Every song on Hornwood Fell‘s new album Damno Lumina Nocte is named “Vulnera” — the Latin word for “wound” (accompanied by Roman numerals I – VII) — every one of them a projection of “dark landscapes, discomforts, and open wounds of the society we live in”. Every one of them is a cavalcade of disturbances, a mind-warping amalgam of dissonance and derangement that seems to embody mental fracturing and emotional splintering. It is as if the band found Pandora’s Box, and without hesitation opened it, recording the sounds of all the evils within as they escaped in a mad rush of freakish abandon.
This is not easy listening. The music is persistently abrasive and frequently cacophonous. There are twisted melodic motifs and rhythmic patterns that appear often enough to stitch the songs together, often in physically compulsive ways, but things change unpredictably, and veer so sharply and so often that it’s hard for a listener to maintain any balance — like trying to walk a high tightrope that’s being plucked (rapidly) by giant fingers.
It is also, perhaps perversely, an utterly fascinating experience. There is a mad genius at work within these tracks (two of them, actually), and the songs are so weirdly transfixing that the minutes speed by like starlings in flight. Looking away from these deep, festering wounds turns out to be very difficult.