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Canadian black metallers Frosthammer have been quite busy these days. After four very impressive demos and a full-length in Nexus of Time earlier this year, the band issues its first split effort for Salute Records with fellow dark arts act Demorian from Sweden. I can honestly say it’s about time these guys have their comeuppance because, frankly, they take the black metal movement to a much more interesting height than running the typical speed show past the ears. I’m also interested to hear Demorian, so here we go.
Frosthammer issues four songs that really one-up the current model that is this silly ‘third wave’ or whatever you wish to call it these days. I admit to being biased when it comes to this band simply due to the fact that they offer no regurgitated garbage and call it art for art’s sake. The near jazzy feel of some of the songs in no way detract from the aesthetic of the music; for such a primitive style of music the discretion used with some of the subtle classic nuances is truly amazing. “Beneath the Blackened Sky”, in NecroDruid’s own words, is the “most black metal song on the split”, and while that may be true in the accepted norm of the genre, the other tracks play havoc with the medium so tightly that one can’t help but be mesmerized by the sheer ingenuity of the music. Granted, as I’ve said a hundred times, there is no landmark rebooting of the black metal movement, but now and again a band does great things with the blueprints, often delving far below the surface to dig up the most inventive ways to retool the sound. “Trapped in a Forest of Steel” is a very dirty little track in both design and arrangement, also calling out the blackest of the black without giving in to the need for speedy tremolo picking that gets old after ten seconds. The simplistic walking scale is as ancient and raw as it gets, while “Todeskrieg” just haunts with the atmospheric din that permeates the air beneath the breathy vocals. This is not your typical black offering of four contrived tracks that move along loudly, yet say nothing. Limited to only 66 copies, I implore you to seek this out from the band as it’s a definitive leap from the Todes Krieg demo from 2009; the band simply shows no signs of slowing down or giving up the initial sound that drives them.
Demorian hails from Sweden and honestly hit my system pretty hard with the opening track, “Faceless Robots”. The music is…well, interesting. First off, it’s quite sloppy right out of the gate, just seemingly flying all over the place with reckless abandon and high, distorted volume. To me, this almost sounds like an old 60’s garage band with such rough production and music that it is really quite lethargic. It’s speed for the sake of speed and literally follows no set pattern, which is innately boring. The second track fares a bit better in that it’s not as all over the place, but that’s also its downfall with mundane and paced noise. I’m not sure why this is called black metal because I hear no consistent black elements here. It’s like bad punk with metal fringes, which is all well and good but misleading and not at all credible for our movement. The vocals are under-produced and boring, relying more on disheveled catharsis than serendipitous treasure. I’m just not sure what to make of them because the music isn’t even interesting; it’s like the band can’t decipher which way to go or what avenue is the best first for them, but in my vast years of experience (and I have MANY years under me) this is not even close to black metal music. The guitars are too high in the ‘mix’, as is the bass, while the drums languish is the background under the sheath of silly vocals. Sadly, it’s not even metal music in my opinion; it’s a messy collective that should have stayed in the cassette demo form so it can be easily erased for the latest booted Trivium offering. 1/5
(Originally written for MetalPsalter.com)