CD, Bugs Crawling Out Of People, 2006
Dead Man’s Hill is a dark ambient industrial project based in Belgium that first appeared in 1998. Their music is based around epic militaristic orchestration to create a massive sound and an eerie sense of foreboding like the imminent bloodshed of a long battle.
Opening the album is “Sacrifice of Subscription” alongside the spoken word artist It-Clings delivering his graphic lyrical musings. The huge military marching tempo of Dead Man’s Hill’s music can’t help but remind you of the immense marching hoards of Orc armies in the Lord of the Rings or the fright-inducing intensity of the orchestral soundtrack to the Omen films. Their music is very soundtrack-like with an undeniable sense of epic stature. “Sacrifice” adds another aspect to the mix by including chanting/ritual speech which heightens the mood of the whole piece although it does sound unintentionally humorous at times. Elsewhere – on “Eyeball” for example – there are other sampled and often manipulated spoken samples accompanied by the steady deliberate throb of the rhythmic military beat. Often, this is joined by the sound of a choir that only adds to the vastness already created. At other times, the obscured spoken vocals give an air of ritual or spiritual intent but can be too obscured to identify. Around the halfway point however, the mood changes. Lakes of Sacrifice veers off into darker territory with “In the Flesh” which is less militaristic whilst retaining the choral elements, adding a demonic voice resulting in a feeling of deranged nightmarish anxiety. The theme and an entirely more melancholic atmosphere continue into “Death by Fire” and on into “Vous-Deux” which is again heavy with otherworldly groans, ritualistic vocals and choral chanting. “Gard Enz” is gentler still, maintaining its dark swirling ambience and an operatic quality until the album closes with the jittery clinical precision of Fractured’s choral remix of “Legion of Coldness”.
Lakes of Sacrifice is an album of two halves; just when you think you have the formula and ‘sound’ worked out, everything is turned on its head and Dead Man’s Hill reinvent themselves and move into entire new realms of dark and disturbing ambience. The militaristic quality of the first half of the album is great but when the album starts to get darker and even more unsettling is when it really shines. If epic orchestration, militaristic beats and very dark ambience are your thing, this is a great album to immerse yourself in.
— Paul Lloyd