In spite of the amazing split Vassafor just did with Sinistrous Diabolus, and it having been one of my favorite releases of last year, I somehow almost forgot about this new offering, a split with Temple Nightside entitled Call of the Maelstrom. I don’t know if it just snuck up on me, but I almost forgot about it.
That will never happen again.
For 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.
After the foreboding drone on “To Your Grave,” Vassafor hurls a fireball with an absolute monster of a song called “Phoenix of the Maelstrom.” For nine and a half minutes, the attack is furious yet calculated, sprawling but reigned in at just the right moments. Churning Death Metal barbarity opens and hurls virgin ears into the abyss, sending the listener down ever twisting, turning corridors of exemplary riffing as VK intermingles searing, trem-picked Black Metal with Death Metal crunch. The vocals are scorching as ever, as each utterance has tons of bite behind it with plenty of might to boot. Plus, the battery of drummer BP is right on the mark every step of the way. Operating on all cylinders, his efforts are well timed and go a long way in accentuating the brilliance of VK’s dynamic riff set.
While Vassafor can do a little bit of everything, it must be said that this release is probably their most punishing, straight forward material to date. One really gets this sense when “Crowned in Irradiated Ashes” opens with untamed fury that doesn’t let up for one second. From start to finish, the flames of absolution disintegrate all Form and Matter before ritualistic chimes open “Tormentum Aeturnum.” Their last song of the split, Vassafor treats us to the tasty sounds of the old school once again, particularly once things slow down and open up with an atmosphere that brings acts like Varathron to mind once again, the legendary Greek Black Metal band covered by Vassafor on their split last year. This reprieve gives way, however, as Vassafor go for the jugular in the closing minute with searing lead work, blasting their way to the end, leaving behind only noxious, post-apocalypse fumes in their wake.
While this leaves you wanting more death worship, thankfully, Temple Nightside picks up where Vassafor left off in appropriate fashion with “Knell,” a song that ritualistically builds for three and a half minutes before seamlessly easing its way into its blackened hymn with the patience of an adept practitioner of the dark arts. Like a robed figure that fearlessly penetrates the furthest reaches of a pitch black ossuary by candlelight, Temple Nightside hypnotize the listener with the malign wisdom of a magician who has long escaped his fleshy, earthly shell.
The closing track of the split, “The Howling Void, As Wolves…,” seems to follow a similar yet more daring formula, as it, too, builds up first with doomy atmosphere before plunging the listener into the catacombs with a stinging riff that singes and carries the song forward into blackened territory, liberating and enthroning the Luciferian individual once and for all from the chains that bind, before exiting and drifting into the amorphous abyss from whence it came.
A release that’s not to be missed, Call of the Maelstrom speaks volumes about the level of dedication both bands share in their respective crafts, as they continue to feed and stir the waters of Ain with odes of complete, utter desolation. If you forgot about this like I did, drop what you’re doing right now and heed the call of the maelstrom.