Verena von Horsten is an avant garde indie artist whose sound and voracity are on par with the likes of Tori Amos, Bjork or Siouxsie Sioux. She just released her second album in early January, and it’s even more emotionally charged than her debut, Mother Tongue. The new album, Alien Angel Super Death is definitely more personal, or more overtly so, as it addresses the recent suicide of her brother. To quote von Horsten herself, “These ten compositions are in no way light-hearted,” nor would one expect them to be with such a serious and upsetting subject. Von Horsten also claims to have found profound healing in producing the album, and she has become a champion for mental illness and suicide awareness.
The first single off of Alien Angel Super Death is called “Fire”, and she released it with a video which is just as evocative and intense as its namesake. The song itself is in the middle of the album and it signals a turning point where both vocals and music are torturous, beatific, despairing and healing all at once. To wit: the running melody sounds tortured and banshee-like where the vocals are concerned, but there are parts which are of an uplifting, almost church-like nature. It seems that the apotheosis of von Horsten’s journey in her grief and her own psychological struggle is playing out in “Fire”.
The video for “Fire” drives home the point by adding a stark visual element. Not one to shy away from taboos, the first images in the video are of von Horsten taking a torch to a sign reading “suicide”, and pictures of her own brother who passed away. As von Horsten dances in an ecstatic way against this backdrop, the acts out visually all the emotions she’s produced musically on this single. It is truly something to behold.
Believe it or not, “Fire” isn’t even the most intense song on Alien Angel Super Death. This emotional rawness and musical complexity is why von Horsten should be counted among the greats of avant garde indie music. She is truly connected with her process and has made something great out of her tragedy. Alien Angel Super Death is available to stream or purchase on von Horsten’s Bandcamp page.