Pharmakon: Bestial Burden (Sacred Bones, 2014)

October 14, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pharmakon: Bestial Burden

Pharmakon: Bestial Burden

Second full-length from Margaret Chardiet’s industrial/power electronics project, which has recently toured with Swans, Godflesh and Cut Hands (William Bennett of Whitehouse). This is every bit as gory and sickness-inducing as its artwork suggests. Opener “Vacuum” is 90 seconds of heavy breathing which escalates into hyperventilating, and “Intent or Instinct” is 8 minutes of slow throbbing beats, feedback, and larynx-shredding vocals. “Body Betrays Itself” is a bit more concise and approachable, the vocals come in earlier and aren’t quite as screamy in the beginning, and the synths sort of melt into a haze during the last couple minutes. “Primitive Struggle” is 2 minutes of choking and coughing to a beat. “Autoimmune” is far and away the highlight of the album, just a total stormer which could even fit next to Skinny Puppy at your next hard industrial dance party. “Bestial Burden” is the most disturbing track on the album, in which Chardiet alternates between a girlish voice, hellish screaming, and nervous, pained laughter, all while repeatedly exclaiming “I don’t belong here”, in some sort of Alice In Hades nightmare. I’m not really well versed enough in power electronics as a genre to be able to compare Pharmakon to anyone else, so I’m inevitably reminded of Wolf Eyes and Whitehouse just because they’re more well known, and I’m sure being on Sacred Bones gives her exposure to a much different fanbase than if she’d just stuck to tape labels. But this is a bloody, infected, diseased, fascinating album.

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