The Vatican Cellars by MolochRelease date: October 31, 2017
Label: Via Nocturna
This gargantuan collection spans 36 tracks, more than 2 hours, and is harvested from recordings stretching back to 2004. Moloch (not to be confused with the Ukrainian black metal act, nor the UK sludge band, who all share this moniker) has opted to amalgamate his previous two full length releases, Withering Hopes & Onoskelis, along with the Yog-Sothoth EP, into one almighty journey through the dark dungeons of his mind.
Despite this seemingly arbitrary method of collation, The Vatican Cellars is largely singular in focus and intent. It has a sinister, if borderline pompous, air to it. Terrifying, anxiety-inducing drones teeter into genre-baiting, nefarious organs. Pianos plink and plod over sonic gusts from sweeping 80s synths and this creates a feeling akin to the score of The Thing… if it was directed by Dario Argento and soundtracked by Goblin.
The decision to release this in such a bulky format can be perceived as a reaction to the current culture of immediate gratification. A retaliation against an attention shortfall. Much like Dopesmoker, Bell Witch’s Mirror Reaper, or the impending Rainbow Mirror from Prurient, this album demands an extended period of your time. To be more precise: a film’s length. More accurate, still: the exact durations of A Clockwork Orange and The Matrix. Admittedly we’re not quite in the territory of Leone, Tarr, or even Anders Weberg here but the comparisons with patience-troubling cinema is a valid one. Especially when considering that the musical direction that Moloch has ventured in owes such a debt to the world of Giallo horror and B Movies.
If we grant ourselves two and a quarter hours to disappear into the cinematic world that this Polish musician has created, what might lurk there? It seems impossible not to evoke the red lit creations of Bava, Argento, and Fulci as dramatic synth chords careen against eerie bass. Blades glint in moonlight. Crimson arcs across smashed mirrors, and black-gloved hands crush the windpipes of wide-eyed women.
All this is true of the lion’s share of these 136 minutes but there are a couple of brief exceptions towards the back end of the first disc. ‘The Violator’ and ‘Magma’ contain the wild electronic slashes and pounding beats that are more befitting of an apocalyptic rave in the aforementioned Wachowski siblings’ film. Or causing bodies to gurn on the blood-drenched dance floor of Blade.
However, if this were to soundtrack a sinister trip into the Pope’s basement, it would be a fair bet to say that malevolence is sign-posted around every corner. And with aeons of skeletal sin gracelessly buried within dank, subterranean, closets, it is of little surprise that beneath St. Peter’s Square be considered a ghastly and rancorous place in which unmeasured evil lurks.