This release comes about as part of the ConSouling Sounds collaboration EP series, and is made up of six tracks that feature a combination of contributions from Italian post-rock, sludge instrumental band Vanessa Van Basten and Dutch sludge, black metal and hardcore Hemelbestormer (which literally translates as “stormer of heaven” and is used to indicate one who has revolutionary views).
The EP opens with Hemelbestormers’ ‘Alpha’ a ponderous and capacious nine minutes of majestic guitar riffing and subtle atmospherics that have an almost glacial feel in their development. The production is gloomy and viscous which captures perfectly the overall mood. ‘Portal I’ and ‘Portal II’ are a partnership between the two bands and open with sheets of practically white noise eddying around and through the mix. As the noise recedes a mellower, more melodious guitar takes over, punctuating the ethereal sound with fragile lines. ‘Portal II’ continues the theme, but is altogether more accessible and tender, evoking imagery of new, distant realms.
Vanessa Van Basten‘s two contributions are less spacious and overall tighter in production. ‘Odyssey Song’ and ‘Hidden Under Terms Like’ are no less substantial than Hemelbestormer but appear more melodic. Obviously the lyrics on these pieces help to lift the temperament, and are delivered in a variety of styles that veer from spoken word, to venomous screams. Changes in tempo and pace lend these tracks an unsettling quality, which adds to their overall charm. The final track, ‘Omega’ returns to Hemelbestormer and continues with the theme introduced on ‘Alpha’ of guitar riffs like dinosaurs roaming the landscape devastating everything in their path. The intensity is taken up a level but the momentum is never lost.
The juxtaposition between the two bands seems incongruous at first listen, as there is obviously a great deal of difference in their approach. But repeated exposure is rewarded as the many layers of sound and arrangements that go into developing these tracks becomes more evident. Both bands bring something to the table of noise here, and show to some extent how music from the same arena can be interpreted so differently. And that is what makes this release a welcome addition to the collaboration series, and a master class in the art of cooperation.