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CVLT Nation’s Top Six SPLITS of 2015

SIX – MIZMOR/DROSS

In this joint effort, Mizmor delights us with “IX – Crestfallen Usurper,” a fifteen-minute black-doom colossus that will devour your dreams and melt your marrow from within. The song kicks off with a wallop, about seven or eight minutes of frantic and disembodied black metal virulence that brings together both the lurid and spiteful dissonance of Dark Funeral and Gorgoroth and the eerie and stormy melancholy of bands like Drudkh and Ash Borer. The song winds and shifts down a path of sonic damnation and complete loss until it hits the bottom of a hideous abyss. At that point, the underworld opens up; the tempos slow down to a coma pace and a frightening, doom-ridden void opens before the listener, deafening him or her with a barrage of bestial, slow-motion doom devastation, before picking up the black metal axe again and cutting through the listener with a storm of slashing black metal riffs. This song is long, tortuous and dismal, but the fifteen minutes go by fast, making the whole song feel like some kind of malevolent wind that swept through you, or like awakening from a bad dream.

The second half of the ordeal is presented to us by Dross. These Arizona pain scavengers give a song that is more focused on melody, repetition and mid tempos. At times, you have the feeling you have been sucked back in time and are witnessing the birth of Wolves In The Throne Room all over again, gazing in awe at the materialization of their crusty and epic black metal gallops. However, Dross present their craft to us on a way more depressive and death-ridden note. Luminosity is choked out of the music, with a squeezing of shadows so tight that complete darkness dominates throughout, and the moods are just fucking dreadful. The loss, pain, numbness and dread that drips from these riffs are the shit of total desperation, the climax of a fucking nightmare in which you have lost everything. Here, too, we have about thirteen minutes of crawling and slithering dread, but the band is good at keeping your attention, alternating towards the end with some melodic soloing and picking, some doomy soundscapes and a black metal grand finale that will peel the skin from your flesh.

Read the full review HERE

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FIVE – FUNERARY/OOZE

Things kick off with Funerary doing what they do best: unfolding two forbidding, colossal and malefic slabs of misery-drowned doom. Two aural discharges of collapsing sonic torment that mean absolute fucking pain. Laying somewhere in-between the realms of Yob, Corrupted, Conan and Indian, Funerary have taken the notions of “heavy,” “suffocating,” “loud” and “crushing” to insanity-level extremes and have just fucking run with them, creating something that is so heavy, and inhuman and alienating that as you listen to the two tracks, you can barely keep your eardrums from fucking bursting, and your skull from caving in. Listening to Funerary’s music is a harrowing experience. It almost feel like a container ship has been placed on your chest and you can feel the music slowly squeeze the air out of your tiny and helpless ribcage under the sheer tonnage and force of their unforgiving and titanic riffs. If you liked their debut album Starless Aeon, you will absolutely adore these two skull-crushing tracks.

The second half of this monstrous split is all in the hands of Italy’s Ooze, who by the way you should catch on tour with Funerary and Lycus this summer. Owing some similarities to their close cousins and compatriots Ufomammut and Grime, Ooze are more oriented to a groovy and menacing form of stoner/doom. Their high-octave and adrenaline-charged sludge is “faster” and more energetic that Funerary’s, but loses absolutely nothing in sheer tonnage and heaviness if compared to their split companions. To the opposite, their riffs are an utter war zone of heaviness and crushing sonic obliteration. The short songs and locked tempos ensure for an absolutely bulldozing listening experience, with the band constantly with their plow down and foot on the pedal, ripping through a firestorm of riffs and percussion and obliterating everything in their path. Their music almost has a “hardcore” feel to it, which reminds us of classic sludge core masters like Eyehategod, Buzzoven, Grief and Bongzilla.

Read the full review HERE


ooze

 

FOUR – PREDATORY LIGHT/VORDE

Predatory Light starts things off with a haunting little lead guitar melody. Ritual black metal makes a positive impression when the music is carefully constructed. Meticulously rendered, they move past the first eerie lick and move it through more discordant black metal bliss. The band’s two tracks on this split are mostly slow anthems that breathe defiance for the spirit of tributary efforts. They don’t mix up the tempos much, opting to use the haunting lead and strange, syncopated drumming to good effect. So far, so good. Vorde is up next.

