SPK - Leichenschrei (1982), 8/10

Thinking of Leichenschrei as a waking nightmare yields best results. This nightmarish feeling is a motif fully explored to its extremes, to an extent that few other experiments have achieved, if any, and certainly not with such engaging and deeply satisfying sonic qualities. The samples can be jarring and chilling, even bloodcurdling, so listener beware. The instrumentals are brutal, metallic and tinny, even painfully panicking. They also give off a surprisingly hefty quality at times, transcending industrial noise to cultivate a superbly dissentient sound. While not every idea here is fully rounded out against and in comparison to each other, they all evoke truly forceful emotions, albeit unsettling ones. There is still the foundational violence inherent in industrial music, but it takes on an altogether new quality with the onslaught of building and swaying insanity in its atmosphere. It could be the soundtrack to a nightmarish horror film, an abstract loss of consciousness, of rule-less trench warfare, or a hopeless expedition in the unrelentingly arid landscape of hell, demon grunts and all. Clearly requires an open mind and a battered soul, but reveals a new depth and breadth of sound with each listen. Rarely have such horribly gratifying sounds been put to tape. Certainly not the feel good album for your summer barbecue, more like the soundtrack to a batshit crazy orgy or of painfully intimate desolation and hysterical psychosis. All of this is secondary to Leichenschrei’s qualities as a simply captivating album. Yes it is depraved and mad, but anything can be those things; Leichenschrei has a special narration to its horror that makes it endlessly engaging and entrancing, a distinction, to my ear, rarely achieved in industrial or dark ambient music.