buy this item on itunes
buy this item on emusic

act 115 · azure skies · cd

tracklist:
crater, deniability, hydrazine, collapse, in eclipse, bring nothing back, still, forward contamination, water-tree-stone

if you have known ant-zen for a long time then it is possible that you also remember the 'xerosma' vinyl compilation album (which has been deleted for many years). this compilation contained a track by a totally unknown project named azure skies and now four years later we finally have the first full-length album.

azure skies is a collaboration between members of the well-known swedish projects mental destruction and sanctum. mental destruction's roughness is combined with the melodic varieties of sanctum, and the result is an astonishing mixture. metallic percussion lines, droning distorted rhythmic walls of sound, dark melodies, sometimes eruptive vocals and more make this album remarkable. it is a new breeze on the industrial dance floor as well as an amazing listening experience for those at home (especially after a hard day's work).

on the official azure skies website an exclusive live track can be downloaded for free.

dark walls of sound, metal percussion, harsh post-industrial rhythms combined with touching melodies

additional info: www.ant-zen.com/azureskies

reviews:

recycle your ears
we had had to wait a long time for mental destruction "all flesh is grass / come armaggeddon" 7", and sanctum's second studio album is still in the making, but here comes another offering from these two bands, in the form of the surprising come-back of azure skies, who had been silent since the very old "xerosma" compilation on ant zen. and by the way, to explain why i write here about mental destruction and sanctum, and because it is not stated in the booklet of this cd, i should precise that azure skies is a band created by the durling brothers (mental destruction) as well as the two male members of sanctum. even though everybody would have thought that such a cd would come on on cold meat industry, it is ant zen who released this debut album. and this was a nice idea, since this is one of the very best, and probably the most unexpected release of this label this year. those of you who have the good taste of knowing both mental destruction and sanctum will have no trouble understanding what i mean by this short description of azure skies's sound: the raw beats and sound of mental destruction running enriched by sanctum's catchiness, recording talent and touching melodies. the other will have to imagine a very raw and crunchy beat (noisy but controlled) being played not in long technoid loops, but more in a real drumming / ethnic kind of way (am i the only one reminded of memorandum by the track "deniability"?). the result doesn't sound club-friendly at all, and who be more on the headbanging side. original and fresh sounding, this noisy sound is very catchy and hyponotizing, and more "powerful" than most of the overdriven basses used in rhythmic noise. additionnally, azure skies have added melodies to their sounds, for example the very touching piano line that appears in the midts of "hydrazine"'s echoed drones. reminding a lot of sanctum's best emotional tracks, this is a very efficient way of offering not only noise and beats, but also a beautiful and dream-inducing side to this very balanced cd. and this is for part where lies the success and talent of azure skies: with these nine tracks, these four musicians have manage the tour de force of writing an intellingent sounding album that dwells somewhere between the rougness of power electronics and the emotion of death industrial, but never falls in any cliché, and keeps on sounding fresh, original and, most of all, moving. my it be the crushing "crater", the very melancholic "hydrazine", the violent "bring nothing back" (the only track to really feature vocals, apart from some shouts on "collapse" and the female whispered words of "still"), or the cold soundscapes of "in eclipse"), this cd is definitely a success. it is not a mystery that i am a fan of both sanctum and mental destruction. therefore, i was expecting a lot from azure skies, and i haven't been disappointed. this is from its first to its last second a very powerful, intelligent and measured album. here is another proof that these swedes are very talented, and that you can trust them to always deliver extremely good albums. this one blew me away. (nicolas)

propaganda (sweden)
in the industrial circles of jonkoping they move slowly forward. mental destruction took five years to follow up their last album with the single reviewed in last issue. and sanctum has still not come with a complete follower to their debut from 1996. during these these times of wait both bands joined forces, when the durling brothers from mental destruction and janne and palle from sanctum started to create music together under the name azure skies. one track found its way to an obscure compilation four years ago, but nothing else has been heard though it for a long time has been rumours of a full lenght album. but now the debut is a fact and it is just as good as one only could hope judging from the members old merits. here distorted concrete rhythms are blended with sensitive rhythms, cold electronics side by side with moving piano and string arrangements, and i realise as when you like these gentlemens view their musicianship as something being carefully crafted rather than massproduction, the process must take its time. and it's only then when all pieces can find its place and the result be as strong as this.

