As I stare into the night sky, casting wishes and cigarette smoke to a lonely moon, a faint tapping sound breaks the silence and the grip of my reverie. I peer into the surrounding dark, curious as to who or what might be sharing this moment with me, but the hushed scenery offers no evidence of an intrusion. I shrug off this immaterial disruption and redirect my gaze towards my lunar companion, when something catches my eye; there, at the skirt of the moonlit lake that I’ve come to sit and think beside, stands a ghost. Before the icy grip of panic can steer my body into a flight of terror, I realize that this spectre is but a reflection in the water—and I am no less relieved. This shimmering Muppet before me has never appeared in any mirror, with his felt as pale as ivory and his face drawn gaunt and harrowed. Utterly unnerved, I behold myself reaching outwards, tapping on the water’s surface like a television character breaking the fourth wall. A malevolent smile that isn’t mine breaks out across his face, and as I let loose what will surely be my dying scream, his extended hand breaks free from the water and finds its way to my throat.
Ladies and Jørntlemen, this has been one Muppet‘s interpretation of Démonologue, the third studio album by the French one-man band/nightmare factory K.F.R.. At once an invocation of ancient demons and a conversation with the (more?) metaphoric demons that dwell within the minds of mankind, Démonologue is a dark, twisted soundscape of nightmarish ambiance and ethereal despair, a sordid selection of sinister sounds assembled solely to instill a psychotic state of introspective suffering within its prey. With its focus almost solely on ambient effects and discomforting atmospheric noise, Démonologue cares little for your need for riffs and melodies. This is a handful ov haunted hymns that even the most kvlt among us are likely to find off-putting and unsettling—which is, ov course, is the whole point and purpose here.
Given the absence of traditional song structure or any semblance of melody throughout the vast majority of the album, the various feedback flares and horror movie sound effects of “Invocation” and “Azazel” can certainly seem scarily similar, or at least similarly scary. The production is fittingly appalling, all tonal brightness and clarity deliberately crushed by a raw, filthy lo-fi mix. At times this effect is more generally unpleasant than the levels of suffocating discomfort it strives for, yet altogether the murky production of Démonologue serves its purpose quite effectively. The listener may not always know exactly where in the album they may be, but it is sure to sound genuinely creepy no matter which track they’re on. That said, with the majority of the album being devoted to harsh noise and ambiance, those tracks that do contain rhythm and riffage feel that much more alive and violent, the sickening space between serving to strengthen the songs’ Satanic successes.
Trve to form, the moments of Démonologue which come from good old physical instruments are likewise creepy as fuck. The drums, for example, are credited as “recorded with human bones” and effectively dictate the tracks’ tension levels; muffled sporadic percussive outbursts maintain an anxious sense of dread amidst the lurching languor of “Asmodée,” whereas the more straightforward black metal of album standout “Lucifer” is given vile obsidian vitality via vicious pummeling. When the riffs arrive, they come as serrated things of raw black madness, first-wave flavored fury with a nightmarish sheen like the squamous hatechild of The Great Old Ones and Darkthrone. Whether the moment is ambient or more directly musical, screams are a constant throughout Démonologue, with harrowing shrieks serving to accentuate the abhorrent ambiance or else lend structure and life to the proper black metal passages.
If you’ve any desire to retain any semblance of hope or sanity, flee this place before it starves your soul and saps it of its existential spark, leaving only a troubled husk where once sat a loyal and lively little reader. Démonologue is more mental than metal, a psychotic episode likely to appeal to relatively few of you Hall littering snowflakes faithful commenters. However, those who crave the sweet, unloving embrace ov tortured sonic delirium would do well to seek this nightmare out for themselves. Me? I’ll be busy sleeping with the lights on and getting right with Jesus, this thing left a beastly mark on me that won’t come off and seems to become suspiciously inflamed near churches.