Vorde amps up the weirdness even more as the drum machine they utilize plays socialist rhythms quite like experimental industrial bands like to use. Having said that, their beats are much more minimalist. You won’t bang your head to this. But the music can enchant you, and if you’re worth your collection of underground black metal albums, the music will succeed in doing so.

Read the full review HERE

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THREE – VASSAFOR/TEMPLE NIGHTSIDE

What we have here is some of the best material to date from both Vassafor and Temple Nightside; material that enhances my prior intrigue of the latter and only exacerbates my already great admiration for the former. By now, after years of absolutely stellar releases to his name, it’s no surprise to me that both bands share a common denominator in the multi-talented mastermind that goes by the name of VK. Writing and performing virtually all duties in Vassafor, while lending bass duties to Temple Nightside, it’s suffice to say he has his mitts all over Call of the Maelstrom and the final product is yet another perfect amalgamation of occult Black Metal, cavernous Death and damning, ritualistic Doom.

Read the full review HERE


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TWO – OLD WITCH/KEEPER

Old Witch showcases on these tracks above and beyond anything else that Stephen is comfortable in delivering different sounds and styles, while retaining his core vision. Which makes the next track even more surprising. “A Gathering of Strangers” breaks the mold on this side, a quiet, haunting melody that had me instantly comparing it to works by Angelo Badalamenti. This song in particular, and the last song “Gallows,” had me sold to the fact that this project is something special. I have nothing but respect and admiration for metal artists that try to push boundaries and ruffle the feathers of those who adhere to a more traditional approach. The last two songs could have been composed of a more standard Doom sound, but straying from this path and forging into unknown territories is what really sets this side apart. When listened to from start to finish, it’s impossible to argue that these tracks don’t flow together and thus, create an atmosphere and sense feeling that roars it’s away over you like a tidal wave. Old Witch have crafted a decaying, tragic soundtrack on their half of this release. Consider this project (Stephen Heyerdahl) as an explorer into the dark core that extreme music makes us feel, from the hopeless feeling that hovers about the air, to the fury and eventual sadness that arrives as one realizes that they really are all alone in this universe. Old Witch have delivered a grand display on these four songs. Ones that should be turning some heads and raising eyebrows after their initial digestion.

I was fortunate enough to have reviewed Keeper’s last output The Space Between Your Teeth a few months back. So it makes sense that I was pretty stoked to hear this latest offering from these guys. And by all means, they blew me away yet again. “Four Walls; A Home” and “With or Without Part 1,2 and 3” stand as splendid examples of their evolving sound and willingness to delve into the nuanced emotions extreme music can contain. Both songs impart the sense that Keeper are really coming into their own identity as band.  “Four Walls” starts off with a heavy, Grief-influenced opening, before they melt into a nightmarish, opium-induced haze. A nineteen minute ride into what feels like a drunken, late night argument between two lovers that quickly turns violent.  The song itself feels like a very natural continuation from their last record in terms of of delivery and method, which isn’t a bad thing by any means. It blows my mind that Keeper were able to construct such a long, heavy song without tripping over themselves and repeating any previous ideas. As I’ve come to discover, though, over the course of this release and their previous material, Keeper are capable of destroying any assumptions that I form.

Read the full review HERE…


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ONE – HUMAN BODIES/LEATHER CHALICE

Human Bodies starts the split with two songs, titled “Only The Sigh” and “Malice Prepense” respectively. They are two songs with absolutely no chill whatsoever. Rocketing into what you may call a starting point, but what I call a tornado, “Only The Sigh” begins with such a gnawing bassline that it’s almost inhumane. Vocals akin to that of wraiths haunting graveyards darting in and out of focus over thrash laden black-influenced crust makes it so you’re looking over your shoulder as that sense of being watched starts drilling its way into your shoulder. The nervousness creeps along your spine two fingers at a time, and the vocals keep whispering screeches into your ear and the fingers on the fretboard caress your airway shut after the knot in your throat grows exponentially as one big spout of slamming drifts out of the song.

“Good Intentions (Coming Home Part One)” begins with quite the melancholy guitar work. Black-metal gasps of shrieks make it so that lo-fi, fuzzrocious approach becomes a refined taste of culture and delving deep into music’s core. An exposé of emotions regarding having to go home squirm their way around your heart, making you feel the sadness and disappointment, the small bouts of self-directed anger, and then a dive into what I’m certain is despair over having to be surrounded with people you left in the first place.

Read the full review HERE

 


Cover art for the Split EP from Human Bodies and Leather Chalice

 

 

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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