Stalaggh, later to be re-named Gulaggh, are a musical collective with their foundations in the metal scene but which soon evolved to be a far more avant-garde unit incorporating disturbing naturalistic sounds in their music. The NME described them as ‘the most extreme (and un-listenable) band ever’.
With a name immediately designed to shock and unsettle (a combination of ‘Stalag’, the word for a Nazi concentration camp and the letters ‘g’ and ‘h’, standing for ‘global holocaust’), Stalaggh were formed by members of the extreme ends of the Dutch and Belgian metal and ambient music scenes.
The real intrigue around the band is on their numerous vocalists, many said to have been patients at an asylum that one of the band members worked at, one of whom had become a resident after killing his mother by stabbing her thirty times. A later event allegedly saw another murder committed by a patient, this time a fellow patient, the sounds recorded for use on their album. A band member explained:
“The reasoning for recording mental patients is because the band really wanted the hatred and painful emotions to be REAL and truly felt. Also, we wanted to recreate the situation of the Stalag concentration camps in sound. The next recording was the vocals session which took place in the chapel of an old monastery that was no longer in use. The acoustics and atmosphere of that chapel were perfect for recording the howls and screams of the mentally insane. It was very hard to get access to that chapel, but we told the owner that we were doing this as a kind of scream therapy for the mental patients and finally he gave us permission.”
Their first, self-titled release in 2001 hinted at the mayhem to come but it was their full-length works which really caused upset and alarm. The trivialities of melody are dispensed with, the unearthly screams and groans backed with throaty white-noise and atomic blasts. It’s difficult to come to a decision as to what kind of mood you’d need to be in to put it on to listen to. Between 2004 and 2008, four albums appeared each equally harrowing, none of them supported by live shows or any further indication as to those involved.
They are, however, not without their fans, one of whom carved their name into his chest so deeply that he only narrowly avoided death through blood-loss. In defence of their use of mental patients, the band asserts that all involved gave their written permission and that none of the participants were mentally deficient, ‘only’ suffering from conditions such as schizophrenia and psychosis, the ultimate aim being to give the listener an idea of what is going on in their heads and to transform pain and fear into sound.
Their following project, Gulaggh, again obsessing with concentration camps, this time the Russian Gulags, incorporated classical instrumentation, violins, cellos and saxophones, inevitably attacked rather than played in a conventional manner. If anything, it’s even more unsettling than the previous incarnation’s music, with the increased atmosphere evoking genuinely Hellish visions. Once the three album project is completed, the band has announced there will be no future releases and they will cease to exist.
2001 Stalaggh 7”
2003 Projekt Nihil
2006 Nihilistik Terrror
2007 Projekt Misanthropia
2008 Pure Misanthropia
Forthcoming – Kolyma & Norilsk
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
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