Didn’t realize it until after we got these in, but the new British industrial/drone band Theme features Richard Johnson from Splintered as one of it’s members. I’m a big fan of Splintered, a UK psych-industrial band that was active in the late 80’s/early 90’s Brit noise rock scene alongside Ramleh and Skullflower, but I hadn’t been aware of what the members of Splintered were involved with nowadays, since that project has been in a state of permanent hibernation for over a decade. Johnson apparently formed Theme right around the time that Splintered ceased activities in the late 90’s, heading in a much more abstract and droneological direction and releasing a couple of albums on the Fourth Dimension and Lumberton Trading Company through the first half of the ‘oughts. Valentine (Lost) Forever is the band’s first new album since 2006, released on our favorite Israeli extreme music label Heart & Crossbones, which seems like an odd pairing at first until you stop and consider how many of HCB’s releases are influenced by classic industrial. And that’s where Theme’s sound is based, a good portion of it at least, with the seven tracks on Valentine (Lost) Forever made up of repetitive chanting and vocals, fractured music-box melodies cast in liquid nitrogen, and abstract digital noisescapes woven into seriously creepy looping industrial ambience. The influence of the occult post-industrial music of Coil and early Current 93 on Theme’s music is pretty obvious, especially when the lead male vocals appear, a dramatic rasp not unlike that of David Tibet, and the music is steeped in a similar grim, apocalyptic aura as Current 93’s hallucinatory masterpiece Dogs Blood Rising; Theme also work in a few moments of crushing industrial weight, as well, as on “An Answer To All Life” and the very end of “Burn The Truth”, where the band combines the droning sound collage and endtime dread of C93 with pummeling slow-motion drum dirge that reminds me of early Swans. The final track is a remix from Steven Severin (formerly of Siouxsie & the Banshees), who takes the core elements of “Burn The Truth” and sculpts them into a pounding rhythmic industrial dirge that would have sounded out of place on one of Charnel Music’s Arrhythmia compilations.