Ten Horned Beast : Ten Stars - Ten Horns

Self-released, 2004
6 tracks, 55:38 playing length

It is dark, huge and rises both from underground and descends from above to devastate humanity and burn the lands, for the signs have appeared and Armageddon has come. High up in the cold north it has awakened, born in a pitch-black sky and unknown hollows, and now it runs loose upon this defenseless, decadent world, and wherever it treads, destruction walks with it. Tremble in fear, the Ten Horned Beast has arrived...

...in the form of six droning, doomy dark ambient tracks created with the classic setup of guitar, drums and bass. Like a more raw, heavy version of Aidan Baker but more subtle and atmospheric than early EARTH, this solo project roams the grey zone between dark guitar ambience in the vein of ASHTORATH and a more down-to-earth doom metal sound. Yet the music is not grey at all, rather as black as a starless night in the woods of North England. The utter darkness of the music is mirrored in its extraordinary packaging: Black-on-black cover, black dvd box, black cdr with a black label and a black booklet sealed with, surprise surprise, black wax.

Foreboding, menacing ambience dominates the tracks, but the means with which it is created - mainly thick distorted guitar, a healthy dose of feedback, bass and pounding, primitive drums - grant variation and make this release interesting and accessible not only for fans of extreme dark ambient but also for a broader audience. While this is certainly not negative, rather the contrary, it is the only aspect that does not fully convince me about this album. Although the first few tracks are certainly not weak, the strongest piece in my opinion is the uncompromising, droning, brooding closing track "Shrines I - III". During the 20 minutes of this track, distorted guitars and ethereal, threatening waves of dissonance and feedback show the full strength of the Beast. The drumming sets in very late, around minute 10, and seems rather unnecessary and almost out of place considering that the dense, powerful ambient texture can easily support itself, just like the occult, evil second track "Crown Of Horns". These two compositions make me wonder how impressive an album might be achieved when the sound TEN HORNED BEAST showcases on this amazing debut is taken to its extremes.

Production-wise, a bit more emphasis on the bass would have been desirable, but this lack is compensated through the great hollow, claustrophobic sound of the primitive, raw drumming and a satisfyingly heavy guitar sound. Through the varied, doomy melange of guitar ambience and drone elements that is "Ten Stars - Ten Horns", the TEN HORNED BEAST grips you with its spiked claws and just will not let you go. More material should appear soon on the burning horizon.

Written 29/06/2004 by O.S.

Contact : NOSPAMchris@secretum.fsnet.co.uk (remove NOSPAM)