I enjoy the mystery in music, so you can picture my delight when I received an email in the dead of night from an enigmatic Austrian artist named 00y 18, a one man blitzkrieg who creates ferociously bleak instrumental sludge inspired by the churning industrialism of steel mills. This is the Stahlstadt EP.
It’s an imposing 11 minute listen, trapping you within its smokey grasp and crushing you under the slow, grinding movement of its concept — the steel city. Much like Amenra, the layered riffs remain dirty and urgent, clashing together with a mixture of appropriately distorted tones. The pulsating drums drive and turn like the wheels of the machines that they represent. Make no mistake, this is an EP forged to capture the sound of society’s underbelly; one that its creator, Michael Zimmel, is all too familiar with.
Credited with everything, Zimmel crafts an imposingly depressing atmosphere. It’s oddly captivating — hypnotic even, and that’s why it works. It chugs and builds and doesn’t stop. The droning repetition of the angry guitars are the embodiment of the soulless forging of steel. Even the tinny, programmed drums add an unnerving quality to the sound.
Stahlstadt is an impressive first step for Zimmel. It’s mature in both concept and execution, from the desolate blur of the chimney on the album cover to the final wave of furious dissonance. It seems that even beneath the immense weight of the idea, there is still beauty to be found in the grey, monotonous steel city.
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