There is music and there is magick. You obviously do not need me to tell you about magick, the occult, and spiritual forces, as I most definitely research all three of these things and find them boldly fascinating, if not invigorating. But whether you’re a logician (who believes that magick is merely the use of psychological manipulation) or a magician (who believes that magick comes from some otherworldly force, the universe as a whole, or from within one’s essence, soul or self) you just may find yourself captivated in the highly occultic work of Shibalba. I was rather taken aback by this one at first, as it’s not the sort of thing I’d expected from Malignant Records as it’s not the sort of harsh industrial landscapes one would normally receive. But while I’m delighted by these, I also love the sort of ethereal work (and say what you want, I considered Theologian to be heavily ethereal with it making an initial read of Alan Moore’s Promethea a near life-altering experience) that comes my way every so often, providing uplifting and cosmic motions in which to dwell my mind and self (whether that be subconscious or the higher self/holy guardian angel as Crowley coined it ) as such a thing I feel is never listened to with the conscious mind. Why the music of Shibalba speaks to my subconscious (superconscious Godhead/HGA/higher-self) more than it does to my conscious “awake” mind, so it is very difficult for me to write such a review without getting entirely thrown into the immateria (as Moore coined it, Gods bless him.) What makes this even more difficult, is how much of a ritual working this is. You’re not just listening to a recording, you’re listening to a recording of someone’s deep and ultimately personal spiritual experience, which they’ve made available to the public in order to either share the experience, or to propagate the ritual energy by getting it into more ears and minds. A sigil works when more are in it’s presence, as I’ve already explained before.
Now as for the artist. I am not entirely certain if the Acherontas V. Priest is indeed the same musician responsible for one of my favorite Grecian occult black metal acts Acherontas, but the name is certainly accredited with the work, seeming very close to some of that which he performed on the band’s latest album. Aldra Al Melekh is also accredited, which might be anything from another human entity, to the very energy in which was evoked here. (Hmm… this record is making me feel a bit strange as I type this review.) The rest of the digipack explains that the work was performed by The Secret Halls Of Nekelmu Elu which of course is a magickal order of sorts. Oddly enough, magick is not spelled with a “k” which strikes me as a bit off, but surely Acherontas knows a bit more about this sort of thing than I do and I’ll take that as perhaps a lesson that I need to learn in which to further my studies. But then again, the record begins with a track called “The Magick Of Mirrors” (8:09) in which the “k” is influenced. While I’ve seen some claim such a term originated with Hermes, most mages are under the impression that it is Crowley’s “k.” Since we’re here, I’ll start by describing the experience as best I can, without being too overcome and enamored by it to type. The aforementioned opener begins with female vocal chants (performed by Apotome) in addition to a series of bells and occasional wisps of wind that ultimately transport us into another dimension. We begin to sit our feet upon a higher plane, as it were and then experience the music at another level. At a certain section, sounds that might come off as a bit frightening appear, but these are not intended to invoke any kind of fear I feel – rather they show that the universe itself is made up of darker and lighter hues which work together to create the vast indifference that is the whole of all existence. Some call it chaos, but the term chaos is too often applied to devastation, whereas this now thundering piece (there’s an inclusion of drums later in the track) is clearly that of a culmination of several atmospheric moods, each representing one section of the macrocosm as a whole entity, as it were. Could there be a certain demonic or dark sense in the music, one which the religious might see as harmful? Well, of course – Aiwass was a serpent. Moore follows a serpentine puppet, entitled Glycon. But that doesn’t mean what they think it means, as in this realm of things, black and white are merely colors for a broad range and spectrum far beyond the human eye.
We them move into “Dharma and Alchemy” (7:27) by which a clear ritual invocation is being performed. If you are in any state of fear, please cease the listening of this release and pursue science or religious text, as you are clearly not ready for the unknown and terribly awful powers that lie within the abysses of the occult. It is very hard to explain such a ritual to you properly, but know that it contains a male voice, an airy nature and a weird howling of sorts which runs in and out of the piece. An almost Gregorian chant threatens to escape for a moment, but doesn’t. A harsh, almost metallic vocal however, does. With a whispered ferocity and incredibly deep ritual focus, something that seems almost inhuman (because it most certainly is) is being wrought within a place that I cannot commonly describe. The piece becomes a steady hum as other whisperings ensue, but it is not for me to tell or to even transcribe what is being said. You must feel this yourself, to truly understand what is behind what some might refer to as sheer insanity. Moving onwards, it was the quiet of “Stellar Oracle” (10:56) that made me feel a bit funny. It does sound very much like the universe itself, and with the added vocal chants, it soon becomes a much more volumized piece. You must sit down and soak this one, preferably during a moment of meditation. The title track (7:43) then begins, with what seems to be a slight storm of howled chants, otherworldly hums and other such pieces which all seem to come together in one vast explosion of the voracity that is the unknown and remarkable. As the piece continues, it becomes ever fiercer and more demanding of it’s listener, following much in Solomon’s view of having a thunderous voice with which to command both angels and demons, although we now know that this was all a clever code for something much more intriguing and far less linear.
It might be a terrible disservice to even consider this “music” as it is not simply a thing that one puts on for a scant amount of enjoyment. No, the sounds which are evoked here in Samsara are something far more visceral and they’ll shake you to the very core of self – your very essence. Though not the first of his rituals ever recorded, this Shibalba album certainly comes as a companion piece to the work that he pursues with the more metallic side of his artistic explorations. The album ends with the lengthy “Nekyia” (14:26) which seems more influenced by Greek folk and ritualistic acts like Diamanda Galas, of whom Rotting Christ have covered with their heavily ritualistic offerings. (Their forthcoming record is actually called Rituals, for that matter.) Such a piece is the equivalent of a tribal meditation, something in which one might listen to the sounds of the ancestors as channeled by the order in what I’d call as memorable as Moore’s work in introducing the demon, the angel and the god. Rather than a spoken word representation, the listener is given the piece through purely auditory means, and it is there that such a brilliant, yet unsettling calm (as all magick is never quite in a place of security – there are no safe spaces in the occult) is given an honorable mention within the listen. As stated, such a piece is very long and might take a bit of an unexpected turn, even though it still remains very much the same in tone and indifference. Please, keep in mind that magick is indifferent. It harbors no care or concern for your well-being, it just simply is… that which you have molded it to be. At the end of this listen, I find myself in a bit of an odd place, but that is where the album has left me off. I feel a bit winded and tired, perhaps even a little peckish, so I’ll see to getting a meal. I do warn you listener, that if you are willing to take such a journey in a serious matter, you will find yourself a little bit different after the journey. This is something far more than human, after all.
(5 Tracks, 48:00)