Abandoned On Fire is the new project from Datathrash founder Arnie Holder. Within the seven tracks contained on ‘Hymnal’ lies some of the most challenging chiptune to ever grace the scene. Also, and probably as a surprise to no-one, it’s fucking incredible.
‘Hymnal’ is more a collection of noise experiments whose sole goals seem to be violation of both the ears and the GameBoy than it is chipthrash. Tracks often left me in a ‘Sunn0)))’-like trance, as vicious noise rattled and seethed behind forceful beats. ‘Hymn of Joyful Noise’ is an ungodly din, but impressive as much in its savagery as in its technical prowess. A GameBoy really shouldn’t make these noises. Elsewhere ‘Hymn of Regret’, one of three re-worked tracks from Arnie’s previous release ‘DeathMurderGo’, sounds like a chorus of furious roars, driven only more ferocious by the sledgehammer percussion.
Seven tracks of noisy experimental chip might sound a bit off-putting on paper, but the constantly shifting focus and frequent ingenuity don’t stop astonishing until the album is done. Chad Roose’s influence on the co-written ‘Hymn of Brotherhood’ is definitely felt, bringing the track a punkish groove and creating an unrelenting beast of a track. The end to ‘Hymn of Thanks’ is fantastic; a brutal wall of sound slowly morphs into 80s synth pop synths and back again. The result is staggering. ‘Hymn of Strength’ also slays, mixing catchy grooves with the album’s overarching aggression, before spinning into almost Samba beats that works surprisingly well.
‘Hymnal’ is inventive, unique, and hugely powerful. The talent both in programming and composition on display here is unquantifiable, and the emotion pushed through the small grey box is unparalleled. Make no mistake; this won’t be everyone’s taste. That doesn’t stop it being an incredible listen though. Probably (and unfortunately, I really hope I’m proved wrong here) destined to be overlooked, make sure you’re not part of the problem; ‘Hymnal’ is without a doubt one of the best chiptune releases of the year.
Favourite track: Hymn of Strength
Grab the album here.