#146 | Album Review | Cryo Chamber – Hastur

The H.P. Lovecraft dark ambient collaborative efforts have been a staple of the titanous Oregon-based Cryo Chamber label for six years now. It all began in the early fall of 2014 when Simon Heath, owner and operator of Cryo Chamber, debuted the eighty-minute behemoth Cthulhu, which featured thirteen artists from their ever-growing roster. This selection of Great Old One, Elder God, Eldritch horror, however you choose to describe the winged tentacle monstrosity from the sea, was an obvious if not essential starting point for the unearthly schlepp the label would undertake in years subsequent. Cthulhu trekked across terrain familiar to those long steeped in the arcane words of the early twentieth century’s weird fiction author. For the uninitiated, it towered like a lighthouse, rotating its beaming bulb to catch the eyes of those who have heard whispers of the name in passing but not yet gazed into its esoteric radiance.

Since Cthulhu‘s unfurling in 2014, Cryo Chamber’s tireless toil continued at an annual gait. Every fall or early winter tribal horns beckoned one of Lovecraft’s sleepless deities. Azathoth, the Blind Idiot God, was summoned in 2015. In 2016 stirred the Crawling Chaos known as Nyarlathotep, followed by the omniscient Yog-Sothoth in 2017. And during 2018 loomed The Black Goat of the Woods, Shub-Niggurath. Across these four years, each tale’s artist roster and run-time fluctuated. It reached an apex with Nyarlathotep, which boasted 25 composers and a hefty 3-hour, 10-minute journey; however, since its release, Cryo Chamber seems to have struck the ideal balance of artists-to-runtime: approximately 20 artists collaboratively crafting an approximate 2-hour harrowing epic.

As we approached the crest of yule in 2019, Hastur loomed on the horizon. The name originates from “Haita, The Shepherd” (1891), a short story/parable penned by Ambrose Bierce. In it, Hastur was described as the God of Shepherds and that was mostly it. Fast-forward four years and the name Hastur was adopted by Robert W. Chambers, who transmogrified the shepherd god into a nebulous entity in his collection of short stories, The King in Yellow (1895). Strewn in tattered robes with the mark of The Yellow Sign, the oblique descriptions of Hastur and the dilapidated kingdom of Carcosa—a timeworn city of Bierce’s creation (“An Inhabitant of Carosa” (1891))—went on to inspire Lovecraft, to which he makes vague references in his 1931 short story, “The Whisperer in Darkness.” And that is the extent of Lovecraft’s expanse.

Given Lovecraft’s cursory allusions to Hastur, Carcosa, and The Yellow Sign, we found this to be a fascinating selection of entity particularly because his references are scant. In this lengthier podcast discussion, I am joined by my long-time friend, Eric, who has read nearly every shred of literature tied to Lovecraft’s name. We focus a swathe of time on the web of weird fiction connecting the dots between the profaned kingdom and its forever withering ruler, though we also expend a slew of words regarding our favorite passages pockmarking the 2-hour, 20-minute odyssey. Many other terrains are trodden across during our exchange and we sincerely hope you enjoy it. Thank you so much for tuning in.

Hastur was created by the following Cryo Chamber artists: Ager Sonus, Alphaxone, Apocryphos, Atrium Carceri, Council of Nine, Creation VI, Dahlias Tear, Darkrad, Dead Melodies, Dronny Darko, Flowers for Bodysnatchers, God Body Disconnect, Gydja, Kolhoosi 13, Mount Shrine, Neizvestija, Northumbria, ProtoU, Ruptured World, SiJ, Sphäre Sechs, Ugasanie, and Wordclock. The hyperlinks will take you to the latest release of each respective artist published by Cryo Chamber (with a couple of exceptions).

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You can acquire a digital or physical (2xCD) of Hastur via the Cryo Chamber Bandcamp page. Also, be sure to follow Cryo Chamber on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the know about upcoming albums as they publish a new record every few weeks.

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