At the end of 2014, I began to reacquaint myself with music outside of the metal spectrum. I’d been pretty much completely immersed in the genre since starting THKD back in 2009, and it was time to change things up; variety being the spice of life ‘n’ shit. At the forefront of this change in listening habits has been an unhealthy obsession with Brighter Death Now, the pioneering death industrial project of former Cold Meat Industry head honcho Roger Karmanik. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Karmanik released With Promises of Death, the first BDN full length in a number of years back in October of 2014 via his new label Familjegraven, and it is every bit the sickening listen fans have come to expect from him.
I can’t think of another artist that’s able to evoke feelings of total dread the way that Brighter Death Now can. Karmanik’s patented blend of distorted synths, hypnotic oscillations and mechanical clatter is not so much the stuff of which nightmares are made, but rather the palpable mix of abject terror and helplessness you feel after waking up from a particularly vivid one. It only takes a few listens to tracks like “Tempting Murder” and “Incomprehensive Evil” to realize that this knack for crafting aural manifestations of our least desirable emotions is in full effect on With Promises of Death. For forty-five minutes, Karmanik immerses you in a lifetime’s worth of fear and loathing.
With Promises of Death is less overtly aggressive-sounding than previous BDN releases such as Obsessis or Innerwar, but what it lacks in power electronics-influenced aggression it makes up for with suffocating, pitch-black atmospheres, wearing you down slowly and steadily as opposed to flat-out pummeling you with noise. Karmanik takes his time, letting the waves of distortion slowly wash over you; the music isn’t exactly catchy, but for some inexplicable reason these willfully monotonous soundscapes work their way into the very fabric of your being, lodging themselves in your skull like foggy, distant memories of that aforementioned nightmare creeping into waking life.
Whereas so many artists refer to their music as “extreme,” yet root their work in pure fantasy, Brighter Death Now touches a very real, very raw nerve. In this respect, Karmanik has released yet another touchstone of the death industrial genre with With Promises of Death and in spite of a lengthy period of inactivity, has proven that he’s still the master of creating sounds that reflect mankind’s most abhorrent and unsettling inner thoughts. Fear the return.