Theologian channels anger, betrayal, mistrust on ‘The Chasms of My Heart’

If you live in America, today’s a rather profound, gigantic day. We vote. We decide who the next president is going to be. Not that it really matters all that much. But even more than that, at least to me, is the hate no longer will be broadcast 24 hours a day in the form of campaign ads and people trading insults and treating each other like complete garbage. Until primary season, that is.

I’ve heard enough lies that last six months to last my lifetime, and I’ve tried to ex-communicate as many people as possible from my life who have this seething agenda, not to make a positive change that hopefully will brighten our lives, but to fucking win at any blood cost. No matter who suffers. No matters the depths to which they will sink. No matter the amount of misinformation they need to spread across the ears of any person who doesn’t have enough time to keep up with every dishonest blow. I put way more blame on one party over the other, but it’s all the same. It a cesspool of dishonesty and treating each other like a commodity and a number. And so help you if you disagree with the person across from you. The vilification never will be enough.

To an outsider, our country must seem like a dark, evil country. Like a land with two entirely different faces where we welcome you to this place of opportunity with one hand, and stab you in the back with the other for having the audacity to improve your lot. Reading some of the quotes inside the new Theologian release “The Chasms of My Heart” really kind of reignited the fires inside of me, because it’s clear that sole member Leech has been feeling the tumult, too. Maybe not in the form of physical and mental disgust over an embarrassing election that made people around here seem like the lowest form of life. But he seems to feel the cavernous pain, the betrayal, the poison, and the piss. Spending time with his latest album illustrates that point even more, and it was welcome listening for me as I crawled to the end of this finish line, where I really can take no more posturing and pretending. This feels like a voice crying in the wilderness for sanity, and I totally get that.

Inside “The Chasms of My Heart,” which is a gorgeously packaged album in a DVD-size digipak, Leech quotes French novel “The Torture Garden,” by Octave Mirbeau, written during the Dreyfus affair. In that text, you certainly can pull apart the hilarity of political fighting and the contradictions of government, but it goes much deeper than that. And Leech uses a line that centers on death and dispair and hopelessness, almost as if the situation you’re in never can be overcome. On top of that are the people around you, who look for any opportunity to dig another blade in and draw more blood. Salt for the wound. It’s a pessimistic a sentiment as they come, but at the same time, it’s also tragically true. This happens to all of us, though in varying degrees. Leech meets this head on, even himself dedicating the album to “others, there, the cruel ones; who from the depths, speak with two tongues; who in emptiness of spirit, leave me to struggle in the wake of their transgressions.”

If you’re not familiar with Leech’s music under the Theologian banner, or his previous work in Navicon Torture Technologies, then you might need to prepare yourself. This music loosely can be called blackened industrial, but that’s not really even accurate. It only gets you part of the way there. Underneath that, you can hear elements of ambiant doom, post-rock, and electronica, and the entire thing blends all of those sounds together to make a greater whole. It’s a claustrophobic, scary experience to take on this eight-track, near-hour-and-20-minute-long expression of grief, pain, and Apocalypse, though if you’re like me, you’ll get caught up in this heaving storm and live vicariously through the anguish. It’s not exactly metal. In fact, thematically, it’s much darker.

We open with 14:37-long “Abandon All Hope,” a rather fitting title considering what’s on this song and what follows. The synth haze and dank ambiance hang overhead threatening to blind you, and eventually a drubbing beat leads in, with washed-out vocals stretched out in the background. It’s an awesome, murky piece that will make you feel completely isolated. “Starvation Is a Legitimate Weapon of War” is the shortest track on the album, at only 4:40, and it’s equally cloudy and penetrating. “My Body Is Made of Ash … I Live as Ash” is already depressing when you read the title, then the whirring, buzzing synth takes you under and into a weird melody, banging like a hammer on steel, noisy, muffled screams, and hypnotic chaos that tears you in two.

“We Can’t All Be Victims” opens with thick drone and rivers of sound full of electrical charges, and beneath it all is a thin line that’s damn near danceable. “I Don’t Exist” is wrapped in static and insect-like buzzing, and the finish gives you a feel that usually accompanies the deep throes of medicine head. “Bed of Maggots” wooshes and soars, carrying with it a banner constructed out of cosmic dreaming and doom drone, and again, panicked vocals are snuffed out by an oppressive blanket. The title cut reminds me a little bit of WOLD, but with alien weirdness traded out for human torture, and eventually the beats and synth lines remind me of techno. The violent kind. Closer “Every Road Leads to Abandonment,” that lasts 13:02, brings this whole marathon of punishment to a proper end, with pounding, disturbing noise hisses, a melody that sounds like a smoldering freight train chugging through tar, and a nightmarish howl that should fray nerves.

There are no sinister riffs, you likely won’t make out a word of the vocal transmissions, but if you feel like you’re on your way to some sort of hell abyss listening to “The Chasms of My Heart,” don’t be surprised. This is dark, foreboding stuff, and it’s not recommended to those with a fragile psyche and no willpower. Leech — fitting considering his name — bleeds every drop of himself with this effort, leaving no emotion, betrayal, or disappointment on the floor. It’s a well of sickness and frustration this Theologian album, and it’ll be a perfect companion long into the night when human beings trade insults and cut down each other’s character all for the sake of someone who doesn’t even know they exist.

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