Category: Darkwave / Neoclassical / Experimental
Album: Joys and Horrors of Broken Souls
Blurb: A slasher film told through music, this album ties in ritualistic, heathen imagery with scenes of torture and murder to create a chilling experience.
A history of violence leads the mind to dark places. Sal Rodriguez, the creative director of neoclassical/darkwave project Rawzilk has been exposed to a myriad of atrocities in his native El Salvador, including close personal tragedy. Now, living in Dallas, Texas, he has gotten these images out onto the page, so to speak, with his latest release, Joys and Horrors of Broken Souls. The album shifts between ethereal female vocals, aggressive male vocals, and iconographic instrumentals. Possessing a clear fixation on horror movie themes, the record naturally takes on a cinematic angle.
A church organ and the voice of a young ingénue, lost in stark surroundings, invite you in to hear the dark tale of Joys and Horrors of Broken Souls. The introduction track, “It” foreshadows the story of innocence lost; Christian archetypes of forsaken prayers at the feet of crucifixion altars set the scene for the rest of the piece. The lead single, “Nails” pulses with a persistent beat as synths stream down like meteors from above, eventually crashing in a bit-crushed explosion. Steady, monotone vocals pervade the song with lurid incantations like the words of a caliginous ritual. Songs like “Dolls” and “Pyrrhics” have narrative-style lyrics with the former being a firsthand account of a murder and the latter being a third person telling of a girl kidnapped and tortured by a maniac. The calmly delivered prose set to airy, B-movie horror synths takes the macabre images out of the surreal and into ultra-realism that puts you right in the story. Other highlights include, “08212015345am,” a noisy, psychotic piece emulating the chaos inside a deranged mind, and the bombastic “All the Way Down.” The industrial/hip-hop track drowning in distortion with a beat radically hacked up like the album’s main victim brings to mind the disjointed, experimental ranting of Death Grips.
Joys and Horrors of Broken Souls will entice those with an obsession with horror films; Rodriguez makes a soundtrack that takes the sounds of movies from decades past and rejuvenates them in a new context. The singing was mostly quite beautiful, though at times, the autotune took you out of it, despite the fact that it seemed to be used intentionally to create a mechanical vibe. All in all, the album is an effective glimpse into the sinister places of the mind.