REVIEW: Various Artists - "On the Brink of Infinity"

By Austin Govella

Chain Border

Putting its best foot forward, Chthonic Streams launches this tribute to the millennium with "Death's Head" by World Serpent citizens, Howden and Wakeford. "This is where the world ends. This is where it begins again."

Absolutely fabulous. Why didn't we see more millennial compilations with some spirit? New York's Chthonic Streams, the label founded by Dream Into Dust's Derek Rush, has brought together a magical musical journey featuring some great names and their takes on the millennium and the apocalypse.

The case was printed on recycled cardboard. Silly to mention in a review, but it's nice to see ecologically sound business sense. Plus it looks cool, no doubt accented by Rush's particular design tastes prominently featuring a woodcut depicting the apocalypse: fire raining down from heaven, agonizing masses, etc.

Empyrium contribute the second track, a song with medieval atmospheres and orchestral arrangements. A guitar played in an archaic style holds the whole together. Not really medieval music, but reminiscent. Wonderful male choral voices sing in the background and build as the song's emotion crescendos.

As a whole, despite spending much time dwelling on the apocalypse and the new millennium, it isn't so much dark as it is esoteric. A beautiful serene atmosphere permeates the collection, even during the power electronics from Gruntsplatter.

Karsten Hamre's Arcane Art project continues the archaic atmospheres with his selection. The flutes sound archaic. Orchestral strings, an organ and spoken vocals could have been from almost any time, though they feel almost soundtrack-esque.

From Italy, we're gifted with Anima in Flamme. I've never heard of them, or of their renaissance reminiscent music, but the deeply sonorous cello dances gracefully with the piano and a violin, each affected to sound as if they were filling a massive chamber with their playing, A piece of serene reflection, pensive and dreamy.

The Riddick brothers, progenitors of medieval music via The Soil Bleeds Black, show a different side here with another project called 15 Delights of Dionysus. Like many of the compilation's middle tracks, 15 Delights offer dark ambient soundscapes.

Bryin Dall's offering, presented under the name of 4th Sign of the Apocalypse, offers odd voice samples played over odd instrumentation creating an ambience not unlike A Murder of Angels, his collaboration with Derek Rush.

Rush's Dream Into Dust follows Dall with Out of Chaos Stars Are Born, a sentiment echoing a quote from Dion Fortune that appears in the liner notes:

"Behold, we arise with the dawn of time
from the grey and misty sea,
and with the dusk we sink into the western ocean.
From sleep we arise refreshed; from death we arise reborn.
Herein do we bathe in sleep, sinking back into the primordial depths,
returning to things forgotten before time was, and the soul is renewed."
- Dion Fortune

Like Dall's contribution, Out of Chaos… ends up sounding much like material from A Murder of Angels, but also to be fair is also reminiscent of Rush's noisescapes from No Man's Land.

On the Brink of Infinity brings you lots of great dark ambient from Funerary Call, Nothus Filius Mortis and Kerovnian. As mentioned earlier, Gruntsplatter's dark power electronic noise also conjures some great dark atmospheres, slightly sinister, but reflective, nevertheless.

The compilation comes to an end with Backworld, another band having some affiliation with World Serpent (I believe). It sounds almost folksy, mostly due to the vocal delivery, and the uplifting atmosphere brings the listener out of the album's dark esoteric reflection and back into the world of common light, hopefully as one enlightened.

On the Brink of Infinity is a great compilation, even for people like myself who don't really follow dark ambient music. Like much of Derek Rush's work, this release from Chthonic Streams deserves for you to track it down.

Contact Information:
Post: Cththonic Streams, P.O. Box 7003, New York, NY 100116, USA

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