Written by: Izzy
In the world of extreme music, Prurient should be a household name by now. Dominick Fernow is an exceptionally prolific artist within the ecosystem of noise and industrial, and ever since what I would consider his magnum opus, Frozen Niagara Falls, was released on Profound Lore Records, his crossover amongst metal fans I’d say is bigger than ever.
Even for myself, long before I dove headfirst into the world of noise music, Prurient was a name I recognized, and after taking the plunge into his intimidatingly vast discography I came out with a deep love for his work. Even fifteen albums in and I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I find so much joy in trudging through his diverse work, and every album is something different and new. Dominick is many things, but a one-trick-pony is not one of them.
The album in question today is his latest endeavor, Casablanca Flamethrower. Mr. Fernow has always been a big fan of the dark and brooding--even in his harshest works is an air of anguish and despondency--but in this case he colours this album with one of his favourite musical palettes: that of death industrial. The moodiness and atmosphere of dark ambient melting together with the anger and invective of power electronics. However, even for death industrial, this is an especially atmospheric album, leaning heavily into its passages of dark ambient and drone. In it’s 75 minute runtime, much of it is winding passages of subdued mechanical noise with distorted, unintelligible murmuring and muttering vocals, occasionally veering off into more vicious soundscapes, but you’ll mostly just be enjoying the crackling, sinister auditory textures Prurient has created through this project.
So let’s say you’re a veteran metalhead. you’ve listened to a lot, Darkthrone to Dragonforce, Mastodon to Meshuggah, Cryptopsy to Celtic Frost. If so, I highly urge you to dig a bit into noise and industrial music if you are unfamiliar, ask some friends for recommendations, search some good beginner albums, watch Deep Cuts wonderful videos on how to get into industrial and power electronics. The reason I’m starting by making this recommendation is that I don’t think Casablanca Flamethrower is a great place to start. It’s far from a bad album, even calling it disappointing would be a stretch, but for a seasoned artist like Prurient it just does not stand out. There are at least five Prurient albums I’d much rather be reviewing, and probably twenty more on top of that which I haven’t even heard yet. So it’s perhaps worse than disappointing if you look at it through a certain pessimistic lense: it’s unmemorable.
But I also don’t want to bog down this review with negativity because my overall opinion on this album as an isolated work is a positive one! What I enjoy most about Casablanca Flamethrower is how it physically feels to listen, these kind of textured, gently crackling and rumbling soundscapes are pure bliss to my ears. I can’t say the mood it creates is unique or it uses any exciting methods in the creation of its soundscapes, but gosh darnit it’s just not an album I can dislike. It just also isn’t up to par with Prurient’s more engaging projects.
And my biggest complaints are really just noisehead nitpicking: the dynamics between the quiet and loud moments are kinda weak, the noise isn’t particularly harsh and doesn’t really command your attention, and while the ambient is sinister it isn’t very exceptional, this is essential an album of solidly produced music made by an extraordinary musician, so while I cannot recommend it if you aren’t already a fan of Prurient, I would not stop you from listening to it if you really wanted to.
Because that’s one of the beautiful things about noise, in a genre, scene, whatever you may call it, as dense and impenetrable and with few clear points of entry, much of the time you just see a cool album and put it on with no clue what you’re getting into, simply because you liked the band name, or the album art, or because it just has some indescribable quality about it that lures you to it. If Casablanca Flamethrower is that album for you, go nuts, have fun.
Prurient - Casablanca Flamethrower was released March 31st, 2020 from Tesco
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!