Let’s get one fact out of the way before I claw into this release: yes, CVLT Nation drew a blood-pact with Barghest and Teeth to release this unhallowed split. And yes, this is a review being put on the site, in order to promote it and expose it to those that dwell blissfully unaware of these two bands. However, my license to dissect this release apart has been given full approval by the powers that be. The only problem with that, however, is that there’s not much to tear apart or critique. Because, well, both bands show up in true fighting form.
First up is Barghest. When one thinks of Baton Rouge, the searing, scorn-filled sound of Black Metal doesn’t really come to mind, thus making this five-piece project such a fiendishly, vile surprise. “Born of Tooth and Talon” serves as the perfect introduction to their side of this split. A wind slowly builds up alongside foreboding horns, the whelps and howls of dogs in the background. The opening use of a brief, horror-inspired sample creates the perfect atmosphere. Barghest explode forth from the nighttime landscape they’ve created with a blistering declaration. They are to be feared. Their name is to be forbidden from ever being uttered by pious lips. Simply put, this isn’t Black Metal for those looking for synthesizer-drenched songs or Gothic overtures.
Perhaps what Barghest does best is what it doesn’t do. Each song sounds like classic Black Metal. The kind that used to cloud this genre’s name in controversy. There is no lofty, misaligned thought of pushing boundaries. Barghest simply want to unleash their wrath in the most direct, cruel way possible. They never play outside of their range and always stick to their guns, which in this case, is an absolute asset. “Coil Strike” is perhaps the greatest example of this fact. To say that this song contains a sense of majesty is an understatement. Throughout its duration, it summons forth images of fog-choked forests and occult masses uttering hymns to what lies beyond the dark. It bleeds that true Black Metal sound from its veins and onto the ground. And honestly, the world needs more of that.
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From the third and fourth track – respectively titled “Sterile Initiates” and “The Nameless Tongue” – it became apparent that this band is going to be rampaging across my life for some time. Their savage and wholly unpredictable approach to Black Metal is something much needed in these underground vaults. Barghest prove that they’ve been refining their approach and sound into a bestial, frenzied war lust. The attention to the lessons of the past, coupled with an undying need to exact revenge on the world, helps create a nasty, vicious sonic assault. One that should please even the most disillusioned, snotty internet-forum critic.
TEETH (for those who haven’t checked out their phenomenal debut Unremittance, get on that now) are a hard one to pin down. Like so many bands that litter the landscape, they attempt to work in a myriad of different Extreme Metal styles. The difference, however, between TEETH and other projects is one simple thing. TEETH are getting really, really fucking good at what they do – and perhaps they are even on the cusp of truly tapping into an unmined vein of sound.
“The Hell That Whispers in my Bones” rolls across twenty-three terrifyingly vast minutes. The lessons learned and time to grow between Unremittance and this release is on full display here. For those uninitiated into TEETH’S cult, these California natives assemble a swatch of styles. From the trenches of Doom Metal into the the searing speed and technical showmanship of Death and Black Metal. And to try and pinpoint a specific passage in this song as the “highlight” is just about impossible. TEETH weave in and out of genres effortlessly and display a greater sense of being in tune with their sound.
The Death Metal portions sound as if they have been listening to Oracle and Mafia by Fleshgod Apocalypse for the last ten years – a definite plus in my book. This facet of their sound is hands down, face-searingly paced. Chalk-full of chest compressing riffs and blast beats coupled alongside glass-swallowing, throaty vocals. While they pull this style off with ease, it’s truly the moments where they get a little more cerebral that shine. These more subtle, downplayed moments are reminiscent of bands like Red Sparrowes and Cult of Luna. Dense, slowed-down passages that at times are crushing, yet strangely enthralling. Even beautiful.
TEETH have shown a tremendous amount of growth since their full length. With those foundations firmly in place, its a true pleasure to witness them unleash this monstrous song. This melding of styles results in a journey that has a very deliberate flow to it. And the almost seamless transitions into passages is executed with a hitman’s precision. They’ve dug their way into a very certain, unaccompanied niche and honestly, we’re lucky to bear witness. With such a jump in terms of quality content, the evolution of this band is in full swing. And thankfully it doesn’t look like they’ll be stopping anytime soon.