Following up on his 2019 Iconoclast album, Carrion’s Hide Tepes has expanded the parameters of the band’s sound to present an evolved form of industrialized ambient metal; with a far more atmospheric and textured approach, where the conventions of song structure are manipulated beyond recognition, Testament ov the Exiled presents something of a quandary. Elements of the doom-laden industrial/metal of Godflesh clash with the modular synthesis experiments of early pioneers like COIL and cEvin Key – a brew made all the stranger by production touches that seem cut from the same cloth as aggressive electro acts like Psyclon Nine or Suicide Commando, particularly in the vocals.
For instance, “To Eat Crow” presents an ominous and almost ritualistic ambience, as if the band is performing the first stage of an ancient rite within the bowels of a factory in disrepair; the factory later awakens possessed of a bloodthirsty vigor in “Untill the Reaper Comes,” as the instrumentation has been bolstered to a vicious procession of corrosive bass and crushing guitar riffs set to an incendiary drone, while Tepes’ distorted vocals scathe and seethe with fury. “The Tempest” returns us to more darkly atmospheric territory as the frigid groans of a steely guitar phrase are bolstered by an insistent beat, the rise in vocal intensity matched by the screeches of guitar noise that bring the song to a teeth-grinding climax, a pulse of organ-like synth occasionally making itself known and causing distress as its tempo seems slightly out-of-sync with the main body of the track. Other tracks like the opening “With Nails,” “Order:Diptera,” “Ghost in the Machine,” and “Alkahest” are little more than noisy synthesized interludes, but they do provide a fair amount of sonic intrigue free from the trappings of the dark narrative of the lyrics. “Let Us Bleed” concludes the original version of Testament ov the Exiled as a veritable amalgam of all the record has presented us with, it’s howling synth pads and thunderous percussion reminiscent of Akira Yamaoka’s soundtracks for the Silent Hill video game series, the track finally decaying steadily into a desperate noise loop.
With a Revised Edition of the album due to be released via Brutal Resonance Records, those whose appetites have not been fully sated will delight in the addition of an extra track and four remixes. With solid production and band mate Sam Dusk assisting in the creation of its sound design, Testament ov the Exiled is not an easy listen by any stretch and may present some challenges even for those whose tastes lean toward the extremes of dark ambient and industrial/metal. The record makes little effort to achieve a comfortable flow, each track plunging the listener with little-to-no warning into moments of abject terror and unbridled rage… but such disparity and dissonance can be rewarding if you can withstand the aural assault.