Review: Steel Hook Prostheses – The Empirics Guild

As each track fades up, I feel like I’ve woken up after weeks of unconsciousness. The walls are dirty and throbbing, processed voices are slinking out through metal grills, and there’s a psychological aftertaste of trauma and unpleasantness curling its way around my mouth, as though my mind is still trembling and broken in the wake of something hideous; each piece is its own claustrophobic chamber with its own décor of smeared blood, metal chains and pulsing red light bulbs, stringing out one momentary spinal chill into five, agonisingly perpetuated minutes.

There are cold steel hydraulics and warm wafts of perspiration – a meld of industrial music’s formidable mechanics with the sweaty muscle convulsions of the human body, tapping into frailty and intimidation simultaneously. There are church choirs slithering between pillars of buzz, and porn samples lulled lethargically over hissing winds and thumped floorboards, and cyborg voices that sound as though they’re bubbling up through vats of oil. Part of me craves even just a hairline fracture of light to filter through the smog, yet I become increasingly allured by the uncompromised purity of the darkness throughout The Empirics Guild; it is bleak in a manner that knows no alternative, burrowing into misery and fear not as an active choice, but in the terrifying absence of anywhere else to go. One for headphones.