seven
azure skies is a new project comprised of members of mental destruction and sanctum, and if you are familiar enough with both projects, you will be able to see traces of each in the music of azure skies. yet another project that immediately came up to my mind is parca pace, the music of the latter is yet another stylistically similar output of sanctum. azure skies is a pleasant surprise on today's noise scene that seems to be overrun by those that are finally jumping on the bandwagon, exploiting similar ideas again and again. azure skies provides a refreshing sound collage, intensely dark, layered atmosphere somewhere in between heavy dark ambient and saturated rhythmic textures.
azure skies is one of those projects that is able to make a step beyond simple sound manipulation, carefully composing the music that actually takes you somewhere. i was thoroughly impressed by the way the tracks are structured on this cd - these constant transitions, when suffocating layers of dark ambient are replaced by churning and grinding percussion that steadily develops into crunchy, aggressive workout, only later to be replaced by moments of tranquility filled with strings and small static bursts. this contrast of fragility and dark aggression is never corny or artificial-sounding, the flaw that often plagues many newcomers in the genre. take opening "crater," an absolute favorite of mine. it opens with incredible atmospheric interlude where simple melancholic string progressions are contrasted by dark corroded rumbling on the background. fading vocal samples, little hisses of static and myriad of other elements add a nice touch of eerie uneasiness and chaos to the track. it steadily develops alternating between dense aural soundscapes, almost monumental in their composition, it strikes with layered percussion textures, never losing this peculiar sense of melancholy and abandonment. yet another excellent track, "hydrazine," is an example of exceptional composition, as it flows from pulsating, nightmarish layered chaos of dark ambient to more rhythmic and aggressive nature. mechanized hydraulic noises, distant processed voice samples, a keyboard line, at first startling, and then perfectly fitting - all those elements work out perfectly, creating this strange haunting mix of structured atmospheric music. what attracts me the most on this cd is its heaviness, that is achieved without overusing percussion. bass-saturated textures are overlaid with frequencies, strings, samples, slowly evolving percussion textures that vary from crunchy and aggressive ons to hollow, carefully placed beats, building almost hypnotic mysterious atmosphere. at the same time the music is very emotional, an effect that is rarely achieved in the genre. it took me some time to get over the initial feel that i always had about sanctum - this raw nature of sound that makes you think it's underproduced, muddied. i guess once i got used to that, and got over the vocals, that at times was way too prominent for me, i was able to truly enjoy the diversity and style of this release.
all in all, i would definitely recommend this to anyone that has an appreciation for dark orchestrated post-industrial soundscapes - be it heavily layered dark ambient, or aggressive rhythmic textures.

discover
blau scheint der himmel über den köpfen von azure skies nicht zu sein. und wenn, so besitzt dieses blau einen charakter, der geradezu brachial genannt werden kann. die sich in überwältigenden wellen aufeinanderfolgender klangkaskaden und sich übereinander schiebenden frequenzen bilden wände, die keine noch so gewaltige ansammlung sich im aggregatzustand des dampfes befindlichen wassers, genannt wolke, durchdringen könnte und selbst der sprichwörtlich stete tropfen kann kaum die flächen höhlen. einzig und allein ein piano (track 3 - "hydrazine") scheint sich dieser grenze zu widersetzen und bei zeiten seine töne durch die maschen zu drängen. lauschen kann man dieser gewalt dennoch mit der betrachtung eines blauen himmels ähnlicher geruhsamkeit, sofern man stahlharte nerven besitzt. (carsten bäumer)

black 26
boah, wer hätte das noch gedacht - fast acht jahre nach der legendären "xerosma"-compilation-lp (ant zen act 11), auf welcher der track "rise" von azure skies enthalten war, erscheint jetzt das debüt des geheimnisvollen projektes aus dem hohen norden, welches sich aus mitgliedern der schwedischen cold meat industry-bands sanctum und mental destruction rekrutieren soll. leider birgt die cd keine infos oder genauere angaben zu den beteiligten musikern, aber der brachiale sound spricht eigentlich für sich. spiralförmig sich windende noiseströme, schroffe ambienttupfer, zerrige rhythmen, verschachtelte beats und dämonisch nordische vocals treffen hier auf dunkle cello-streicher und melancholische klavierakorde. für fans der sich in den letzten jahren leider sehr rar machenden mental destruction und sanctum ist auf jeden fall etwas dabei, aber auch ohne die links nach schweden dürfte die cd ihre berechtigung haben. ein wirklich hartes wie phantastisches album, auf welches man schon lange bei cold meat industry vergebens gewartet hat! (m.f.)

