Steel Hook Prostheses - Calm Morbidity
In the past five-six years, Malignant records secured the status of the leading supplier of the best industrial experimental music in the market. The biggest names of the modern power electronics scene release their materials through Malignant with enviable frequency for a certain reason. The quality of sound and the high-standard packaging in the form of beautifully designed digipacks afford the finest conditions for the end-user to fully appreciate unparalleled experience from the art which those artists try to present. The clear evidence to reinforce the allegation is that the same bands continue to release their materials on Malignant from year to year. One of those projects is the famous Texas based duo Steel Hook Prostheses which was formed by two noble gentlemen, John Stillings and Larry Kerr.
S.H.P had been shaking the scene of power electronics and death industrial music since 1999 and got its distinctive name from the personal uneasy experience of John spending a lot of time around Dallas VA medical center in his formative years where his mother used to work; John colorfully illustrated those moments through one of his interviews:
“I saw a lot of maimed and disfigured guys in there. It always made me feel uneasy and stirred strange feelings in my head. I try to translate that feeling of unease into sound. The image that stuck with me through all that was a guy with a prosthetic hook arm smoking a cigarette with the hook.” (interview for Reverse Records UK).
Besides being one of the driving forces of SHP, John Stillings is also involved in many other activities related to experimental music scene, maybe less recognizable, but not less important, putting his heart and soul into the mastering process of many records which rock out ears of their faithful listeners. Drawing inspiration from the famous projects like Megaptera and Brighter Death Now and sharpening their music experience over the years, the duo succeeded in developing their unique sound and image to be different from other respected comrades out there, managing the further evolution of the genre in their own way. After the last and extremely successful solo release “The Empirics Guild” that BR team had put a special emphasis on reviewing in the past, I’ve been really curious if this was the highest point in the career of the band and if it is possible to keep the level high without committing a self-plagiarism. However, “Calm Morbidity” erased any possible doubts confirming the status of S.H.P once and for all.
A passing glance at the shapes and colours of a glossy digipack is sufficient to catch the spirit of the new album and it's clear message : “We are here to dominate!”. As regards the content that hides behind the badass track names like “Doused With Acid”, “Cancer Maiden”, “Piss Prophet” and others, it can easily silence the most fastidious listeners and critics. “Calm Morbidity” exudes poisonous fluids of fear and terror all around, fills the air of my room with an obscure atmosphere of destruction. The record balances on the thin edge between a depressive mood which is usually gained through immersive dark ambient and intense energy of a sharp power electronics; this stylistically assured experiment can penetrate the thickest skin of the most experienced fan. Loud and offensive tracks full of uncompromising rage alternate with gloomy and creepy compositions.
You will be totally disappointed if you think that you can successfully escape the clinging claws of this album once you push the play button of your sound processing device, because an extremely well-shaped sound keeps you on tenterhooks as much as an hour. And of course, one of the key ingredients in this boiling cauldron is a heavily distorted vocal which sows out terror and fear all around.
Without a doubt, S.H.P squad proves once again that a constant practice in a favourite activity can lead a talented person to an extraordinary heights. “Calm Morbidity” is a concentration of all the best qualities that the true fan of industrial experimental music can desire for: energy, determination, fresh and bright ideas embodied in a penetrating sound; and as unavoidable result - the music to enjoy for many hours.