The California-based cellist and composer Kakophonix has contributed his prodigious talents as a session musician to a long list of diverse bands, including Abigail Williams, Chrome Waves, Astralborne, Nòtt, and Grave Gnosis, in addition to performing in previous years as a member of Empyrean Throne (to name but a few of his credits). But it is his personal project Hvile I Kaos (“Rest In Chaos” in Norwegian) that has served as the central focus for his individual artistic trajectory and spiritual practice.
Variously described as “Black Ritual Chamber Musick” and “Cellistic Black Metal”, it has been an evolving vehicle for translating spiritual themes into sensory experiences that do have the atmosphere of rituals. We have previously described the music as “a version of spiritual black metal from an alternate dimension”, occupying “a space that is in between extreme metal and classical music, an abnormality in both worlds, creating a world of its own as it unfolds”.
The newest Hvile I Kaos release is a split EP named Never Without the Pentagram with the solo artist Emerson Sinclair, who has played violin with Hvile I Kaos in live performances over the last few years. Kakophonix tells us that the split EP “flows as a continuous work of ceremonial magick”, a ritual invocation in which Hvile I Kaos opens and closes the circle (and the record) and Emerson Sinclair‘s tracks fill in the middle. “Stylistically it’s best described as occult neoclassical with elements of black metal and electronic music.”
Never Without the Pentagram will be released on July 10th by Metal Assault, and today we are very pleased and very proud to present a video for “Rise, Engulf, Envenom“, the Hvile I Kaos piece that begins the split. In a word, the music is astonishing, and so is the imagery that accompanies it.
Photo by Lone Wolf Productions
Kakophonix explains: “‘Rise, Engulf, Envenom‘ is intended to open the ceremony. All of the imagery featured in the video symbolically presents the various facets of this intention present in the opening movement, whereas the artwork depicts the overall focus of the record”.
The music is capable of leaving listeners breathless, dazed, bedazzled — and transported. It creates a feeling of insight into the world, in dimensions of time that shiver and flow from primeval epochs into eras still in our future, and inner visions as well, capable of putting you in touch with facets of yourself that might be in hiding beneath the abrasion of daily existence or just waiting, like seeds, to be nourished.
As the sounds of the cello swell at the beginning, joined by deep groaning tones and ritualized percussive beats, it does seem as if we are witnessing the arising of mysterious and mystical powers. The effect is mesmerizing. As the rhythm quickens, the music becomes more fiery, exultant, momentous, and magical. It seems, as the visuals depict, like a shamanistic dance around a bonfire beneath the stars. (In this piece, folk fiddling plays a role, as well as more classically inspired motifs).
The sounds engulf the senses, becoming more sweeping and panoramic, but strummed guitar and darting strings kindle the embers of the dance again. Yet the music seamlessly begins to create a feeling of tension and angst as it quickens the pulse — something dark and perilous seems to be emerging from within the flames. As the gleaming, carefully constructed facets of the music change, the experience remains completely enthralling, even as a mood of melancholia descends near the end.
The beautifully rendered video, created by Lone Wolf Productions, is as much a feast for the eyes as the music is for the ears, and the imagery is so well-suited to the sounds that it deepens and expands the visionary impact of what Hvile I Kaos has fashioned.
Anyone who has hung around this site for more than a week or two knows I’m no cool and collected critic. All I ever do is wrestle with words in an effort to express how music makes me feel, and I’m somewhere over on the other side of the galaxy from jaded or cynical. But this music, particularly in the setting of this video, set my heart to pounding and put it in my throat. I hope it leaves you just as thrilled and spellbound.
Never Without the Pentagram was mastered by Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams, Lord Mantis). Metal Assault will release it on CD and as a digital download. Pre-orders are open as of today.
And for those interested in learning more about the current activities of Kakophonix in these quarantine times, including insights into forthcoming recordings in which he has participated, I encourage you to read a brand new interview published at LA Weekly — here.