side-line #39
azure skies redefine delicate harshness. comprised of members of swedish mainstays of the cold meat industries periphery, namely mental destruction and sanctum, they astound with a mixture which seems, judging from the description alone, hardly palatable, but upon first listen instantly grabs your attention. distorted drones meet symphonic melodies, grating beats are juxtaposed with ethereal instruments and gentle spoken word fragments, metallic reverberation wafts across dark ambient plateaus, will-like vocals and orchestral grandeur clash with hypnotic semi-industrial rhythms. the beats and distorted sounds drag you along powerfully whereas the bitter-sweet melodies radiate introverted beauty. "forward contamination" is one of the track titles and i am wholly and gratefully contaminated. this is really a most enticing, diverse and original mixture for both industrial and ambient fans and i hope this collaboration is not limited to a one-off album. i find myself reaching for this one again and again. (till)

legacy
treuen anhängern des kultigen ant-zen labels könnte der name azure skies noch von der längst vergriffenen vinyl-compilation "xerosma" bekannt sein, welche schon einige jährchen auf dem buckel hat. nun meldet sich dieses projekt, welches aus kreativen köpfen der schwedischen brachial-elektroniker mental destruction sowie musikern der ebenfalls aus schweden stammenden sanctum besteht, nach langer abstinenz mit einem ersten longplayer zurück. es wäre zu einfach, dieses debut als reine verschmelzung des sanft anmutenden sounds von sanctum und der kompromižlosen härte von mental destruction zu umschreiben, wenn es auch die sache im kern trifft. vielmehr treffen hier zunächst vielleicht widersinnig erscheinende sounds aufeinander und ergiežen sich in einem zündenden potpourri aus dark ambient-soundwänden, unterkühlter percussion, harschen rhythmen und sanft umschmeichelnden melodien. gerade diese wilde mixtur macht den reiz dieser klangreise aus, die eher zum entspannen als zum tanzen einlädt. auch gesang- bzw. sprach-samples wurden sporadisch integriert. schon der opener 'crater' zeigt azure skies von der schokoladenseite. die verträumte ambient-atmosphäre, unterstützt durch pulsierende rhythmik, wird immer wieder durch heftigste, apokalyptische industrial-einschübe im stil von p.a.l. durchsetzt. es ist einfach grandios, in das wechselspiel von beklemmender düsternis und beschwingter chill-out-atmosphäre einzutauchen. auch wenn man sich wie bei 'hydrazine' eher von der ruhigen seite zeigt, verlieren die songs nicht an spannung. grož! die offizielle azure skies-webseite www.ant-zen.com/azureskies bietet übrigens einen kostenlosen live-track zum downloaden. (pk)

orkus 12/2001
wieder ein neues projekt am tiefblauen industrial-himmel? nicht ganz. es ist zwar im grunde ein neues projekt, aber hinter azure skies stecken beileibe keine genre-neueinsteiger. keine geringeren als diverse mitglieder der bekannten schwedischen bands sanctum und mental destruction zeichnen für diesen eindrucksvollen silberling verantwortlich. das schon seit längerer zeit vor sich hin köchelnde projekt vereint beide bands mit ihren unterschiedlichen stilrichtungen unter einem dach. die detailverliebt wie gewalttätig daherkommenden noiseloops und diabolisch verzerrten gesangseinlagen scheinen direkt dem mental destruction kosmos entnommen zu sein, wohingegen die klassik-anleihen, die düsteren flächensounds und die monoton rituelle rhythmik eher der mannschaft von sanctum zuzuschreiben sein dürfte. azure skies klingen keineswegs so seziert wie sich diese beschreibung anhören mag. die einflüsse beider bands vereinen sich nahtlos zu einem rhythmisch-meditativen klangteppich, der sich mit seiner apokalyptischen atmosphäre hervorragend als soundtrack machen würde. obwohl das gesamtbild eher auf atmosphäre setzt, gibt es doch ein paar tracks, die auch den gemeinen clubfloor kräftig zum kochen bringen dürften. azure skies verzichten dabei allerdings auf die genretypischen techno-einflüsse und trotzdem klingen sie alles andere als langweilig oder altbacken. industrial - ritual - ambient vom feinsten, aber was würde man auch sonst aus dem dunstkreis von cold meat industry erwarten. (alexander maciol)

