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I will start by saying that this is up there with one of the best splits I have ever heard. Joining the company of Vlad Tepes / Belketre and Horna / Behexen we have Sad / Mourning Forest. Unlike a lot of splits the production here is excellent and it sounds like both bands recorded in the same studio with the same volume levels and everything. It's almost hard to tell when the Mourning Forest part of the split ends and the Sad part begins because the volume, production value and even their musical styles are very similar. What we have here is two bands that didn't just throw some songs together, but made an awesome album where both band's music compliments the other perfectly.
I will start with the Mourning Forest side of the split as they play the first five songs on the album. Mourning Forest, like Sad, plays pure black metal with a lot of emotion and melody. Mourning Forest is a bit more progressive than Sad, they slow down a bit here and there and have some more intricate and developed song writing. The slower parts are awesome and unique instead of just filler, they really help to build up to the next furious riff. I'd say they are about 75-80% fast tremolo picked riffs with nice blast beats carrying them along, and 20-25% slower break downs. Their guitars also go a lot lower on the scale than many black metal bands, they seem to make good use out of all the strings on the guitars. The tone of their guitars is distorted and harsh with a little bit of warmth, it's perfect for their dark, emotional style. Mourning Forest's music has a lot of sadness, but also a natural inspired feeling. Their vocalist howls harshly with a lower pitch in his voice than many standard black metal screamers. You could say their music overall is quite haunting and atmospheric, but it's really just pure black metal executed extremely well.
Moving onto the Sad side of the split. The vocals are really the only thing that give away when the Sad part of the split starts. Sad's vocals are a higher, more raspy scream. These five songs by Sad sound a lot more layered and atmospheric than most of their other stuff. The rhythm guitar shreds along with a lower, raw sound while the lead guitar is a lot smoother and generally plays higher scaled riffs. The rhythm and lead guitars are often doing completely different things helping to create the layered effect. Sad's style has been fairly consistent over their last few releases, you can expect riff after riff of shredding through "sad" but very melodic passages. Their music is very continuous with really no breaks, build ups or interludes, just constant, unrelenting black metal. The drumming is mostly a fairly fast paced blast beat with some double bass, there's a fill or cymbal clash here and there usually when transitioning between riffs. Sometimes you get a slowed down blast beat while the guitars still go full speed, but the slow beat never lasts long. Sad really knows how to create music with a lot of emotion while still being pretty relentlessly fast. To compare them to a more well known band I would say they have a lot of similarity to later era Sargeist, the same could be said for Mourning Forest.
This split clocks in at an hour and one minute with no intro, random noise, or lackluster songs. It's basically long enough to be considered two full length albums on one CD. I really can't pick out a best song by either band because every song could be the best song. This is probably the best example I've ever heard of two bands collaborating and putting together one hell of an album.