Theologian teams with female collaborators on chilling ‘Some Things Have to Be Endured’



There are many ways to express distress, dismay, and disillusionment, and who’s to say one means is more important or fitting than another? We talk metal here every day, as I’m sure you know or at least assumed that from the name of this site, but even in that terrain there isn’t one agreed-upon way to pour forth your emotions, fears, and frustrations.

We have, in the past, discussed Theologian, the project of electronic artist Leech who also is mastermind behind Navicon Torture Technologies. What he does here isn’t expressly metal, and one could argue there are few tangible examples of the genre at all. OK, fair enough. But the darkness and terror behind his music, and the blackness that envelops his work, is as heavy and horrific as even the nastiest black metal band, and just because the sound isn’t chock full of devastating riffs, blasts, and death growls, certainly many metal fans can find something to love about Theologian and the harsh arts that are present on the project’s third album “Some Things Have to Be Endured.” It’s not for the faint of heart.

theologian coverJust from the bio that accompanies this eight-track flood of black industrial fury, electronic madness, and darkwave coldness one can put together that the themes of the album are feminine in nature and range from motherhood to magick to addition to obsession to loathing to pain. Nothing on here is easy to hear, and none will just wash over you without some emotional effect, so good luck if you were just seeking some background music. Theologian never will be that thing, and the music that makes up this record is immersive and violent, penetrating and powerful, and the array of female vocalists and contributors Leech arranged for this project help deliver the messages and put a sense of humanity into what often can sound like machine-like noises. They also could haunt and frighten you where you sit.

“Black Cavern Myopia” is the opening, chilling chapter, put together with sharp synth burns and weird, alien-like speaking. Rachel Kozac of Hectate is featured on the song, with some melody pouring out over an otherwise scarred body of stomps and noise-rich squalls. “The Conjoined Deviant Procession” is strange and oppressive musically, dressed with chant-like relays and buzzing madness, featuring Kristen MacArthur of Sewer Goddess. The song is poisonous and hopeless, with pain and anguish lying on the road ahead of you. “Writing Corpus Landscape,” built on source material by Rachel Maloney of Tonikom and the words and vocals from Nikki Telladictorian of Prometheus Burning, feels like a strange opening monologue for an alien assault film, with a cold, detached vocal delivery that could frighten you to death. The icy domination and steely noise crashes never let you feel any ease and add a bloody sense to this anthem of nurture to keep nature on its cycle. “Gore-Stained Ramparts” is all guts, regret, and revenge, with Patricia Benitez of Fetish Drone not only lending her voice to the piece but also contributing to the track’s horrific compositional spine.

“Like Love, Only Real” is outright disturbing lyrically, maybe the darkest journey on this album, which is saying something. Gillian Bowling of Teloahqaal provides the source material, words, and vocals for the piece, and the threatening nature and sense of hopeless despair and psychological control is enough to leave you gasping for deep, anxious breaths. “Grand Guignol” is warbling and sinister, yet the vocals from Christiana Key of Delphic Oracle add an element of beauty, as she relays words adapted from a Theologian Prime piece. It’s very murky and cold, but it also has elements of pop, albeit twisted ones. “Ectothermism” features Melissa C. Kelly and Joan Hacker of Factoria, and the thick, whirring fog that sits over the landscape is impossible to avoid and cuts off your oxygen. The back end of the song gets foggy and ghostly, and the terrifying shrieks that emerge give the track its bloody exclamation point. Closer “Welcome to the Golden Age of Beggars” features words by visual artist Whore Mother Superior as well as additional lyrics and vocals by Shari Vari of Void Vision, and the song balances blackness and stirring melodies. The vocals are pretty and alluring in spots, but that’s surrounded by such damaged madness that positivity and bright colors easily get choked to death, especially on tortured lines such as, “Worship the sensation that no longer exists,” and, “For the agony is deep and heavy in my gut/Pray for an end to your love.”

There are many ways to interpret what the title “Some Things Have To Be Endured” means, and there are bound to be a myriad of reactions to this album in general. That’s also what I meant in the opening about there being so many different ways to express grief, anger, darkness, what have you, and no reaction to this piece is wrong necessarily. Yes, it’s not exactly a textbook metal record, but to dismiss its presence among the noise, experimental, and ambient sections of the genre would be foolish. This is a harrowing, scarred piece of work, one that brings together many points of view and stories, and there’s not a second of this record that won’t impact you profoundly in some manner. You’ll never sleep quite as easily as you did before experiencing this collection nor will you view each human’s struggles the same way again.

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