necropolis
la verdad es que si me guío por la información que aparece en el libreto del cd que nos ocupa poco voy a averiguar de este nuevo proyecto musical. al venir del sello ant zen ya me imagino que su línea es la industrial y concretamente en su vertiente más rítmica. pero al oír el cd me llevo una sorpresa increíble, me encuentro con un sonido denso, potente. un trabajo lleno de fuerza de percusiones potentes, eso si siempre electrónicas y distorsionadas. a medida que oigo el cd una y otra vez mis sospechas sobre el origen de los componentes se hace cada vez más fuertes. es muy difícil que músicos noveles sean capaz de llegar a este nivel compositivo, dentro de esta vertiente del industrial, sin llegar a parecer monótonos y repetitivos. con la gran cantidad de grupos que hay en esta vertiente es muy difícil lo que ha conseguido as. después de investigar un poco, averiguo que mis sospechas eran totalmente ciertas. el grupo está compuesto por miembros de otras bandas, pero no de bandas cualquiera, sino de dos de las más importantes que ha habido en los últimos tiempos. la primera "mental destruction", una banda ya mítica dentro de los sonidos dark industrial, y que llevaba ya mucho tiempo ( exceptuando un trabajo de tres temas publicado por este mismo sello) haciéndose de rogar para sacar un nuevo álbum. la segunda "sanctum", la banda sueca que nos sorprendió a todos con aquel maravilloso "lupus in fabula", pero por desgracia hacia ya también bastantes aľos que no nos sorprendían con nuevo material ( sin tener en cuenta aquel malogrado directo en new york). pero como no hay mal que por bien no venga, ambas nos han regalado este joya, que bien se podría enclavar en una mezcla entre un 30% de sanctum y un 70% de mental destruction. es difícil destacar un tema ya que el álbum es como una obra global, que no merece ser despiezada, sencillamente debe ser disfrutada como lo que es, un buen trabajo de lo que esperemos que se convierta en una sólida banda.

the new empire
what happens if cold meat industry meets ant zen? the result might be an album like azure skies. it is a collaboration between mental destruction and sanctum with a very unique sound that cannot be called typical for an ant-zen release. dark, threatening and orchestral parts combined with slowly grinding noise-rhythms: a promising mixture. already the first track on the album, "crater" convinced me with its rough rhythm-structure and the spherical, almost melancholic sound-carpets. another track with a lot of good elements is the powerful "forward contamination" with a very oppressing atmosphere. very remarkable is also "hydrazine" with over 8 minutes duration and a very sad, melancholic piano! the use of classic instruments like the piano or a cello gives this album an incredible intensity and brings the rough ambient/industrial-sound to a new level. i don't know another album i could azure skies compare to. this album is a very interesting ant zen-release with a lot of interesting surprises in store! if you are bored of pure noise, azure skies will fascinate you. the clever arrangements go far beyond what an average album in this genre can offer you. a real listening-pleasure! (toxin)

l'ame electrique #2 november 2001
hell, fuck, what's the matter in this page ? so far we've got three collaboration cds! yes, a.s. is a project formed by members of sanctum and mental destruction! you are right, they are both swedish and belong to a totally different genre - until now. in this cd, nevertheless, they leave their dreadful cmi soundscapes behind to seek new... dreadful soundscapes again, but from a different angle. sounds like a journey through a devastated machineland, built on extra-powerful beats and excellent vocals in various styles. my personal favourites were 'hydrazine', 'bring nothing back' and 'water tree stone' but i believe that the entire cd is magnificent. (monsieur x)

