The wait will soon be over for Kristof Bathory’s return to Industrial Electronic music, marked by the debut album of new project Bornless Fire, entitled ‘Arcanum’. There have been work-in-progress clips and musical teasers on social media for months now and for fans of Dawn of Ashes, especially those craving Kristof’s purely electronic material, the anticipation has been steadily growing leading up to the release. So, having finally got my chance to listen through the material, was it worth the wait? In short, a resounding yes… but let’s get into the detail.
Firstly, it’s quite obvious that this project has benefitted from the change in musical direction of Dawn of Ashes, which has broadened and enriched Kristof’s creativity, both musically and lyrically. There is a contextual maturity about the album as a complete package, especially where KB’s interests in the Left Hand Path & Divine Magick are concerned. I’m glad to see this released under a new name, as it definitely speaks to the listener on a different level to any of the Dawn of Ashes material, both old and new – it’s dark, deep, ritualistic and like the title, it’s arcane!
‘Genesis’ provides a superb monolithic opening sequence, with an industrialised Coldwave-meets-Dark Ambient vibe, leading into first song ‘Emerging From The Void’, which opens with a grinding, mechanically rhythmic refrain and choral samples. The use of double-time tempo changes are used to great effect in this song and is a technique that features heavily throughout this album. In addition, the brooding bassline balances well against an ethereal lead synth, enhancing the dark mood.
More heavy, crunched & distorted percussive elements feature in ‘Feel The Rage’, which is arguably the most accessible song on this release. This will most likely appeal to fans of club-friendly Aggrotech / Harsh-Elektro and although I’m trying to avoid the inevitable comparisons, there are similarities to the early electronic Dawn Of Ashes material, though not entirely. Yes it’s particularly sinister, thanks to the use of the minor Aeolian Mode, it’s intense and it’s also aggressive, especially where the vocals are concerned, however, rather than over-treating them as is the case with a plethora of the harsh electronic acts, this track features a more natural Death/Black Metal growl style, which I definitely prefer.
‘RUNA’ is very intriguing, with its decadent Darkwave pads and hypnotic leads mixed with heavy Industrialised percussion. There is a slight hint of DOA’s ‘Still Born Defect’ in here, but more surprisingly I can also hear an almost Diary Of Dreams vibe to the music, in particular the songs of DOD’s ‘MenschFeind’ album. It may not grab attention immediately, but I’m finding this song increasingly infectious and it’s quickly becoming a song with the most replay value.
Crushing, brutal electronics meet heavily atmospheric passages in the grinding, downtempo track ‘Emblem Of Belial’. As the track progresses the percussive elements become the central focus, accompanied by a deep, buzzing bassline. Continuing the theme of low-vibrational frequencies is ’Sex Magick’, with its almost guttural bellowing of the bass synth and seductive lyrics. The deep, droning tone of the music emphasises the primal, somewhat lower-astral tendencies of the subject matter.
Another of my favourite tracks is ’Leech’. This downtempo song’s focus is heavily geared towards chord progressions and harmonic structure, creating a richer soundscape & melodic tapestry. Kristof’s 80s/early-90s influence can be heard in the vintage synth bass & lead melodies, producing a sound in the vain of John Carpenter and Brad Fiedel. In contrast to this, the low growling vocals play off against high-toned screeches to great effect.
‘Eclipse Of The Soul’ is the first song to be promoted prior to the album’s release and is a good example of how this project has incorporated influences from various Electronic genres, from classic Industrial to the more recently popular Synthwave sound. The snappy, distorted snare and dark choral synth pads fit perfectly in tandem with the vintage synth sounds and a sublime arpeggio lead. All this is combined with Kristof’s interests in the esoteric, represented in his lyrics and the overall ritualistic vibe of the song.
Drawing towards the close is penultimate album track ‘The Miserable Image of Abrahamic Slavery’. Uneasy, ominous synth flutters & sinister staccato strings, together with downtempo & double-time blast-beat percussion make for a dramatic atmosphere. Fitting nicely within the context of spiritualism, this track features a reading of an excerpt from famed British occultist Austin Osman Spare’s automatic writing ‘The Anathema of Zos: The Sermon to the Hypocrites’ – a wonderfully purposeful choice of material.
Cold, depressive string pads and eerie synths dominate the first half of final track ‘Becoming The Divine’, before giving way to a steely, mechanical drone. It’s a melting-pot of Dark Ambient ‘Cold Meat Industry’ atmosphere and the crushing brutalism of harsh, grinding percussion, resulting in, by far, the most unsettling track on the album… and if the instrumentals aren’t enough, the interview sample outlining the understanding of the Laws & Principles of Satanism, played over the top of a mostly intangible ritualistic mantra, should hit the mark.
One of the surprises on this album, given the club-centric approach musicians have on many Industrial & EBM albums, is that there are very few “danceable” tracks, as it favours mid and down-tempo stompers instead. I personally have no complaints about this at all, as the focus leaning towards atmosphere and an engaging subject matter is what has been maintaining my interest during the multiple play-throughs, rather than songs that are deliberately catering to mass dance floor appeal. That said, ‘Feel The Rage’ will please the club-centric crowd and with two remix tracks to complete the set, the first by Tactical Sekt and followed by Suicide Commando, it acts as a little extra added value for the aggro fans.
Well, this album’s release will be just the start of what will be a busy 2018 for Kristof and Co, as we’re just days removed from a huge video announcement regarding mixing more of Dawn Of Ashes’ early Aggrotech sound into their current Industrial Black Metal style, plans for the next DOA album and a host of ‘oldschool’ and ‘mixed-era’ DOA tours. Personally, Arcanum is a fantastic debut under the Bornless Fire banner and I look forward to seeing how Kristof’s plans for the year ahead will unfold, especially the next musical instalments from both of these equally brilliant projects.
VIDEO: Bornless Fire – Eclipse Of The Soul (Official Lyric Video)