In February, four profiled bands - bands trawling the more spiritual black seas - unleashed an about 40 minutes long split together. Abigor from Austria released their first album in 1994, and it annoys me that I don't know their discography better than what I do.
American Nightbringer and Greek Thy Darkened Shade have both been active since 1999, although it took about ten years to get the first albums out.
Swedish Mortuus was born in 2003, but managed to debut before the two aforementioned constellations.
Rather than four disjointed songs with different soundscape from four practically random bands with different expressions, we get four songs with a more overarching coherency than what your average split offers. And the songs aren't equipped with other names than those of the respective bands.
Abigor continues in a familiar style from the previous album, Leytmotif Luzifer. The music's progression through twelve minutes is soaring, but bizarre and creepy, like a tedious nightmare out of control. The song has many different components and features that merge into an eccentric whole and an abstract but beautiful piece of musical art.
Listing all these ingredients just feels wrong. Abigor has a dynamic range of DR10, which creates great contrasts among the muted and resounding sounds of the catacomb.
The transition to Nightbringer's contribution glides completely seamlessly. The band has been praised by yours truly in connection with their last two albums, Ego Dominus Tuus and Terra Damnata. The band continues the journey in ceremonial landscapes with subtle orchestral spices and a mystical atmosphere of cryptic clandestinity.
After about eight minutes, Thy Darkened Shade follows with another ten minutes as a supplement to this swirling dissonant seance. Their sophomore Liber Lvcifer I was my first encounter with them, and gave a very positive first impression. Their contribution here is fast-paced and dizzying. What kind of hallucinogenic substances are in circulation in this heretical covert ceremony, performed by four cloaked high priests, is not for me to say, but we are obviously in the midst of some chaotic psychedelic climax in this febrile waltz.
Imperceptibly, the music slides into the last contribution. Mortuus opens calmly, and play on the same thematic strings. This is yet another band that has made a strong impression in the past. The band has released two albums. I reviewed the last of the two, Grape of the Vine, and I consider it a suggestive masterpiece within atmospheric, spooky and obscene black metal. The band doesn't disappoint this time either, but takes part in this shady ritual with glowing Luciferian zeal. Their task is to bring the seance to its conclusion, something they do by stepping down the volatile moods, and landing the ethereal atmosphere as a fictional aircraft.
This is by no means four randomly composed songs. The four make up a thoughtful and masterful quadruple alliance. This collaboration testifies to bands that won't leave anything to chance what artistic visions are concerned. But the split does not only testify to integrity and professional competence. It also consists of hypnotic music in a kaleidoscopic landscape out of a strange dimension. Mighty impressive. Close your eyes and become spellbound.
Listen to the album with all playback options below.
Each band offer the entire digital version on their respective Bandcamp page, along with (parts of) their back-catalogues for you to explore. In addition, physical versions can be obtained from four acclaimed underground labels.
Helter Skelter, 27.01.17
I'm bouncing a bit backward in time on my list of shorter releases that should have been mentioned a long time ago.
Early this year, the bands Malum and Insane Vesper from Finland and France respectively, released a split titled Luciferian Dimensions. The press release stated January as time of release, while Metal Archives insist on Mars. Not that it's important enough to waste calories investigating further.
Of the two, I only know Insane Vesper. Their previous album, Layil, left a positive impression last year.
Both bands play black metal and contribute three songs and about 20 minutes each, and the Finns go first.
Malum has been active since 2013, and released their first album a couple of years ago. The band's songs are characterized by melancholy, discouragement and existential maladjustment, and are performed with thin and sharp sound. Due to the wistful melody lines, the expression is more atmospheric than necro. Malum, however, embraces both of these aspects on the present split, which in turn gives their black metal an impression of depression and agony. The recklessly determined vocals nevertheless prevents despair on the verge of a breakdown, also known as DSBM. Till the last song, the pace also increases slightly from slow and mid-tempo to somewhat fast paced. In addition to variation, this also helps to highlight the inherent antagonism of the band.
The French have changed the soundscape since last time. As in order to fit in on Luciferian Dimensions, they have gone from dark and resounding to sharp and serrated, with more rasping vocals than before. Even this gang has some melodic tunes in stock. These generates moods of aversions and disgust. The band's first song goes from long guitar tones to tremolo. The song's last half please me very well. Their second song opens more naked and primitive. However, it rapidly increases in intensity. This also shows promising tendencies. At the end, we get almost five minutes of sacred choir taken from a liturgical service. That it's covered with a ultra-thin layer of noise, doesn't make it make sense in my ears.
The two bands don't exactly fit in among classical material at this time. They still add new music in a familiar format. New bread, baked with an old recipe, still tends to tastes good. I like the recipe, but at the same time it's safe to say that the lads in the kitchen ain't no master chefs. This split hover slightly between “pretty good” and “good”, and that's only almost good enough to be defined as good. There are moments where I really enjoy what they're doing, though.