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The four-way split, creatively entitled 'Split LP', features a number of renowned acts within the underground scene, two of which; Hypothermia and Trist, are undoubtedly considered pioneers in this new breed of depressive black metal, the genre of which the proceeding two acts undoubtedly, unoriginally follow. This dismal, hopeless record is essentially one of the greatest splits of out time. Regnum, and Grimnir, albeit lesser known sensations, achieve exactly what they set out to do, and just as you'd expect they'll leave you in misery, disillusion and essentially disconnect you from the world that surrounds you.
The forty minute abysmal adventure, of Split LP, begins with lesser known Austrian black metal act, Grimnir. Aggressive, straight forward, and to an extent depressive, Grimnir clearly shines above many black metal acts in the scene. Whilst not abiding too all the rules of Depressive Black Metal - DSBM hereafter - many universal laws apply within; the seemingly agonizing vocals, the repetitive drums, and riffs alike, topped off with some reverb and poor production, there's nothing extremely groundbreaking on this track, although for an aggressive DSBM act, they execute fairly well, and in comparison to other aggressive DSBM bands, I'm actually somewhat impressed. Of course, there's a number of downfalls, the main of which would be the abrupt musical changes and lack of direction alike. It seems as if the song has been forced together from a number of different, yet seemingly connected, compositions. I like this, I may - or may not - check out Grimnir in the future.
After a strong opener, the heart of Split LP is uncovered. The hypnotic waves of reverberation, the rotary riffs, the perfectly executed, albeit simple drums, would only indicate one thing - Trist. Yes, the highlight of this impressive four-way split, is Trist's contribution to it all - Černá Melancholie. The compositions, not to mention the title, convince me this is a sequel to the almighty Zrcadlení Melancholie. It's considerably hard to pin-point what exactly makes this track what it is. Perhaps it's the perfect simplicity of it all. it sounds as if a rehearsal session; the feedback throughout doesn't exactly make it a far stretch of the imagination. Though, nothing seems to far out of place - the guitar, the drums and vocals are all places fairly well in the mix, the execution is near perfect and the atmosphere is as claustrophobic as if being buried alive. It's hard to pinpoint what, exactly, makes this song the highlight of everything - but without a doubt, it's the epitome of such a fabulous release.
The next act, whom I'm reluctant to say, is undoubtedly the downfall of this entire release, why Regnum is featured on two tracks is quite stupid. The German DSBM act, Regnum abides by the entire 'down tuned' philosophy of black metal - if it sounds down tuned, then it's black metal and it's fucking good. Wrong. DSBM is about depressive, emotionally structured melodies, which sound far from the norm, but not to sound purely untuned and bad ass. This is just terrible. Both songs sound incredibly similar, both songs use an untuned guitar. One song includes a lengthy introduction, now I don't speak German, so it's basically a minute and a half of (seemingly) unrelated foreign bullshit, albeit the fact is more than likely has meaning to the German tongue. The music, I suppose is classified as Depressive, though it's much more structured and aggressive than most bands in the genre, and in comparison to Grimnir's contribution of aggressive, depressive black metal, this is sub-par bullshit. Not much else to be said.
Hypothermia, are next up on the bill. Fuck. As the music fades in, you feel life fade away. 'Julia' shows a very strong resemblance to the songs featured on Veins; the production, the distortion and the drum-kit all suggest so. This is one of the best Hypothermia songs I've heard. The vocals, performed by none other than Mr. Carlsson are astoundingly perfect - terrifying, if you will. The up-beat tempo on the drums, the structured, yet hopeless riffs, and the claustrophobic atmosphere all work together in unison. What's there really to say about Hypothermia? I mean, this is a standard track performed by the trio from Sweden (note: 'standard' when referring to Hypothermia, may be read as 'Perfect', 'Incredible', "awe-inspiring', and so on so forth). An interesting addition to the music is the drums, they're far more structured and eventful, the use of double kick, the ever-changing beats are all excellent, but still maintain the 'simplicity is the key' rule.
Get this release, get it now. I held off for a long time, as it wasn't exactly appealing to me for some odd reason. Three of the four bands - three of the five tracks - are excellent, and are strongly recommended for listening.
We begin this review with a taste of Austrian black metal ambition. Grimnir aren’t a band I’m all too familiar with. This is the only song of there’s that I have heard, so I can’t make any comparisons to previous material. It would have been nice to have judged this on the basis of the material present on the only available full-length, ‘Kreuzzug in den Tod’, but that’s not likely. I imagined that this would be an entirely depressive black metal affair before I even heard the material present. One may think of this as one heck of an assumption, but given the fact that the bands participating on this release are all considered, if not by all, by many, depressive black metal bands. The song present on Grimnir’s side, ‘Angst - Requiem’ is most certainly a depressive black metal track. It follows a long list of set rules for sounding like a depressive black metal band. The production, first of all, is reminiscent of some of the Hypothermia demos, or even ‘Veins’ the debut Hypothermia record. It’s fairly murky, which suit’s the dark atmospheric soundscapes that Grimnir have laid down for us. The production doesn’t allow for much expression on the bass because it’s largely anonymous. One can hear it, ever so slightly, but it’s impact is minimal, which is a disappointing factor of the song. The overshadowing instruments are standard. The guitars, which are heavily distorted, take the bass out of the picture. However, they provide us with a sufficient amount of emotion to tide us over without the functioning bass. Whatever Grimnir lacks in the bass department, they make up for it in double bass on the drums. It’s constant, pretty much, adding hints of aggression to the pain behind the scenes. The vocals are rasps of despair, which are standard of this type of music. Whilst it’s not terrible, it’s not great either. 62% will suffice.
