The Haxan Cloak - Excavation

What The Haxan Cloak and its mastermind Bobby Krlic want to do with this music is create pure audio fear.

Label: Tri Angle Records

Rating: 7

Listen to this album alone, in the dark. Challenge yourself. Go on. You must, to appreciate it all in full. This is a challenging record, a record that is beautiful and uncomfortable all at the same time. It’s got a unique energy that moves it way beyond any previous releases from The Haxan Cloak – this record will swallow you whole like one of those dementor things from the Potter movies, where the previous self-titled effort and ‘The Men Parted The Sea To Devour The Water’ only took tiny nibbles and bites. This effort, to us, is much more electronic, eerie and, in places violent to take in.

What The Haxan Cloak and its mastermind Bobby Krlic want to do with this music is create pure audio fear. This sound is striking – it’s striking like The Exorcist or Halloween soundtracks, you might not want The Haxan Cloak’s themes in your head, but they will stay absolutely (if you could just now for a second imagine this writer’s voice echoing Heather O’Rourke’s cult ‘Poltergeist’ movie quote and saying, “They’re here…” referencing The Haxan Cloak’s sound, that’d be ace, thank you).

Our Bobby’s deep fascination with witch culture (‘Haxan’ itself is an old German word for witch, don’tcha know?) plays into his music constantly – there are spooky chants and hair-tingling moments a-plenty – none-more-so than on opener ‘Consumed’ , and from this one onward, we can be sure that Krlic is never in danger of straying into relaxed and playful Burton-esque territory. This is the sound of nightmares. Enjoy it.

There’s a raw-feel to these nine tracks – each one feels uncomfortable and intense, but there’s also something undeniably intriguing about the beats that build in ‘Excavation (Part 1)’ and into ‘…(Part 2)’. Through both, considering it’s the middle of the night at the time of writing, this writer finds himself looking over his shoulder, no joke – told you, intense.

Let’s do this horror-style, shall we? ‘Mara’ yanks and pulls at your insides in slow motion, and as every beat hits, more organs come out, more blood is spilled, before ‘Miste’ restores everything, allows for that struggled breathe (or two), just long enough for you to fall asleep, wondering if you’re ever going to wake up again. To delve deeper, the heavy use of synth elements and witch-house-ish structures build the backbone of this record and make the listener feel on edge throughout its course. There’s no denouement. This is pure drone driven by a desire to succeed where acts like SALEM and even Reznor and co. (most recognisably perhaps with his ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ score) have failed to take the listener to hell and back. The difference, as stated, is that the aforementioned artists let the listener rest; there’s always a slight break in pace, whereas this is constantly flippin’ on it. What that does, is plonk the listener right in Krlic’s own personal horror movie – the fun bit is, working out if you as the listener are the calculated and twisted killer, or the scared victim?

Now, fans might argue a point that there’s plenty of silence on this album, and plenty of chances for the listener to relax (‘The Mirror Reflecting (Part 1)’) – no, mates. If and when silence is used here, it’s used to create tension, or the sense that something dreadful is just… around… the corner. That of course is ‘The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)’, which is for us, the standout of the record; blissfully dark and dismal – it is at this point in the album that the fear and beauty that have so far clashed against each other at varying during this process come together with the quite frankly enchanting synth lines that greet the latter part of the tune. Still, if you need something more specific ‘…Reflecting (Part Two)’ it’s a tad like a messed up ‘Doctor Who’ soundtrack (in places). ‘Dieu’, meanwhile is a heavy industrial romp that would’ve fitted nicely into any of the commercial soundtracks that we’ve mentioned here, a surprising effort, but a welcome one. Last track, ‘The Drop’ slows things down quite a bit – it’s clearly that part in our grandiose horror flick where someone’s got away, they’ve escaped! That calm is signified by some lovely string elements. Now, that person is back home in bed, looking up at the ceiling…safe, and yet, as the electro beats become more prominent, we all know what’s coming – the scarred and wounded killer’s in the house under t’bed, and in slow motion, he stabs her to death as everything finally fades out and we go to black. Nice.

Shock-rockers, horrorcore bands and aggrotech acts, you think the music you make is shit scary? Try this while sticking on your fake blood and PVC. The Haxan Cloak, with ‘Excavation’ has created the ultimate in tension-filled electronic music that comes off somewhere between Godflesh, Sigur Ros and Charlie Clouser. It’s, er… hella good.

Taking cues from previous work with heavy percussive clanging sounds, some vibrant Eno-styled textures and drawn-out chants that work to make the psyche squirm, alongside cutting almost buzzsaw-like electronic lashings. This album, for a short time, will make you question your sanity and the world around you.