Tomorrow — October 28 — is the date set by Malignant Records for the release of Calm Morbidity, the tenth album by the Dallas duo of J. Stillings and L. Kerr known as Steel Hook Prostheses. Although the band have been churning out death industrial music for roughly 15 years, assembling an extensive discography along the way, Calm Morbidity is our site’s first exposure to their music. And so, much as we’d like to provide comparisons and to describe the musical place that Calm Morbidity occupies within the context of the band’s previous releases, all we can do today is take this new album on its own.
It contains nearly an hour of music — although “contains” is a misleading term for sounds that are constantly clawing through cage walls and coming for your throat, and your sanity.
The album’s title is an interesting one. The music is undoubtedly morbid. In fact, it’s deeply unsettling, provocative of nightmarish meditations and hallucinatory terrors. The deep, droning tones, glimmering alien ambience, susurrating whispers, and wordless ritual chants of the very first track (“Doused With Acid”) could easily serve as the soundtrack to a slow, spiraling flight from our world into a trans-dimensional abyss.
The balance of the album is no more kind to your sanity and sense of well-being. It could be considered “calm” only in the way that a person shocked into catatonia by a horrifying trauma has become calm. There are occasional industrialized rhythms in these tracks (you’ll first arrive at one of those places in “Hand of Glory”), but the intensity of the music derives not so much from rhythmic pulsing as from the combined effect of the densely layered sounds, electronic effects, and frighteningly distorted vocals.
The experience can become hypnotic as time passes, but there is no peace within Calm Morbidity. Even at its most quiet, the album is busy dismantling anything that resembles complacency or satisfaction and replacing it with claustrophobia and horror. And when the music reaches crescendos of black, storming, gut-churning sound, the atmosphere becomes one of unmitigated despair.
As noted, Malignant Records will release Calm Morbidity on October 28th. The album comes packaged in a six-panel, DVD-style digipak designed by M.C. De Jong of Gnaw Their Tongues, Aderlating, De Magia Veterum, and others. Preorders for the record are available HERE and HERE.