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Lana Del Rabies’s Strega Beata marks an evolution in the industrial noise artist’s sound

"Strega Beata"

Release date: 17 March 2023
Lana Del Rabies - Strega Beata cover
14 March 2023, 08:00 Written by Greg Hyde

Lana Del Rabies, the recording name used by Phoenix, Arizona multimedia artist Sam An for her industrial noise work, made her full-length debut in 2016 with In the End I Am a Beast.

She followed this up in 2018 with the increasingly abrasive Shadow World. An is now releasing her third album, Strega Beata, her most synth-dominated work yet. She says she wrote the album as a response to the multiple incidents of trauma she experienced following personal and global tragedies that occurred in the late '10s and early '20s. She adds that it “is an allegory told from the evolving perspective of a mythological, cryptic creator figure.”

Opening track “Prayer of Consequence” begins with some gloomy, foreboding synths that serve as a good portent of what is to come. These give way to An’s eerie, multi-tracked vocals, along with some guitar-like noises and percussive effects. The track serves as a good example of how Strega Beata’s sound is less overtly abrasive than Shadow World’s but utilises synths to create an atmosphere that is even more unsettling than that which permeated the latter record. “Master” has a similar effect, in a way that recalls synth-wave acts like Kavinsky and Chromatics.

Another interesting aspect to this album is how the percussive sounds on tracks such as “A Plague” recall the metallic, clanking sounds of the percussion on records by early industrial bands such as Cabaret Voltaire, a quality that is rare among modern-day industrial acts. The way in which An’s haunting vocals intertwine with the celestial-sounding synths that mimic choral voices on “Mother” before giving way to some genuinely industrial sounds which have an unsettling effect. However, the album slightly loses its way midway through, with tracks such as “Grace the Teacher”, “Hallowed Is the Earth,” and “Mourning” feeling like unfocused filler that could have been jettisoned to give the record a tighter feel. The darker, heavier “Reckoning,” “Apocalypse Fatigue,” and “Forgive” thankfully make for a closing triptych that leaves the listener thirsty for more.

Strega Beata is a good album. It does not need to be an hour long, and Shadow World’s dominance of feedback-like effects is preferable to Strega Beata's preponderance of synths. That being said, whilst it may be musically less satisfying than An’s second album, her haunting vocals make it even more effective than that record in terms of immersing the listener in a doom-laden atmosphere. The album makes for subtly intense, but definitely not easy, listening.

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