CD, The Eastern Front, 2008
Despite his relative youth, Israeli producer Arsenicum has managed, with “In Hoc Signo Vinces” (a motto of the Knights Templar – “by this sign you will conquer”), to create a very worthwhile addition to the lexicon of dark and martial ambient music. Stirring, evocative and colder than a Svalbard winter, Kreuzer’s debut album is off to a grand start.
Certainly, like most of the genre, it doesn’t appear at first glance to have much going on: it’s only with repeated listening that the depth and scope of this selection of dark ambient becomes clear. There is far more substance within this record than in much contemporary electronica. Even though the predominant theme is a medieval one, revolving around crusaders and the holy land, the atmosphere that it generates is timeless. At times, it even gives off a feeling of far-off futuristic desolation, as tinny, decaying speakers rumble with forgotten melodies of a bygone era, their only audience the swirling dust.
What makes Kreuzer more successful in this endeavour than many of his contemporaries is his unabashed exploitation of texture more relevant within the context of industrial music than ambient; there is a gritty undertone to the entire recording that gives everything an edgier, more malevolent tone – a side effect that works entirely to Kreuzer’s advantage. Technically, there is little left for Arsenicum to achieve on subsequent releases aside from a slight polishing.
While the term ‘dark ambient’ may have many fans of the darker side of electronic music clutching their ears in terror, they have obviously not yet experienced Kreuzer. “In Hoc Signo Vinces” is original, beautiful and deeply disturbing. I am in love with this album.
— David vander Merwe