Sewer Goddess – Mutilation Process (Graceless Recordings, 2013)

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I’ll be the first to admit, I know Jack and shit (and Jack left town) about death industrial, power electronics and noise (aside from the most obvious/popular noise artists such as Merzbow, Prurient and Wolf Eyes), so Sewer Goddess’ Mutilation Process was something of a revelation for me when I received it in the mail from the fine folks at Graceless Recordings.  This twenty-three minute live recording is seriously filthy and fucked up, uglier and more unsettling than approximately 99.9% of the metal albums I’ve heard in the past year or so. Evidently there’s a whole wealth of nastiness and depravity out there waiting for me to explore, but for now let’s focus on this, my first foray into a world of shit.

I must admit, I was immediately intrigued by the fact that Sewer Goddess is a female-lead project, as it’s my admittedly limited understanding of the death industrial/power electronics scenes that misogynistic imagery runs fairly rampant.  Don’t get me wrong, gender absolutely should not matter when it comes to judging a piece of art, but we cannot deny that gender (and by extension sexuality) is a primary influence on art,  so I can’t help but find it pretty fucking fantastic that a strong female musician would dive headfirst into this stuff and make something so exquisitely nasty (now if only someone would do the same for brutal death metal and gore/pornogrind).

But enough of all that, let’s talk about the music.  Mutilation Process is a lengthy dirge, characterized by plodding beats that sound like rusty, dirt-caked machinery malfunctioning in an abandoned factory, waves of grating feedback/distortion/synthesizer noise (I think there may be a guitar buried in there somewhere, but I’m not entirely sure), and sparse vocals that while not particularly “extreme” in their delivery still manage to sound appropriately spiteful and misanthropic. Indeed, the title of the track is all too appropriate, as Sewer Goddess’ sound is that of industrial/electronic music mutilated beyond recognition, and yet there is structure and a frightening sense of purpose at work here.  I must admit that most of the music in this vein that I’ve sampled previously turned me off instantly due to its lack of discernible form, but with Mutilation Process I get the distinct feeling that I’m being taken on a journey, even if that journey often threatens to disintegrate into total oblivion.

Being a live recording, the sound quality is about as raw and murky as it gets, which would probably be detrimental to other forms of music, but works perfectly for Sewer Goddess’ mechanical assault on the senses.  When I listen to this tape I often wonder what it would’ve been like to experience the performance in person; I imagine being totally overcome by the uncompromisingly corrosive sound in an unbearably hot, sweaty, dark dungeon of a venue, my brains threatening to leak out of my tortured ears.  Indeed, the recording quality of Mutilation Process perfectly captures what must’ve been an overwhelming, visceral performance.

Mutilation Process is yet another great release from Graceless Recordings and one that could conceivably serve as a good starting place for metalheads looking to get into more experimental forms of harsh and extreme music.  It’s not that far removed from some of the noisier, more abrasive doom/sludge bands, yet it possesses that gear-grinding, ultra-distorted industrial edge that takes it to the next level, making it an excellent “gateway” listen. I personally would be quite interested in tracking down more stuff from Sewer Goddess and will be on the lookout for their next assault.

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