Sick Fucking Split! Anicon/Belus Review + Stream

Well, winter has unleashed its first blast across North America, meaning only one thing. It’s time for a constant rotation of frost-bitten Black Metal. In response to the frigid days that are upon us, two of Brooklyn’s finest offerings in Black Metal, Anicon and Belus, have come together and released a split twelve inch to welcome in the season. Anicon, who features members of the space-time bending band Krallice and death/grind plague-bringers Trenchgrinder, offer up an effigy to the long lost art of playing just straight up, vicious black metal.

Ancion opens up their side of this assault with a Satyricon Rebel Extravaganza-era sized riff, before they swoop in with some pretty majestic and carefully crafted melodic black metal. Not to say that their side of this release has pure melody strewn about it. You’ll find no synthesizers or pianos from this band and with good reason. They don’t need it in any way. I was immediately impressed by the layer and density of this project, drawing comparisons to Immortals “At The Heart of Winter”. However, they most definitely have their own sound and are not in any way trying to do something which is has been beaten into the ground by numerous others. This four piece operates within itself perfectly and shows off that even for being a relatively new project (formed in 2010), that they can sit at the grown-ups table. Even while taking a nod from their Norwegian influences, it sounds remarkably fresh and modern, which is a nice change of pace for these worn out ear drums. Each song offered up by Anicon has a definite epic vibe about them, conjuring up images of warships departing some fog-covered harbor as a village burns behind the departing vessels. Both songs go over the seven minute mark, which allows a bit of breathing room and exploration to be had with this offering. The production sounds just dirty enough to warrant a black leather jacket be worn while listening to it, but not so “basement kvlt” to where it might exclude those who like their metal a little more polished. It’s rare these days to hear something that can straddle the lines of having that old school vibe but also brings something new to the table; Anicon does it damn well. Both songs are executed without a fault, showing not only the bands understanding of the ground they tread, but also their skill in doing so. With a particular display in composition and song structure, these two songs don’t hiccup once, keeping the pace fluid and are insanely well put together.

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On the other side of this vinyl summoning ritual is Belus, who also share a member with peddlers of death, Mortals. Belus is a hard beast to describe, as they have a few different facets to their apocalyptic vision. The first song entitled “Amidst Decay” starts off with a few slow, hauntingly bleak notes that beckons you into their sound with ghosts-like fingers. That is, until they quickly drop their guise and prove that in no way are they afraid of blast beasts or the raw sound of regurgitating hate back into this world. Even with in the confines of blast beats and black metal, they still manage to pull you back into their vortex, showing of infusions of doom metal and that classic crust sound. “Venomous” the second track from them, ditch’s the doom atmosphere for the majority of the song with a straight up punch to the throat. While they utilize duel vocalists on both songs, “Venomous” show cases the bands ferocity in this track, with both vocalists taking center stage amongst the blast beats and sped up cacophony that is each members role. An aptly titled song, it shows that Belus isn’t a one trick pony in terms of creating original songs that actually sound like they put some time into there creation. The key to understanding Belus, is in recognizing the dirty trick that they manage to pull off with both of these songs. Which is showing their ability to navigate within the sound of Black Metal, but also bringing forth a few more, non-traditional elements into it, especially with the first song. The entire Blackened/ Crust/ Doom experimentation thing is a coin toss in terms of success, at least in my eyes. It’s either going to be stunning or just plain shit. Belus have seemed to grasp onto this concept, working off the beaten bath and thus have created something; seen it through its incubation and into the vile, fruition that are these two songs. While its a little less traditional in respect to the black metal sound, it’s a definite probing of the styles sonic boundary’s and depths. Belus is a twisting, leviathan in that respect, revealing only certain portions of their skin while cresting over the tops of the waves, before they latch on and pull you back down into their blackened waters. The Belus portion of this release is a dense trip into a black hole, composed of seething tentacles that latch out with  different tones and concepts, which leaves it just as interesting as the Acion side in terms of content and re-play value. 

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This split release is a solid declaration for both these projects by all means. It’s not often where a split album comes out between two fairly new Black Metal projects who know what the hell they are doing and come across as such. Both Ancion and Belus are able to show off on this record, with neither side being the dominate one. They both have something to offer even for the the most jaded, basement-dwelling Black Metal fan. Each project offers a little something different for listeners; in this day and age, that’s a very, very welcome sign for any musical project, regardless of a genre styles. Two songs from each band wasn’t enough for these ears and I have a sneaking suspicion that if either band were to record a full length, that it would decimate a number of turn tables. In all honesty, it kills me to have heard about both bands for a while now, without having checked them out. Even more so that they rip across the county of Kings, where I currently reside. After a good week with this record on a constant rotation, I’ll be making sure to keep a darkened finger on the pulse of both of  projects for the days to come. 

For those wishing to journey out of their filthy pits and witness Acion in the live setting, they’re in the midst of touring with fellow black metallers Yellow Eyes along the East Coast and Mid-West. Bring some mead and take a knee while pledging an oath of hate alongside them. Also, buy some merch. It flat out sucks touring during the winter. 

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Joseph Collins

Joseph Collins

Brooklyn, NY. A firm believer that the owls are not what they seem.

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Copies still in stock at Fragile Branch: http://fragilebranch.com/?product=anicon-belus-split-lp