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Skullflower Invoke Dante's 'Inferno' on 'The Spirals of Great Harm'

Stream the hypnotic, cacophonous latest album from these British pillars of experimental noise

Kim Kelly

Kim Kelly

Skullflower's idea of music has always freaked me out and drawn me closer in near-equal measures. The first time I encountered it was in the mid-2000s, via a Crucial Blast promo CD, and I still remember how utterly perplexed I was to hear it. At that point, the closest thing I'd heard to full-on noise was Ildjarn, and even those primitive scrapings pale in intensity next to Skullflower's full-on, warped noise assault. The band—which has mutated its membership over its nearly 30 years of existence but always been led by British musician Matthew Bower—pioneered the combination of heavy metal and harsh noise, using traditional "rock" instruments to hew their craft instead of the all-electronic output of their contemporaries in the industrial underground. 

Their early marriages of sludgy, doomy riffs with extreme distortion and feedback loops eventually gave way to a more purely noise-based sound (one whose hypnotic, aggressive tendencies find it rubbing elbows with raw black metal in more ways than one). Skullflower remains a towering giant of the global noise scene, and a new release from them is always cause for celebration. Their latest double album, The Spirals of Great Harm, came out on February 22, and we're delighted to be streaming it below. We generally only stream new releases prior to their street dates, but for Skullflower, I couldn't resist making an exception.

The album was described by the band as "referencing Inferno 17, Dante and Virgil's spiralling descent into the abyss on demon Geryon. Full of harsh beauty and hymns for lost Albions, battle songs against the homogenization of modern 'lyfe'—fuck the new estate!"

"We seem to be circling, encountering familiar territories, yet always changed, because these circles, from a true perspective; are all part of a great averse spiral, our pattern, our map, which is the terrain itself. You will hear hints and echoes of native keening, lush prog romanticism, and the charcoal textures of noise, but all subsumed within our alchemy, the unmistakable wellspring of sound that is SF". 

Listen below, and get your claws on its corporeal form via Cold Spring.

Kim Kelly means no harm on Twitter.