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Wrekmeister Harmonies is the project of Chicago musician and artist JR Robinson, and Then It All Came Down is his second full length composition under that name. (The previous album, You've Always Meant So Much To Me, is actually included on this CD version of this release.)

I use the word composition because, despite the fact that this album is at home in the worlds of progressive black metal and dark ambient, more than anything it comes across as a piece of modern classical music. It has plenty of musical twists and turns over the course of its 34 minute duration.

Although the Wrekmeister Harmonies name is synonymous with JR Robinson, this is a large scale production and he has assembled an impressive cast of players for this performance, including Sanford Parker (Corrections House, Twilight), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), Wrest (Leviathan), Ryley Walker, Chris Brokaw (Codeine, Come), and the large ensemble work well together over a huge dynamic range from a female choir to full-on noise assault.

It begins with a gentle, crackling drone; tiny bells jingle and the amps buzz ominously in the background. Then female voices lead a pastoral siren song out of the initial drone, as the acoustic guitar becomes more prominent. It is a very beautiful opening - they are singing, deliberately slowly, the phrase "beautiful sun", which apparently references an interview which Truman Capote conducted with Bobby Beausoleil - a cult figure who took his ideology from Aleister Crowley and was a big influence on Charles Manson.

After ten minutes the atmosphere changes, it becomes uneasy and the garbled voice of Wrest from Leviathan makes his presence felt. "I tremble with anticipation" he growls, as the storm builds and the atmospheric backing cracks and vibrates.

The whole piece is a battle between dark and light, and a pretty melody is re-established with a delicate string arrangement, whilst the male voices resonate in the background like another instrument.

The beautiful lull is broken again with a sudden stab of guitar as a power chord hangs in the air, and the male vocals howl and scream as the guitars swarm into a wall of noise. It takes a few more minutes to build into full-on metalness, with the full drum kit getting pummelled and the guitars building relentlessly.

It climaxes and tries to settle down again, with a pretty chord progression battling the noise as the screamo vocals and guitars ebb and flow until all is still.

Then It All Came Down was premiered last year in the National Bohemian Cemetery in Chicago, under a full moon. When you hear it, that all makes sense. The natural yet eerie setting, surrounded by reminders of mortality, and the potential interest in the occult. This is a superbly assembled piece, with a great grasp of dynamics and an understanding that its subtle moments can be just powerful as those times when it becomes a complete aural assault. Then It All Came Down is a noisy beast, but it is a beautiful one too.

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