What is the scariest record you can think of? It took me a while to find an answer for this, since I usually take my listening pleasure with a heaping side of homicidal howls and thunderous blastbeats, but I think I’ve come up with a fairly definitive answer. If this record isn’t the end-all be-all scariest album to ever be committed to tape, it’s pretty goddamn far up on the list.
Of course, I’m talking about Stalaggh, and more specifically, the 35-minute ride through complete aural hell they dubbed Projekt Misanthropia and released upon an unsuspecting public back in 2007. The nature of the project is ugly, the name is ugly, and the music (if you can call it that) that spills forth from the speakers like poison gas the moment you press play is far beyond ugly. Once the band completed their first trilogy (begun with Projekt Nihil, Projekt Terrror and capped off with Projekt Misanthropia), they changed their name from Stalaggh to Gulaggh, charmingly shifting their allegiance from Nazi POW camps to Stalin’s nightmarish prison camps in less than four letters. Turns out the extra “g” and “h” stand for Global Holocaust, so that’s nice, too. So far, the band's promised second trilogy has failed to materialize, stalling with 2008's Vorkuta (dubbed after the notorious Siberian prison camp, of course. These fellas seem swell).
Stalaggh was allegedly the result of a nihilistic collaboration between several unnamed Dutch and Belgian musicians who desired to spit out the most oppressive, unlistenable noise possible. They capped it all off with a barrage of hideous, inhumanly shrieking voices that supposedly belonged to criminally insane mental patients. Some of these screams allegedly belong to a man who murdered his mother by stabbing her 30 times and another belonged to a man who committed suicide soon after the recording. A somewhat recent interview with the band sheds some light on their peculiar recording process, turning up the quote: “One of our members works in a mental institution in Holland, so this is how we got access and permission to record. All patients who have worked with us gave their full written permission. One of the patients who suffers from schizophrenia even made the cover drawing of the Pure Misanthropia CD.” It all seems quite cozy, in a fucked-up way.
How much of this is true and how much of it is bullshit remains to be seen (I’m not sold, and Metal Archives offers an interesting theory) but regardless of who—or what—is responsible for these sounds, it’s impossible to deny that it makes for a harrowing listen. It’s an artless mishmash of noise, drone, ambient, black metal, and grating screams, seemingly recorded in an abandoned hallway and left to rot. It’s best listened to with the lights off.
Kim Kelly sleeps without a nightlight. Follow her on Twitter - @grimkim