Review: Sconsacrata ‘Paroxysms’

This is my third consecutive review done on a band consisting of a single member. I’m still blown away by how much variety one sole person can create. Charlie DavisSconsacrata proves to be no exception to this trend. Being a member of both Wasted Death and Beggar, he certainly knows how to make something truly terrifying and his first recording for this project came in a 2021 split with Francis Root. While I didn’t hear it until after listening to Paroxysms several times, it definitely laid the negativity based foundation to the blindingly depraved depths where the mind can go when all hope evaporates. 

Sconsacrata ‘Paroxysms’

Finding lyrical inspiration from Philip K. Dick’s Valis, Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, writings from Georges Bataille, and the occult and esoteric works from Montague Summers. As for the sound he cites influences from Oranssi Pazuzu, Aura Noir, and Thorns. Davis aims to capture what he describes as, ‘the sound of inexplicable violence flashing for an instant in the infinite uncaring void’.

A throbbing, skittering spewing sound is all that Hatred Of Music really needs to set the tone going forward. Immediately a thick sense of dread has already washed over everything. It’s somewhat similar to the feeling when an engine just won’t turn over. You exit the car only for your heart to sink lower than you ever thought possible as you notice you’re beneath an unimaginably large alien spaceship.

The craft swallows us whole as the intensity of ritualistic prayer Blind Yaldabaoth is performed with anger and speed. A squealing distorted guitar gushes with rushed, claustrophobic notes. Breakdowns dredge away any clarity leaving only mind-obliterating madness. Vocals seesaw between terrified shrieks and panicked pleads fused to vibrating chords. In my attempt to not embarrass myself with the cosmic horror community, I decided to really research the track names, so consider this the first of several fun facts. The title here refers to the deity worshipped by the Majestic Church named Yaldabaoth. He is also referred to as ‘Samael’, ‘The Blind God’, or simply ‘God’.

Weird mechanized noises move and clank making the industrial dub beginnings of Blind Iron Prison a memorable one. This racket ceaselessly attacks with throat growls and deep stomach wretches. Adding to this fever dream guitar riffs move so powerfully fast and focused they could strip bark from a tree or flesh from a body. The ‘blind iron prison’ is described by Philip K. Dick as ‘a timeforsaken place, blending past, present, and future, buildings cast in wicked black – where the alien from the sci-fi movies of that name might call home’.

Vocals bleed into wailing guitars on Lasciate Ogne Speranza; or ‘abandon all hope’ for those of us who don’t speak Italian. Drums are hit with so much precision and speed I could swear they’re electric, but they still somehow feel organic. It’s at this point the album’s atmosphere pins the eyes open, flooding a deep unknowable evil basking all thoughts in vile wretchedness.

Breakdowns dredge away any clarity leaving only mind-obliterating madness…

Cerebrospinal fluid is a leak that occurs when there is a tear, or hole, in the membranes surrounding the brain or spinal cord. That’s what I’ve decided the liquid mentioned in the title His Face Flowed Like Liquid Down is. The sound of vaguely inhuman glitches conjures mental images of a haphazard surgery performed by machines. While the horror here is undoubtedly high, it manages somewhat of a cool down, which at this point is absolutely necessary. The curing false calm confuses and changes the mind in preparation for some Eldridge horror. 

Thrashy grooves adorn a deeper vocal delivery, that now layers both death and black styles, simultaneously flows throughout An Hourglass. Slower, lower pitches break the equilibrium down even more than before. Stunningly inviting guitar solos, one after another, close the track out. 

Osculum Infame can be translated to ‘a shameful kiss to the devil’s anus’, the more alien mechanisms work harder, deeper, and swifter than what we’ve heard previously, like whatever the machines have been doing is nearing completion. The ‘shameful kiss’ is a supposed ritual greeting from a witch when meeting the devil. I’m explaining this to anyone who may not have been blessed with growing up in a home without ritualistic acts performed for Beelzebub. 

The evilest sounds on the album come from Forced Conversion. The bass and guitar race against each other atop drums that are beaten to a bloody death. For whatever reason this was the first song I listened to when I first got the album; and when it’s played without the seven previous tracks, it’s a kick straight to the teeth. But if you’ve been a good little metalhead and you’ve been listening in the proper order, the soundscape here starts feeling less foreign and, maybe, even a little fun. 

I Googled the name of album closer Katasonics and it brought up nothing but a link to the Sconsacrata’s Bandcamp. So, as far as I can tell, there’s no known meaning. It’s after a cold analog start the picture Davis has been painting is fully formed and whatever changes through mind-bending chants and forced surgeries is now completed. The vocals are pushed back leaving the instruments to take center stage and are played to perfection. A rogue understandable verse ‘I’ll drag you out of your mind’ coats your thinking until a strange field recording dripping with anger plays like some distant memory.

Label: Trepanation Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp

Scribed by: Richard Murray