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If nothing else, this split deserves a high percentage rating just on the concept alone. Drowning the Light, the Australian raw black metal solo project of Azgorh that spews forth release after release of cold, harsh noise-infested music; Satanic Warmaster, arguably the most infamous band in the current underground black metal scene, solo project of ex-Horna vocalist Werwolf whose music is as uncompromising as it is raw; and Mütiilation, perhaps the first band to touch on the depressive aspect of black metal, a raw and quasi-ancient band, again run by one man – Meyhna’ch - whose obsession with filth, death and vampirism is embedded into his countless releases.
These three bands have one main thing in common: they all play raw, underproduced black metal. Though the bands have many sub-aspects in common (many of which are present on the split), I’ll discuss those as they appear within the music.
The split opens with Mütiilation’s song “The Bitter Taste of Emotional Void”. Many may consider this an odd choice; indeed, Meyhna’ch had released an album since ‘Rattenkonig’, the album to feature this song. However, many things are overlooked, most obviously that the songs on ‘Sorrow Galaxies’ are all around or over the 10-minute mark. With Drowning the Light’s track being 11 minutes in length, another track of such timing may not fully fit on one side of the split. The second point is that ‘Bitter Taste’ is the best song from the last two albums the French black metal band ever made, so its inclusion should have been a given anyway. The song itself is a powerful mix of imposing guitar noise and thick bass, with unfortunately amateur-sounding drum-programming slotted beneath. The dual guitars form a more mainstream black metal sound, as opposed to creating thick walls of sound, though this is more fitting due to the addition of a prominent bass sound. The drum machine, however, is tragic – it spews tinny, MIDI-esque beats throughout which may make the song unbearable to some listeners. The respective instruments form a flimsy cradle for Meyhna’ch’s harrowed vocals, which alternate between shrieks and a more tormented, tired-sounding rasp. The song is structured appropriately, with clear choruses, verses and a bridge, and progresses from very aggressive riffs to a more melancholic sound towards the end. It is towards the end that the vocals are multi-layers, creating a disharmonic chorus of voices pledging allegiance to Satan.
After the fantastic opening song, we are plunged into a world of frozen winds and ritual chants as Azgorh makes use of field recordings. The harsh guitars then fade in and lie just beyond the horizon – a clever use of reverb here. Drums are very low in the mix, making the song suffer somewhat, and often only the cymbals are audible. The sheer brilliance of the guitar work and vocals saves this flaw though; riffs are built around minor sounding intervals, carving a pathway of depressive anguish over which the serene, almost-whispered voice makes its journey. Azgorh’s vocals here actually sound more akin to Meyhna’ch’s raspy hoarseness than his own high end shrieking (whether this was intentional for the split or not, I am unsure). The song progresses in this style: easily listenable black metal rawness, but with an unclear structure. That said, there are clear changes in mood when the drums fade away and the guitars spew riffs with different emotive intentions, a feature that occurs several times through this song.
However, Satanic Warmaster’s side of the split is by far the best, showcasing some of his rawest, most innovative black metal ever. After the very grim, foreboding introduction (a single organ’s weeps accompanied by the quiet rasps of Werwolf) we are hit by a somewhat thrashy and almost “catchy” tune. Guitars are (obviously) raw, but very audible, with a similar tone to that found on “Strength and Honour”. Immediately, the drums kick in a very staccato bass/snare variation as a beautifully placed guitar solo creeps between the two rhythm guitars. As this passage draws to a close, Werwolf begins his vocal assault on his listeners with harsh, gritty screams drenched in echo and reverb. The chorus steers towards a more melancholic sound whilst still retaining an air of grim thrashiness, only to return to the balls-out verse riff. The song eventually breaks down to a style more associated with Satanic Warmaster – blast beats and furiously tremolo picked intervals – and finally draws to a close. The second song is more traditional in form – walls of guitar noise built around minor intervals, slow in tempo at first but eventually picking up speed. This song is very progressive, build around a matrix of emotions, each with their own series of riffs that are repeated and mixed in a complex arrangement of choruses, verses and sub-verses, each emotion connected by bridges and passages of silence. Finally, the split draws to a close with an outro comprised of (what I assume is) a backmasked track of random whispering play together.
Brilliant. A brilliant concept executed well. It’s a shame they don’t make a “Dark Hymns, pt. 2”. Get this if possible.
This is the infamous Mutiilation / Drowning the Light / Satanic Warmaster split that generally sells on ebay for $600+ with statues and even $500 without the statue. All bands are bands that I actually enjoy works from, not to mention all 3 are notorious for having rare and sought after releases.
This however is a worthless rarity except for die-hard fans of all 3 or collectors. It's a very average release from otherwise excellent bands. Infact, the album is so subpar I enjoy just looking at the packaging of it rather than listening to the music on either discs.
Side A (originally intended as the dead rat) contains the mutiilation and drowning the light tracks, but both are so useless to be released they minds well not be on here. Mutiilation not only chose a track that is already available on one of the many full-lengths, but one from Rattenkonig, one of the weaker albums in the roster...and not a particularly great track from said album either. His entire contribution is useless and negligible.
Drowning the Light is apparently a demo version of the To the End of Time track on the full-length of the same name. This would be cool if it wasn't already exactly similar to the album version. I like demos because they sound different or the production will evoke different atmospheres. However this version is a near carbon copy of the full length's version, making it also a pretty useless addition. It's one of the better DTL tracks, but even then is generally not enough to merit much greater interest in this release whatsoever.
Side B is entirely Satanic Warmaster. Allegedly these recordings were meant to be used on a split with Moonblood, however the release was never completed for whatever the reasons. The intros and outros evoke no emotion or atmosphere, as well as appear dull and completely lacking of an interest. Otherwise, the two tracks that appear on this split carry a similar style to early Satanic Warmaster material much similar to the blood and honour full-length rather than Werewolf's later material. The songs are simplistic in their nature and pretty standard in terms of black metal. While not the best works from Werewolf, these songs are more or less the best aspect of this release, which speaks volumes about how worthwhile it actually is.
This is a very over-hyped release not worth it unless you're a diehard fan or collector. The material is very negligible if not entirely worthless to the discographies. Avoid trying to get, much less for the price that everyone is looking for on the ebay market.