‘Cerna Melancholie’ is next up for the audience. I’m a huge fan of Trist, so bear with me whilst I kiss some arse here. This song has the ability to lift the audience’s mood, whereas the Grimnir track did the exact opposite. Unlike the first song on the split, this song is ready and waiting to live up the expectations of the fans. This particular track can be seen as perhaps the biggest highlight of the entire split. Whilst the production on the first song was rather dank and dark, the production here is much cleaner. Although that may be the case, the bass is still fairly anonymous. The redeeming qualities of Trist’s fantastic musicianship are able to win us other though. Trist, in the short time the man and the band has been around, has developed a knack of being able to produce depressive black metal that sounds great in comparison to the majority of music of it’s kind. This song, in particular, is fantastic. Whilst the bass is missing, the double bass, as on the first song, makes up for it. It’s not as constant on this song as it was on the previous. The other sections of the percussion instruments comes into play, inducing a high amount of melancholy into the mesmerising atmospheres that swirl around the songs body. The drums are much more expansive than usual on Trist songs, they explore the idea of innovation more often than not. Well, as much as a black metal band can be innovative. The vocals are on top form, portraying a kind of despair and sadness the vocalist of Grimnir only wishes he could achieve. Despite that, the main highlights of the song, as usual, come in the soundscapes. Whilst there is a melancholic mood flowing through the song, there are glorious moments where the song can feel rather uplifting due to the guitars, which are immense, if a tad repetitive. 90% will suffice here.
Next up are Germany’s Regnum. This is a band I have some experience with. I have two demos already and both are fairly decent, whilst not being overly impressive. The Regnum side has two songs, which are the shortest on the split, which might explain why there are two songs instead of the one. The first is odd. It begins with a man speaking in a very hateful voice. It’s in German, so I can’t decipher what he is saying as I don’t speak German and then, after a minute, the song bursts into life. Regnum are the first band on the split to take advantage of bass. The bass is audible on this song, which makes a welcomed change. It’s very solemn and sombre, which is a nice touch. The bass lines created for this song are repetitive, like the main guitar leads for the first song, but they are more affective than the guitars, which is unusual. The hollow sound, which repeats itself like some sort of German war cry, ring out to great affect. They cause a deep movement below the main riffs of the song, which hardly vary, to be fair. The guitars are incredibly distorted. They play a high pitched riff throughout the entirety of the first song. The vocals are almost as high pitched as the guitars! They go hand-in-hand quite well, depicting a strange kind of anger and hatred, which the spoken sample at the beginning also did. The drums are fairly monotonous, like the other instruments, but when that bass is uncovered, you’re hypnotised by the rest of the instruments. It’s affect on the atmosphere is profound and enjoyable. The second song takes off immediately. No introductions here, just a pounding double bass drum and that familiar bass instrument playing a hollow repetitive riff underneath the chaos and madness of the lead guitars and the vocals. It’s kind of difficult to tell the difference between the first and second songs, but they’re both fairly good. The distortion isn’t exactly warranted, but it’s mesmerising nevertheless. The main positive of the Regnum side is the bass, without a doubt. 75% will suffice here.
Last but not least is the Hypothermia song, brilliantly entitled ‘Julia’, which I think is a very special name for a song. It just sounds so beautiful in the midst of the angst that Hypothermia projects. The production of this album isn’t too dissimilar to the full-length records, but reminds me more of the ‘Veins’ era style production. Whilst this split hasn’t provided us with avant-gardé styling, it has provided us with some highly polished depressive black metal. Material that is ready to explode at any given moment. The Hypothermia side is much like any other Hypothermia song, which means it’s good. Repetitive and straight edge, just like the majority of the material on this particular split. It’s got one heck of a performance from Kim, the leading man behind the band. His vocals express pain like no other. Hypothermia, like Trist, are one of those depressive bands that can actually depress it’s audience. Whilst the majority of music under the tag doesn’t, this does. The ability to control moods is a great one to have under these circumstances and Kim manages that fantastically. Driving his music forward through emotive and atmospheric music. These qualities are achieved in a few ways. Repetitive guitars. This acts as an entrancing technique. When the guitars repeat themselves, like they do here, the emotive aspects of the riffs are instilled into the mind. Explosive drums. Whilst black metal bands usually rely heavily on double bass blast beats, Hypothermia do not. They are included, but they don’t take the main focus. Generally, that is given to the snare and symbol work. Along with the Trist side, this track, ‘Julia’ deserves a lot of credit for making this a worthwhile split. 88% will suffice.