legacy #06/2001
treuen anhängern des kultigen ant-zen labels könnte der name azure skies noch von der längst vergriffenen vinyl-compilation 'xerosma' bekannt sein, welche schon einige jährchen auf dem buckel hat. nun meldet sich dieses projekt, welches aus kreativen köpfen der schwedischen brachial-elektroniker mental destruction sowie musikern der ebenfalls aus schweden stammenden sanctum besteht, nach langer abstinenz mit einem ersten longplayer zurück. es wäre zu einfach, dieses debut als reine verschmelzung des sanft anmutenden sounds von sanctum und der kompromižlosen härte von mental destruction zu umschreiben, wenn es auch die sache im kern trifft. vielmehr treffen hier zunächst vielleicht widersinnig erscheinende sounds aufeinander und ergiežen sich in einem zündenden potpourri aus dark ambient-soundwänden, unterkühlter percussion, harschen rhythmen und sanft umschmeichelnden melodien. gerade diese wilde mixtur macht den reiz dieser klangreise aus, die eher zum entspannen als zum tanzen einlädt. auch gesangs- bzw. sprach-samples wurden sporadisch integriert. schon der opener 'crater' zeigt azure skies von der schokoladenseite. die verträumte ambient-atmosphäre, unterstützt durch pulsierende rhythmik, wird immer wieder durch heftigste, apokalyptische industrial-einschübe im stil von p.a.l durchsetzt. es ist einfach grandios, in das wechselspiel von beklemmender düsternis und beschwingter chill-out-atmosphäre einzutauchen. auch wenn man sich wie bei 'hydrazine' eher von der ruhigen seite zeigt, verlieren die songs nicht an spannung. grož! die offizielle azure skies-webseite bietet übrigens einen kostenlosen live-track zum downloaden. (pk)

der medienkonverter
das label ant-zen ist bekannt für aužergewöhnliche musik aus den bereichen industrial/ noise. eines der jüngsten releases ist "azure skies" von gleichnamiger band. dieses neue projekt von mitgliedern der schwedischen bands sanctum und mental destruction hat dann auch einiges zu bieten. düstere klanglandschaften, unterschwellig und im hintergrund, durchsetzt von verzerrten beats und noiseloops. wohl deshalb ist azure skies in erster linie etwas für drumfreaks. was die einen als rhythmischen krach bezeichnen werden, wird andere in ekstase geraten lassen. "azure skies" schafft die äužerst perfekte gradwanderung zwischen melancholie und aggressivität. "crater", der erste track, verdeutlicht dieses zusammenspiel auf vollendete weise. beginnend mit ruhiger melodie, schaufeln die klangmaschinen unauffällig und zurückhaltend einen massiven perkussionberg immer weiter in den vordergrund. mich hat dieser song sofort begeistert. "deniability" verzichtet dafür gleich vollkommen auf melodien und wird nur von metallischen drums getragen. wahrhaft schizophren klingt "hydrazin": klavierklänge, maschinenstampfen und hintergrundecho. auch die weiteren tracks offenbaren sich mit verstörendem sound, verzerrten vocals und fast apokalyptischem koloriten. wer sich von dem sound ein bild machen will, kann auf der homepage von azure skies hörproben der ersten zwei tracks lauschen. im industrialbereich ist dieses album, meiner meinung nach, eine der besten veröffentlichungen des jahres! (veit)

moving hands
the first time i heard azure skies was when they played at maschinenfest, and to be perfectly honest, i was not very impressed. to my ears, they sounded like so much else, except for those desperate screams that were added to the music. when people started to get a hold of the album, though, it was praised for its combination of beautiful atmospheres and harsh rhythms. and since i enjoy mental destruction (azure skies is a collaboration between members of mental destruction and sanctum), i decided to give the album a second chance. the album starts out with a couple of atmospheric, dark songs, which could probably be described as typical rhythmic noise. while not as ultra-distorted or pumping - i would not even say they are danceable - as converter, for instance, they are heavy with a lot of crunchy percussion and aggression. however, anyone familiar with mental destruction and sanctum will have no problems whatsoever recognising elements from both these bands in azure skies. this project has both the coldness and distorted percussion of mental destruction, as well as the emotional touch of sanctum, with a twist of classic rhythmic noise. it is a combination that works very well in my opinion; the beautiful piano line added to the dark soundscapes of "hydrazine" or the combination of hard rhythms, neo classical and desperate vocals on "bring nothing back" are examples. overall, i establish that this is intelligent and well crafted. worth mentioning is also that it is much better produced than for example the old mental destruction albums. the only real complaint i have about this album would be that it feels as if they are held back by something, and that they could have taken the concept of making beautiful, melodic rhythmic noise even further. while a few tracks are truly excellent and very original, others are quite boring pieces of ambient noise with not much new to offer. i am however glad that i gave this album another listen, even though i might not be quite as enthusiastic as i have heard some people are. but it is a nice comeback for the people behind this project, and it is fun to see that sweden, being full of power electronics projects, also is starting to provide us with some rhythmic noise of high quality, and at the same time create something new. it is not for the dancefloor, and you might have to give it some time, but azure skies could probably please both fans of the dark industrial of cmi and the nowadays so popular distorted rhythms of labels like ant-zen. (klas molde)

