- Iraqi Praetorian Guard is the first release on Blackest Ever Black to fully live up to the label's self-fashioned persona as grim lords of the new dark techno. This, mind you, shouldn't be taken as a diss. In the last two years, Blackest Ever Black has put out a string of 12-inches, all of which are intriguingly moody. But in terms of conjuring darkness and malevolency, rarely does the music match the imprint's sleeve design and Web presence (a striking parade of industrial-grade monochromatism). Probably the most conspicuous example is Young Hunting's The Night of the Burning from last winter: gothic theater too lathered in quaint shadow play and obsidian gloss. Plenty of bark, in other words, but very little bite.
Vatican Shadow's more potent expression of industrial dystopia (dread, despair, paranoia) can be attributed to the subtle ways in which producer Dominick Fernow brings to bear the brutal maximalism long associated with his noise project Prurient. Reminiscent of Muslimgauze's scrape and rattle, the Regis-remixed "Church of All Images" comes swathed in gauzy desert cinematics and abrasive shards of blackened vocal treatments. It's an uneasy alliance of textural extremes that threatens to erupt into violence throughout the track. A similar state of affairs marks "Cairo Sword Unsheathed," unfolding as it does like a blurry, slow-motion helicopter whose blades are about to come unhinged. Only on "Gunmen With Silencer" does this seething tension between form and chaos subside, but that's because Fernow is now more concerned with replicating the throb of delirium gnawing on the sniper's psyche.
A1 Cairo Sword Unsheathed
A2 Gunmen With Silencer
B Church Of All Images (Regis Version)