I expected Calm Morbidity, the latest Steel Hook Prostheses to be a very chaotic album. Given the transgressive album cover and the general tropes of industrial ambient, I figured Calm Morbidity would be good but very noisy. I was wrong and I’m happy about that. Calm Morbidity is sort of exactly what the name of the album says it is: it’s calm, if you could call it that, and it’s morbid.
Calm Morbidity starts with a very eerie, windy intro that put me off guard. I was expecting a lot of mechanical noise and shrill drones but instead I got an ever increasing sense of dread from the wind effect and what sounded like a guitar with layers and layers and layers of fuzz and distortion. It paints a pretty bleak and, well, morbid picture. It’s as if a film crew returned to the site of a massacre within a haunted sanitarium only to discover that the medical equipment was still fresh. It sends chills up the spine. I hadn’t thought of it until now but Calm Morbidity is a damn good Halloween soundtrack- the release was perfectly timed. I can’t think of a better album to bring in the horror this year.
As Calm Morbidity continues its trek into the asylum, the buzzing drones grow more and more intense, creating not just unease but actual dread. You don’t know what’s around the corner, in the physical sense and in the mental sense. Not only is the sound on Calm Morbidity a threat to your physical safety but also your mental safety. The album’s decayed, bizarre sound can play havoc on the mind.
I can’t place a lot of sounds on Calm Morbidity and I think that it heightens the tension in the album as a whole. The production here is superb, it allows you to hear just enough to paint a gory, disturbing, and weird mental picture but leaves out just enough to make sure there are gaps in the imagery.
The voices on the album add an occultic dimension to Calm Morbidity. They don’t necessarily create a supernatural feel to the album; rather they add the story of devil worship in the asylum itself and we, this crew exploring the ruins, see the signs and symbols on the walls, and swear we can hear the chants still echoing down the hall. It’s utterly brilliant and terrifying,
Calm Morbidity was not at all what I expected it to be but it’s more than I could have hoped for. Malignant Records has a great track record for industrial ambient releases and Calm Morbidity adds another layer of grime and rust to that image. Even those who aren’t fans of industrial or death industrial will find this appealing. It will awaken the horror fan in all of us. Calm Morbidity is the distilled essence in one album of all the psychologically traumatizing films we’ve ever seen. You can’t ask for more than that.
Listen and support!