spectrum magazine
being a collaborative project between members of sanctum and metal destruction, initially many individuals may have expected this to be released by cmi, but for whatever reason this has been issued via ant-zen (and even i must admit that it is quite different to the direction that this label has been pursing over the last few years). at any rate such considerations are immaterial and does nothing to detract from what is essentially a great cd. commencing with a crusty mix of noisy rhythmic loops and sweeping orchestral atmospherics the two facets of the azure skies projects are revealed - on one hand nasty and gritty, whilst on the other, beautiful and forlorn ('orchestral rhythmic industrial noise' perhaps?!). chopping between these sounds and including a hefty wack of metallic percussion, the mid paced flow of track 1 bodes very well for a solid release. even more roughly hewn, track 2 built on static lurching loops, dense rumbling elements and random noise crawls through a myriad of sections occasionally converging into some hyper rhythmic parts. being calmer in volume, the weaving noise loops of track 3 are initially offset by a fleeting piano tune that gradually fades into the recesses of the track only to make a reappearance late composition. as for the nasty rhythmic industrial side of azure skies, this is displayed in full force on track 4 with processed/ feed back vocals cyclic mid paced loops, sporadically blasting searing noise for good measure (and if this were up a notch or two it could have qualified as a power electronics track). alternately track 6 contains a brooding orchestral melody that sounds particularly 'sanctum-esque', except for the ridged and rhythmic percussion setting it apart - yet only for the heavy rasping/ shouted vocals to beg a comparison the vocal deliveries of mental destruction. presenting the most freeform piece of the cd, track 7 is a wavering and meandering industrial noise piece, whilst track 8 is initially deceptive in its dark ambient tone, only to evolve into a superb pounding rhythmic offering. all in all a damn fine cd and a positive result to the cross pollination of skill and ideals of members of two known and respected projects. (richard)

toronto industrial kollektive
this release came to me highly recommended by a number of normally-reliable sources. furthermore, azure skies is the side project of two cold meat industry[1] recording artists (mental destruction and sanctum). as such, i couldn't resist picking this release up and my expectations for it were very high indeed. the cd itself is peculiar, certainly more along the lines of ant-zen's more abstract, ambient material, and not at all recorded with the dance floor in mind. the percussion, which appears on less than half the tracks, seems almost natural both in sound and composition. distortion and feedback are used more to create texture-based atmospheres than huge, head-nodding rhythms. sometimes these atmospheres make up the entire track (such is the case with 'hydrazin' and 'still', to name two examples). probably the most striking track on the release is 'in eclipse', which features very clear, beautiful, classical sounds and natural male vox. not at all what one would expect. to be completely honest, what i did expect was a lot more from this release, especially given the number of fantastic things i've read about it. it's a nice release, and quite different than your 'typical' ant-zen production (if there really is such a thing), but even if it's atypical, it doesn't end up being very memorable. for one thing, the compositions seem very simplistic, without a lot of layers or complexity. secondly, the sounds (especially the noisier ones) end up repeating themselves quite a bit throughout the cd. sadly enough, there just isn't the depth and quality of sound or compositional mastery that i was looking for here. if you're into the slower, grindier side of ant-zen and hands, or if you could imagine getting into more meditative, 'space-ambient' music mixed with intermittent rhythms, sparse ethereal melodies and natural voices then i'd recommend that you pick this one up. but don't break open the piggy-bank for "azure skies", that's for sure. [1] swedish ambient label, home to such notables as brighter death now and raison d'etre, which has a well-deserved reputation for quality. (drew)

