review by: Mladen kot
Having Aluk Todolo's Descension in your CD collection is like having to choose between the proverbial red pill and a load of blue pills. Take the blue pill (or: any other CD) and you're back in safe territory. But, let the damned curiosity prevail, go on, choose the red one that's been beckoning you and tickling your imagination and face the consequences. You'll need strong constitution and considerable mental stability, but even then, who knows where or in what state you'll end up. There'll be some damage to your system; but the stronger you are, the smaller the amount of it will be. But, one way or another, you're literally screwed.
The French trio (including members of Diamatregon and Vediog Svaor) has a fair share of knowledge about ritual magic(k) and the occult theories. Descension, their first full-length (after the 2006, self-titled EP), is, finally, a proof of what can be done when theory translates into practice. The contents are easy to describe. Superficially, the four tracks are nothing but a few long, repetitive patterns. Simple drums, endlessly doing one and the same thing, continuous bass and guitar lines and some unpleasant noises. Nothing could be more retarded or boring, you might say. Far, far from the truth. Even farther from the light.
Things don't look so safe once you actually hear it. The opening "song," called "Obedience," is perfectly named the sound: nothing but drums and distortion; the rhythm: the layers of noise swirling around and the sheer pain of the sum of those are just plain merciless. Call it whatever you want, but Aluk Todolo will instantly find a weak spot in your psyche, grab it, ride it and blow it out of proportion. If you didn't know you had one, the worse for you. And no, trying to escape won't do you any good. You're just a piece of flesh, whatever it is you considered to be your soul now belongs to someone else and he's not being kind with it.
After that, there's no more noise, at least not of such a horrible kind. Yet, there is no time to relax. There's no need for noise because "Burial Ground," "Woodchurch," and "Disease" have their own wicked ways of doing the same thing. The victim is still trapped inside the endless circle of sounds. Mesmerized, entranced, easily forced to listen and doomed to be painfully amazed by the seemingly similar sounds becoming ever more intense, closing in on you, chopping away pieces of your consciousness, withdrawing, returning and finally leaving you exhausted and violated at the last second of Descension. Not before.
Although unique, Descension actually makes other music sound strange and inappropriate. Think of other bands a vague memory and ask what's the point in having vocals, when they just detract? Why do the other bands' guitars play so many things, yet end up sounding like one and the same, happy, thing? Is there a need for that? Why play complicated when simplicity breeds far greater anxiety? And is it a guitar or a bass? Or two bass guitars? Where did those bizarre noises come from? What makes them, what gives them orders and why do they listen? How can Aluk Todolo do it and where do their methods of commanding those and other sounds come from? Don't ask.
And no, Descension isn't red. It's in black and silver printing. To a regular eye, the signs, drawings and symbols don't look familiar. Every line (probably) has its own meaning, but the meanings will have to remain a question. Gaze at it all the time in the world and you'll be none the wiser. While you're at it, you'll probably want to listen to it again, just to check if it's really what you thought it was. And it will be.
A word of advice: don't listen to Aluk Todolo while driving, walking, managing sharp objects, or if you're planning on having a nice day. If you're a drug user, avoid it like the plague. Descension is NOT safe. Things like this shouldn't be legally available. (9.6/10)