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Somehow a split gets more exciting when not only does it have its own name, but the cover art shows nothing of any of the participating bands' logos. Maybe I've just been conditioned to feel that way recently by the likes of Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries, Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno and Gateways to the Nightside. Not to mention the well-known and much loved Crushing the Holy Trinity series of splits. Just seems like something conceptual, something planned and valued by the artists involved, not a throw-away but something very much its own entity. In the case of a few classic examples, something you would mention by title rather than needing to emphasize the bands involved. France's Insane Vesper and Serbia's Triumfall don't disappoint on this trim, four song release.
'Enlightened by Blood' has a little less of the blatant, epic streams of melody the other Insane Vesper stuff I've heard boasts, with instead something more pestilent and Polish in its rasping cascade of blast beats. In fact when the track does break to build to its climax with noble tremolo riffs, it is more Mgła's EP material that comes to mind. I particularly like the filthy, scoured punk beats that repeatedly infect 'Golden Rays of Unification Shine', their second offering on the album, especially with the doomed chords halfway through. They're one of the least French-sounding French bands you'll hear, with little of the dissonance found in the famous outfits or of the brute, weird ugliness of Les Legions Noire. Instead a distillation of Finnish forthrightness and something of the occult leanings of Funeral Mist and Erebus Enthroned manifest, tempered by a seeming determination to stay on their blasted, vortextual course.
Triumfall pick up the lack of slack with aplomb, uncurling a vile eruption of tortured Rabid Death's Curse style riffs and rough, wretched vocals. They make more of a nod to the trend of dissonant black metal with the break in their first offering 'Iconography of Horns', but thankfully don't allow the pace to drop as a result, keeping the song intense and rapid. The ogrish epic 'The World Eater' seems to me to indicate that Triumfall, much like Temple of Baal when they did their sophomore, could go in a variety of directions at this juncture in their career; deep into bestial yet arcane death metal domination, or into a more thrash-inflected direction. Perhaps they'll just continue to tweak at this sound until they have it how they want it, I couldn't say but I'll be likely to keep an ear open out of interest. If I had a complaint where Triumfall is concerned I would say only that the drums are a bit too clean, and a bit too bassy, whereas a bit more of a roughshod mix could have supported the lean guitars in their classy blend of decrepitude and wist.
If, like me, you're often in the market for black metal split releases that can stand healthily on their own as decent entries to the canon of the bands involved, rather than somewhere to stick rehearsals, covers and stuff, and that also feature acts that work well alongside each other, then I would recommend this release by Art of Propaganda. If grim is your thing, I'd recommend it even more highly.
This is an interesting split record by two raw black metal bands that all metalheads out there should be on the lookout for as both these bands will be on a come up from this point forward going into the future. Insane Vesper from France are a band that's been in an active and sinister formation for over a decade now that I have somehow been totally unfamiliar with previously to hearing this split. I'm a huge advocate and fan of the French black metal scene and this band was up my alley to say the least. Triumfall come forth from Serbia and along with the awesome Serbian black metal group Propast they prove that Serbia has more than a few legitimate statements to make as far as nowadays black metal is concerned. Each band contributes 2 songs on this release and hence this is a concise offering making for a cohesive and effective split 10" record here. For some reason I'm obsessed with the 10" vinyl format in general (whether is be a split or a bands singular release) and I look forward to hopefully adding a physical copy of this to my collection someday soon. Lets examine what these two bands have brought forth with their music here.
Insane Vesper. Their first song that starts this record off entitled "Enlytened By Blood" gets things going with a building introduction with a simple and stripped-down riff over snare rolls and some nice tom work on the drums. At the 1:25 mark this intro gives way to a sickeningly tortured vocal bellowing as Insane Vesper get to blasting forth with a traditional black metal track that is of a noticeably French-sounding variety. If I didn't know beforehand that this was a French black metal band I would still know that this is a French black metal band - you digg me? This is a good thing. For me at least. As the guitars, drums, and vocals all culminate together and the main crux of this song gets underway there are four distinctive influences at play with Insane Vesper's sound on here that I'm keenly reminded of right away, and those are: Deathspell Omega, Immortal, Mutiilation, and Moonblood. So, needless to say.. these guys are treading some very dark and dissonant territory that I'm really appreciating while listening. "Golden Rays of Unification Shine" continues with a solid, riffy black metal approach that is similar to their first song on here with similarly blasting drums with plenty of double-kick work and tortured vocals that even include some Nattramn-esque (Silencer) sharp huffs and disgruntled heaving throughout. Insane Vesper unleash their musical form of Luciferian witchcraft with a production quality that is raw and dingy, but with everything surprisingly audible, and well-balanced, and even somewhat detailed in the mix here. Think maybe Black Funeral in that regard.
Triumfall. I find this band's two songs contributed to this split to be just slightly more interesting musically and all around just a bit more convincing than Insane Vesper's. However, both bands really are pretty fucking sick here. One look at Triumfall's band photos and we can see some clad fucking leather warriors ready for a bestial black metal war and one may initially be expecting an auditory assault akin to Antaeus, Teitanblood, or Katharsis. Traces of influence from all three of these bands can be found here indeed, however the largest influence at play in the type of black metal that Triumfall are creating is without a doubt Deathspell Omega. This is largely due to the vocals and while a lot of the riffs and the overall arrangements do adhere to a chaotically dissonant and 'experimental' framework, Triumfall imbue these dark and evil chaotic odd-timed musical invocations with a more melodic and traditional sense of riffing than Deathspell Omega ever have (or ever will for that matter.) So take this for what it's worth. Triumfall simply have a more straight-forward and limited sense of melodic phrasing and adhere to a more tried-and-true method of black metal for the most part, which from afar may seem as though it could get mundane or boring rather quickly.. But then some very dark, eerie sections appear from this bands blackened void such as the last 2 minutes of their second track on here (and the final/closing song on this split altogether) entitled "The World Eater" that are so reminiscent of both DsO and say, Antaeus that this Serbian black metal horde almost sound more French than Insane Vesper do themselves.
I will say that this last Triumfall song comes to a rather abrupt ending and I feel like they could have extended this last track considerably, because just as the last 2 minutes of "The World Eater" greatly succeeds at creating a compelling build-up that feels like it should rightfully explode into some insanely ferocious blackened madness, Triumfall oddly piddle out and the track comes to a disappointing ending with very little sense of closure. Part of this is probably due to the fact that only a limited amount of music can fit onto a split 10" and it can only act as an appropriate temple for some somewhat limited song lengths, but if that's the case then the band could have chose a less lengthy and dense composition to include on this split instead which could play itself out in it's entirety without having to cut itself short in any way. The recording quality on the Triumfall side of this split is a little louder, more enveloping, and more powerful and allows their music to take a slightly more lucid and visceral grasp on the listeners psyche.
Overall, this is a worthy release by two underrated satanic black metal bands and I recommend that anyone out there searching for an obscure underground metal release that their collection is currently devoid of should get this split... and that will be.... Well, just about any true black metaller really.