gnosiszine
azure skies is a project featuring members of mental destruction and sanctum, and as expected it combines the styles of the two swedish acts on this incredible hour-long journey. mental destruction provides the rhythmic base of powerful crunching industry, while sanctum creates a mist of melodic waves, combining in an incredibly contrasted effect, almost like an out of body experience. the rhythm's are harsh postindustrial crashes, while dark melodies from distant piano's and other sources join a thick droning wave, as spontaneously a harsh garbled scream will fill the air and shatter all sound. the rhythm's on this release erupt at an incredible pace, with tracks like 'deniability' taking the darkness of old school power electric's and combines this with churning rhythms. 'hydrazine' is one of the first tracks to truly stand out by this project, using a light piano in the distance, while the air is filled with a deep droning resonance, going on its own journey through metallic hell, until finally harmony is restored with a dark and brooding melody. with vast dark tracks like 'collapse', onto the violins of 'bring nothing back', azure skies tells a strange tale of loss and devastation, while often coming to its own reasoning, returning to an understanding of the sorrows involved. the whole album feels like a personal revelation, tracks like 'still' wallowing in the depths of anger and rage, with 'forward contamination' taking this to a physical attack, before 'water tree stone' finds you with a weapon in your hands, and a bleeding mess of flesh beneath. its truly hard to describe the effect azure skies has, a mixture of two unlikely and incredibly contrasted styles, taking a rage akin to mental destruction's 'straw', and a dark hymn like sanctum, and building from this base a powerful and influential release. if you're looking for dark and powerful music, look no further. (sulphur)

judas kiss
this collaboration between mental destruction and sanctum is a departure from their usual style and those of you who are familiar with these swedish acts might mumble that this is not necessarily a bad thing. but azure skies does get the best out of both projects: 'hydrazine' for instance links the angry machines of mental destruction to sanctum's melodic piano-playing and even the combination breakbeat-violin works. apart from the expected noisy wall of sound, metal percussion and sanctum's breakable acoustics, there is also room for experimentation with static drones, glitch and high/low frequencies. few vocals are used but when they do so, both bands have the common sense to distort their infamous bestial roaring beyond recognition. i guess the name is to be taken ironically because azure skies rather makes me think of dark grey clouds filled with pollution. or maybe the blue should be taken as a reference to cyanide-poisoning? (peter vercauteren)

flaming fish magazine
azure skies is a collaboration between members of sanctum and mental destruction. it's jan carleklev and hakan paulson of sanctum and samuel & david durling of mental destruction. to many this is a dream team based on their track record from the mental destruction, sanctum, november commandment, parca pace, and mago releases. azure skies is mostly instrumental music. "crater" begins with waves of static noise and rhythmic industrial percussion that slowly build into a more intense symphony when joined by a sanctum-style ambient synth melody. distant samples, possibly nasa mission control excerpts, are the only voices heard in this track but they are too quiet to decipher. towards the end of the track, very fast rolling jackhammer percussion enters the picture escalating the intensity into carefully controlled chaos. there are some meaningful pauses placed in the composition near the end to emphasize the ambient strings and to fool the listener into thinking the track is over when it really isn't. "deniability" at first alternates between harsh, slow grinding rhythmic noise and aquatic textures that sound like water drops echoing inside a large underground cavern. the noise movement changes tempo numerous times throughout from its initial slow, trudging pace to a faster, oil well drilling machine pace with liberal use of the aquatic textures. they could could have easily made this an annoying track if they went overboard with the water sounds but i don't thats the case here. "hydrazine" has a more hypnotic sound as noise textures rotate between the left and right stereo channels (listen with headphones to get the effect). a few notes from a piano helps to create a melancholy atmosphere but quickly vanishes underneath the weight of the heavy industrial activity. the track then moves into a prolonged, slow grind pace as if you were standing inside the machine shop of a factory assembly line. after a while some quirky carnival-like synth sounds enter for a few seconds for your amusement before giving way to the piano again. the track ends with over 30 seconds worth of high frequency feedback which you should watch out for if you listen to this while going to sleep. the ending part is frankly an ear sore. at over 8 minutes in length, this is one of the longer tracks on the album. "collapse" sounds closer to the mental destruction sound, with brutal machine generator noise, roaring distorted yells in the background and metal-on-metal percussion arranged in rhythmic fashion. this is one of the most intense tracks on the album and could easily have been on any of the mental destruction albums. i really like this one. "in eclipse" is more of an ambient noise drone piece, spiked with bursts of high frequency feedback. this one is reminds me of the parca pace sound to some degree but it really doesn't do much for me. i don't find it particularly memorable. "bring nothing back" is easily my favourite track on the album. if you have heard "decay" on the sanctum "new york city bluster" live album then this track is close to that, except without the guitars. lush sanctum-style cello strings are mixed with fast, industrial beats and rapid-fire distorted vocal yells. its quite catchy and could be given club play. i assume that is hakan paulson's voice in the lead, back by other members. unfortunately, this is the only track like this on the album. i would love to hear a full albums worth of songs along the lines of "decay" and "bring nothing back" someday. "still" is another slow grinder, perhaps a cross between "in eclipse" and "deniability" but without the water sounds. bits of female voice samples, speaking in german or swedish i think, are the only voices heard and remind me of the noisier tracks by the revolutionary army of the infant jesus. this track is also quite long at close to 10 minutes in length. "forward contamination" has a more orchestral flavour to it though it is buried underneath heavy layers of industrial noise textures. the final track "water, tree, stone" yet again has a slow, grinding pace to it but is not particularly memorable. azure skies is clearly a mix of elements from the sanctum, mental destruction and parca pace albums. this mix works quite well for the most part and should satisfy fans who are waiting for a new full length album from one of the member bands, at least for a while. or if you are just looking for a more real industrial sound then you should be pleased with this generous offering. (richard maaranen)

