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Steel Hook Prostheses - Calm Morbidity (2016) - Review

Band: Steel Hook Prostheses
Album title: Calm Morbidity
Release date: 28 October 2016
Label: Malignant Records

01. Doused With Acid
02. Cyclopia
03. Hand Of Glory
04. The Medicus
05. Paresthesia
06. Cancer Maiden
07. Deep In The Marrow
08. Piss Prophet
09. Stranguary
10. Sulphur Drip

Steel Hook Prostheses have done it again! Over the last few years, Steel Hook Prostheses has become one of the flagship projects on Malignant Records and continue to set the bar for death industrial music even higher. Steel Hook Prostheses latest album, Calm Morbidity, takes the listener on a journey through filthy torture chambers, decrepit sanitariums, and even into the depths of some psychotic serial killer's mind. Calm Morbidity takes no prisoners, starting off with a bang, the album keeps the tensions high throughout all ten tracks.

Steel Hook Prostheses is the main project of the Texan duo, John Stillings and Larry Kerr. John Stillings should be a household name for any fan of the Malignant roster, as he seems to spend as much of his time mastering albums on Malignant as he spends on his own projects. Along with Steel Hook Prostheses, John also participates in the projects, Caduceus, Metaconqueror, and Pharoid. Larry Kerr also has his own side-projects including Habeeb and Black Moon Halo. But when these to gentlemen of darkness come together as Steel Hook Prostheses the result is always brilliantly bleak, beautifully ugly.

Listening to death industrial/ power electronics/ black ambient acts, it seems that there are a few different ways of producing an album. Some acts like to hone in on the mental condition, building walls of sound which tear at the fabric of the listeners' sanity. Alternatively, Steel Hook Prostheses seems to focus on external soundscapes. There are utterly apocalyptic soundscapes throughout Calm Morbidity, which slowly form the images of an irradiated or war torn landscape. There are voices heard throughout the album, predominately those of John Stillings, but there can also be heard other samples of female vocals seeping into the mix occasionally. On some tracks it feels as if we're on the surface of the Earth, witnessing the destruction of mankind, the end of an era. Other tracks take a more personal direction, evoking the putrid stench of the human body as it rests upon some torturous freezing cold slab of steel, deep within the confines of some mental hospital, watching as the doctor conducts his experiments upon the unwilling patient. Tracks like "Hand Of Glory" almost evoke a political sensation, as if some villainous politician stands at his podium preaching the woes of humanity as he drives us ever closer to the end-times.

In short, Calm Morbidity evokes all sorts of vile sensations and negative auras.  Steel Hook Prostheses don't let up on a single track, as the album progresses, we don't go further into the void so much as seeing it from all its various perspectives. There is no need for creating imaginary worlds, Steel Hook Prostheses seem to realize that our real world is horrific enough to suffice as a setting.

Where many death industrial acts can wear at the nerves almost immediately, inducing headaches within 5-10 minutes, Steel Hook Prostheses, much like Jarl manage to walk that tight-rope of having enough sonic brutality to send the listener into a nightmarish trance. All the while, they keep enough refinement to leave the listener on the edge of their seat and nerves, without ever pushing them over into the void. This refinement surely stems from J. Stillings veteran mastering skills.

Calm Morbidity is a brutal journey through an actively decaying world. This is not music for relaxation, these are the sounds of the end-times. Given the right mood and surroundings, this album could quite possibility win over some new fans to the death industrial genre. They have enough raw energy to entice the listeners of that bleakest genre, harsh noise wall. While, they hold enough refinement to win over fans of dark ambient who are seeking to push the boundaries of their musical tastes. The addition of J. Stillings vocals also give the album that human element that is often missing in death industrial, turning away fans of more traditional forms of music. I would highly recommend Calm Morbidity to any fan willing to witness the end of everything, one track at a time.

Written by: Michael
Rating: 8.5/10