Burial Hex is the solo project of Wisconsin-based musician Clay Ruby, who after building an underground reputation through a slew of CD-R and cassette releases in tiny editions, now seems poised to emerge at least halfway out of the shadows of occult obscurity with this CD release on the cult English label Aurora Borealis.
The four tracks which comprise Initiations are all around 18 to 19 minutes in length, which makes for a satisfyingly lengthy listen, and also conveniently enough makes the album easy to issue on vinyl. And guess what? With label Aurora Borealis being the quality act they are, Initiations is also available as a double vinyl LP.
Opening track ‘Will To The Chapel’ lulls the unsuspecting listener into a false sense of security with an orchestral overture – darksome and brooding, to be sure, but not overtly terrifying. However, the gloves are dramatically whipped off at around the four-minute mark, as the minor-key strings are decimated by a ferocious onslaught of black noise. The label’s website lists the instrumentation used as “feedback, voice, PAIA 4700, samples, microphones, homemade oscillators, metal, organs, earth, distortion, delay, insect, reverb, electric piano and analog tape”, but your guess is as good as mine as to what the exact ingredients of this unholy racket are, beyond some tormented shrieks and low dragon-like growls. Possessed cries of “Thy will be done!” punctuate queasy waves of gritty lo-fi noise and feedback, something like Burial Hex’s labelmates Wraiths or early Brighter Death Now. This is the side of Burial Hex’s sound which featured on the recent split single with Silvester Anfang, also released by Aurora Borealis. A late reprise of the opening orchestral theme seems ironically mocking of the listener’s shattered sense of security – by now it’s clear that anything could happen on this album, and all bets are off about what we’ll be subjected to next.