Neofolk & Martial Mix

A mix of neofolk, martial industrial and related music, old and new, with a bit of neoclassical to start things off. I’ve heard quite a bit of music lately that I’d like to share. Some of these are things I’ve also reviewed for Heathen Harvest:

And I was proud to see my own track, Tyburn, included on Heathen Harvest’s Midsummer II compilation.


  • Arcana – In Memoriam
  • Jo Quail – White Salt Stag
  • Rome – This Light Shall Undress All
  • Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio – Venus in Nothing but Nylons and Pearls
  • :Of the Wand and the Moon: – Camouflage
  • Arbeit – Tod ist mein Schicksal
  • Erde – Die Quelle
  • Hands of Ruin – Tyburn
  • BloodSoil – A New Race
  • Wappenbund – Der flammende Ritt zum rechten Pfad
  • Hezaliel – Light at the end of the fall

Remixing Seventh Harmonic

Seventh Harmonic - Mneme (Hands of Ruin remix)

Caroline Jago is the composer and multi-instrumentalist behind Seventh Harmonic and Shadow Biosphere. We hadn’t met before, but a few weeks ago she sent me a nice message on SoundCloud. She mentioned that she’d be open to collaborations, and since I’ve done a couple of remixes and enjoyed the process I suggested that I might remix one of the tracks from Garden of Dilmun.

As it happens, that was something that I had been thinking about even before Caroline got in touch. I’ve been familiar with Seventh Harmonic for some time, having seen them playing live at shows in London on a couple of occasions, and one of the things that has always struck me about their music is how dense the sound is. I’m someone who leaves a lot more space in my music, so I’d wondered what they might sound like with a more open mix. So that’s part of what I’ve attempted to achieve with my remix of Mneme.

I love doing remixes because it’s an opportunity to learn deeply about how other people write music. I’ve always worked on my own, so I only know my own way of making music. But when I do a remix I’m always struck by how differently other people approach melody and the structure of their tracks. Like many electronic musicians, I’m perpetually afflicted by loopitis, and remixing has shown me how musicians that I admire avoid that trap.

This month marks Garden of Dilmun’s fifth anniversary, so I was very pleased that this remix could be part of that celebration.

Martial Industrial Mix III

It’s been a couple of years since my last mix focussing entirely on the martial industrial genre, and since then I’ve discovered some more great musicians, plus there have been new releases from some of my old favourites. So it’s time for another:


  • L’effet c’est moi – Runes of Victory
  • The Protagonist – Spirits of the Dead
  • Rukkanor – The Final Trace
  • In The Nursery – Resonate
  • Parzival – Regnabit
  • Sophia – Downfall
  • In Slaughter Natives – Gaudium et alia vitia
  • Tribes of Medusa – Banishment
  • Arditi – Sturm auf die Zukunft
  • Waffenruhe – Stuka
  • Triarii – Europe in Flames
  • Atomtrakt – Ins Verderben
  • Wappenbund – Licht ist Leben II
  • Ribat – Document #2: Révolte Nationale

Remixing THYX

In addition to my obvious love for the genres of martial industrial and dark ambient, I’m also rather partial to a bit of EBM and futurepop. One of the finest musicians in those genres is Stefan Poiss of and THYX. So when he offered remix kits to anyone who wanted to make a remix, I jumped at the chance and made a rather Hands of Ruin-ish mix of Black Hole.

I was hoping (and I think he was too) that the remix album would come out sooner. When it does, I’m optimistic that my mix will be on it. But in the meantime, I want to share something of what I did. This is the instrumental mix of Black Hole. When the remix album is released you’ll hear the mix complete with vocals (and if my mix doesn’t make the cut then I’ll put it here on the blog).

Lot in Sodom

Some time ago I announced that I was working on a soundtrack for Lot in Sodom, a 1933 avant-garde silent film. After slightly longer than I’d expected, it’s here.

James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber’s silent film, Lot in Sodom, tells the biblical story of Lot, who is visited by angels and instructed to leave Sodom before it is destroyed by God for the sins of the Sodomites. Watson and Webber were pioneers of avant-garde film-making, much influenced by German expressionism. Lot in Sodom takes an experimental approach to telling the story and makes use of a variety of innovative visual effects, including superimposed shots and shooting through prisms.

The soundtrack was written in 2014 and 2015. I wanted to create something that would support and emphasize the mood of the film. And it seemed fitting to write a soundtrack for this film in particular, having previously made one for their 1928 film, The Fall of the House of Usher.

The soundtrack is available to buy on Bandcamp.

Music of Catan – Part 2

This is the second part of my mix for the Settlers of Catan game. It builds up slowly from a dark ambient opening, journeys through some early and religious music, and ends with an intense, bombastic finale.


