Sutekh Hexen and Funerary Call embark on a shared voyage to what constitutes the concept of terror on their collaboration album P:R:I:S:M, and open a portal or two to a literal hell while they’re at it.
Dread exists in a multitude of forms of varying severity, conveyed through various means, some of which – oddly enough – can be inexplicably invigorating and thrilling, while others, not so much. Say you walk on an empty street in the middle of the night and feel like you’ve been followed, or know you’re alone in your apartment yet feel like you aren’t; those would be examples of the latter kind. But as for the former, and the more positive experiences, I’d say that many of you agree that arts in different mediums is the place to look for and find it. Whether by means of sonics or visuals, or anything else, dread can be harnessed as an otherworldly strength that truly captivates and strikes its beholder. I’ve said many times before that you recognize the most incisive efforts are the ones that linger on deep in your psyche for a long time after it’s gone, and the sentiment is maybe more apt than ever with today’s album in mind.
Sutekh Hexen and Funerary Call are releasing their new collaboration album P:R:I:S:M via Sentient Ruin and Cyclic Law on July 14, and I first got a hold of it when asked to write a premiere for the song “Fractal: Void” off of it. Not only did it catch me off guard, it truly swept me off from my feet, as not only did I have no idea about such an album coming out, I doubt anything could’ve prepared me to what it was. I was familiar with the black ambient/death industrial act Sutekh Hexen beforehand, while the noise sculptor Funerary Call was a new face to me entirely. Going into P:R:I:S:M I had some thoughts about how it might unfold, and while I wasn’t entirely off, the magnitude of it all unexpectedly crushed me.
The fifty-three minute monolith is an assault on the senses, gnawing its way deep within and entangling itself around the listener’s spine to bend and break it, only to offer a strange sensation of inviting repulsiveness and vile comfort. The dynamic instrumentation and unrelenting ominous ambiance utilise tonalities stretching from pitch black dark ambiance to harsh noise bursts with vocals ranging from whispers to screeches and chilling wails, and together all of these push you to a different realm of being entirely. Imagine you suddenly find yourself in a desolate and completely barren Earth with towering flames licking the horizon as the ground trembles and cracks farther than eye can see, and above it all, in the place of a sun, you can see a humongous black globe emanating light that distorts the sky – P:R:I:S:M is that globe, and everything else its effect.
What Sutekh Hexen and Funerary Call have conjured together is pure distress in an aural form, and by that design, P:R:I:S:M is a demanding and exhausting listen, and not in a bad way, mind you. The album is an expanding vortex that engulfs both your attention and will to live, and there is very little pastimes one could engage in right away after it has passed. As a listener, you need to take a figurative step back to reflect and understand it, and it might take a while, at least for the first few listens. The musical field the duo operates on is – albeit hued with an expansive palette of blacks and greys – rather narrow at first sight. With that I mean that P:R:I:S:M isn’t for all moods and purposes, nor is it an extravagant feelgood leisure, but an entity that deserves its own place, time, and mindset to fully immerse in.
As you’ve probably noticed, I speak of the album only as an entirety instead of individual songs, and that’s a rather informed, conscious decision on my part. See, it is first and foremost nothing if not a sum of its parts, and I feel I’d do it great injustice to spoil it or focus too much on what makes it whole rather than how it comes across that way. The songs do vary from a few minutes to over ten in length, each acting as a crucial piece of the definitive puzzle they form together, and even though P:R:I:S:M is lengthy as it is, not a single second is wasted. Even during the lower moments where there is relative calm and elongated mid-sections, the listener learns to hear past what’s audible and unserstand that only worse horrors are ahead. You’ve probably heard the stale old saying about how jazz is more about the notes you don’t play than the ones you play, and in some absolutely fucking perverted way, that is exactly the case here. Just listen, and you’ll see what I mean.
P:R:I:S:M is certainly not for everyone, but when has anything on this planet ever really been? Sutekh Hexen being the veterans that they are, and Funerary Call having a firm grasp of its capabilities as an outlet, the bands have gone out their way to create an album that is not only the pinnacle of tormenting and excruciating music that gives zero fucks of its listeners’ well-being this year, but will probably remain as a staple of its respective genres for years to come. That may sound pompous, but who are you to judge when you haven’t heard it yet? Throwing shit aside, Sutekh Hexen and Funerary Call have achieved something extraordinary here, and while I understand the appeal, I truly hope this won’t be a one-off.