CD, Reverse Alignment, 2008
Side projects are a popular activity in the electronic music scene, a chance for musicians to try something different from their trademark sound or to work with others outside of their usual bands. It would seem certain musicians have a lot of free time, or just use what time they do have very productively, as some of them are known for five or more active projects. One such highly prolific artist is the Swede Peter Andersson, most famous for his long running dark ambient project on Cold Meat Industry, Raison d’Etre, who has so many side projects he once released a compilation album of them all. Stratvm Terror is one of Andersson’s noisier projects, accompanied by one Tobias Larsson since 1993 and reaching some acclaim.
On Stratvm Terror’s latest album, “This Is My Own Hell”, the most striking thing is how close it sounds to the last two albums from Raison d’Etre. As the one moved away from softer neo-classical tinged ambient soundtracks to grinding and churning industrial nightmares, so the other seems to have moved from harsh death industrial and power electronics to something more atmospheric and brooding. Still, there is some difference, occasionally heard in repetitive rhythms and screaming, distorted vocals, which could be the input of Larsson and prevents full confusion with Andersson’s main project. The main thing is that the quality is high and strong feelings of dread and fear are conveyed at all times through the ominous drones and disturbing metallic scrapings, Stratvm Terror’s “own hell” clearly being a very frightening place indeed.
After a short, creepy intro track, “In Oblivion” gives seven minutes of the darkest ambient industrial sounds, with furious growling over the sounds of dangerous machinery, while “Unveiled Is My Skin” is perhaps the most Raison d’Etre track on the album, all sombre notes and deep drones. “In God We Do Not Trust” begins in much the same vein, but gradually builds up to a terrifying crescendo of metallic violence, then “Walk With Fire” stands apart somewhat with its incessant dull beat and haunting tones. “No Redemption No Remorse” is then even more unexpected, with a slow, dense bass guitar reminiscent of doom merchants Sunn 0))), although quite different from them at only three minutes in length! “My Hell” is another good track of churning metal and drawn out, painful screaming before “Now Ever Sleep…” brings things to an unhappy ending with fourteen minutes of bad bedtime sounds for a restless night.
So remember, folks, no matter how bad your own “hell” might be there is always some poor, unfortunate bastard in a worse state of misery and despair than yourself. Stratvm Terror have come up with an excellent and harrowing portrayal of their own hell, and if you need some calming down, if not cheering up, after listening to this, then go and get some Raison d’Etre albums (if you don’t possess any already).
— Nathan Clemence