V/A – AL – 100th Anniversary

Already the third special compilation released by the Czech label Horus CyclicDaemon. After the relatively modest “Chaos” and the luxurious “Lust from the Underworld”, this time it’s another spectacular compilation: “AL”, dedicated to the 100 year old “Liber AL vel legis” the Book of the Law)”, the classic esoteric work by the enigmatic Aleister Crowley.

25 artists were asked to contribute a song inspired by Crowley or using his texts. The double cd comes in a splendid large box, with contains a fold-out digipack with the two discs, a poster with the cover artwork on larger format and an A5 glossy booklet, with information about the songs. Though the discs you see the magickal number of 666 copies, the number of the Great Beast, the release is limited to 418 numbered copies.

There are no Crowleyian texts included or long analyses, which you might expect. The booklet only contains a short, but pleasant to read introduction by Carl Abrahamsson about Crowley and his Book of the Law, apparently “a message from cosmic forces, declaring a new age of will, love and endless creative possibilities”.

It’s not surprising that the music on this compilation has a dark, ritual character. Many bands employ a dark ambient or neo-classical sound, with some folk and medieval elements. Almost all material is exclusive to this release. You could encounter many of the artists involved on the previous Horus CyclicDaemon compilations.

On Disc 1 the collaboration between The Soil Bleeds Black and Psychonaut 75 as Hexentanz is a striking track, an overwhelming orchestral composition with ritual percussion and alternating male and female spoken word. A slow and shimmering, mysterious piece with female vocals is brought by Duparc, the new project of Carlos Boll (The Mystery School). While Angels Watch contributes his typical brand of dark folk on “Walpurgis Night’, a track originally included on a 1988 cassette release. Genesis P. Orridge could not fail on a compilation like this, he delivers his spoken words on top of an interesting musical tapestry weaven by Cotton Ferox. Atrium Carceri proves once again to be one of the better dark ambient creators. The piece by Belborn is typical for their sound, a starightforward acoustic piece with clearly articulated vocals. The other, mostly neo-classical tracks, by the likes of Encryption, Unto Ashes, Za Frumi and Abnocto are decent, atmopsheric compositions.

Disc two has in general a darker, more ritual and experimental sound. Hadit, the project related to Mondblut, convinces me with an electronical, haunting piece. Silence & Strength, an unknown project for me, has a very dark and ritual track with spoken words, strongly reminding me of Endura. The Circus of the Scars contributes a nice hypnotizing, somewhat psychedelic soundscape. Ah-Cama Sotz really sounds dense and deep, while Chaos as Shelter gets me in their spell with a long droning soundscape. Satorii makes things more bombastic with a heavy martial composition in the way of In Slaughter Natives. Other ritual soundscapes, by the likes of This Morn Omina, Artefactum and 4th sign of the apocalypse are also solid spherical pieces.

In short, a dark and varied compilation, with a high quality of music and a splendid packaging. Really worth obtaining, even if you don’t have plans to practice any Crowleyian rituals…

artist: V/A
label: Horus CyclicDaemon
details: 2cd box, 2005, 416 copies