Between 2015 and 2019 two bands out of the USA: Zebulon Kosted and Stormhammer came together to write, realize and release The Murderous Kleptocrat Francisco Macias Nguema (henceforth known more simply as TMKFMN) seeing fruition via a Fall of Eden Records CD release. Two bands with a vision. A strange and exceedingly tantalising look into the world of power abuse. A single 53 minute track that should be described as atmospheric, dark, ambient but still predominantly, in its spirit – Black Metal. TMKFMN is a whole lot more than the sum of these parts though.
TMKFMN is based on the story of Francisco Macías Nguema; the first President of Equatorial Guinea. From 1968 until his fall and execution in 1979 he was little more than a complete tyrannical bastard toward his countrymen. Wielding enough power to suck his country dry and not care about anyone on the way. Thought provoking and deeply disturbing if you care to dig deep. There’s certainly a lot to take in so let me stick to the musical side of things for this review but suggest that the deeper you get into this album, the more rewarding the concept will be on the whole.
Zebulon Kosted & Stormhammer kick start TMKFMN off with a noise that is between mechanical drone and the whirring chug of a washing machine at full speed. At first it’s monotonous, slightly abrasive and seemingly eternal. This whirling pattern is eventually interrupted by seeping cymbal work – and then the screaming starts. It’s a blur of frantic noise that hinges on the very edge of anxiety inducement.
At around 17 minutes, the noise gives way and melts into a more traditional… tune. A turning point, a welcome one. A simple guitar riff is quickly bent out of shape and then distorted into insanity against the miserable sounding vocals. This is then followed by a lead of mournful proportions and a lingering sense of abnormality continues throughout. Never to shy away from the essence of what TMKFMN is. A dark time.
Between slower paced doom sections, noisy dark passages, military drum beats and the cyclic turbulence of the confused sounding Black Metal riffs, we have interjections of what I’m sure are political speeches out of Guinea. All fitting together very nicely when you consider what evil Francisco Macías Nguema was about. Real world evil told through the medium of a climactic album.
There is a wide and varied selection of music out there in the world. In life, I’ve always liked the extreme side of things and that goes for music tenfold. This particular music is something to behold. It’s a trip, a headache inducing, abrasive, churning trip. TMKFMN is a successful project showing us outer limits, still managing to hold attention (throughout the drone and noise) and an inspiration to boot.
Album artwork was handled by David Lewis Johnson Mixing and mastering by Kyle Petrilli at Volpeil Studios and recording was taken care of by Ben Himsworth at Tetraktys Studios. Last but not least TMKFMN was produced by David McColl.
Fancy yourself as an ambient fan? Are you up for a bit of musical exploration? I thought so… Start your journey with Bandcamp and then head on over to these sites where you can find much more information along with ways to support the artists. It’s not every day that we get honoured by artists in this way – this album is a gift for the journeyman.