Look at the artwork that adorns this split release. It’s a forest or hillside that, at any other time would, have been a picturesque scene but here it is now, engulfed in a sea of flames, a conflagration that is burning this once serene area of nature to the ground, leaving only ash and sorrow in its wake. If there ever was a fitting image to complement the music held within the record this is it. This is the split cassette between Amarok and Hell.
Both bands have always offered their own brands of diseased doom metal with drone and sludge elements and each released noteworthy split records last year respectively, Amarok with Pyramido and Hell with Thou, so their pairing for this split makes perfect sense and easily gives their predecessor records a run for their money.
Amarok serve up a 20 minute dirge of harrowing sludge in the form of ‘V: Red Oak Wisdom’. It wastes no time whatsoever, erupting with a cataclysmic riff that ushers us into a dreary world of doom that trudges along with Thou-like riffs that would move tectonic plates. This is until around the eight minute mark where the band fearlessly recoils into sombre territory where piano and strings take centre stage, crafting an entirely different world for the listener.
Hell’s side features three new slabs of sonic molestation that expand a great deal on the material from their split with Thou. The Oregon duo conjures a sickly atmosphere like no one else and their gruesome sludge doom, with pepperings of black metal, has very few contemporaries and it’s easy to hear why.
While the thick walls of crushing guitars pulverise all around them, there’s the breeze of eerie melody nudging through the din, particularly on second track ‘Oblitus’ as it bleeds into the final dirge ‘Dolore’. It’s become a mainstay in Hell’s sound, summoning deathly hymns with flourishes of light shimmering through the cracks and it’s proving to be a dichotomy that works perfectly for them.
This is another example of two perfectly complementary bands teaming up for a split, all the while still crafting their own individual side.