Until the Day I Die marks the third release for Australian musical powerhouse Kollaps. The act is most often classified as “post-industrial,” but the label doesn’t come close to doing the group’s sound justice. Kollaps serves up distorted, noisy, droning, ominous tunes whose sounds don’t evoke impressions of Re_Agent and Iszoloscope as much as they do acts like Sunn O)))), Godflesh, Boris, and bits of A Place to Bury Strangers, although even those comparisons don’t fully describe the transcendent visions of Kollaps’ musical undertakings. The band’s approach on this latest LP is a deep cutting, heavily distorted cacophony of percussion provided by found instruments and discrete discarded objects (in the vein of Einstürzende Neubauten) interspersed with nihilistic recitatives and lyrics that evoke religious iconography, lurid perversion, and profound maudlin hopelessness, all of which contributes to the deep impression left on the listener from this seven-song release.
Until the Day I Die dives straight in with the opening “Relapse Theatre,” which starts silent, then gradually yet quickly crescendos into a low, throbbing drone backed with attenuated machine-like squeals, all under a layer of not-so-subtle distortion. Here, the listener is introduced to a recurring leitmotif throughout the album: film score-like percussion with low single-note pads that give way to the powerful imagery of the lyrics – in this case, a recitation of the Catholic Hail Mary juxtaposed with the doomlike atmosphere of the music. The journey continues with “D-IX,” which flows out of the first track like the Styx into a trifle of tortured moans and machine noises accompanied by sermon-like vocals. The third track, “I Believe in the Closed Fist” starts off more subdued, but quickly returns to the distorted motif, this time accompanied by a pulsating bass guitar riff, closing out with a subdued pad, adding to the already tense feelings.
The album then picks up some steam with “Hate is Forever,” which features the percussion more prominently, a steady slamming of what sounds like hard-hit floor toms or Taiko drums providing a steady rhythmic backing to the controlled belts of the vocals, all of which eventually bleeds into the more airy and less percussive “The Hand of Death.” The album’s title track, “Until the Day I Die” follows, and is a stark contrast to the squeals, screams, and slams that have marked the album’s progress to this point, offering a relatively short acoustic piece with lilting, crooning vocals reminiscent of Swans or solo Jarboe. The album concludes with “Iron Sight Halo,” a piece that features the whispered mantra-like vocals that quickly metamorphose into shouty vocal belts closed out with a foreboding bass, throbbing percussion, and a noisy crescendo sure to leave a lasting impression on the uninitiated listener… and even some who are well-traveled with noise-based tastes!
Although the description of the album may leave some listeners squeamish, Until the Day I Die is ironically a well-composed, delightful listening experience for those with bold, adventurous tastes looking to hear material that expands on established noise techniques. Though if you’re prone to nightmares, you may not want to listen with the lights off!