Bobby Krlic's first album as The Haxan Cloak came out on Aurora Borealis, a metal-focused label that's also home to Justin Broadrick and KTL. He's since moved in a more electronic direction, bridging the gap between the noisy spasms of Cut Hands and the dignified doom of Raime. Excavation, his second full-length and first for Tri Angle, sits perfectly in the middle.
Where Krlic's first album seemed consumed by a fear of death, Excavation is reportedly meant to survey the vastness of the afterlife. This concept penetrates deep into the album's sound: gone are the earthen strings and woodwinds, the hideous shudder that made his earlier music so frighteningly lifelike. Instead, we get negative space, labyrinthine composition and synth-driven melodies that explode from quiet to loud like a thriller soundtrack. It doesn't make an effort to grab you, unless it's by the throat, like the low-end depth charges that shake up the sludgy squirm of "Mara."
Krlic takes full advantage of the album form, often stretching his songs to more than ten minutes. The result is something truly narrative—this isn't the kind of record you'd play on shuffle. In the title track's two parts, we're taken through a sonorous tunnel only to be dumped into an empty pit of despair, all static and hissing hellmouths. With "The Mirroring," those dissociative drones collect themselves back into fire-and-brimstone techno. These longer sections are punctuated by pockets of sonic violence such as "Miste" and "Dieu," interludes that feel like vignettes between the longer passages of plot development.
Even with dissonant screeches and static, Excavation is always more thrilling than it is alienating. It's not just neutered noise music—it's extreme. But there's something in his touch that renders it approachable and emotive instead of antisocial. It's a tendency that takes over on the 13-minute closer "The Drop," where a simple riff unravels itself in sandpapery tones, growing more devastated with every turn. Considering what came before, it feels rebellious, almost post-rock—a sudden return of the organic textures from his first album. More importantly, it's a stirring finale, cutting to the bone not with horror or violence but pure emotion. He might have translated his sound into electronics with Excavation, but here Krlic's music feels more wrenchingly human than it ever has been.
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Tracklist: The Haxan Cloak - Excavation01. Consumed
02. Excavation (Part 1)
03. Excavation (Part 2)
06. The Mirror Reflecting (Part 1)
07. The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)
09. The Drop
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