Chicago multi-instrumentalist and Reader contributor Luca Cimarusti is having a busy summer. In July his minimalist postpunk trio, Luggage, dropped the album Happiness, and now he’s about to put out the second full-length from his black-metal solo project, Annihilus. Cimarusti originally wanted to keep this project anonymous, but he dropped that idea after releasing his first demo, deciding that the mystique of anonymity wasn’t worth the trouble and distraction of maintaining it. Last year’s full-length debut, Ghanima (American Decline), earned rave reviews and immediately established Annihilus as a project to watch.
Cimarusti named Annihilus after a Marvel Comics villain from the so-called Negative Zone who first appeared in the late 60s, but even if you know about his plan to destroy the universe with a bomb harnessing the Power Cosmic, it really won’t prepare you for the fury of the new Annihilus record. Follow a Song From the Sky is a deep and wild album, full of eloquent rage and formidable artistry. Its raw guitar work and vocals have strong links to punk, industrial, ambient, and postrock, and Cimarusti can switch gears between the eerie and the absolutely unhinged; “Draw the Beast,” which features guest vocals by Ryan Wichmann of Sick/Tired, is especially brutal in this way. “Winter Song” settles into a harsh, sharp-edged groove and sustains it for a perfectly satisfying length before erupting into a glorious coda that sounds almost like an old-school rocker grinding a guitar against an amp. While Annihilus is technically a solo project, Cimarusti is hardly a loner, and on Follow he welcomes collaborations from several local musicians. Electronic composer Brett Naucke adds simmering, boiling noise to several tracks; Dan Binaei of Racetraitor and Trevor de Brauw of Pelican contribute guitar to “AMA” and “Song From the Sky,” respectively; and Brian Case of FACS turns in a mesmerizing vocal performance on “Song From the Sky.” The first single from the album, “The Voice of Shai-Hulud” (inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune series), condenses an epic journey into less than five minutes—you can almost feel the sand blowing into your eyes. If this past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that the creative impulse will not be denied, even under terrible conditions. On Follow a Song From the Sky, Cimaurusti shows how it can be adapted into wondrous new mutations. v