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Wicked Messenger, "Black Tourmaline"

Using mostly guitar, Martin Kränzel explores foreboding vistas on his latest album as Wicked Messenger.  He makes the instrument almost unrecognizable in his depiction of gathering darkness and thunderous portent.  Heavy and chilling, these five tracks do an excellent job of sustaining a mythology of dread.



"I" begins the album with a vast, cavernous gasp and quiet demonic communication hinting at the abyss, surrounded by the moans of dusty fallen angels. The music burrows into a black hole, slowing time and twisting it mercilessly, gathering momentum in its destruction. The rocky movement of thunderclouds forms much of "II," aided by a slow incantation and the screeching wails of thwarted steel. "III" starts with electric rustling from a high voltage field that's soon overtaken by a carnivorous maw and the yawns of a blind megalithic god awakening from slumbering darkness. Gaseous forms coalesce into sentience in "V" as a patient blacksmith toils in the background. The only track that seems a little out of place if only because its brevity and subdued atmosphere is "IV," which seems to heighten expectations for an arrival or the dawning of something that never happens. Yet this track isn't bad, merely different, and doesn't subtract from the album's enjoyment in the slightest.

Music with such malevolent droning ambience is often easy for musicians to create but fairly difficult to do well, which makes Black Tourmaline one of the rare exceptional works in this crowded field.


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