infratunes
on comprend mieux à l'écoute de "azure skies" pourquoi les deux artistes du label cold meat industry qui compose le groupe, on choisit ant-zen pour leur première production. le son est electro et très noise, offrant une place de choix au duo dans le catalogue du fameux label allemand. "crater" en est le parfait exemple. bruits saturés, percussions métalliques et mélodies fantômatiques. un mélange souvent réalisé, pas toujours réussit. ici les deux paradoxes bruits/mélodies, s'enlacent et se mettent naturellement en valeur mutuellement. "deniability" démarre sur un rythme indus énorme, puis stagne un instant en cacophonie de sons caverneux, avant de repartir de plus belle à l'assaut de nos tympans malmenés. une cohorte de sonorités sourdes et industrielles envahissent l'espace sonore durant "hydrazin", jusqu'à l'arrivée d'une mélodie de piano, triste et dénudée, venant et repartant tout au long du morceau. gros son rugueux et impénetrable, strié de cris rauques avec "collapse", puis noise-ambient pendant "in eclipse". violons symphoniques, grooves saturé et chant guerrier sur "bring nothing back", presque "rock" malgré l'absence totale d'instruments acoustiques. beaucoup plus bruitiste et abstrait, "still" fait immédiatement penser à monokrom, ce qui peut être prit ici comme un compliment. "forward contamination" débute dans un ambient sombre et sans relief, puis le rythme indus fait son retour, accompagné d'un battement de coeur difficilement assimilable à une quelconque humanité. "water, tree, stone" qui clôt l'album se veut tribal, voir martial par instant. atmosphère chargée et saturation omniprésente. encore un album intéressant dans le monde du bruit. suffisament original et réussit pour attirer l'attention. passer à côté serait un crime.

cold room
encore une petite merveille du label ant-zen, référence incontournable, faut-il le rappeler, de la scène industrielle ! sous cette pochette au design sobre et bien avare en information, se cache un univers glacial et rude décrit par des compositions dures, hachées, minimalistes et saturées auxquelles tentent de se mêler quelques notes d'un piano mélancolique, sorte de mélodie funeste ("hydrazine") au sein de rouages rouillés mais en perpétuel mouvement. azure skies, collaboration efficace de sanctum et mental destruction, impose une musique pesante, grasse et flippante. on finit par se sentir seul, à l'abandon sur un iceberg "("in eclipse") avant l'arrivée de superbes violons sur une rythmique particulièrement attractive ("bring nothing back"). l'étau se ressert, les poumons s'emplissent à nouveau d'air, le chant scandé surprend, limite métal et en léger retrait... excellent ! l'accalmie aura été de courte durée : la glace se fend, les entrailles abyssales de la terre se dévoilent ("still") et l'auditeur se retrouve happé dans les ténèbres. (py)

back - next - overview