complex and rich.The use of open spaces, subtle creakiness, and far off hints of rhythm expand upon the originally primitive foundation, giving much more depth than the basic synth patches and cheap digital effects that the genre was built on back in the day.

"Without Presence" (featuring Matthew Hunzeker and Steve Lull) is a thick and heavy mix, but not overly hostile or noisy.The addition of processed spoken word vocals and live drumming (or at least a very realistic approximation thereof) channel some of the earliest industrial vibes, without at all sounding dated or like a simple imitation.Ritualistic percussion also abounds on "Immolation/Separation", within a framework of simmering power electronics noise and complex, dissonant passages.The inclusion of both sweeping synth strings and harsher vocals on the latter half also keep it engaging.

For a style not usually known for conventionality, both "Fire Rabbit" (with Amanda Howland on vocals and additional electronics from Wyatt Howland) and "My Necropolis" have an almost song-like structure to them as far as development is concerned.The former has a funereal, tone-heavy sound to it, propelled by far off militaristic drumming and Howland’s spoken narrative.On the other hand, "My Necropolis" is a mass of pummeling, aggressive drums, chanted voices and murky electronics, coming together in a grandiose, yet uncomfortable bit of sinister music that oozes with malevolent ambience.

Having been familiar with Stephen Petrus's work since nearly the project's inception, Murderous Vision has come a long way with My Necropolis.Excellent production and attention to sonic detail are unquestionable, but also the self-assuredness that comes from being active for so long shines through on this album.There is mostly just doom and gloom throughout this record (I would expect nothing less based upon the title), but that is exactly the intent, and it is done so exceptionally well, and with enough understated diversity, that I was engaged beginning to end.