Canadian Black Metal maestros ‘The Projectionist’, featuring members of The Black Sorcery and masterminded by the inimitable Lörd Matzigkeitus performing his myriad of voices once again, return with their fifth full length and second opera, the conceptual ‘The Stench of Amalthia’.
Words: Jools Green
Like its predecessor, ‘Visits from the Nighthag (Parts 1 and 2)’, it follows a storyline in the form of a play with characters, but in a Black Metal format. It has some spoken scene setting elements to help form the mental picture amongst the music, making it a sinister theatrical affair.
Lörd Matzigkeitus, is joined once again by Parageist, Ghast, Destroyer and Malphas, along with Aven Haunts as Amalthia and Evelyn, and Caeser Tiberius as Dr. Bendix.
The plot this time focuses on “An aged, dying former Film Noire starlet, Amalthia Grahame, isolated in her palatial home. Her physician, Dr. Bendix, sends a young nurse named Evelyn to tend to Amalthia’s final days, as a live-in nurse for palliative care. When left alone with the old withering actress, gruesome and macabre events unfold to wield death, torture and satanic forces against the poor fragile Nurse… and all who’d call upon the Mansion looking for her”.
‘The Stench of Amalthia’ is a very different listen from most Black Metal albums, mostly from the previously mentioned storyline format. Consisting of ten acts, all set to a raw and acerbic Black Metal backdrop throughout, which is brutal but straightforward. Anything too complex and convoluted would muddy up this already complex work, and there is plenty of complexity within the vocal arrangements.
There are also, alongside sung and spoken elements, small amounts of necessary soundbites to help develop your mental picture.
My biggest surprise was that I had expected Dr. Bendix’s continued involvement in the plot, after his dubious appearance in ‘Visits from the Nighthag’, to become more sinister than was apparent previously. However it turns out he also falls foul to the powers of evil himself this time. Things clearly are not always as one expects.
Onto the plot and the acts. Opening on ‘Withering’, with its scene setting intro of spoken word, finds Amalthia Grahame reflecting over her life’s past glories and fading vitality. Whilst Dr Bendix arranges her palliative care, ‘Sepulchral Oak Door’ heralds the arrival of Nurse Evelyn.
In ‘Covetous’, Amalthia plots to syphon the vitality from Nurse Evelyn and in ‘Summoning Transference’ Amalthia calls upon Astaroth to facilitate the transfer of the unknowing nurse’s strength and vitality.
‘The Weakening’ shows Amalthia growing stronger as Nurse Evelyn grows weaker. ‘A Startling Housecall’ sees Dr. Bendix receiving a call from a weakened Evelyn. He visits Amalthia’s residence to find her strangely rejuvenated and youthful, while on ‘Exuberance Contorts an Evil Dr. Bendix finds Amalthia amidst party guests who, when brushed by, dissolve in a ghostlike manner. The furious Amalthia chokes and renders unconscious Dr. Bendix,.
Then on ‘Flayed’, Dr. Bendix awakes, bound and naked. He is sacrificed to Astaroth and his dying realisation is that he has met Amalthia before – She is the Nighthag.
‘Perfumes’ continues, with the Doctor now dead and Amalthia, having lavished herself in one of her fine perfumes, turns her attention to the final ritual. Draining and dispensing with the withered Nurse Evelyn.
‘Forsaken O’Clock’, the album monster at ten and a half minutes, begins with a minute and a half haunting opener, reminiscent of the chimes of a clock. It then switches up to an intense Black Metal delivery, but with a haunting leaning. It finds Amalthia rejuvenated and enjoying a return to fame and the silver screen – until She, the witch, the Nighthag, is recalled by Astaroth.
The bonus track is a cover of ‘Death and Honor’, from the 2005 ‘Imperial Grand Strategy’ album by Canadian Black Metal warmongers ‘Operation Winter Mist’ (who also featured the talents of Dreadnought/Ghast). As well as here and in The Black Sorcery, it is a dirtier and more acerbic version, but equally as good as the original. It is good to hear a different slant on such a great track.
The Stench of Amalthia is available on CD and cassette formats via Moribund Records.
A challenging but hugely rewarding listen that conjures some wonderfully evil mental imagery. It is a hugely evocative and rewarding listen and a refreshing change from the standard format of Black Metal.