Shrouded Elk- “Skeletal Forests” CS

Shrouded Elk- "Skeletal Forests"

My cassette collection has grown a lot in the past few years. While this has been awesome for me, it has made me rather partial to albums that come with unconventional and detailed packaging. That’s not to say that a nice presentation will make me suddenly fall in love with an album of weak musicianship, but it can definitely be that last slice of sweetness to really seal the deal. Indeed, sometimes “special” packaging can simply be cumbersome or make it impossible to find a home for oddly shaped albums. It seems appropriate, then, that Auris Apothecary‘s velvet pouch and other ornate packaging for Shrouded Elk‘s Skeletal Forests is simple yet ideal for the collector who wants something attractive yet not difficult to store. The album itself is both an obvious fit for a collection like my own and one that surprised me at times, which does seem to be an experience I cherish. I never was too fond of an album that was instantly perfect, as such music loses my interest just as quickly as it gains it. With Skeletal Forests I went from slightly uncomfortable to delighted over the course of a few listens.

Shrouded Elk packaging

This cassette follows a recent trend in this site’s posts in that it only occupies a little under ten minutes, yet begs for repeated listens. One of the most fascinating aspects of this cassette is that it seems to use its most hated concepts as weapons. Shrouded Elk’s rallying cry against humanity on behalf of the planet utilizes many industrial elements that would typically bring to mind more urban black metal, yet the approach here is undeniably one that conjures elements of nature’s chaotic fury rather than the bleakness of abandoned buildings. Opener “Industrial Waste” does seem to touch on the more human elements in both sound and apparent lyrical focus, but quickly gives way to three tracks that seem to guide the listener through the planet’s determined reclamation. The incessant attack of hand played drum machines pairs nicely with remarkably shrill vocals that fit more in the Xasthur side of the term than Silencer, adding a dense, smoky layer of menacing distortion over everything. All in all, this tape is far too short and I only wish I’d been able to see the VHS that was made to accompany this music, as I feel it would yield even more to ponder.

Copies of the tape are still available from Auris Apothecary’s store. Grab one now, as only fifty exist.

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