If the wrath of heaven sounds anything like Locrian, then archangel Michael has been digging into the prog-rock bin lately. The loosely Chicago-based trio has always had grand ambition, dissolving and rebuilding the darker sounds of ambient, noise and metal on its own and in several collaborations (Mammifer, Christoph Heeman and Horseback among them). Return to Annihilation continues in that vein, but is far more rhythmic, hypnotic and Popol Vuh-lic. And, like that German kraut-rock band, "A Visitation From the Wrath of Heaven" could easily score a Werner Herzog film.
More than previous efforts, this record works best as a whole, but "Wrath of Heaven" is a fine place to start. The track slowly layers a pulsing synth, E-bowed guitar, multichannel panning and a repetitive kick drum before the bombastic final minute. It's sandwiched between the screamed, over-the-top synth-razed opener "Eternal Return" and the depressingly moody "Two Moons," just to give you an idea of Annihilation's narrative scope. Somewhere, the archangels are preparing for battle.
Return to Annihilation comes out June 25 on Relapse Records.