Last albums from artists who have been a constant to you for as many years as Coil have been to me are very weighty affairs, indeed. "The Ape of Naples" is no different. It is a palpably intense affair of chaos incarnate.
Comprised of tracks recorded at Trent Reznor's Nothing Studios in New Orleans back in 1996 and also of new works which feature some of Jhonn Balance's final performances, this release is a dark and nihilistic one. It is very similar in tone to their bleakest album ever, 1987's "Horse Rotorvator". Except that this time, it's not their friends who are dying all around them, it is Coil itself that is in it's own final death throes.
The works from the Backwards period are classic Coil just as the band's website proclaims, especially "Heaven's Blade" which features some of Balance's most lucidly deranged lyrics ever. "There's blood in the sun, but I'm not afraid. I cut myself with Heaven's Blade. Inside the wound I found my wings and walked away from this human skin. I stand before the sun, rise up and see the shape of things to come it's all just the same..." Resigned and resilient, Balance carries his torch as if to light his own funeral pyre whereas with a song like "It's in My Blood", he sounds almost possessed and driven by forces beyond his control. The words, if there are any, are indecipherable. An incantation laced with the deadliest nightshade.
Of the new songs, "Tattooed Man" is a rather continental affair with an accordion setting the tone to an almost waltzy brand of music. It's opiate in tone and very pretty with it's lazy, drifting swells of churling synthetic atmospheres washing over you. "Going up", a "cover" of sorts of the classic Britcom series "Are You Being Served" theme, closes "The Ape of Naples" with a mournfully classical arrangement gently sending you off into the darkness which, as always, is something to see.
Balance utters the same phrase over and over as the final tendrils of sound fade into the nothingness which is now all that will issue forth from Coil as the name becomes overgrown by gnarled years now at an end; the legacy becoming legend.
"It just is..."
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