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Art of crocaganda - 76%

joncheetham88, July 13th, 2014

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.