I'm trying to think of an artist who sounds as evil as, or even more evil than Dominik Fernow right now, and I can't. The champion of abrasive, industrial noise in recent years has a career that is as spread-out, foul-smelling and shapeless as a big vomit stain on the pavement, and it becomes increasingly necessary to find out what the composition of the infected material that is his music is. Hiding behind countless aliases (most importantly, of course, Prurient, which he has been using for his most ardent releases for over a decade, most recently on the double cassette featuring over two hours of uncontrollable noise, entitled “Oxidation”, released by Hospital Productions earlier this year), Fernow's newest release is under the name Vatican Shadow. Of all of Fernow's solo and group work, not counting his contributions to Cold Cave, Vatican Shadow might be his most accessible project, where the rhythm is as important as the layers of distortion, an introduction perhaps to last year's “Bermuda Drain”— all the more reason to give his most warlike alias a second chance.
The result of his obsession with all things military (artwork representing soldiers from the latest Iraq war, and titles like this “Iraqi Praetorian Guard”), Vatican Shadow is like a march to the frontline, with all weapons aimed and firing at the enemy at the same time. The vinyl reissued a few weeks ago by Type Records, “Kneel Before Religious Icons”, was originally released as a cassette in 2011; the two tracks now recovered by Blackest Ever Black go back even further, to Vatican Shadow's first tape, “Byzantine Private CIA” (Hospital Productions, 2010). “Cairo Sword Unsheathed” is pure psychological terror, the reflection of pre-battle fear in a rotten brand of ambient, while “Gunmen With Silencer” is another screeching nightmare that slithers like a serpent and wraps itself around your feet. The two tracks are a perfect match with Blackest Ever Black's policy of terror, where every release is a psychological attack. The only new piece, possibly the best track on the single, is “Church Of All Images”, remixed by Regis, the perfect reflection of Kiran Sande's label: techno in the midst of convulsions, cold and clinical, hard like granite, surrounded by spirits from hell, in a chilling atmosphere. If you're fascinated by evil, you need this record.