Ever since 2002’s “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” got some excellent reviews, I’ve been meaning to check out Norway’s Industrial institution RED HARVEST. Five years later, I finally have the opportunity. Prior to this, most of my positive experience with Industrial Metal has come through Sweden’s THE PROJECT HATE MCMXCIX and Finland’s …AND OCEANS, so I was eager to expand my horizons. It also explains why I keep having to resist the urge to make comparisons to THE PROJECT HATE; after all, RED HARVEST was doing this first.
One thing that struck me about “A Greater Darkness” is just how much it reminds me of MANES’s latest, “How The World Came To An End.” Not because the two albums actually sound a like, but rather because they have a similarly hopeless, apocalyptic feeling to them. While MANES achieved this through sheer melancholy, RED HARVEST goes about the job with devastating, dehumanized soundscapes. The album suffocates the listener in an stifling nihilism and the few gasps of hope (such as the long-awaited fulfilment of the chord progression in “Hole In Me”) are quickly cut short.
It’s not to be a particularly optimistic listening experience and the band deals out the devastation in spades however they need to. The songs are almost universally mid-paced, the guitars coldly blackened, vocalist/guitarist Ofu Khan seemingly heavily influenced by Hardcore in his shouts. In fact, “Dead Cities” at times seems to have a heavy Hardcore streak, with some churning, moshing passages one would expect to come out of New York. Fortunately, it fits in well with the rest of the album. I don’t know if I’d say the same thing about “Beyond The Limits Of Physical X-Perience,” which is a moody rhythm heavy interlude that doesn’t really add much to the album. Fortunately, “A Greater Darkness” gets right back on track with repetitive evil over the next two songs.
“A Greater Darkness” is not a perfect album, but fortunately it hits more than it misses. The band isn’t resigned to a single style, just a result. Sometimes the repetition can be too much (see 10:36-long “Distorted Eyes”), but this same quality enriches tracks like “Antidote” and “Icons Of Fear… The Curse Of The Universe.” The album has a fantastic atmosphere that the music usually lives up to. I can’t compare it to previous RED HARVEST albums, but it’s a good place to start for outsiders.
(Online September 22, 2007)