  • Archon Satani – Another Great Moment in Paradise
  • Raison d’etre – The Maturation of Nature
  • Orplid – Parzivals Traum
  • Djivan Gasparyan – Little Flower Garden
  • Daemonia Nymphe – Thracian Gaia
  • Gor – Kyrie Eleison
  • Anatoly Grindenko / Russian Partriarchate Choir – Prokimenon (mode 3)
  • Raison d’etre – Death in the Body but Made Alive by the Spirit
  • Cold Fusion – Crusade
  • Arvo Pärt – In principio: II. Fuit homo missus a Deo
  • Hildegard von Bingen – O Viridissima Virga
  • Kronos Quartet – Brudmarsch frå Östa
  • Ordo Equilibrio – After Reign cometh Sun
  • Rukkanor – Defenders of Faith
  • Desiderii Marginis – Come Ruin and Rapture
  • Kreuzweg Ost – Exitus in Paradisum
  • Kazeria – Like Ancient Legions
  • Hands of Ruin – Against the Gods
  • The Protagonist – Hesperia
  • Rukkanor – Desireth
  • Parzival – Uttara Purana
  • Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard – The Battle
  • John Bergin – Marshes of Untill
  • Howard Shore – Forth Eorlingas (featuring Ben Del Maestro)

See also part 1.

Music of Catan – Part 1

A playlist put together for games of Settlers of Catan. I’m not terribly good at the game, but my friends say that I have the best music for it. This is part one of two.


  • Jo Quail – The Falconer
  • In the Nursery – The Other Side of Reality
  • Johannes Ockeghem – Missa “Fors seulement”: Credo
  • Arcana – Parisal
  • Dead Can Dance – Chant of the Paladin
  • Wardruna – Sowelu
  • Rukkanor – Tiveris
  • Arcana – Infinity
  • Peter Andersson – Tulpa Part VII – Yang-Tul Unveiled
  • Wardruna – EhwaR
  • Dead Can Dance – The Song of the Sibyl
  • Thomas Tallis – Spem in alium
  • L’effet c’est moi – Ianvs axis mvndi
  • Peter Bjärgö – As We Evaporate
  • Howard Shore – Flight to the Ford
  • In the Nursery – Crepuscule
  • Blood Axis – Wulf and Eadwacer

Update: Part 2 is now available.

Is all martial industrial the same?

You know how it goes, they say if you’ve heard one martial industrial album than you’ve heard them all, and that’s more or less true.

[…] every band in the last 5 years sounds exactly the same.

As for pop, well… it takes real talent to write a good pop song certainly more then it does a bog-standard martial-industrial nazi-shite-fest anyway.

There’s a view that I encounter every so often: that all music made in the martial industrial genre sounds the same. This carries with it the implications that all the musicians are imitators and that the scene is devoid of new ideas. When I first heard it said, I didn’t really agree with it. And given that the Wounds of the Earth quote above is from a review of my own Empire and Dust, perhaps I have an interest in rebutting this view. But really, it just doesn’t reflect my experience.

But I don’t like relying just on personal experience. I know enough about science to know how unreliable that is. I want to put it to the test.

I figured that if I could go through a sufficiently large and unbiased sample of martial industrial music and classify whether each piece was derivative or not, I could get a sense of just how derivative the genre is, and therefore get a sense of whether it was an accurate accusation.

So I went through all the reviews tagged martial industrial on Heathen Harvest, which yields 68 reviews in total. (The archive stretches back to July 2011 — not quite rotorschnee’s five years, but close.) To make it a little more relevant and manageable, I decided to strip out the ones that just seemed to have martial elements but really belong to another genre, and I removed compilations. This made 46 reviews of 38 bands. The full list is at the bottom of the post.

So then I went through and noted down, for each band, whether they seemed to be same-y or not. Admittedly, “same-y” is a pretty subjective evaluation, and furthermore, what are they all the same as? According to Wikipedia, “Nowadays, the Wagnerian style of Triarii serves as point of reference for most martial industrial acts.” That fits with my own impression, so I used that as my standard.

Ninety percent of everything is crap.

But then the other question is: what is the test? Ideally, we would have an index of the “sameyness” of each genre. Then we would know where martial industrial fit into that. But in the absence of that, I’m happy to take Sturgeon’s Law as a baseline. Admittedly, ninety percent of everything is crap is not the same as ninety percent of everything is unoriginal, but I’ll be satisfied if I can pick out more than ten percent that I think are original.

