Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

TenHornedBeast - The Sacred Truth

The Sacred Truth is the first proper full-length album from TenHornedBeast, following a clutch of short-run CD-Rs that have appeared over the last three years or so. TenHornedBeast is the latest musical incarnation of Christopher Walton, formerly one-half of the dark ritual ambient duo Endura. The Sacred Truth continues Walton's immersion in magickal techniques, but musically it is a far darker and bleaker proposition than Endura. There's a definite occultic aspect to the work but despite the hooded figure holding aloft an antlered deer skull, and the snippet of philosophical text on the sleeve, there's no explicit magickal narrative. Instead TenHornedBeast offer some of the most staggering dark, drone material, hinging around two epic pieces: 'Our Lady Of The Lightning Bolt' and 'In The Teeth Of The Wolf'.

The pitch-black atmospherics of the opening track, 'Operation Sacrament', is teasing in the way the cavernous echoes, distant nocturnal clattering and torturous monk-like chants clamour around the dark ambient sounds often associated with artists on the Cold Meat Industry label. Where The Sacred Truth really hits its stride is on 'Our Lady Of The Lightning Bolt'. It moves from billowed hiss into a high-pitched drone, gathering mordant orchestral strings that are stretched over a slo-mo shape-shifting drone, as low-end tones shudder and dissipate, unleashing reams of feedback before settling into a queasy unsettling interplay. Walton's measured approach to the 17 minute piece is frighteningly impressive, as he sustains a haunting claustrophobic presence without letting the wavering drones spill over into a pool of noise. It gets better. 'In The Teeth Of The Wolf' literally sucks you into a swirling vortex of black sound. A devastating 22 minutes of sustained feedback squall, devilish atmospherics and distorted drone chords. Unlike much of The Sacred Truth, this one teeters on the fringes of a "rock" sound but by the time the plodding, pounding drum beats and crashing cymbals appear it's akin to early Skullflower filtered through the doom sonics of today's vanguard of drone metallers. The frequent shimmer of percussive metallic crashes only heightens an already tense atmosphere. It's a staggering piece of music, and a definite highpoint of The Sacred Truth.

The other tracks are of much shorter duration but effective nonetheless. The haunting sounds of 'Strength Through Fear' are built around repeated swabs of textured cello that swells into dark ambient blackness that is eventually subsumed by a torrent of feedback wail. The final piece, 'Christus Nox' is densely layered with caustic hum of blackened guitars, and deep reverberations. It hangs in the air with a palpable oppression before sliding off in a hazy, trail of feedback. The Sacred Truth is a mean record, filled with space but heavy on the dark atmospheres. A beast of a release, and very much recommended if you go for this sort of thing. For more information go to