“HARSH NOISE, INDUSTRIAL, POWER ELECTRONICS, ETC… NEW RELEASE EVERY MONDAY,” screams the all-caps Bandcamp bio of Ohio cassette label Deathbed Tapes. If you start your week with this stuff you’ll be squinting a little harder when you come out of your pit.
The ‘ETC’ hangs there too, til you dig deeper into the depravity. You might stop when you find out one of their recent releases by EXPECTANTS came with a real human skull (“The tape is $666 and includes a free gift. Contact before purchase”), and a recent ‘Instagram giveaway’ came in a real body bag.
So how do you follow that? Dublin-based artist Daniel Thompson aka Vile Sermon gives it a go on this new six-track collection of malignant brain-wrongs. The Despair Regime – Protocol 1: Misery Conditioning is a retching, writhing howl of despair, with the odd chink of light that’s snatched away as you’re about to get a breath.
If The Despair Regime could be distilled down to its grisly essence, it’s the desperate mechanical coughing fit on ‘Inherent Sadness’, suffocating in a septic cloud of tape hiss, in-the-red industrial clanking and high-frequency tinnitus cluster bombs. ‘Programmed Cell Death’ offsets Thompson’s arm-scratching feral howls with some buried spoken word mantras, while ‘Grief Addiction’ ends with a time-stretched last breath death scream.
The above-mentioned chink of light doesn’t offer much respite in fairness. ‘Severing Ties With Hope’ eases in with a sample of a Rustin Cohle monologue from True Detective: “This is what I mean when I’m talkin’ about time, and death, and futility…”, giving way to cave wall scratching and a solemn ambient string passage. It’s really all about bringing the noise, though — as the liner notes say: “Let misery take hold, submit yourself to the despair regime.”