As long as I have been a fan of ambient music, the sub-genre of dark ambient has intrigued me the most. While I like the peaceful, New-Age atmospheres that many ambient artists worldwide are making, it’s the creepy noises that come out of nowhere that I love the most. Though it is thought that Tangerine Dream started the sub-genre with their album “Zeit”, or that even Brian Eno started the genre with his album “Ambient 4: On Land”, no album in the history of music, whether it be industrial, ambient, heavy metal, or just music in general, has ever come close to the darkness and creepiness that Brian Williams, also known as Lustmord, created on his 1990 album, “Heresy”. The album artwork alone is a loud signal that this album is not like any other album you’ve ever heard. Ever since I’ve heard this album, I’ve tried hard to figure out what the artwork is supposed to be. Is it a volcanic eruption? A visual representation of Hell? All of the above? Either way, this review is not about the artwork, but about the music. I will warn, however, that the artwork is a loud signal that this is a very dark album. Not heavy metal dark or Satanic-influenced dark, but just in general a very creepy and disturbing instrumental album. If you wish to read the rest of the review, continue with caution. Otherwise, if you do not like deliberately hearing horrific-themed atmospheres, turn away, as this is not for the faint of heart. Are you still reading? If so, then let’s continue.
As much as I have said that much of Lustmord’s work is dark (especially on this album), I should note that Brian himself doesn’t seem to think so. Obviously, he sees how many people (myself included) tend to think so, but he sees his music more along the sides of being sound that has depth with emotional content. Whereas I can see his side of it, still, from the first track, you can tell that it has a dark quality to it, and that you are probably not going to have any relief from it at all during the hour-long length of the album. This album is almost gapless, because though there are short breaks, it is split up into 6 parts. “Part I” introduces you to the uninviting darkness, filled with dark ambiences and infrasonic bass drones, which are used throughout the album and induce a sense of fear and/or awe into the listener. A Tibetian horn enters loudly into the mix, smothered with reverb, and providing the perfect creepy atmosphere. Other drones enter the mix gradually throughout, along with lots of industrial sound effects that are hard to identify exactly. Brian is a master at his meticulous sound design on this album, as every sound is processed to sound emotionally dark and disturbing. Some of the sounds here even sound like the howls and screeches of animals, pitched and stretched out to sound otherworldly. In the last 30 seconds, the sounds actually scare me every time, with their unearthly screams. Overall, this is one of the most disturbing tracks ever created, and yet, it is very hypnotic and as much as it scares me, it actually makes me listen again and again to it. It kind of reminds me of “The Black Cauldron”, because though the atmosphere of the film is very dark for a Disney film, and the villian is just downright creepy and seems to come straight out of Hell, I find myself watching it again and again because there is nothing else quite like it. Same here with “Heresy”.
“Part II” is more subdued, containing much less shock and a lot more ambience. There is also less darkness, but still an element of ominous and foreboding terror. The sounds here are still magnificently produced, with different interesting effects throughout. The Tibetian horns also make a comeback here and there as well. “Part III” is even more subdued, but the ominousness of the atmospheres is raised to another level. Towards the last few minutes, some extremely creepy and shocking industrial sound effects make their way into the mix, which show that as much as Brian can make his atmospheres minimal, he can also jar the listener awake instantly. “Part IV” contains more Tibetian horns, which are laid back into the mix to sound as though they are sounding far in the distance, and the same terrifying ambience. Luckily, though, these first four tracks don’t prepare you for what is coming next.
“Part V” is a bit more terrifying, with a lot more sound effects and creepiness going on. The squealing bird-like sounds and the footsteps and crashes in the distance start the track, but around a minute-and-a-half into the track, very ominous drones appear, with more sound manipulation going on, included the sounds of laughter in the distance. Some bell or chime-like samples here or there appear, with washes of white noise or waterfalls going on as well. It’s a very uneasy experience, but as memorable as the opening track. The last track, “Part VI”, contains the last bit of disturbing ambience before you are let go out of the horrifying trance. Strange noises and creepy drones start it off, with the animal-like squeals appearing again later in the piece. Strange voice-like samples appear even later in the piece, and who knows what those voices could be saying. The last few minutes are much more subdued, and sort of let go of all the gloominess of the album, but it leaves you with a feeling of fear and terror that not many albums give.
Overall, like I have been saying, Lustmord’s “Heresy” might be the darkest album ever made. Since this is one of Lustmord’s first albums that I am reviewing, he probably has already made dozens of other albums that are even darker than this one. However, no album has ever come close to the darkness that Brian has made on this album. It’s disturbingly creepy, but hypnotically addicting. You will probably be scared the first time, and perhaps come close to peeing your pants, but after a while, you’ll want to continue coming back to the darkness you have become so scared of in the first place. As dark as this album is, it’s one of the best of the genre, and is highly recommended listening. Two words of advice, though: 1.) Do not use this music for a haunted house. Though it would be perfect, it would probably scare the whole neighborhood, and you may never get people to come to your house ever again, and 2.) Never listen to this album in a dark room. It doesn’t take much for me to explain why.
Genre: Dark ambient/industrial
Released 1990 by Soleilmoon Recordings
Available now at all major retailers!