Wow, this is an impressive looking release. The Czech label HORUS CyclicDaemon released an enjoyable compilation before (Chaos), but this time they have taken their ambitions a step further. A luxurious A5 book full of erotic photos contains two cd’s filled with exclusive material of interesting artists.

The project is dedicated to Love & Eros in mythology, symbolist & decadent art and focuses especially on the story of Hades & Persephone & Koré & Demeter. This theme is worked out in the booklet, which contains about 30 `bizarre pictures` from 9 recent & modern photographers as well as some texts and poems. The photos have very different styles, some are subtle and romantic, others are rawer and fetish-like. Apart from the erotic photos, there is also a page for each artist involved, with credits and lyrics. Everything is printed on top quality paper to enhance the visual stimulation. Furthermore the booklet is packaged in a very nice envelope.

The theme becomes not only clear from the visual contributions of the photographer, but the musical artists also deal with themes of lust, sex and fetish. And they are certainly not the least artists, though there are also some unknown (but promising) artists present. Don’t expect fetish EBM/techno like Die Form though, in general the musical idiom is romantic or mysterious. The music on Lust from the Underworld ranges from dark folk to neo-classical, from heavenly voices and medieval to ritual, from dark ambient to experimental industrial.

Disc one starts sensual, with atmospheric sounds and the typical voice of Chako (related to Jack or Jive from Japan). Unto Ashes treats us to ritual and medieval sounds, with nice hurdygurdy and percussion sounds. Then comes a bombastic filmic soundscape by Abnocto, a project of Simon Kölle and Simon Heath, also known for Za Frûmi. These gothic fantasy sounds bring images of monks sneaking through dark corridors. The contribution by 4th Sign of the Apocalypse from the USA has a ritual, monotonous sound and an experimental structure. Then comes a rather mysterious piece with whispered/spoken vocals by a Mexican act called Detritus, which I think is another Detritus than the one who releases on Immanence and Ad Noiseam.

Romowe Rikoito is a lovely folky band from Russia, which enchants me with their melancholic string sound. Maor Appelbaum is a new name for me, but sounds interesting with a mixture of electronic and classical sounds, it reminds me of the more experimental Matt Howden works. The Mystery School adds a slow piano-based romantic hymn, while Chaos as Shelter is responsible for some rather dark ritual ambient sounds in combination with a traditional Persian song, reminding me of Agnivolok. One Inch of Shadow from Poland has a shimmering, experimental soundscape with some dramatic vocals on top of that. It is followed by Hexentanz, a project related to Soil Bleeds Black, but darker and more ritual, quite nice. Disc one is finished by a great atmospheric ambient piece with classical elements and interesting spoken text by Musterion, another project of Simon Kölle.

Disc 2 has a great start: Sieben with one of their most rhythmic pieces Forget Me Not, which I clearly remember from Matt Howden concerts and which is very different from the track with that name on the Sex and Wildflowers album. Mondblut are always masters at creating mysterious, sensual moods, and they do not disappoint. Empusae slowly builds up his track, which evolves into a complicated rhythmic piece, the harshest track so far. Delusional Day is much softer, with lovely, expressive female voices, somewhat jazzy. The Crown of the Scars is somewhat weird, with strange lyrics, making me think of David E. Williams. Cotton Ferox from Sweden had made a great album, and again they have contributed an original sounding piece, sort of experimental ambient dub with penetrating spoken word. While Angels Watch has a usual a more traditional dark folk sound, with romantic lyrics about angels and nice contributions by Matt and Jane Howden. Then follows an improvised, somewhat oriental piece by The Legendary Pink Dots, interesting as always. The Belgian Hybryds are specialized in dark ritual sounds, and with the help of the sensual voice of Ms. Poly Esther the lustful character of their song is further enhanced. Last but one is a bombastic medieval soundtrack piece by Za Frûmi, perhaps the best track I know from them. A slow classical piece with a religious feel by Ossaserpia finished the second cd.

This compilation is a true piece of art. A high level of music, and a superb quality of packaging, certainly value for money.

Only 500 handnumbered copies have been made of Lust from the Underworld.

Reviewed by Hans D.