Something unexpected this way comes. The literature describes “Diabolic” as Satanic Black Ambient, is this a case for Trading Standards? Let's wander into the half light and see.
See that skeleton in the corner? That's the bloke waiting for the guitars to kick in. Despite the lack of flesh to form the expression, you can still see the look of dawning realisation etched into the skull, they ain't coming. Like a cuckoo in the nest, KARNA have snuck this one in without the Metal hen realising it and so now it's just too late to reject this alien invader.
Sparse, deep space drone forms the back bone of this album, often haunting, without being Hammer House, spectral wisps of the dead filter through star nurseries whilst scrambled radio signals bounce off dark matter. Cast your prejudices aside and discount this as music in the traditional sense, many of you should be receptive to this if you are prepared to use the listening as an enhancer. My immediate thoughts are to laying on a dark hilltop far from the wash of city lights, staring up into a starlit sky. That's an obvious choice, a room at home with all light banished would do the trick as well.
The creep of synthesizer that forms a cold tonal background is enriched by accidental meetings with bell tolls and thrummed accentuation. An extended exclamation from a cloned female throat asserts itself through the ether, untainted by percussion, it weaves in and out of the vastness exaggerating the sense of distance in the void. Minimal shifts in pitch and little in the way of variety keeps the emanation pure with only the occasional twinkle or shudder to provide perspective. The sense of the barren permeates throughout, with any evidence of life mere sparks amongst the emptiness. As such this could relate to wind swept ice fields as much as the scattering of galaxies through space.
Speed has no value here, the music seems to crawl but the absence of drums and bass takes away the measure, a comet in the sky appears stationary despite travelling at a hundred thousand miles an hour. Of course, ostensibly this is slow drawn music and any embellishment has a similar quality, there's all the time in the world. Once in a while pure noise is employed but it is restrained and does not spoil the general sense of distance. Towards the end of the album there is the impression of descent into a place of desolation with short flashes of soft light serving to highlight the depths to which you have sank.
As this album consists of three set pieces that could easily be merged into one whole, the identification of tracks is pointless and the experience best made by listening to it in its entirety. There is a place for “Diabolic” in your listening schedule but unless this is your thing probably not too often, there are times when I could see myself listening to it again.
My only major gripe is that despite looking in various nooks and crannies I can find little that speaks to me of Satanic or Black. That may have been the sentiment when the album was composed but it may be a lure to the unsuspecting. If you are presenting it under that label then you have to be judged by it. Though “Diabolic” has its dark charms, it isn't what it says on the tin.
(Online January 4, 2007)