Review: Rotting Sky – Sedation


Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Dark Horizons / Wooaaargh

Underground extreme music is often a vibrant, exciting place, filled with bands and labels releasing work that pushes boundaries, challenges conventions (musically, socially, or otherwise), and is, by its very nature, often only intended for a small audience. Yet it can also be a place fraught with risk, especially financial. No one with any sense gets in to extreme music for the money, because most of the time, there isn’t any. This means that even if a label is responsible for helping to unleash some superb music upon the world, financial constraints might see that music vanish without a trace. Such was the original fate of Sedation by Rotting Sky, the solo project of Nux Vomica guitarist T. Messing, when the label that originally released it (Grimoire Cassette Culture) closed down around the time of Sedation‘s original release. Eternal praises to the labels involved, then, for giving this record a reissue and helping to save it from complete obscurity, as this mixture of black metal, drone, and noise is excellent.

There’s a growing number of acts combining said genres together, often with the aim of simply producing the nastiest, most extreme music they can. And whilst Sedation has plenty of ugliness to its sound – often coming across as a raw, weeping wound of blackened noise emerging from your speakers – there’s also a subtle undercurrent of melody at places, with touches such as the background piano of ‘White Angels’ and the relatively spacious closing moment of ‘Tyrants of Sedation’ giving the album an aura of ruined, decayed majesty. Such moments serve to enhance the aural violence that constitutes the majority of the record though, rather than provide any sense of respite – Sedation is an album that is intended to be harsh, and succeeds in that aim.

Yet even amongst its walls of harsh noise and droning, black metal guitars, there is something here that is deeply hypnotic and addictive. It feels as if the album is being transmitted from deep inside some otherworldly void, resulting in a warped take on music that is human enough to be recognizable, but also strange enough to sound utterly unique. There’s also something cathartic about the experience of Sedation, with its sonic onslaught feeling corrosive, spreading its corruption whilst the album is playing; yet once it is done, there is a feeling of being somehow refreshed, as if a trial has been conquered, or a test has been passed. This might make the album sound difficult and challenging, and to some extent it is (as music of this nature should be); but it never feels willfully obtuse, and whilst it may be uncomfortable and challenging, Sedation still remains a deeply rewarding, addictive listen.

And then there’s closing track, ‘Ivory’. If any song on here lives up to the title of the album, it’s this one. Moving with a slow industrial stomp – as ominous as Godflesh, as slow as Sunn O))) – it also features fragile, damaged melodies that make the weighty heft of the track all the more effective. It is a nightmare of a song, but also one that feels strangely seductive, and easy to lose yourself within. It is a brave, but also fitting way to end an album of excellent quality, and all respect must be given to the labels involved for giving Sedation another chance at being unleashed upon the world.

Sedation is due for re-release on February 9 2018. It can be pre-ordered from Sentient Ruin Laboratories (US tape, vinyl, digital), Dark Horizons (US vinyl), and Wooaaargh (EU vinyl).


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