Review: Azoikum – Aural Purgatory (Oxidation, Sep 15)

In addition to me always being a sucker for Bosch or Bosch-inspired paintings repurposed as album covers (and regardless of my bias, Christ’s Descent Into Hell is indisputably a good choice for this music both visually and thematically), the opening track on Stefan Widmann’s newest tape as Azoikum gives name to a sensation I’ve described here many times before, but never summarized quite so succinctly: “Love at First Stab.” Not all harsh noise “stabs,” per se, but a great deal of it thrashes into existence with the auditory equivalent of one, and so I’ll definitely be using that phrase from now on. Aural Purgatory—the physical cassette edition for which is “[p]ackaged in old fence parts and hardware cloth. Not safe for children”—doesn’t do much stabbing either; if anything it resides more in the potential consequences of such an action, death and decomposition and damnation. Widmann wields both trickles and torrents of diseased noise distended with the sickly gastric gases of decay, coaxing them into scalding scrap-metal screech in “Hammered Into Your Tympanum” then allowing it all to bloat and swell into enveloping sludge for “HN Frenzy.” I originally expected “Phrenesis Descends” and its sluggish smolder like the sound of mass soul-incineration to be a clear favorite, but as soon as the title track hit it was love at first stab (☺). Plenty loud and lush enough to drown out one’s surroundings without putting the eardrums through too much torture.

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