A fair number of these bands were already familiar to me, but by no means all. So I had some serious listening to do… And it was a slightly more disappointing process than I had anticipated. It turns out that a lot of them really do sound the same. Nonetheless, there are some good bands in there, so let’s take a look at them:

Dead Man’s Hill

My introduction to martial industrial was In Slaughter Natives and other bands from the Cold Meat Industry label, which instead of the current obsession with the wars of the twentieth century, seemed more focused on the macabre and on rebelling against Christianity. It seems to me that Dead Man’s Hill continue this somewhat neglected tradition, mixing in elements of black metal and noise as well. And the review is of a split with Hrossharsgrani, an ambient/noise/metal band, so that adds to the diversity.


Epoch combine martial industrial with the harsh electronic sounds and rhythms of EBM. And far from being a “nazi-shite-fest”, their politics comes from a left-wing American viewpoint.


I.R.O.N. is a side-project of the musician behind Legionarii, and while I’ll admit that the latter is martial-by-numbers, I.R.O.N. introduces a more mechanical and electronic sound.

L’Effet C’est Moi

L’Effet C’est Moi are superb musicians. Their melodies are complex, exciting and beautiful, and their palette of sounds is diverse while still fitting together coherently.

Order of Victory

I can’t claim to be a big fan, but I have to admit that Order of Victory’s strangely processed vocals give them their own sound.


Again, it’s the quality of the music (and the unique voice of Dimitrij Bablevskij) that raise this band above the rest of the genre. Though it wasn’t the subject of the review, I was recently blown away by Casta, which they made in collaboration with group of Indian Sikh folk musicians, and which has an exotic sound that I haven’t heard in this genre before.

Rose Croix

Rose Croix have a heavily mystical feel, perhaps a little reminiscent of some aspects of Dead Can Dance but certainly not out of the regular martial mould.


Rukkanor brings middle-eastern influences to martial industrial. While there might be a precedent for this sort of thing with Dead Can Dance and Arcana, Rukkanor’s approach is very much his own.

Sala Delle Colonne

I was only able to find one track online, but from that and Heathen Harvest’s review I gather that, rather than making modern martial industrial, Sala Delle Colonne makes music that sounds as if it were genuinely recorded 50 years ago.


Svalbard make surprisingly catchy military pop.


Tethrippon are a Greek martial and neofolk band. The vocals are full of drama.

So out of 46 reviews and 38 bands, I’ve picked out 11 bands that I think can’t be called derivative. This is roughly a quarter — well above the 10% that would be predicted by Sturgeon’s Law. I’ll concede that there was more bog-standard martial industrial in there than I’d anticipated. Still, I consider the accusation refuted.

I think when making the argument that all martial industrial sounds the same there are a few things that one should remember: Firstly, this is a genre of music. Music made within a genre has to sound similar at least to some degree, otherwise it’s not a genre. Secondly, when compared to other genres, is martial industrial more homogeneous? When I think of the other genres I’m familiar with, the answer is a clear no. Most EBM sounds like most other EBM, most dark ambient sounds like most other dark ambient. For every boundary-pushing or Desiderii Marginis there are numerous uninspiring imitators. And thirdly, I wonder why martial industrial is singled out? Perhaps because it tends towards being instrumental music, while surrounded by genres such as neofolk that are led by songs. I think that — at least for non-musicians — discerning the differences between vocalists is easier than discerning the different sounds and techniques of instrumental music.

There’s perhaps also a different attitude towards similarity and difference at work among fans of martial industrial music than among fans of other genres. Whenever I dip my toes into any genre of dance music, I don’t hear any complaints about all artists sounding the same, despite what seem to my ears to be far stronger similarities. In those genres it seems much more acceptable to sound similar. After all, the goal of the DJ is often to create a seamless experience.

What do you think? Is my method flawed? Am I just biased towards my own genre?

Here is the list of reviews considered:

The Future Is Not What It Used To Be

A collection of dystopian sci-fi sounds, with a bit of 80’s retrofuturism mixed in.


  • Vangelis – Blush Response
  • Tineidae – Alta
  • Candle Nine – Kerrianne’s Spine
  • Hecq – Field
  • Wendy Carlos – Title Music From A Clockwork Orange
  • Gridlock – Re/module
  • Forma Tadre – Corona Mundi
  • Ghost Station – Tunnels
  • Huron – Disrupt the Standard
  • Dryft – no bargains, no pleas (featuring xiescive)
  • Undermathic – Mechanical Steering
  • Perturbator – War Against Machines
  • Access to Arasaka – Oppidan
  • C.Z. Robertson – A-38
  • NEWT – Newtheme
  • Liquid Divine – Broadcast
  • Caliga Blue – The Azure Deep
  • Headscan – Corroded Center Pole
  • – Lightforce